When I first started painting, I had never taken an art class or even drawn much. I wasn't one of those kids who drew up drawing and painting. Art for me has been a new development. Something I'm still getting used to.
It all started with my musical beyondmate David Colon. When we sang together, our harmonies just wrapped you up and held you close. It was like a third voice. Just completely enveloping and powerful. We recorded a live set from a show we played in San Francisco where a bunch of friends came to support. It was a magical night. We decided to use this recording for our first live album together.
I wanted a watercolor portrait of me and David as the album cover to capture the nuances of our harmonies, our connection with natural elements such as water and to convey the passion and power behind our music. I asked a few friends who were artists to paint it for me but of course, they were very busy with lots of projects (we were in school at the time). So I thought, well, I might as well give it a shot, at least until they have time to get to it. Once I started playing with watercolors, I fell in love. Just any mark on a page with watercolor looks amazing haha. I fell in love with the details, the textures, the nuances and the aliveness that comes with watercolor. They are different from other mediums because they move on their own. The water creates it's own painting inside (and sometimes outside) of your brush marks. In learning to paint, I realized that:
1. i wasn't "ready" at all in the traditional sense to paint a portrait. I had never studied art or attempted it much growing up.
2. i was really in love with the idea of having a watercolor portrait for the album cover.
3. i didn't let either of those reason stop me from trying.
Here's how it turned out:
After making this, I felt encouraged to keep painting. This was hard and took a lot of patience, but it was also extremely rewarding to do the thing that I had really wanted to do.
In approaching new things, I sometimes find myself discrediting my ability- that I am not ready, or skilled enough, or talented enough, or pretty much you name it, ______ enough. This list goes on.
I am working on overcoming these often absolutely pointless concerns by worrying less about the end goal and just doing. Seeing what happens! The worst that could happen in my case is I would totally fail and never show anyone except my roommate at the time Brooke who saw it all. Haha. And she was extremely supportive the whole time and still is! Through trying, I realized that I am capable of doing stuff I've never done before. Once I started, I fell in love with the process and cared less about the end result because I was learning so much in the meantime.
Had I never started, I would never have learned how to actually do the thing I wanted to do.
Instead of simply planning for the right conditions or an immeasurable level of readiness, I am working on saying, "today's the day."
In celebration of today being the day to start something you been really wanting to do, I am giving away the above pictured Salt & Sage album with every online order! Not only is it my first album cover but the CD is a live recording of a show David & I played in San Francisco with powerful vocal harmonies (just thinking about them gives me chills), all original songs and amazing atmosphere including banter form the stage. It feels like you are there :) We have each grown a lot since releasing this- and learned a lot about recording in the meantime haha- but it's a wonderful memento of where we began as a group and where I began as a watercolor artist.
It is also the last day of my Spring sale for 25% OFF all online pieces (in my SHOP or on Instagram). Enter thankthewinter at checkout to receive 25% OFF your order and for today, Friday, April 13th a free copy of my first watercolor portrait and album with Salt & Sage!
Thank you for all your love and support throughout this journey and I am excited to continuing growing together!
on the east coast, we are experiencing what they call a "snow day" - for all my California peeps - it's a day where everything shuts down cause there's snow EVERYWHERE! self explanatory but just to emphasize how new these are to me! it's magical :D (at least to my haven'tshoveledsnowenoughtimestohateityet self). schools are closed and my classes for today were cancelled while people get tucked in from the weather.
my partner and i made popcorn, played games and watched a movie, getting as much rest out of today as possible. it reminded me of a few months back when i scheduled no-obligation days/ times (like a home vacation). on these days or during those times, i would turn off my phone, do only things i wanted to do like paint, ride my bike around the city, go for a hike, read, meet with friends, etc. the only rule was, i could not make ANY commitments to anyone for that time. it was liberating to feel free of obligation and to create in ways that weren't work related. it made going back into work mode more productive, focused and rewarding because:
1. i had scheduled time to chill so knew i was going to have time to chill
2. i could enjoy my accomplishments and hard work in the time i dedicated to relaxing
3. i got to do things i really wanted to do but never felt like i could take time off to do (like leisurely ride a bike around the city, read or meet up spontaneously with friends for dinner)
this snow day reminded me that planning and dedicating myself fully to chill time (scheduling and actually doing it) made my work time and my chill time more productive. there are definitely obligations that prevent us from having chill time at all the times we might like or plan for, but planning can make it more likely that it will happen.
a thought that also come up when planning my chill/ me time is, "maybe i haven't really worked hard enough to break." this way of thinking is super unproductive for relaxing. in talking with people, i've found there can be guilt or shame attached to being "unproductive." if you are similar to me in this thinking, try calling your chill/ me time highly productive relaxing. :)
sending chill vibes your way and hope you are able to create spaces of freedom wherever you are right now,
"How can I support you?"
It was a pleasure to connect with so many empowering women in business at the Wharton School of Impact's event for mindful investing towards social change. As a hard working, scrappy business owner and artist advocating for social change, it was an honor to perform and meet people excited to support women, people of color and social change through investment.
While discussing this important message with folks after the performance, I was asked many times, "What can I do to support you?"
I am excited to be part of the conversation on how to support women business owners and social change through investment. After talking with peers and collaborators, I have compiled a list of direct actions that will support business woman, POC's and artists like myself. In bold are actions that would benefit women and POC; below each action are details on how I specifically would engage with these opportunities. Please engage with and pass this list along to those who are interested in this conversation and would like to support. Ways in which it would be incredible to receive support are:
- Performance opportunities: Do you have events coming up that you are looking to book a performance for?
My performance team and I are ready and excited to travel. Feel free to think outside of the box for this. The themes of my art focus on self development and empowerment and I love discovering how that message fits into all discussions. Contact me via email@example.com to bounce around ideas for a performance.
- Workshops, Speaking Opportunities and Panel Discussions: Do you have events coming up that you are looking to engage your audience through self empowerment based workshops, presentations or panel discussions?
With a background in Sociology and Education, I have developed a teaching method called "The Confidence Curriculum." These workshops are designed for people who do not consider themselves artists- to challenge how we think about ourselves, expand what we think we are capable of, so we may feel empowered to the challenges that we face personally and socially. Adults in particular experience a personal revival of play, confidence and creativity in this workshop- it's a really fun way to bring color, creativity and stimulated focus to an event.
- Watercolor on Wood Install Locations: Do you have locations or connections (museums, galleries, real-estate agents who stage homes, set designers, your home, friend's homes, work spaces, hotels, restaurants, cafes) that could benefit from large scale, powerful, stunning natural textures of water and wood?
The power of my art comes from the freedom that I and others feel through it. as I mentioned during the show, my art has been described as the thing you are looking for in a landscape- the pure beauty of nature- without the landscape. I paint the beauty of nature by highlighting the natural textures of water and wood.
- Connections to Business Support and Artist Development: Do you or someone you know have expertise in accounting, marketing strategy, licensing, branding, website design or social media that would be interested in meeting with me over tea/ coffee or the phone to discuss how to create sustainable and mindful business practices?
I currently meet with a business coach who supports me in business organization and exposure. I am looking to learn more about how to expand the scope and operation of my art as a sustainable, social justice oriented business that provides to the community while being self supporting. As a hard working, scrappy business woman, I eat learning up.
- Distribution, Promotion and Representation: Are you or someone you know connected with an artist label or music distributer?
T.V. shows and movies are a great way for artists to gain exposure and earn passive income. This combines my message with other forms of visual art that would deepen it's power and impact. My music is currently available for streaming and purchase via Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp. Please spread the sounds!
- Daily Operations Support via Patreon: Are you interested in contributing directly to my artistic process and business operations?
Patron is a platform for independent artists to connect directly with financial supporters of any amount. Your contribution goes towards supporting meeting with my business coach, purchasing materials, creating music videos and studio recording costs. This is a very helpful way to support me on a day-to-day basis as I continue to make art and pursue opportunities. Please take a look around my Patreon page, there are beautiful gifts that I offer as a thank you for your investment.
- Opening for Laura Mvula: Just gonna keep putting this out into the universe :D Are you or someone you know connected with Laura Mvula, her booking manager or know of a performance where she is in need of an opening act?
I would LOVE to open a show for Laura Mvula- an incredible performing artist, composer and song writer. Her songs speak on empowerment, self love, personal development!! We might be soul creators <3 Check out one of my favorite songs of hers: OVERCOME.
Investing in our future:
I am co-founder of a mentoring program called Aspiring Young Artists. We pair local artists mentors (my producer Lee Clarke was a mentor last year) with high school students to write and record their original song. We began at one school and have expanded to one new school each year. We are in year 3 and adding a third school. We are currently fundraising for a Spring 2018 start for our program. Hear students talk about how Aspiring Young Artists helped them grow and develop on our GoFundMe page.
Thank you for engaging in this conversation with me and I look forward to connecting and continuing to support each other!
To empowerment through collaboration,
-- Song to vibe to while reading: Moses Sumney // "Worth It" --
“Out of all the places that you could be, thank you for being here.” -- Said by every human I’ve met who encourages us to be present. Thank you for those words and to you for being here reading this.
“Life is a huge experiment. If you don’t understand that it becomes very awkward..” :) A friend of mine said this in a wonder-full dinner of topics and conversation the other night. This has been a sentiment my Dad and I share often and that I recently found echoed in this amazing book called You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (I'm stoked to share more on that in the future). In reading that book and other writings by authors I vibe with, such an Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I have been encouraged to write and put my thoughts out into the world.. and take the pressure off of how they come out. Like with singing, it feels good to share and be heard. On that note, I’d now like to experiment a little with being brave…
Are you vibing to Moses Sumney yet? :) Let's do this!
More and more, I find myself in conversations with incredibly beautiful and dynamic people. We get lost (and eventually found) talking about whatever comes to mind. We build knowledge from a collection of experiences and observations, bringing it together into a single line that is so on point in capturing the sentiment. I’ve participated in these conversations with most people who are part of this digital snail mail list, which is why we remain connected.
I find myself being re-inspired by these conversations and bringing them up again years later.
Echo #1 :: I was recently re-inspired by a friend from a conversation we had 5 years ago. At the time, he casually mentioned waking up early (we’re talking 5 am, before the sun and the birds) to take his pup for a hike in a canyon that he lived near. -- Whoot for taking full advantage of the beauty that’s around. -- It means something different to wake up for you. Being re-inspired by this sentiment recently, I’ve been waking up for me, even if it’s just a few moments. So far, it’s helped me be more fully available to others and present in my interactions.
So literally, something you barely remember saying 5 years ago- a story or sentence or the mischievous look you flashed someone- is likely resonating very deeply with someone right now. We leave lasting impacts on each other no matter how brief our interactions. If you ask a physicist, they’ll tell you that everything has a frequency- it’s vibrating. Even the things that look the most still, like granite rock. Every thing has energy to it and we continue to respond to that energy consciously or subconsciously. In sum, you leave echoes wherever you go..
Echo #2 :: A friend once described their approach to conversation as, each person you meet has something of the utmost value to share with you. There are countless conversations where I feel like together we have developed a new way of thinking about things that has blown my mind and worldview.
Here is the exciting part (aka the point) of this mind wandering: I’d like to share those moments with you right here, and continue building those realizations together by hearing your thoughts- what conversations (or totally unintentional eves dropping ;) have you been part of recently that has blown your mind or made you think/ wonder/ wander around your brain?
Something you may be thinking is.. hmm interesting, okay yes cool idea! I definitely have experiences I’d like to share and topics I like to contemplate! BUT I know myself and I don’t ever actually hit "reply" to things like this even though I'm soooo with you in thought!!..
Well, I hear ya! Part of my personal hesitation to do this through email has been feeling awkward about being vulnerable through technology. Similar to you being a human being, I am big on eye contact and reading facial expressions and there’s none of that here to process how you’re doing. There’s no encouraging head nods or “mhmm”s to inspire either of us to keep going. I have no idea how you feel about what’s happening and it’s sometimes hard to feel like it’s a two way street. It’s a suspended jump feeling of vulnerability, just like in cartoons...
I’ve been bringing up this discomfort with friends and family to get a feel for how other people handle it. How do they express such personal sentiments using technology? In those wanderings, I came across some examples of people I know that are doing this oh so beauty-fully and I am excited to be inspired by what they have to share!
Echo #3 :: Humans who wonderfully express the potential for human connection using technology:
David Colón :: Enjoy wandering through the minds of others in his hilarious and thoughtful podcast fittingly called Behind the Mynd: http://www.behindthemynd.com.
Amy Childs :: Slip into "an inside-out view of being human," through conversations on various topics in her podcast WhateverWhateverAmen: www.amychilds.com.
They, along with many others which I will share in the future, have helped me recognize what I want my relationship with technology to look like. Technology is a tool to be used how we want. I love that these humans put their whole self forward (through technology and also in life) and encourage others to do the same. It’s not only their approach to technology but it’s how they approach life. Heart first <3
With that, I’ve realized that this digital letter situation we’re both in right now, would be a lovely place to continuing sharing these amazing sentiments that have developed from in person conversations and BONUS: would be a great place to hear what kinds of things you’ve been contemplating, stoked to realize or echoes that you’ve felt from interactions with people and your adventures in the world! I would love to resonate sentiments that inspire us, to develop ideas and be active participants in wandering and wondering about the world.
In spreading the encouragement to put your whole self in this life hokey-pokey, I’m gonna pop the question: What sentiments --big or small-- have echoed with you recently? I’d love to hear about stories, books, songs, quotes, fleeting moments, mind wanderings and personal growth ideas you have been mulling over and working on. And if you'd like, I'd love to anonymously share them again through this virtual collective pen pal we've got going on to spread the inspiration.
Now to address the elephant in the room, which is that little clickable text below here that looks like this:
… cricket ... cricket …
It’s totally terrifying and I get that completely. Just want to draw our eyes to it, give it a cool, calm and collected “sup?” head nod and say that when you feel inspired and want to experiment with me in being brave, it’ll be right there :)
Here’s to being bold, brave and ruthless in our curiosity to experiment,
I am so excited to announce that in appreciation of the immense support and encouragement I have received to pursue art and music full time (through simply beautiful smiles, liking photos, commenting with encouraging words, asking about donations/ show bookings, spreading the word, donations for CDs, phew- I could go on- and endless positive vibes!), I am stoked to begin this journey by giving back in my first official art GIVEAWAY!
The winner will receive 2 prints/ paintings of their choice from this photo!
Here’s how to enter:
1. Follow me on Instagram @vessnascheff
2. Like the GIVEAWAY post (it's the same photo as above).
3. Tag three of your friends in a comment on the post.
And BAM, you’re in!
One winner will be picked at random on FRIDAY, 8/12 and announced on the post the following morning (8/13). *Note: You must like the post and tag three friends in order to qualify to win. Please make sure your Instagram account is public when you enter, and you must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Instagram. Just moi!
Happy creating! #venturesinwatercolor #createdbyvessnascheff
See you soon!
Hi from the Swiss Alps before leaving for Philly!
We just finished packing and are ready-ish to head back to Philly tomorrow. (Who is ever ready to leave the Swiss Alps? ;) This tour has been such an amazing experience. From not having any gigs pre-booked, we were asked to play 5 shows, made lots of connections with other musicians, got to be part of the recording process of a band called Kliché, collected a crowd performing by the Lake in Zurich, played in a soccer tournament with our roommates and met an amazing array of new friends! It has been such an amazing month!
Squeezing it in to our last couple days, I went on a 10 hour hike through the Alps with the friend we are staying with.. It. Was. GORGEOUS. Here are the pictures.. It's hard to even know what to say- it was breath and word taking. Seeing something so HUUUUUGE and beautiful is what people write books, poetry and music about. I am in love.
With a lot of time to think on the hike, it was an emotional adventure walking through such vastness. I felt so small and so big at the same time. The weight of everyday life evaporates as you climb and any worries seem as far away as the town where we began our hike. As we sat eating our lunch, a chunk of snow shifted on the mountain starting a small avalanche (only because we were far away did it seem small) that thundered down the mountain. We sat holding our breath watching the snow collect speed and pour out as a waterfall into the valley below. To be there in the moment when it shifted was incredible.
It does make one think- these mountains are what we are fighting for in preserving the beauty and biodiversity of nature. These moments of overwhelming appreciation and humility and connectedness to where we come from, who we are and where we are going. We are constantly involved and always part of nature despite how lost and far from it we may feel at times. In a comforting way, we never exist outside of nature. Our actions are not separate from the environment. It is our responsibility to avoid ignorance/ denial and embrace this responsibility with pride and uphold the values that allow us to continue being part of this cycle. The Earth will be fine- humans just may not be around to enjoy it if we don't understand that we are intrinsically connected to nature.
On that note, I've got hiking boots and am excited to adventure upon returning to Philly. Please let me know if you'd like to join :)
To all the beautiful places and people I know and have yet to meet, I am so glad we share these orbits.
On a spontaneous 5 hour hike we took along the Limmat river yesterday, we came across this lovely sheep farm and decided to practice our newest cover for them. It was overwhelmingly endearing when they gathered along the fence where we were playing that we forgot some of the chords. They really enjoyed it! And so did we :)
Hello friends and family,
Welcome to my BLOG!
I'm happy to be posting from Philly where I recently relocated and am LOVING it. There are so many talented and creative individuals here who are down to earth and down to collaborate. The amount of support and love that I have received for pursuing music and painting whether online or in person has been so heart filling.
THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have provided a space for me to/ stay live, store art things, discussed art and music, asked to participate in shows, encouraged me to play songs or share paintings that I'm working on-- all of those things contribute to having the ability and confidence to purse art and music. Thank you to all the behind the scenes heroines and heroes of 9-5ers and any "early to laters" whose jobs are extremely challenging in different ways and who make the world go round while artists work to bring expression and light the various issues we all face. As one of my most impactful professors said at the end of our final course, "I hope you leave with the courage to act on your convictions."- Duncan Andrade. THANK YOU.
Things that you can expect to hear about/ see on this blog are various travel adventures (some big things are happening in June...!), new music, sketches, paintings, shows, etc. Looking forward to sharing the adventures with you. Please feel free to share and comment on things you feel compelled by!
Happy travels to wherever you wander today!
Let's go :)