hello friends and family!
Phew- this has been a great year so far! I can't believe it's almost halfway through. A few things I have appreciated so far this year:
- Being selected for my first Artist in Residence at Glen Foerd!
- Installing my first collection in New York at RISE!
- Opening for Bruno Major @ Johnny Brenda's supported by lots of friends on & off stage!
- Spending two ~week long vacations traveling, camping and visiting family with my wonderful partner Ricky (and mastering boogie boarding)!
This year has already blown my mind with new experiences and I there's only more to come. I have been busy organizing and coordinating a number of upcoming events. It's kinda like I'm touring locally with how much I will be showing work, teaching workshops and performing in the coming months.. I am super excited to announce what is coming. There are new paintings to share, a new single to listen to, plant filled spaces to attend a workshop in and amazing art to experience! So grab your pen and your planner (or your finger and your Google calendars) and take down the dates you'd like to attend!
Aug. 19 // 7PM :: Performing w/ Jasmine Cassell, Erin Fox & Overwinter @ Ortleib's
Aug. 31 // 6:30-8:30PM :: Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series 2018 Gallery Opening & Competition @ Arch Enemy
Sep. 15 // 8PM :: Opening for Sonni Shine Album Release Show @ Milkboy (I created a beautiful layered portrait of Sonni for the single she is releasing this Friday! Follow here to see when it drops).
Sep. 21 // 8-11PM :: Artist Bash Showcase @ The Barnes Foundation
Sep. 22 // 2-5PM :: Botanical Watercolor Workshop @ Vault +Vine Co. (My DREAM LOCATION for this workshop!)
Sep. 28 // 8PM :: Open Studio & House Show Fundraiser for Aspiring Young Artists @ 18th & Wharton
Sep. 29 // 11AM-5PM :: Go West Craft Fest @ The Woodlands
Sep. 29 // House Show @ Private Residence in Mt. Airy
Oct. 4 // 8PM :: Headlining the night w/ Brittany Ann and Jackson Emmer @ Bourbon & Branch
Oct. 6 // 6-9PM :: SOLO Gallery Opening & Single Release for New Collection :: WAVZ @ Urban Art Gallery
Oct. 13 // Post Studio Tour @ Glen Foerd (Come see the large installation piece in progress that I am creating on for this residency! Along with work by other amazing Artists in Residence like Karina Puente :D)
Please share, invite friends and family, spread the word and come out to experience all the art that's about to explode all over the end of August, September and October (in a good way haha)! There will be new colors, fresh textures, bold marks, dope beats, vocal tracks.. let's go! Thank you for your continued support and love for living creatively- your energy helps makes these exciting things happen- and I look forward to being around your wonderful energy at these events!
you can't grade art..
When I started teaching middle school art in SF, students excitedly came to my class saying, "Just so you know Miss V- I'm not an artist. I'm only in here because I definitely wasn't taking Spanish!" These were my wonderful, full of excitement, ready to learn middle schoolers who were so stoked to be in art... just kidding! BUT they did have things they wanted to create, they just weren't sure how to go about it or where to start.
On my first day, students asked me this very challenging question, "If art is subjective, how can you give me a grade on what I make?" This was tough as a first year art teacher who hadn't figured out what the heck I was doing haha. I was really unsure how to approach leading students in an artistic practice while supporting all forms of expression.
Pretty soon I realized, that grades were the most trivial thing to focus on. If students loved the process of creating, they were going to do what it takes to create meaningful art. If they valued art as a form of expression and personal reflection, they would create powerful art. My approach to helping students love the artistic process then became rooted in what I call the "Confidence Curriculum." If we are confident in what we are doing, we put our all into. I created lesson plans that drew from student's observations and experiences. Feedback was mostly done by students for their own work: What do you like about your piece? What did you do particularly well in your piece? Does your piece communicate the things you are trying to communicate? If not, what would help it to communicate that message?
I also invited every artist I could (musicians, muralists, spoken word artists, graphic designers, videographers) to come share their work with the class. We had concerts where we all sat on the floor while musicians filled the room with musical waves and energy, students moving and clapping along, ending in a huge round of applause. Spoken word poets made us laugh, pause and reflect on how words can be delivered to let us understand someone else's perspective in powerful ways. We would bring our sketchbooks outside for "Outside Art Day" and spontaneously stood to listen and sketch while two men played soulful saxophone tones on a park bench.
By experiencing art as a human being, outside of the context of grades, school, or other's opinions, we each developed our own relationship with art.
This is the focus of my practice now- falling in love with the power of art to ground, uplift, move and transform. Reminding myself of this when I create is important. I can get wrapped up in thinking the same questions my students asked me on the first day of class, ""What kind of grade am I going to get on this? What will people think of it? How will they react?"
One strategy I have found for letting go of judging my art based on what I think others will think (phew that takes a lot of energy just to type, can only imagine how much it takes for me to think it haha) is by creating A LOT OF ART. It seems obvious but doing something a lot when you aren't used to it feels hard. Also, a big reason for not wanted to create too much is I don't want to waste paper. This challenge has kept my practice stifled, over calculated and slow. Recognizing that not wanting to waste paper was blocking me from creating, I started looking at what materials I had in my studio. What do I already have that I could do something with? I had paintings that didn't turn out how I wanted. I realized, instead of buying new paper, I could simply use the back. And just like that, the amount of paper I had doubled! I also found I liked some parts of the paintings but didn't like others. Why not just cut them out and collage them into something? This eagerness to create while not creating waste has led to the pieces that you see in this email. I'm am very excited about these since they fulfill so much of what I want my work to do- reflect the beauty and power of nature without harming nature.
I am excited to share this process of further discovery as a creative and grateful for all my students and peer artists who have inspired me to let go and remember what is important in creating. To share this developing collection of works, I will be having a SOLO Exhibition at Urban Art Gallery in October (as well as an online release for those in other areas). For sneak peaks of what what I'm working on, follow along on Instagram and take a look at my Patreon. Looking forward to sharing the adventure and glad we're on it together.
Hello Friends and Family!
Hope this finds you happily enjoying the HEAT! And/ or avoiding it by jumping in bodies of water, chasing waterfalls, drinking bodies of water in glasses with ice and laying on the floor where it’s cool. Bodies of water become all the more appealing when it’s warm out. Through my practice, I have been challenged in creating marks that feel free and look “natural”, like water. Its hard to say what looks “natural” but there is a feeling I get when I look at marks that feel as natural as those found in bodies of water- fluid textures with movement that are intriguing, refreshing and in motion. I’ve made marks that either feel fluid and “natural” or rigid, controlled and forced. This is one reason why pallets often look so beautiful. They are FULL of natural, fluid marks with disregard for structure. In doing so, they tell a story. They show the process of color selection and brush choices in a collection of artistic decisions. Here’s a picture of my palate from this week:
B-E-A-Utiful right?! haha. It feels so easy to create something powerful when you stop trying to create something powerful. (Maybe that’s a sign to trust our power instead of question it?) As I play more with watercolors, they have become a metaphor for me for the power of nature present within each of us. I have been applying for grants, residencies, curated shows and other artist opportunities, and in doing so, I have written A LOT about my process, thoughts, choices and ideas which inspire the art i create. Here are some of the words that have flowed:
It only takes one time of getting tumbled by the waves to recognize the immense power of nature- when you're not sure which way is up as you are kicking your legs through the current to get your feet on the sand and head to the surface. Nature exists outside of our use/ enjoyment of it- it persists. These pieces are a series of reactions to water on the page, much in the same way we react to the currents of motion in water and in society. Through these interactions, we establish our relationship with nature.In some ways, nature is treated similarly to marginalized populations- used as an unlimited resource (labor) and treated as disposable. Through my work, I highlight natural textures of water inspired by the movement of bodies water and patterns of nature to show how it exists beyond our control, in the same that marginalized populations exists outside of colonization and exploitation, as full human beings.
There is immense power and beauty that exists in nature and inside each of us. In order to evolve from ocean creatures, we developed a way to carry salt in our bodies. We are bodies of water capable of creating waves of change.
These most recent visual pieces are reminiscent of music notation to me. They "sound" like mallets dancing along a glockenspiel, deep, resonate bass tones, layered vocal chords and swelling powerful sound wavz ;) Above is a sneak peak to a new single I am in the process of recording, reflecting what I hear when I look at these new works.
I am planning to record a music video for this which shows my artist process combining behind the scenes of my artistic process -visual arts and music- and shows how they flow together <3
Below are a couple more in the series. Dive into these little pools of sound and color and feel free to share what you hear!
it all started with..It all started with the book Secrets of 6 Figure Women, which I was connected with through the Think & Grow Chick Podcast, which I found in my search for women podcasters of color.. (do stories really have beginnings?)
In the book, Barbara Stanny shares tools for getting out of debt. I used to feel bad talking about being in debt. As I read through the book, she talked about her own struggles with debt and how unless you employ certain tools and have a certain relationship with money, debt is something many people are dealing with. Recently, I have been detaching debt from feelings of failure in my finances and character (these two often get wrapped up together).
In her book, where she gives tips for getting out of debt, she says to stop buying books! I was a little taken aback when I read this. Stop buying books? But those are what feed me and help me to grow! By reading, I can expand my knowledge and experience things that didn't necessarily happen to me but feel compassion and understanding for someone else. Books are amazing! How could I possibly give up books?
The following statement (after I had mentally played through this mini episode on how much I love books) was to go to the library. There they have loads of books and they are free! (lol I know it's not new information but, up until now, I had just completely underutilized libraries). You can dive into all the stories and self- development books your heart desires guilt free of spending money.
I've since started going to the library... Now- if you have been to a library recently, then you know what this means. There are SOOOO many amazing books to choose from! Yesterday I spent an entire hour standing in 1 square foot of library carpeted floor looking through books on watercolor color mixing techniques. But the real beauty of being at the library is that books on similar topics are in the same section! So not only did I discover techniques for color mixing but I also came across a book on painting on location with watercolor! (Something I have been waiting but hesitant to try). Jumping into all these books on watercolors made me feel like I was walking through paintings, swimming in colors and choreographing a dance of textures. In doing so, I gathered a broader perspective on painting than if I had simply researched watercolor mixing techniques on the computer.
I left the library with 2 books on painting (this was hard haha) and an armful of books on Native American history and culture in the North East which I am studying as a part of my project for my first artist residency at Glen Foerd! The concept for my project interrogates how, why and for what purpose are we preserving history. More specifically, why is Glen Ford being preserved and what other unsung histories existed prior to and during the construction of the estate. This idea is also reflected in my reinvigorated love for libraries- how are histories being told and preserved to paint the future?
In looking past the present estate, I have been reflecting on what nature existed prior to and continues to exist in and around buildings we have erected. Often buildings are preserved and valued while nature is left to work it's way around cement slabs and pop up between cracks in the concrete. Below are a few pictures of pieces that carry the beauty, excitement, spontaneity and resiliency that nature holds even in cement covered cities.
For some hands on nature inspiration, another local Philly artist is hosting workshop this Saturday reflecting on ways to incorporate aspects of nature into your paintings! Here are the details:
Hands-On Workshop w/ Laura Sallade
Saturday, June 16th // 2-5PM
Refreshments and all materials provided!
Reserve Your Seat!
It's going to be a great time! I will be vending this weekend for the 2nd Street Block Party. Come hang for a bit then head over to the workshop! In the meantime, if you are looking around for inspiration and curious about all topics, I recommend taking a stroll through the library.. ;)
Enjoy your wanderings!
making water taste good
Hi friends and family!
Hope this finds you wrapping up a good week and ready for the indescribable joy of the weekend. *cue all the greatest love songs to describe this feeling.* Here's one if you need to get in the mood: Etta James - "At Last" ;)
As I have been exercising more, I have noticed a few things:
1. water tastes SUPER good after sweating a lot
2. reading while on the elliptical makes the time go by much faster
3. a lot of my interactions with water reflect the feelings I get when I paint
Story time: When I workout, I sweat a lot. It feels like I sweat the most out of everyone who isn't wearing a jacket while working out (also, how do people do that?? I'd be swimming and running at the same time! haha). To get to a point where I break a sweat, I crank up the resistance and incline on my machine from the start. My idea is to make this challenge the norm for my body as soon as possible. This way I don't have time to talk myself out of increasing the intensity.
To sustain the intensity of movement, I distract myself by reading while elipitcalling (that's the verb for being on the elliptical..). I started with listening to podcasts, trying to focus on the stories they were telling so as to not focus on the amount of time or intensity of my exercise. While listening to podcasts, I found my self staring at treadmill runners feet. (The treadmills are in two rows in front of the elliptical machines at my gym so they are in perfect view). I began noticing that my eyes would come to rest on the runners' feet. I think I like that they appear to be moving forward, like they are going somewhere. As stationary as they appear to be while exercising, they are moving a lot of things inside their bodies. Watching their shoes somehow feels like they are not only moving physically, but moving forward emotionally if that makes sense? haha.
I also noticed some of the runners reading while they ran! These are people on the treadmills in a full out sprint while reading a magazine... #exercisegoals haha. I hadn't even considered reading on a treadmill as an option. So I brought the book I'm currently reading to the gym which I really like called "Talk Like Ted." It shares insight to the very effective public speaking strategies used by the most popular TED talk speakers. It's SUPER interesting! I started reading this while I was elipticalling.
I found it wasn't that difficult to read and run at the same time (I am privileged in that I don't get motion sickness easily), and I actually checked the time less because I was throughly engaged with what I was reading. 40 mins goes by quickly when reading a good book.
Being enthralled in my book makes working out for a longer period of time much easier. This brings me back to sweating. By working out longer, I sweat even more, which makes me extra thirsty when my workout is over. Now to the water.
Water tastes inarguably satisfying after exercising, similar to the feelings I get when I dive into my paintings.
Think about the last time you were really thirsty. Like mouth dry, swallowing just to keep your throat occupied until you can drink, the sun beaming through the sweat dripping down your forehead. (This may be a little graphic but trust I’m going somewhere with it). Finally, after all your movement, walking through the sun, running across the field on a hot, dry summer day, you finally get to take a sip of water. The moment the refreshingly cool water floods through your mouth, the water bottle is nearly 3/4 of the way empty because that’s how thirsty you were. As the water rivers through you body, you feel replenished. (What a beautiful word right? haha. It’s exactly the feeling). Like a sponge that was dried out and filled with water expands to it’s full size. You regain your posture, you can open your eyes, you can think more clearly and focus, and breathe more fully.
Water is powerful.
Apply that same sense of sensation of drinking the perfect cup of water to running into the ocean or jumping into a pool on a hot day. At first your body is like “Holy crap!! It’s freezing!! Retreat, RETREAT!!”, then you get a huge *spine shiver*. After a few minutes however, your body temperature adjusts and it starts to feel kinda cool. Not yet comfortable, but manageable. Then you start plopping on your back, remembering that you can float in water unlike any other time in life, and with some splashing around, it feels really good. Compared to the heat, it feels like your skin is taking a sip (aka a dip.. ;).
The beautiful thing about water is that it holds the same properties when it’s in a water bottle, as to when you are extremely thirsty, as to when you run into the ocean, as to when you dip into a lake or jump into a pool. All of these replenishing feelings of floating awe, breath held wonder, flooding curiosity, and tidal appreciation that come up when I interact with water, I also see and feel when I paint.
All of these words are an attempt to convey the weight of beauty, power, satiation, vastness and letting go I feel when painting with watercolors. These interactions we have with water on a daily basis are as powerful as the vastness of the ocean, and energetic as the tide and as intimate and extraordinary as one drop of water. One drop of water from a water bottle is not entirely different from a drop of water in the ocean or a drop of water in our bodies. (Plus if water is powerful in all of these ways, and we are mostly water… just saying ;)
I call this sensation “The Power of One Drop.” It’s my made up name for how incredible it is to stare at watercolors. One of my favorite ways to experience and share this feeling is through “flying” over my watercolor on wood pieces. I “fly” my camera over a piece, showing the way water shapes the surface of the painting. It doesn’t feel like you are looking at a painting. It feels like you are flying over oceans, islands and rivers, following streams through forests and jumping into clear, turquoise waters. Do you like to travel? Let's go on an all expenses paid trip over this piece "Splashed". Ready?
Tap to travel over "Splashed". Let's go!
I love traveling and of flying over these pieces. Hence why I stare at them all day. haha. These to me are like the taste of water when you are really thirsty, jumping into a pool on a hot day, feeling the wonder of oceans even in the city; and reminders that we are salt water beings- literally ocean like bodies of water wandering around together.
To the power of one drop.
"Why can't I?Hey friends and family!
Hope you are getting into the Spring of things ;) with this warm weather! (It's not raining! Love the rain but also the sun!)
I have been reflecting on a few life changes I have made recently and noticing how I talk myself out of doing them, even as I am committing to doing them. It's a really interesting process to retrain your brain towards the person you want to be.
A few things I'm going to share in this are:
- my step by step thought process as I am working out
- reflection on that process (understanding why doubtful thoughts crop up for me)
- my strategies for working through those thoughts to be the person I wish to be
I've suggested songs for listening while reading in the past and felt inspired to send one with this email. The song that came to mind for this writing is Redemption Song by Bob Marley focusing on the line "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.." Here is a link if you'd like to listen before, after or while reading: "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley.
I look forward to furthering these conversations. Please feel free to respond after reading if you are working through some similar personal shifts or just want to say heeeeeyyyy!
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
The two things I have been committing to recently are:
1. Working out/ going to the gym every morning
2. Writing down my expenses each day
These two seemingly simple things I have been wanting to do for a long time, but had not made the change until now. The reasons behind these two changes I've made recently are:
1. I've been wanting to workout everyday just to see what my body feels like/ looks like if I go the the gym everyday. I won't look like other people but I want to know what that looks like and feels like for me.
2. I have thought in the past that it was possible to keep mental track of how much I was spending. I'm now convinced that it is 100% impossible to keep mental track of how much I am spending. haha. I've tried to convince myself that I can do this many times but in writing down my expenses each day recently, I've realized it's absolutely not true. There are always little things that I spend money on that I almost don't even realize I am spending money on. Like picking up a water bottle- cause we all need to drink water!) or whatever your favorite drink is cause you deserve it after working so hard, or stopping by the gas station to get gas, or paying for a transfer on public transit, or signing up for Skillshare on a $.99 cents for the first 2 months deal.. etc. haha There are so many moments where money seems to just slip away and especially with all the stuff going on today, it feels easy to get distracted from how much I am actually spending.
(I will take more about the impact that tracking my expenses and income has had but in this email, I'm going to focus mostly on what I've noticed about working out).
By making a commitment to going to the gym every morning- no questions asked, I've come to realize that many times I find myself doubting my ability to complete a workout. My thought process goes like this:
1. Say hello to Pam at the front desk, have a great conversation with her, and find a machine to begin my cardio movements (I look for the funnest machine available cause why not? :)
2. Jump on the machine, push "Quick Start" and ramp up the resistance and incline. My idea behind this is that if I start hard, I can reduce it instead of getting used to the easier settings and feeling like I should ramp it up.
3. 10 mins in, I'm thinking, Phew- this is great! Look at all these beautiful people of all different shapes and sizes just getting our move on early in the morning. I'm stoked to be part of this crew!
4. 15 mins in: Whoa, this is getting kinda hard...
(AND 5. this is the big one)
5. "I can't do this."
I've noticed myself just slip into this thought, and it feels so natural. I have this moment of "Oh no, I don't think I'm probably not going to be able to complete this workout at this intensity or maybe not at all."
I've come to notice when I have this thought. I've noticed that it happens EVERY MORNING. It's really interesting how consistently it kicks in, and it brings with it all these emotions: Maybe I just can't workout every morning? Maybe I just can't do this? Maybe I can't change or develop in ways that I want to? Maybe I'm trying something that is impossible for me? Maybe I'm wasting my time and money on paying to have a gym membership when in reality there's no way I could actually maintain this?
All these emotions happen in about a 5 second period. As I've come to notice them happening, I recognize when they start and instead of running from them or trying to push them away, I think, "Okay. Let me list in my head while I'm here on this machine, all the reasons I can't do this." This is how my thoughts process proceeds:
1. Recognize moment of, "AHHHHHHHHHHH I can't do this!" --> Cue emotional swampland.
2. Breathe. Then I list in my head while still moving on the elliptical all the reasons I can come up with for why I can't do this.
3. I then ask myself, "Why can't I do this?" This usually leads my thoughts from the concrete (I might not be physically strong enough) to all the reasons why I am afraid that I won't be able to do it.
4. Then I ask myself, "What do I wish I could do?" Do I wish I could finish a 30 min cardio workout at this intensity? Do I wish I could go to the gym everyday? Do I wish I feel confident, strong and capable in my body after working out in the morning?
5. After taking a moment to recognize my fears and acknowledge the things I wish I could do, it makes it clear that in order to do the things I want to do in life, I have to finish this 30 min workout at this level of intensity.
This thought process is what gets me through my workouts EVERYDAY. I literally go through this EVERYDAY when I workout. (It is a workout. Couldn't resist! ;)
It has been fascinating for me to notice this thought process, in particular to notice how consistent it is despite me wanting it to be different/ working to change it. I believe this is what a mindset shift is about. Instead of turning off the feelings I have, I embrace them and determine if they are in line with my wishes for myself. If my wish is to be able to complete this 30 mins workout, then my auto response of "I can't do this." really isn't helping haha. Instead, I have to help it by walking through the thoughts of, this is WHY I WANT TO DO THIS, which makes it so much easier to do. I also get an extra pump of energy which I am better able to sustain in the second half of my workout after walking myself through this thought process.
Noticing my thoughts as I am continuing to do my workout I feel is an important part of this development. I can think, this is hard, I can't do this, I'm going to fail, so on and so on... but:
Just because you are thinking it, doesn't mean you can't keep doing it.
After finishing my workout, then I've proven myself wrong. I've proven that I can do. I'm realizing that the automatic thoughts of resistance and self defeat that come up half way through my workout are all the same thoughts I had before I decided to get a gym membership. They are now showing up later in the process. Instead of preventing from getting a gym membership and going to the gym each morning, they are showing up half way through my workout. Recognizing that I have already moved through these insecurities to get to where I am, encourages me to keep moving through them in my exercising. They may show up in other places as I continue develop but they aren't going to stop me from getting in my 30 mins of cardio :) whoot!
I'm looking forward to having a community discussion in my workshop this Saturday, May 26th on how we each overcome mental defeat, and resources/ tools we use to work through this process. I'm excited to share and create community around our working through these personal developments. The process of making art, I find, can bring up similar trains of thought for myself and others which makes it a great medium for these bold, brave and liberating conversations.
I Want To Be Part Of The Conversation on Saturday!
A quote I used to meditate on when I was running was, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.." by Bob Marley. I've noticed, there are so many moments where I am enslaved to my thoughts, as though I am actually not capable of what I want to be capable of. Working out and creating art are powerful ways I've found to challenge believes I hold of myself and exercise.. ;) mental freedom. While not the only way, I believe working through these personal developments can make ripples in my capabilities to impact change on a larger scale. How can I expect to liberate others if I am not also engaged in liberating myself?
Sending love and liberation your way in your personal and creative pursuits.
maybe it's not as hard as it looks?
Hello friends and family!
Hope you enjoyed the thunder storm this week over Philly. There were a couple of loud lightning cracks that scared me haha. Since my emails have evolved to be a little bit like blog posts, I decided to do a cap up before diving in. A few topics I'm excited to be touching on in this email are:
- learning that things aren't always as hard as they seem
- developing new habits that are in line with my goals
- sharing resources for creative, personal and professional development below and in a Watercolor Workshop on May 26th
Sending love your way!
Diving in: Yesterday I fixed a broken mechanism on my car! :D It's the locking latch that catches the hood when you close it- not the safety latch but the one that holds it tightly in place. I have been struggling (aka slamming my body into the hood of my car) to close it for months because there was something wrong with the mechanism- my car is 24 years old. Many well meaning and I believe sometimes patronizing men have asked if I need help as I'm jumping up and down on the hood of my car outside AutoZone, and have come to find they couldn't fix the problem either. I was feeling very frustrated by not being able to resolve this and typed in exactly what the problem was on YouTube. Turns out, the mechanism was simply corroded and stuck in place. The video suggested getting some rust penetrator to loosen the mechanism and nudging it with a phillips head screw driver to get it moving. I immediately drove back to AutoZone, picked up some rust loosener, sprayed it on the stuck area and poked at it with my car key. The thing, snapped right back into place! I was shocked. It was so freaking simple!! This issue that I had been dealing with for MONTHS was fixed in seconds.. I was shocked at how big of a deal I'd made this task out to be. I thought I'd have to set an appointment, take it to the mechanic, (if I could even get there without my hood flying off the car), wait for it to be fixed, bring a bunch of stuff to work on in the meantime since it might take a while, then probably pay a significant amount of money to get it repaired. In the time I took to tell that story, I could have fixed my car myself 10 times. lol It was so simple!
I have been thinking about other ways in which I complicate tasks that maybe aren't that complicated. I recently got a gym membership. I have been going everyday since getting it (almost two weeks). I feel really good waking up and going to the gym. I used to think, "I'd like to be someone who works out everyday." After reflecting on what I want, I realized that if I wanted to be someone who works out everyday, then I.. *ehem* need to be someone who works out everyday. When I lived next to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, I was inspired to run everyday. I would take this beautiful trail through the park down to the ocean and back. I don't find the same release through running through city blocks. I did feel like a gym would motivate me. There were all the machines I could pick and choose from, they open early and stay open late so i can go anytime, there are other people around who were also working out and they have someone at the front desk at all times (which is extremely important for me as a solo woman going to the gym). I had always considered a gym membership as totally out of my budget and was concerned I wouldn't find one that met my specifications, but those fears prevented me from even looking into gyms in the area. When I realized that I needed to go to a gym to feel comfortable and motivated to workout, that it was important for me to find one because it was helping me become someone who works out everyday, I looked up some gyms in the neighborhood that I could ride my bike to. One had a sale- 1/2 of on gym memberships until May 15th. I went in the next morning and signed up and have been going every morning since.
Exercising for me is about feeling confident in my body, capable and familiar with my body. I want to learn how my body feels when I use it in a variety of ways. The gym has been a great place for me to simply celebrate and play with what my body is capable of. And it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be to make it happen. My curiosity to see how it felt was stronger than my fear of not being able to make it happen. The same was true for the issue with my car. I got so frustrated today with how helpless I felt and how it put me in this odd unwanted damsel in distress situation that I finally looked up the problem on google. And there it was. Super simple. These realizations made me think, "maybe it's not as hard as it looks" to do the things I want to do?
In jumping into new artistic endeavors, I have been asking myself this question a lot. I am now applying this idea to goal setting and my finances- two areas where I have avoided developing because I thought it would be hard to figure out. Through a series of books and podcasts, I have been learning about goal setting, personal finance and money management. I am super excited to discuss and share the concepts I've been learning. Here are a few of the resources I have been diving in to:
- Think & Grow Chick Podcast by Courtney Sanders
- Secrets of Six Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason
When I read or listen to a podcast, I look for hands on, practical ways in which I can start doing the things they are talking about in my life. I want to be able to dive in and learn by doing. That is what I like about each of these resources. They meet you where you are and give you tools to support you in getting to where you want to be. It is also how I approach teaching. Read more about my approach to workshops here:
What's in a Workshop?
On May 26th from 7-9pm I am hosting a Watercolor Workshop & Resource Sharing Dinner out of my studio. We will be:
- Learning to make and paint our own postcards (to spread the love and resources even more).
- Exploring the world of textures found in painting with alcohol ink on yupo paper.
- Sharing a delicious vegan meal- NOM!
- Discussing what resources we use for personal and professional development - also NOM!
Bring your favorite resource for personal/ professional development right now and/ or simply come to learn and participate!
After the workshop, I invite all participants to walk over to The Pharmacy with me to hear A Great Time Band play a show! They supported many local artists by featuring their work in their album cover. Watch the video of me painting a watercolor piece to their song One.Thirty.Seven HERE. I look forward to creating, resource sharing and hanging out after with you!
#businessgoals // practicing alignment when it comes to life and business
As I have been diving into more business studies and listening to a bunch of women and women of color business podcasts, I have been reflecting on how my values align with the values and mindsets of business people and entrepreneurs. In many cases, they have excellent advice for aligning yourself with how business currently operates. These are huge insights for groups that have been historically excluded from accumulating wealth and owning capital. I've felt uncomfortable however with the end goal of all of this business. What are we ultimately striving for as we dive deeper into developing all of our businesses? In talking about it with friends and family, it seems like there is consensus that getting people of color and women into positions of power would create change.
In talking through this idea with my partner Ricky, I realized the word "power" is thrown around in this statement as though it means something clear and specific. When I think of power and how I have heard it used, it seems to generally indicate wealth, money, influence and control. Using this common definition for power, this seems to indicate we want people of color and women to have wealth, money, influence and control.
While this may be true, what do we want women and people of color to do with their power once obtained? In the same way, I wonder, what do we want all people to do with the power they have obtained? Simply getting into positions of power cannot be the end goal. If that were the case, all the same inequities that exist in our society today would persist. So if gaining power isn’t our end goal, what is?
Reflecting on this question for myself, I came up with:
Ultimately, I’d like equitable (not equal- there’s a difference) treatment of all people so that everyone gets what they need.
This brings up one glaring question:
What do we need?
With this goal and question, I am reflecting on what I actually need in life. What do I need in order to survive? What standard of living am I perpetuating? Is it meeting my most basic needs or exceeding them? What are my most basic needs? All of these questions are important for me to reflect on so that I am clear on my purpose and ultimate goal of what I want in life and in business. Where I want to end up in life is tied to how I am spending my time which is essentially what my business is. (In a way, we all run our own businesses. We make decisions that impact the energy we put out into the world. It may not be all that time that we feel we are in control of our decisions, but there are moments where we each decide how and why we are directing our life energy).
Using this lens, I am looking at what I do and what I engage with just to take note of whether the company, group, person or organization I am engaging with strives towards the same goal of equity. I am also looking at how I operate as a business. Does everything I do point to this same goal?
For those who may not know, I’m a big fan or reading revolutionary autobiographies. I love getting insight to how someone developed as a revolutionary, what influenced and inspired their beliefs and drove them to align their life with their values. I also love that they acknowledge their part in a larger history of struggle. In all of the books I have read by revolutionary leaders, they reiterate that their story is one of many and they are documenting it to contribute and further the struggle, knowing others much like them deserve to have their stories told and remembered. (This is part of my goal with painting people of color- to add beautiful pictures of people of color to history). Reading autobiographies of revolutionaries has also taught me that the people who create change:
To bring these wants to fruition however, it means aligning not just your personal life but whoever you dedicate your time to (job, businesses, community, etc.) towards that goal. The more energy we direct towards the ultimate goals we want for society, the more they will grow. The struggle towards a more equitable and safe society is built from each of our actions and how they align with or derail from that goal. For me, this can feel like a daunting task but it is one that I must be committed to engaging with if I am committed to wanting change. Many revolutionaries have come before who have committed to this task of aligning their lives with their values- whether or not we acknowledge and understand our role in it, we are part of shaping this history.
Combining my thoughts from listening to business podcasts and reading revolutionary autobiographies, I am thinking about this alignment in terms of my personal development and my business development. I am aligning my business with my personal goals and in doing so, I am directing my actions towards creating safety for all people.
To meet up in person for art and conversation, I am hosting a dinner and mini workshop (followed by walking over to a show a block from my house!):
Saturday, May 26th Mini Workshop, Dinner and Show Visit
"What’s the Point?" // Defining Your Purpose in Creating (18th & Wharton)
$35 // Dinner and materials provided
In this workshop, we’ll discuss what our end goal is and how to align ourselves to get there through what we create. I am excited to bring this conversation more explicitly into my workshops and create support for this dialogue through art. We will define, refine and create towards our goal and discuss ways to further our goal beyond this one workshop. After the workshop, I will be walking over to The Pharmacy to hear a Great Time Band (that’s their name haha) play! They showcased many local artists in their most recent album including a piece I did for their song One.Seventy.Two. Above is the video of me painting to their song <3 I’m finishing the write up/ sign up for this workshop but save the date! Would love to hear your thoughts in this conversation. As always, please send any via email also.
Thank you for being part of this adventure towards purposeful creating.
Focusing on your purpose supports your wellbeing
Hi friends and family,
Hope this finds you enjoying this beautiful weather today! It's finally full on Spring! Wahoo!
I have been thinking a lot about what my goal is with creating art (for performing, painting and teaching). I feel like I have been running around trying different things to to find things that "work." I think this running around for me was caused for a number of reasons:
1. social media- everyone is doing everything all the time via the little window of your phone and it feels like simply standing still just isn't enough sometimes.
2. consuming information- when I get into an idea, I chow down on it. I listen to a million podcasts on the topic, I talk about it with friends and family. It feels like the more I can take in on this subject, the better I'll be at it.
I was gifted a moment to sit still and talk with a friend in a waiting room the other day. We talked about the challenge of technology and social media. How it disconnects us from the things that are really important. I've had this conversation a many times (I think we all have as we navigate this relatively new territory as a society). After conversations like these, I will often think differently for a little bit, applying what we talked about to the days to follow.
In this case, I happened to reflect on my month after talking with her. I wrote down (via prompts in my Passions Planner) a reflection on how the month had gone. In doing so, I realized I have been neglecting to focus on the things I really want.
Things I realized I want to focus on:
1. interacting in person with people
2. supporting others in developing a creative practice (aka getting out of your own way to just go for the stuff you want)
3. getting into nature!
These things have been underlying my practice the whole time but in all the overload of information on social media, and learning about entrepreneurship, I felt I got distracted from those goals.
Reflecting was an important part of this realization. I have heard people talk about the importance of meditation and writing but haven't fully absorbed how those practices are helpful. (Going out into nature can often be my place of reflection. However, when I am not able to make it out into nature, I have to create moments to reflect in other ways). I'm looking forward to incorporating reflection in some way into my practice so that I can put this information overload into perspective, and spend time with the people, places and things that are most important to me.
With my refocus on connecting with people, I've written up a description page for my philosophy behind teaching watercolor workshops. I have loved getting to know people in this supportive community space, working through the feelings of "I am not an artist. Good luck teaching me anything related to art," which is literally what students have said to me. haha. Fun fact: I developed my curriculum teaching art in a middle school... i got you. By the end, participants are boldly making marks on the page (this is huge!) and sharing the unique techniques they each discovered in painting with their watercolors.
What's a Workshop Look Like?
For each workshop, all materials are provided and my partner makes an amazing vegan meal. The whole room is filled with creative exploration, laughter, delicious aromas of sautéing veggies and art making! That being said, I've been dreaming up topics for future workshops and am putting together a calendar for 2018 workshops! ... AHHHH!! (lol that's mostly for the amount of work I have to do) but I'm excited to be focusing on what's important to me- bringing people together to share community and support our creative adventures.
*I'm working on the nature part also. I have plants but I would love to take this workshop out into nature and get our inspiration from what surrounds us! When I taught middle school, I organized outside art days where we would take our sketchbooks outside and draw our surroundings as we walked. I wanna do this with everyone. Stay tuned for outside workshops!
Sending creative vibes your way and look forward to connecting with you in person soon!
Hello art lovers!
This Saturday, from 11-5pm is Go West Craft Fest :D (cue Emperor's New Groove moon walk dance..whoot!) It is a beautiful day in West Philly at the Woodlands filled with artists and community members. There are local vendors with handmade goods, art pieces, cards, soaps, clothing, essential oils, hand spun pottery... simply loads of amazing things and amazing people.
It's one of my favorite events of the year because of the amount of artists and community members it brings together and it's set IN THE WOODS :D!! There are also a handful of local performers who will be providing music and entertainment throughout the day. (Last year, there was a traveling trapeze act that brought a whole set up to do trapeze in the park! It was amazing!) I will also be stepping away from my booth at 2pm to perform a set. It's going to be a great time!
Peer Artist Workshop! If you are looking for some hands on art this weekend, a friend and artistic peer- Laura Sallade- is hosting her first watercolor workshop this Saturday from 2-4pm! It will be held in her beautiful, creativity inspiring studio- all materials, a piece you create, a print of Laura's work, plus pie & tea included for just $40! Take a look at her Instagram for a sneak peak! Learn more here: www.laurasallade.com
Please invite any friends who might be interested to both these amazing events and we'll see you Saturday! (There are two beautiful flyers below to share).
Happy Hump Day!
*Above is a piece from my new collection titled "Reef" now on it's way to it's new home in Austin, TX! In love with its playfulness and vibrancy. I'm collecting inspiring images of nature for this collection. Please send any my way if you'd like to see what they inspire!