An Ending to a New Beginning.

As 2013 comes to an end, I find myself recently reflecting on the last year and the last four years in particular all the while being grateful for how much I’ve grown as an artist. So… I finally graduated from graduate school last week! Yippeee! It was a long four years. The first two of which I was a full time student and the last two I lived and worked a full time job in NYC and did online studies every semester. Not to mention I was a full time single mom the whole while through it. This marks an important milestone in my life, in which I actually feel like I can start to take my place in life and start doing what I love.

I learned so much through my schooling, four years ago I didn’t even know how to draw for Animation, nor did I even really know what I was in for until I got there! Didn’t even know that my drawing style would change so much or could change. I had been drawing before I started my MFA program, but I had no focus or concentration on anything. It takes a lot to just give up what you have or the life that you used to think that you had.

When I moved to San Francisco from San Diego back in 2009, I gave up everything. I gave up my life in San Diego to experience something new and to live differently. I left so many things behind, including family and friends. My heart was so broken, I had lost my job earlier in 2009 and lost someone in my family that I was very close to in a car accident. My grandparents sold the house I grew up in and decided to retire and live simpler. And on top of that my ex-husband was trying to fight me through court with child custody for our son. My foundations crumbled. But when I moved to San Francisco, I felt a sense of renewal. My spirit and spark that I thought was lost started to come back. Change can be very good for the soul.

Here I am now in Los Angeles, dreamy-eyed, full of inspiration and ready to live the best life that I am working towards! Moving back to the west coast was the best decision I ever made. Granted I had to resign from my secure job in NYC, sell everything, and re-start my whole life again in Los Angeles but it was worth it. I’m now able to see my family more often than I was in the last four years. Yet I can keep my life separate enough to pursue my own dreams and visions for the future.

Looking back now, I’m so glad I trusted my intuition above everything else– above family and friends who didn’t fully support my decision to go back to school. What may seem right to you may not be so obvious to others. And people can say what they want, they are entitled to their opinion. But at the end of the day, your opinion and your great vision for your life is the only thing that really truly matters. Trust me, I had a ton of haters from people who should have been supportive. It takes a strong person to really stand up for what they believe in.

Here’s to the ending of what I thought would have been a long four years of studying, yet it passed by in a blink of an eye. A new beginning awaits me, full of magic and mystery. An exciting, new journey to really discovering and exploring the possibilities of where life may bring me. We have to be open to new opportunities, that’s the only way we can ever expand to our fullest potential and uncover our deeper selves.

We are the sum of what we’ve experienced, where we’ve been, all the lessons we’ve learned, and all of the knowledge that we have accumulated in our own lives. Finding each of our true passions is never an easy journey, but staying true to our selves will give us the happiness that we are truly searching for.

As 2013 ends and winds down, I ask you to re-imagine your life or the life you want for the new year. It sounds cliche, but “any thing is possible if you believe.” Its never too late to re-start projects, or get back on the wagon again to pursue the things we are passionate about. The only thing getting in the way is our self-doubt.

I wish you a great Year for 2014 and a thousand new great things to come into your life!

“Destiny’s true path is rarely ever straight.”

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My friend Mahsa (left) and I at the Masonic Concert Hall in San Francisco. December 13, 2013.

I am a Story Artist.

This is a video of a presentation that I recently made at the Beekman 33 Salon in New York City this last March. It was sort of a Salon to give individuals a chance to showcase themselves, their creativity, or their business. I’ve been meaning to post this but life got so busy! I wanted to post this to give people an idea of who I am and what I do, I now realize that this video really does give others an insight as to who I am. As a story artist as you’ll soon come to find out in the video, I create concept art for the purpose of telling a story. I am grateful that I have found this career path and lucky enough to realize it while I’m still young. The business of telling stories that evoke the imagination and touch the hearts of others is what I enjoy doing the most. I hope you enjoy this video and that it inspires you in your own life. Comments, questions, please tell me what you think!

Salute!

Last week Plein-air Painting in Florence, Italy.

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Me painting outdoors in Fiesole with curious little onlookers!

As my study abroad program winds down, I can’t believe its been exactly 7 weeks that I’ve been here in Italy. I’m truly grateful for this experience of being able to experience living and studying abroad for something that I love to do. It’s been “eye opening” and a whole lot of connecting back to my heart center. Painting, especially with oil paints has always intimidated me. And when I was in my early 20s I often found myself going back and forth, my patience was always rocked with oil painting. I didn’t have enough patience with myself back then, but now I have a deeper love and appreciation for painting.

After doing at least two paintings a day, four days a week for the last seven weeks has incredibly improved my technique and understanding of plein-air painting. Plein-air painting requires a person to think on their feet and improvise, composing a scene into a small 9×12 or 5×7 quick study allows the artist to narrow in and focus on the beauty of the environment, in regards to color temperature, weather climate, and composition. The most important thing with Plein-air painting is to do quick studies so you can relate what you see and the mood has to come across quickly, we aren’t painting masterpieces or finished work. From the outside studies you can go back to your studio environment and expand upon it to either make a larger and more finished painting from it.

Plein-air painting allows the “seer” to adjust to the environment and scenery, a moment that you feel present in the here and now. 

The impressionists started plein-air painting when tubes of paint were invented and it was easier to transport the paints for use outside. Monet was said to have gotten up at 5 am every morning to paint outside and as the light changed in the morning, he would do 2 or 3 all before noon.  The light tends to change every 2 hours and after noon or mid-day you have to stop because that’s when the light is the brightest and its unbearable to paint outdoors! It’s recommended to paint in the early morning to noon or 1 pm. Or pick up again when the light changes at sunset when there is dramatic lighting. The goal of plein-air painting is to pick a scene that looks like a painting, something simple is beautiful. We’re not painting for exactness. We also have to ask ourselves, what are we inspired by to paint? And the colors that we mix should convey the mood– we’re not always going to come out with the same color of the sky or the building that we are painting in, but to express it in a way that the viewer understands what we are trying to convey.

I am truly happy that I got to experience taking this class in the heart of Florence, it was a magical moment in my life. I have changed from what I’ve learned out here both academically and also learning about the rich history of the Italian people. I really did step outside of myself from being a quiet introvert in the comfort of my own home in NYC to really immersing myself in the culture and language of a different country. I really enjoyed myself out here and had the time of my life! You only live once, make it count. La Dolce Vita.

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Before I got a dark tan!

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Firenze!

This week has been surreal living and being in Florence. I’m studying abroad for the next seven weeks and taking a plein-air painting class through the Academy of Art University of San Francisco but we are using a Florence campus called the Santa Reparata International School of Art.

It has been quite a stressful week starting last Monday getting to Florence. First I took a plane from Dublin to Rome. Then took the train from Rome to Florence, which was a good 2 hours away. Then I finally arrived around 4:00 pm to check into my school apartment. I seriously got lucky and was able to get my own apartment here through the school for the summer.

Then Tuesday was a whole day of orientation for the school, safety living in Florence, and everything else about learning the Italian culture. Here are a few things I learned about living in Italy for a week:

1)    Coffee after 11:00 am is frowned upon, they’ll look at you funny.

2)    Most of the restaurants are closed between 12-4

3)    Aperitivo is Italian for Happy Hour and they do happy hour between 7-9pm every evening. You buy a drink and get a free buffet of food. Then dinner is 9pm on.

4)    All the stores here close early.

5)    Italian people live much more slowly. (In contrast to the fast paced living in New York.)

6)    Italians don’t get too drunk, they are somewhat classy. They allow themselves to have a drink or two at dinner every night. (They view Americans as drunks, which I think is quite true. Ha.)

7)  If you make noise in your apartment past 10:30pm, your neighbors can call the police and fine you a 1,000 euro. ( I wish they had this law in New York City).

8)  Italian men can never come on to Italian women. Why? Because they are known to ignore and avoid pursuers on the street.

Pics of Florence and Fiesole below.

We’ve been plein-air painting starting last Wednesday and Thursday, first going to a park location nearby the school and then we went to Fiesole on Thursday to paint on top of the hill. It was a magnificent and breath-taking view. There are photos below to give you an idea of where we went. Fiesole is only twenty minutes away by bus from Florence. But it was also a hell of a time lugging all of our art gear and fold up easels up the hill! Plein-air painting really is a sport! You have to be prepared with all of your supplies, packing everything you need to make painting as smooth and comfortable as you can—and having enough sun block and insect repellant on your skin so that you don’t burn and get bug bites! Also having a hat and sunglasses on also helps to keep the sun out of your eyes. I’m going to be buff and dark by the time this summer is over!

I’m still getting used to painting with oils and painting landscapes on the spot. I sort of get a little bit intimidated with oils since I’m not a fine art major and don’t have much practice with oils. But my goal is to get really comfortable and work independently with paints by the time my class is over at the end of this summer. It’s a good way to learn especially since I want to get really good at painting backgrounds in animation and adopt traditional principles that I can carry over to painting digitally in Photoshop.

I’ve learned that in the few trial runs we had as a class this week that I work best by drawing small thumbnails before I begin painting because it somehow forces me to really look at the contrast between the light and dark shadows of a landscape. And also what recedes into the distance and what colors in different areas are much more vibrant when the sun is hitting it. If you have expressed a sense of atmospheric perspective with a foreground, middle ground, and background—then you are expressing the landscape very well. A focal point is also a good element to have in your painting as you are helping the viewer to have something to focus on and having an “S” curve where you lead the eyes through the painting.

If you are curious about what I packed for plein-air painting or what methods we used, let me know! Or if you have similar experiences with plein air painting that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them!

CIAO!