I would say my main inspiration is the human condition. Trying to understand humans, including myself. Before becoming a full-time artist, I studied everything from psychology to communication, elementary education, and did a Master’s in International Development.
When I studied that Master’s, I did my thesis in the lack of ethical practices that take place in that field, and I did not want to be part of that. I wanted to help, but even the word “help” is tainted with this savior complex I did not believe in. I had to dig deep inside, and tap into my own confusion, pain, and love to understand that our healing as individuals is what is going to make our world a better place. My biggest influence in my writing and art is connection through healing. Reading, writing, going to therapy, seeing myself raw, and being gentle with myself through the darkness, too. Understanding that we are all mirrors of each other, and maybe finding a way of putting all of this on a canvas so that a little bit of our humanity is felt through it.
Through this journey, I have realized that what I used to categorize as "too much" is a gift and privilege because it gives me the capability to pour into words and visual art emotions that a lot of people may not have the tools to express. My writing is very raw. I share it openly in the blog because I know that somewhere, out there, it may help someone else feel less alone. Again, we are mirrors. A very lonely feeling or thought feels less so when we realize it is more common that we thought. I also believe we should normalize vulnerability, especially in the one-sided lives that are usually shown on social media.
My biggest influence is the human experience through my lens.
The approach and processes always vary. I like to keep an open mind as far as exploration through mediums, techniques, and whatever flows at the moment. I really believe the beginning of the process behind a painting can be hard to trace, as it may come from a memory or feeling that took place years ago. There have been a few times where I wake up in the middle of the night to sketch a composition or idea I dreamt about.
I am very careful to not use the term "commission" loosely. It is important to me that I connect with my work. If you are approaching me about a commission, I am trusting that it is because you have seen the type of art I create and would like something along that vision. I respect other artists and the approach they wish to take, but it is important to me that I only take on work that I connect with. That being said, I will not paint your family portrait or your child in a park. If this is something you are interested in, I would be more than happy to recommend another artist that will give you what you're looking for!
Your input in the commission process is valuable because it will involve setting the mood/feeling/emotion that you would like to see in the painting, along with approving the composition.
This is usually how it would go if you are interested in a commissioned piece:
1. Define the mood.
I would ask you to think of what emotion, mood or feeling you want the piece to evoke. After all, it is going to be in your home! Would you like the piece to inspire you, remind you, make you smile? People usually share part of their story. I have gotten “resilience”, “surrendering”, “decompression”, all the way to “gratitude” and “adventure”.
2. My connection to/interpretation of the emotion.
After our small meeting, I sit with that word, and this is where the connection through healing part takes place, the part where we are mirrors of each other. I interpret this emotion through my own experience, but at the end of the day, it is the same feeling even if the context varies. I find this very beautiful because for some reason, it always coincides with the current personal work I am doing in therapy. When I began working on surrendering in my art, I had to work on a piece that took me on the direction of doing a less-structured technique- and what the client wanted was “intrinsic balance found after letting go”. When I did a piece on “compression to expansion”, I was in the middle of my own expansion. It feels very poetic.
3. Size and composition.
After the mood is chosen, I suggest different sizes that go with the space. If you are not sure of which size, I am more than happy to help. Just send me pictures and measurements of the space, and I will give you suggestions. This is then followed by a composition depending on the shape of the canvas – square, horizontal, vertical, etc. I support other creatives, like dancers and contortionists (although at times I do use my own body), on their Patreon and use them as references. I am a big advocate of showing extreme physical shapes, bending, and angles to portray emotions. This is when I come up with the composition, and once it is approved, I am trusted with my own artistic freedom. It is important to me not only that you are in love with the piece, but also that my work feels true to me, my style and evolution. My connection to the piece will mean it is made with love and strong intention. If I do not see the word/idea working, I would be honest with you and give suggestions. This is a very important part of the process so that you feel safe and confident putting such a special piece in my hands.
4. Pricing and payment.
The price depends on the size of the canvas and the amount of time/material/and work that is projected for the piece. A 50% deposit is required in order to be placed in the queue.
5. Painting process.
I always give the option of a big reveal in case the client does not want sneak peeks until the piece is finished. However, if you want to be part of the process, I share updates and progress videos, which also add to the experience!