Beginning Again: My Sedona Story

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A few week ago, I escaped to Sedona to paint

 

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I just got back from a painting workshop in Sedona, Arizona, after barely making it there in the first place. As you may have read in my previous blog post, I almost talked myself out of going due to deadlines and work overload. Now, I’m shaking my head in disbelief—I can’t believe I almost denied myself this restorative experience! Thank goodness I changed my mind. Both the workshop and Sedona were beyond worthwhile.  

 

 

 

 

The workshop was not a technique-based class. I saw it as a space for me to experiment with new subject matter and to push myself outside my limits and beyond my comfort zone. I went in with a strategy: I decided to try to paint as if I’d never painted before. I told the facilitator that I deliberately “forgot” how to paint and I was happy about that. I decided to approach my work with new eyes, because I think we tend to work within self-imposed limitations—we all have stories we tell ourselves, like “I’m not good at figure painting” or “I’m not good at painting florals.” So I decided, “I don’t know anything, so I guess I kind of know everything!” I felt like I had that youthful naiveté we all have before anyone tells you you’re not good at something.

 

I actually produced a portrait painting for the first time in so long that it felt like my first time. I found myself painting faces and figures, which is so unlike my usual work! I found myself experiencing a sense of possibilities unfolding and confidence rising. I’m excited to explore more figures and florals in my work in the future. Painting in Sedona gave me permission to explore new subject matter in my work. I don’t think I would have tried those new areas if I hadn’t gone there.

 

I was also very prolific at this workshop! Being engulfed in that mountain landscape made me feel free. I felt that a huge weight was off my shoulders. I felt at peace and I was able to just play.

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With all of the painting I did, you’d think that I wouldn’t have had time to enjoy the town of Sedona, but I found time for that. I even had my aura color read (lavender, of course!). Sitting in the square and listening to the magical sounds of a Native American flute being played while I drank my coffee, staring at the incredible stars at night, and watching the light change over the colorful mountains all helped me decompress and recharge.

 

 I meditated on the rocks sitting at the base of Sedona's most photographed site "Cathedral Rock" and it inspired the title for my painting " Meditation on the Rocks "

I meditated on the rocks sitting at the base of Sedona's most photographed site "Cathedral Rock" and it inspired the title for my painting "Meditation on the Rocks"

How about you? Whether it’s in your artwork, your health, or your personal life, what self-imposed limits have you created? Have you pushed yourself beyond them, or are you thinking about it? Can you become a beginner again, even for a week? Give yourself permission and set yourself free!

P.S. Would you like to paint with me this month?

This trip gave life to my "Real, Raw Abstract Painting" live studio sessions. I traveled far and wide to get to Sedona and I realized not everyone can afford to drop what they're doing and travel cross-country. We have a lot of commitments and responsibilities, and so art workshops can truly be a bit of a luxury. I wanted to bring the workshop experience to you. We've had  artists from all over the world participate so far and I'd love for you to join me this month for the second session of learning, inspiration, and encouragement.

Click here >>> Join me in the second installment of "Real, Raw Abstract Painting - Live Studio Session" next week! 

P.P.S.  I share my Artist story further this month on the "Support is Sexy" podcast with Elayne Fluker. Enjoy!

What I Learned from Taking a Social Media Break This Week

 This gorgeous color wheel study, provided by one of my meticulous students. Thanks susan Gottschalk!

This gorgeous color wheel study, provided by one of my meticulous students. Thanks susan Gottschalk!

Last weekend I had the honor of teaching a 3-day workshop for the first time at the Donna Downey Studios in North Carolina. It was a glorious occasion and I painted with some of the sweetest ladies I could have hoped for. Stepping away from the online side of things for the weekend and engaging with artists in person was a much-needed change of pace.

After reflecting on such an intense year, and recognizing that in a few short days I would be starting my 30 paintings in 30 days challenge, I decided to reign it in and cancel all work-related Instagram and Facebook activity for a week. Well, 4 days to be exact but that's basically a business week over here.

Here's what I learned:

  1.  Managing two Instagram accounts, a Facebook group of 1,900+ artists, and keeping up with my account here is a full time job. 
  2. I need to hire more help and fast. Having support staff to help manage the different facets of my art business and consulting is crucial for me to stay in shape.
  3. I was able to be way more productive in my business when I unplugged for a few days. 
  4. I was able to focus on self-care more easily. I caught up with a few healthcare visits, visited my grandma, and spent my 29th birthday at the mall like a normal person. (PS I treated myself to some Madewell jeans for the first time and I did not know a pair of jeans could make you so happy. They cost a pretty penny, but you will never want to put your toosh in another piece of denim again.)
  5. I got out of the addictive loop of likes and comments and also couldn't run to them when I needed a distraction.
  6.  My time felt like my own for the first time in a long time.
  7. It is slightly scary to think the online world has imploded and may build up your anxiety to check it even for a second 
  8. I have more self-control than I thought I did. And coming back to the "work" that is social media is hard. 
  9. Social media is still a vital part of my business and how I support myself, but it is not the only part.

Have you ever tAKEN a social media hiatus?

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I intend to schedule more of these throughout the rest of this year. I never realized how much time and energy I was expending. It's nice just to be able to tell people, email me at info@amirarahim.com if you need anything and walk away. 


#AMIRAPAINTS30DAYS

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Today marks the first day of my self-inflicted 30 paintings in 30 days challenge 😝 and so you can expect me to make up for the absence this week with a months worth of original paintings from my studio to flood your screens.

If you'd like to get on my collector list for the 30 paintings and get special updates on new originals from my studio this month, sign up below:

After this I'll probably want a pina colada off the coast of Jamaica. Like for real 🌴🌴🌴

May Studio Update

Fresh Paint

New work from my studio

The weather is warming up and so is my easel! I've been plugging away on a new collection and I'm excited with what's been showing up on my canvas so far. These paintings have a decidedly softer feel, while still being as colorful as ever.

I'm experimenting with more texture and whites in my work. It is a challenge but I have some visions in my head that I'm determined to see come to life. I think this month is going to be a bright and colorful one. Some of these paintings I use a brisk motion with my palette knife to finish, and others, I am slowly sweeping over with my brush, one thick stroke at a time.

There's something about these pieces that makes me want to keep going. I'll be back in a few days with more to share but would love your thoughts on the latest additions so far.

The titles are all listed in my shop with some like "Something like Intuition", "Show me a better way" and "Sunday in Central Park".

Inspiration, Doing Something You Hate, and Falling in Love Again.

The first time I was asked to paint an abstract painting, I hated it.

It was an autumn day during my second fall semester at Pitt, exactly 10 years ago. I was taking a Painting 101 course to go towards my Studio Arts minor and the class was largely assessment-based. It would be my first time using oil paints, and while I loved painting the glass bottles, still-lifes of fruit, and my favorite--people--I hated abstract painting. 

Everything about the concept of painting abstractly annoyed me. Whyyyyy would anyone take a look at all the beauty on earth and distort it? Why not capture it as precisely as you can? That's what I used to think. Lucky for me, our professor only expected us to complete one abstract assignment and graciously graded us according to our efforts, not our finished product. I managed to get an A in that class but my abstract painting almost got in the way of that.

The instructor told us to go out and find some inspiration, bring back some elements from nature for us to abstract. Naturally, on a fall day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I grabbed some beautifully colored leaves and proceeded to make a terrible painting. So terrible that I don't even have a picture to show you. I quickly put the painting and that assignment aside and out of my memory. "Dear God, never let me have to do that again" I thought.

10 years later, I eat my words because it's the only type of paintings I want to create these days. Maybe I wasn't developed enough yet as an artist. I was 18. A baby by many standards. And surely, even though I had been drawing and painting since childhood, I didn't have a true vision for the type of work that I wanted to add to the world.

The other day, halfway through painting these two pieces, I realized that with time, the same subject, the same process can lead to so much inspiration. We just need time to be able to see it. The leaves of October in New Jersey make my soul sing. My heart melts each time I step outside and see the trees seemingly dipped in yellow and orange. I've taken many walks through the nearby trails in my neighborhood to gather my thoughts and find peace in this busy life. This is what came out of those days in the woods...

"Female Energy" oil pastel, spray paint, acrylic on 30x30" canvas

These two pieces can be considered prototypes for future work. I love the texture and flair in each of them. I didn't even realize that they match until today when I photographed them. And both of them hold some secrets because it was the very first time I introduced spray paint into my fine art practice. I hope to convert them into patterns for textiles. I can even see them both on a lovely scarf. But it all started with a few leaves. It all started with looking again.

I share these paintings with you today and invite you to look again at the familiar. You just might get inspired.

"Autumn for Lovers" spray paint, acrylic on 30x30" canvas

Passionately,

Amira xx

P.S. Would you be interested in taking a workshop with me? If so, please click here and leave your details so you'll be the first to know about upcoming classes. 

Works on Paper Release!

Thank you all for purchasing the first round of original works on paper! Part 1 was my "Evil Eye" originals on watercolor paper. I enjoyed sharing this first because they are very minimal and calming. Now, I present to you my very colorful and excited Part II.

Inspired by my recent travels to Bali and Italy, they are bold, colorful, and unapologetic and I can't wait for you to see them! Each piece is on handmade heavy deckled paper and feels so special in hand. Here's a quick preview:

 "Koi Pond" 12x16" on deckled edge paper

"Koi Pond" 12x16" on deckled edge paper

 "Psychedelic Koi Joy" 12x16" on deckled edge paper

"Psychedelic Koi Joy" 12x16" on deckled edge paper

 "Capri" 12x16" on deckled edge paper

"Capri" 12x16" on deckled edge paper

Each piece is sent off with a handmade Balinese necklace. My gift to you! Now go check out the new pieces. I will be releasing the final batch later next week.