Learn how to hire a virtual assistant in your art business in this blog post + download a free recording by Amira RahimRead More
It's Saturday night, I'm sitting in my art studio in Oaxaca, Mexico creating new work and sending out orders to collectors while I get to travel the world.
A few years ago, this would have been a pipe dream. In college, art felt like a luxury and now, it's how I make my living.
So how exactly doessss one transition from simply sharing your art online to actually selling it? I just gave a talk on the topic a few weeks ago and you can access the recording here. Here's a few reasons why you probably haven't sold a painting online yet:
- No one knows who you are.
- Selling art online requires an audience. One of the first things people will do when you tell them you're an artist is Google "your name + art". If nothing comes up then it's problematic. Work on establishing a web presence early in the game and it will be much easier to reap the rewards when you're ready to ask for your first sale!
- You aren't blogging and documenting your journey.
- I get it. You're a painter not a writer. Blogging is a lot of work, and nowadays with Instagram and other micro-blog platforms, blogging seems less and less important. But consider keeping up with a blog if for only two reasons: 1) It's a great way to get used to telling your story and building up momentum in your marketing campaigns, and 2) SEO, SEO, SEO. Blogging is one of the best ways to generate content on the web for free which ties into the first point. Try and blog monthly or weekly if you can't do it more than a few times a week.
- You're not using social media effectively.
- I started offering trainings on Instagram for artists, because so many of us are simply clueless in terms of how to effectively use the platform. And not just Instagram, Facebook is still one of the best platforms to reach buyers and gain a following for your work. FACT: I got my very first sale online in a private Facebook group because I asked (more on that later). So don't sleep on Facebook! And get your Instagram game up :)
- You don't have a shop.
- This almost feels like a no-brainer but the fact is, many artists are still afraid to go ahead and pull the trigger on their online shops. Would you run a store without a cash register? Then get a shop going on your website if you don't have it up already. And if you still don't have your own domain yet, Etsy is still a viable option to start collecting some coins. Make it easy for people to spend money with you. Trust me, it works.
- You haven't asked for the sale.
- The last point I'll make today, but also the hardest. It's so difficult to translate online that you're not just painting for fun, that you're not just a hobby artist. One of the best ways to do this but also the scariest is to actually ASK "Would you like to purchase this painting? If so, email me or DM for purchasing details". Or better yet, put a price right next to your image along with the details and title. This is a subtle but crucial shift that puts you in a category of "professional artist (as in you are collecting money in exchange for your work)" and not just another hobbyist with a smart phone.
Access the recording for an in-depth look at how I transitioned from a hobby artist to a full-time professional artist in this recorded workshop. Bonuses available as well for additional support!
Writing here from the beautiful mountainous town of Oaxaca after weeks of traveling through Mexico. It's been months since I've been back home and yet I can't figure out where the time went. I'm slowly but surely finding my groove here and learning more each day.
Traveling will do that to you. Art residencies will also do this.
My artist residency in Puebla lasted for 5 weeks and was honestly one of the most enriching experiences I've had as an artist in a while. It was my very first artist residency and I see why artists to do them. Not only did I have space and freedom to create lots of new work, but I was also challenged on an intellectual level that I haven't felt since college.
We were given weekly reading assignments that was the equivalent of college Sociology, Archaeology, and World History. Our readings were anything but light, and addressed head-on the topics of colonialism, oppression, representation of women and people of color in art, all the way up to genocide and even a new one that I learned: epistemicide (which is the killing of systems of knowledge). My days were like a mix of painting, eating drinking affogatos, and reading Audre Lorde essays. Yea, it was intense. I cried a lot, and the director of the program told me this was normal. That I should be unravelled. And you want to know the question he asked me that made the tears come streaming down: What are you passionate about?
What are you passionate about?
Years ago, I wanted to be a lawyer and defend the rights of marginalized people. I was and still am deeply disturbed by injustice. Today I am not a lawyer or an activist of any kind so clearly I get to cop out as an artist right? Well, no.
This residency challenged me on such a profound level because it demonstrated so clearly that art is one of the most powerful tools of communication. That beyond the pretty images, beyond the beauty, I exercise a very real level of power every time I pick up my paint brush. Artists have the ability to make people feel but even more so we have the ability to make people think. Even in the most abstract ways of creation. And even more so, the residency reminded me that many of the works in museums (and out) helped define culture, the way we view women, the way we view the poor, the way we view Europe, the way we view Africa, and on and on. My goodness, I'm telling you, it was very moving.
Over the course of 5 weeks I was called to tap deeper into my calling and respond. It's a lifelong process of course. I know that in many ways I am just scratching the surface but somehow creating painting after painting gets me closer each day to that place of true mastery, vulnerability, and authenticity.
After weeks of intense work and reflection, I took a week break with a group of women on a lovely retreat in San Miguel de Allende. It was a nice change of pace not only bonding with like-minded souls and lots of jacuzzi chats under the moonlight, but to switch to my other hat, getting clearer on my goals for Amira Rahim Art.
I am so fortunate to be able to send art all over the world, no matter where I'm living. I am able to send prints at a moments notice for art collectors on a budget, or mail one of my originals to clients as North as Canada and as far as Dubai. Now I feel like it is time to step into bigger shoes and build more of a community with other color lovers like myself. In other words, holding space.
There's something magical about when artists and creatives come together and I would love to host workshops more regularly to share the wealth of art. I have already tried my hand at this in Abu Dhabi when I lived there and online in my PassionColorJoy community. So I will be gearing up for more things like this in 2018.
In the meantime, I just found a new studio space right in the heart of Oaxaca and I'm ready to get busy! The best part is, they are interested in me teaching some art workshops here as well. Anyone up for a little Mexican painting getaway? Stay tuned...
So this long update is just to say that I am incredibly grateful to be deep into the heart of this artist thang. I hope you are (re)committing to your passions too whatever they are. You don't need to travel to do it. But you may need to cry some crummy tears and swing in a hammock after. :P
I also wanted to note that the price of my prints are going up soon. Today only, grab them at the old rate while you can. It's not a sale price, but the price of my prints is about to go up due to increases in my costs to produce them. If you've been eyeing a certain print, such as this one, now is your chance to get it before the price increases.
"All of Your Angels" Fine Art Print available still with 2016 pricing starting at $45.
Let's keep in touch! Sign up for my mailing list for new studio updates and special offers.
A familiar frenemy for most of us. And an all-too-common companion in our studios, businesses, and lives. This blog post is a short opening on a topic that I've been discussing a lot lately.
Last night I did a talk with ModernThrive on selling art online and I decided to lead with the four letter word itself.
Because I think if you can get comfortable with feeling fear, the fear of making an ugly painting, facing rejection, making mistakes, and occasionally failing, that will set you apart as a professional artist. Here's a short clip from the workshop:
While necessary at times, fear has no place in our art practices. When I'm working on a painting, I push myself to move past my comfort zone every time. It's so easy to get attached to paintings in the creation stage but I truly try and practice detachment until I am completely satisfied with the result. Basically, if it's good, I ruin it. I paint over it. I push on.
I ruin something good in order to get to something great. It's a scary process but it has paid off well for me artistically. And I believe it starts to trickle into other areas of our lives at well.
As a small business owner, I make a lot of decisions. Most of which there's no clear right or wrong answer. It's mostly about seeing what works (or what doesn't) and then applying that insight into future choices. What works for one person's audience or clientele will not work for mine and I think it's important to keep that in mind when we're comparing ourselves to other artists and brands.
You can be successful and do it in a completely different way than other people in your same industry.
And in many cases, you should. We should be willing to be a unicorn. Go out on a limb, and take the road less traveled.
It can certainly pay off right away, but it will always pay off in the end if you're doing it for the right reasons.
How do you deal with fear in your studio? I would love to hear from you!
To create this post, I decided to partner up with @methodhome as part of their #fearnomess campaign. I've always enjoyed their soaps and with the many chemicals I use in my studio, it's nice to clean my hands with something people-friendly, animal-friendly, and non-toxic. Do you any of you love their products also?
It's been a crazy year, no? I hope you're well wherever you're reading this, and sending you lots of light.
I wanted to officially announce my upcoming plans for Amira Rahim Art. This show's going on the road and I wanted you to hear it from me first! A month ago, I shared in a video that I was waiting to hear back from an exciting opportunity: I applied for an artist residency in Puebla, Mexico on a whim and sort of unexpectedly. Well, out of nearly 300 applicants, I was accepted into the program!
I will be doing a 5-week long study in the vibrant, culturally-rich city of Puebla, Mexico and I am so excited. The program, Arquetopia, was founded by internationally-acclaimed Mexican artist, Francisco Guevera. The program will start on January 23rd and will go into the first week of March.
I will be painting and soaking up as much as I can in this town. Hopefully make new friends, and embrace this new chapter of my life. In August, I turned 28 years old and took a hard look at my life and what I wanted going forward. I had to let going of a lot but I believe it is necessary to make space for what's truly meant for me. It's been rough. But necessary. Scary. Liberating. Truthfully, I'm still a little frazzled. I don't know how I'm doing it, but I am. I'm stepping into bigger shoes, and tapping into more of who I am each day. And right now, that includes being in Mexico, close enough to my family if I get a little homesick, yet in a new country, starting anew.
I invite you to the journey.
I have decided to close my shop on January 12th. This will allow me to get all orders out in time and put the rest of my belongings in a safe place while I am away. There are some wonderful originals remaining that would make great gifts for the new year. Anything that does not sell by January 12th will be packed up with me and a few suitcases as travel companions for south of the border.
That's all for now! Here are some important dates to recap:
---> Last day to buy an original painting: January 12th <---
Shop officially closes January 16th - January 23 (I will be in Playa del Carmen)
Artist Residency in Puebla, Mexico: January 23rd - February 27th
San Miguel de Allende March 2-7th
For a special treat, use the code: MEXICO to get free US shipping on anything that you order this week! See what's in stock at today.
P.S. If you've been to Mexico, and can offer any tips and suggestions, please leave in the comment section below. Thanks!
That's a serious question.
I've been thinking about this lately. I don't think I've ever shared this publicly, but I used to be a very negative person. I was always seeing the glass half empty, always the "realist." But a few years ago, I faced one of my most difficult challenges in life yet, and on top of that I was away from my support system in a foreign country. If I stayed depressed and hopeless, I don't know where I would be today. So, I adopted this sink or swim mentality and went head-first into fulfilling my dream of being a full-time artist. What did I have to lose?
You know what's remarkable about when you have nothing to lose? You have everything to gain. I let go of being a perfectionist and realistic painter, and started creating high-vibe, uplifting abstract art to lift my own mood. I painted day in and day out using the most high-frequency colors I could find. And not only did it impact my personal levels of happiness, but art turned me into an optimist. Go figure.
I know this month may feel rough. Heck, 2016 put most of us through the ringer. You've lost the person closest to you. You moved homes and switched jobs. You've seen yourself grow in ways that you weren't even aware of. And you've seen your weakest points and realize how much personal work you have to do going forward.
Maybe you've just been consumed by the news and genuinely sad for the world. I spent a solid day a few weeks ago just crying in bed. Tear stained pillow and sheets is not a good look on a Tuesday. Trust me.
And then I got up. Because I had a painting that a new collector purchased from me all the way in Malaysia and I knew she was waiting for it.
(Above) A new figurative piece on my easel this month
I started to paint a bit. I started to share again. Because I don't "want" to be an optimist, I have to be. I must operate from a place of hope and faith even when I'm afraid. We all do.
As I sat on the floor painting last night, I felt truly blessed. I know that no matter what, I can choose to surround myself with beauty and hope each day. I can create something beautiful out of nothing. And I can connect with people all over the world because of art.
As you head into the week, I won't flood your inbox with Black Friday demands to buy NOW, now, now! Haha. If you have any questions how to collect an original piece of mine, I know you can ask me.
What's lighting me up lately? I'm putting together a gift guide this week to show all of the new art, accessories, and calendars that I'm so proud to share this year. You can expect that email probably in the next few days. I'm also preparing for my very first online painting course to help inspire others to create and share their gifts with the world in 2017.
And on Monday, I will be doing a big pop-up shop over on Instagram. There will be lots of new paintings and other things to shop for right from your cell phone. So come join me then.
Thank you all for being apart of this journey with me! I couldn't do this without YOUR support, so I am so fortunate for your presence. What's lighting you up lately?
Today, I wanted to sit down and have a serious conversation about Instagram. It's such a fun platform, and for years, it was just that for me--a fun way to share photos and progress of my work each day. Like an online visual diary of sorts. I treated my Instagram account like a blog, and it was fun. And then I got serious and started to see some serious results.
In the past year and a half, my relationship to the social media platform has completely changed. And I've learned a tremendous amount in the few short months especially, all because of some small but crucial adjustments in my understanding of how to use this powerful tool in my art business.
Today, if you go to my Instagram account, you'll see that as of this date, I have 29,000 people following me. 3 months ago, that number was less than half of that. And a year ago, I was stuck at around 5,000 followers and quite frankly, pretty happy to have even that. But this is not about the numbers. This is about the outcome.
Numbers are great, but I'm even more excited about what's come out of me treating Instagram more seriously and of thinking more strategically about my place as an artist on social media in general.
- A year and a half ago, I received my very first licensing deal from an art company based in Australia. They found me on Instagram.
- Before I could reach 10,000 followers this year, I was contacted by the Huffington Post to be 1 of the 4 artists featured in a faith-based series. They found me on Instagram.
- An interior designer who purchased a print from me years ago, passed my name along to Ebony Magazine who recently featured me in their Home Decor lineup on stands around the country. The interior designer found me on Instagram.
- An admirer of my work and now friend, passed my details along to a beautiful venue in Los Angeles, with the likes of Coldplay, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Beyonce attending as well as TV shows, movies, and weddings filming there with my paintings on the walls as we speak. And you know the first place she sent them to have them consider my work? Instagram.
And that's just me, not doing anything really unusual or particularly special other than consistently sharing quality posts and now videos of my art and creative process. There are countless others with even bigger wins and followings than myself, and believe me, Instagram is like a full-time job for them. But so many of us artists are late to the party.
Most artists continue to treat their Instagram like a blog, when really they should look at it like a visual resume or online gallery. Furthermore, the major shift for me was when I started to realize that a successful Instagram account is less about you, and more about your audience and how you create a visual experience for them to enjoy on a regular basis.
So here's some reasons why I KNOW artists can crush it on Instagram:
- Instagram is a visual platform. Art is visual. This is a no brainer. Like Pinterest, people go to Instagram just to see beautiful things. As long as you're creating beautiful work, people will find you. And follow you in droves.
- Each of us produce artwork that is unique, from our hearts and souls. It's not a manufactured item. People resonate and admire that alone. It also provides opportunity for education because people will always want to learn how to create.
- We're one of the few industries that can post our art/handmade items ONLY and get away with that. People don't need to see your house, your cool outfit, your dog, your boo--you get the picture. You are NOT a lifestyle blogger. What a relief! We don't have to share our personal lives or pretend to be happy on those sucky days to make an impact. This is also why a lot of people get fed up with social media these days because you can get burned out. But when you keep it about the art and the art alone, you can be sustainable.
- We can produce original content everyday and never run out of material. Our art comes from an endless source of creativity and inspiration. This alone gives us a unique advantage.
- We don't need a team to share our information. We don't need hair and makeup, perfect lighting, or even props. Our art can stand on its own!
- People CRAVE creativity and color on their feeds. I can't tell you how many people message me and tell me how happy my work makes them when they scroll upon it. How they look forward to my posts each day. Every artist out there can have that same impact and should.
- We can show process and progress videos in a way that no other industry can. This is powerful!! And the best way to drive your followings through the roof.
- Artists find other artists. We can support and lift each other up along the way. The tide truly does rise all boats in this instance.
These are just some of the few examples I could come up with in a few minutes!
Instagram is largely becoming not only a major driver for online traffic and exposure, but it is also headed to be a platform for selling your work. And indeed, trends like pop-up shops, and artist collectives are proof that you can sell an original work of art right off of Instagram even with no mailing list or website. Game changer.
I really love where things are headed for creatives and online businesses in general. It's been a crazy year, and when Instagram announced it's new algorithm changes, so many of us were freaked out and thought for sure it would be the end of whatever amount of success and income we've been able to attain because of the platform. But, I wholeheartedly believe that the opposite effect is true.
I believe that the new algorithms have IMPROVED the likelihood that small accounts and emerging artists will be found by new people each day. And I believe this so strongly that I started offering one-on-one consultations and workshops to help train artists on how to do this.
Some of the most obvious things include learning how to take beautiful photos and posting regularly, but because of the new algorithm changes, there are also a lot of other techy things that you can master quickly to see the engagement and virility of your content increase.
Okay, enough of me nerding out here. I seriously could talk about Instagram for hours, but I just wanted to say, DO IT.
If you were waiting to have the perfect website first, or get gallery representation first, or even sell your first painting before you start taking Instagram seriously, don't.
I am so excited to see how Instagram and social media in general will continue to make an impact on small business owners and emerging artists worldwide and happy to have this conversation.
What has been your experience with Instagram so far? Have you had any cool things happen because of it? Share your stories (and your Instagram handle) in the comments below!
Download a free copy of the Artist's Guide on How to Rock Instagram here:
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
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.
Today on the blog, I want to share a peek into the journey of commissioning a custom painting, particularly, what that process is like for both the collector and me, the artist. In addition to working on original paintings to stock my shop throughout the year, I take on special projects for clients and collectors who are looking for something more tailored. Just like your favorite item of clothing, when something is made especially for you, you can never tire of it.
I love working on commissioned paintings because it's so much more intimate and dynamic. Earlier this year, couple Jill and Brad contacted me after finding my work online and decided to create something unique. They are newlyweds from Canada turned expats in UAE, and so that's how our paths crossed.
Jill and Brad decided to skip the wedding registry and commemorate their union with a custom piece of art instead. Pretty cool, right? You can imagine the honor to receive such a request, their first time commissioning a painting, and their first piece of art together as a couple. Now the only question was, what do we create together?
Jill shared a photo album of their wedding ceremony at Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, to use as inspiration and we decided on a palette of Prussian blue, teal, turquoise and purple greys. I loved the palette we agreed upon and was excited to use this set of inspiration for a new painting.
I sourced a few photos from Pinterest and shared them with Jill. Here were the pieces that meshed well with her and Brad's vision. These served mostly as a guide for the piece since it would be very blue overall.
After we emailed back and forth and Jill and Brad deliberated on several of my painting styles, they decided on a size and style, similar to two of my previous paintings. And with that, I got started.
For the 40x48" canvas, I began with the first layer swooshing dark blues and Paynes grey. I also worked in some ink and experimented with alcohol as a medium. I documented my process throughout and shared it with Jill and Brad to keep them up to speed.
After they approved of the initial stages and the first layer dried, I began to dive deeper into the composition. This is the most crucial part of the painting and where trust is really needed. Because of the nature of abstracts, it's not an exact science. I have a method to my madness if you will, and fortunately my clients trust me to do what I do best, paint intuitively. A composition starts to form almost organically and it is my job to listen and pay attention to any patterns emerging. I feel more like a conductor than an engineer when I'm painting, just allowing the colors to play together and keeping them harmonious.
When I paused here and shared the progress, Jill and Brad expressed that they loved the jagged turquoise line cutting through the white space in the upper right corner. Can you see it? I loved it too and was happy they agreed to keep it. It would serve as an anchor for me to hold on to while I wrestle with the rest of the composition. .At this stage of the painting, I buckle down and try and bring it together cohesively. While paying attention to texture and form, I started to glaze some areas to add more depth to the painting and brighten up the perspective.
After a few more talks and thinking, I finished up the piece incorporating more frosty grey blues and pops of purple and teal. All in all, the piece took about 2 months to complete. Typically it takes me several weeks to work through ideas and allow the piece to form without the pressure of a fast deadline.
It was a great painting experience from my side, but I figure it's best to let the clients speak for themselves. Here's what Jill had to say:
"My husband and I reached out to Amira to commission a piece of art that would commemorate a very special time in our lives. We were initially drawn to her work because of the vibrant colours she uses. They're fresh and modern, and every time you look at those colours and how they work together, it puts you in a better mood. And that's exactly what she created for us.
Our commissioned piece is beautiful. It brightens our living space and makes me happy every time I see it. And the process of working with Amira was wonderful. She gave us a lot of opportunities to provide feedback, she kept us informed and updated during the creation process, and she continuously put us a ease by taking time to answer any questions we had. We couldn't have asked for a better experience, and we'd definitely recommend her to others."
I'm very happy that my work was well-received. It truly is a collaborative experience and yet Jill and Brad gave me enough creative freedom to create a work of art for them without being too confined. It's unique and just for them, and will continue to remind them of the beautiful Fogo Island and their wedding experience. I wish them well on their journey ahead!
Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed this detailed blog post. The commission process is really that straightforward. To learn more, visit my page on commissions here.
Enjoy these last few photos of the Fogo Island.
If you could commission a painting, what would you chose? An abstract, one of my camels, or something figurative?
Want to set up a free consultation for your next work of art? Fill out the form below:
Today on the blog, I wanted to share a recent feature with AphroChic. Here's a quick excerpt:
Amira Rahim‘s work is incredibly evocative. Her eye-catching paintings take you inside a colorful world, where vibrant hues literally jump off the canvas. Recently showing work in Abu Dhabi and LA’s popular Fig House, the New Jersey native is dedicated to her mission – making the world a more colorful place, one painting at a time. We spoke with Amira about the inspiration for her bold, abstract pieces.
You’ve lived in Texas and Abu Dhabi but were born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. Can you discuss these three very distinct places in relation to your work, and which is the place you call home?
I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, which is home to many creative and artistic legends including Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, and Sara Vaughn. Some of my earliest childhood memories include going to the Newark Museum for art classes and activities as a child. There was always something buzzing, like a concert or a show. It’s a city with great problems but great energy too. I think it definitely shaped me as a woman and a human being. My outlook on issues like poverty, public health, and much of how I move through life came from this city.
My high school, Science High, was very diverse. I had so many Portuguese and Spanish-speaking classmates for the first time and I was that annoying kid who would always ask people where they were from after the first 5 minutes into a conversation. So I guess you could say growing up in Newark, New Jersey made me curious and unafraid of seeing what was outside of the city borders. I later traveled to Brazil and then Europe, and recently, lived in Abu Dhabi, the place that sparked the birth of my art practice as I know it today.
Read the full interview here.
In my attempts to practice what I preach, I want to open up today about a very unpopular topic but something that has shaped my experiences and how I move through life greatly. I had a creative consultation with an artist today. And as usual, we started with her story, her "why". When she opened up about some pretty scary things and how it put life in perspective, causing her to follow her dream of becoming a full-time artist, I stopped and scribbled down some notes. I then told her that she needed to share this. That the level of detail was up to her, but the story was as interesting as the art itself and it needed to be told. It needs to be a part of narrative, and in the process, I realize I haven't really been up front about my own.
I told her that my ongoing struggles with low-level depression led me to commit to a regular art practice and that even though my art is happy and up-beat, it's really a response to my own self-work to not be sad, and to live in the present moment. As the words flew out of my mouth, I knew I had to rethink my own platform, and consider how my posts and "branding" for lack of a better word, could be a bit problematic.
I'd never want someone to go to my IG feed and assume that my life was perfect, or that I was having the time of my life all of the time (although many days I am jumping for joy at the fact that I get to live out my childhood dream of being an artist). It wouldn't make me feel good as I have a disdain for people putting me on any kind of pedestal. I don't like being the center of attention in public or social settings, and I still don't know how to take a compliment properly, although I've learned to be more gracious in the past few years. That confidence grew as I began to come into my own as an artist and boss, realizing the gift to touch lives with my creativity.
But I still battle with my inner demons. Like my art, happiness is a daily practice. And depression is something I've learned to accept as just part of the way I was wired. It took a long time for me to accept or even acknowledge because I thought it was just my personality. At least it came with a dark sense of humor, right? In Abu Dhabi, I reached a real low after just 6 months as I found myself in a new country, no familial support, and facing very scary health prospects in my family life. I was terrified and not fun to be around. By the end of the year, I had to seek help. Adjust my outlook on a few things. And dive head first into the one thing I could control. My art.
The hard work paid off, and the clouds began to lift again. But then came the anxiety. In a land where everyone's trying to be the next big mogul, and anything's possible, living the Dubai/Abu Dhabi dream bought out my anxiety like nothing else. I would look out of my window, 30 stories high off the ground and stare into a 100-degree abyss of opportunity. I was startled with the idea of sitting still. Disgusted with the possibility of leaving this country without leaving my mark, without doing anything other than shopping--and in the UAE, shopping in the most breathtaking malls year after year can keep you quite busy. It wasn't enough. (Insert: I wasn't enough).
I was able to shake much of my depression off. I'd feel it coming and I'd do things to lift my spirits. Mostly create art, listen to podcasts, etc. But like an old friend, it was still waiting by the phone for that familiar conversation of loneliness, self-loathing, and pessimism. I soothed its wait with accomplishments. More art sales. More shows. More press. Pushing past new limits of health and balance. Anything to leave it in the dust. I even thought that so much of my anxiety was because of that dusty metropolis itself.
Moving back home seemed like the right solution. And then the politics happened. And the horrifying news flashing across our screens happened. And the bigotry happened. One day my younger sister in her headscarf was stared and laughed at for the course of a family meal at a local restaurant. And it hurt me to the core. And then #BlackLivesMatter happened. I couldn't hear one more reminder that racism in America is still an issue in 2016. That the way I look causes people to fear me. Or my kin. It ripped me apart. And like a true loyal friend, Depression came to visit. Getting out of the bed felt pointless. Suddenly, I couldn't deal. So many external forces aggravated my already frantic state and we met again, instantly. My old friend. Hello, Depression. I thought I saw you around the corner and here we are again.
The difference is that now I can recognize a little more easily that I am not my emotions. I am not my fears and my anxieties. I am not my pain.
We all have painful things in our lives that we must deal with. I don't think for a second that trading our lives with people we see online or on TV, or in our PTA meetings, or even in our families is the solution, because no one goes through life unscathed.
I know it took me forever to answer this question, but yes. You can make art while you're sad. While you're depressed. While you're hurting for the world. While you're exhausted with a difficult medical situation. While you're barely hanging for dear life. You can make art while you're sad.
These days I'm taking active measures to live a more holistic life. Two weeks ago I deactivated my personal Facebook account (you can still find me on Instagram and my Facebook business page) and unplugged from my favorite social media platform, Snapchat. Mostly because I wanted to take back my personal space and refresh. I'm spending in time in nature, going on hikes; today I meditated in the gorgeous Verona Park. Family is a nice buffer because, well, let's be honest, they're crazy and keep me out of my own head. But, they also require more of my time which means that, even if I wanted to live like the workhorse that I was in UAE, I couldn't. Work-life balance is suddenly a thing again. There's more time in between the original art I list for sale. So I expanded my print collection while I get settled into a new studio here in the States. I will also be raising my prices in a few months to reflect the growth in my life and the value I see in what I do.
We can make art when we're sad, but let's not. Seek the help that you need professionally, medically, spiritually, and safely. Don't suffer alone and indefinitely. But keep moving. Keep making anyway. I hope that we don't have to stay in that space, and I truly hope we all can find more joy and happiness in the world.
I just had to come clean about my own struggles. Yes, to happy art anyway.
Disclaimer: This is my personal blog documenting my own experiences. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Some helpful links I found:
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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:
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.
When I was in high school, I had this really annoying habit. I would meet someone new, and within 5 seconds of the conversation, I would immediately gasp and ask, "So, where are YOU from?" wide-eyed. I had to know. You see, as a child, I grew up in a predominately black neighborhood in Newark, NJ. My teachers looked like me. My classmates look like me. My neighbors looked like me.
All that changed when my mom succeeded in getting me placed into a magnet school, Science High, to alleviate any disparity in my primary education and prepare me for college. Suddenly, my experience was changed. I took the bus 40 minutes downtown, closer to Newark's historic Ironbound section where my high school was. I had teachers who were white, classmates who were first-generation Americans with parents from Brazil, Poland, Bangladesh, and Honduras, to name a few. I saw goth fashion for the first time. I heard Portuguese in the hallways, and although I didn't care for the 1 hour commute each way, school was interesting. And I was curious. I wanted to see more, hear more, live more.
I'm an adult now, so I don't stop and ask people where they're from (at least not right away, or not unless they ask me first because, let's face it, sometimes my headscarf can throw people :P). But the curiosity is still there. I still love to hear people's stories, to go beyond what my assumptions of who they appear to be at face value. And it's at a time like this, when we have so much healing to do, that I am reminded of the purpose of my art. Why I feel happy and excited on most days that I get to put my art into the world and into a stranger's home. It is because art allows us to reach out, stand up, and often times, stand with people who are different than we are.
I get it. I understand that it's hard to reach outside of your comfort zone, to talk to people who look differently then you do or have different backgrounds. But with art, we have SOME common ground. It's a way in for our patrons and collectors. And for artists, it's a way out. It's how we choose to show up in the world. It's a way for me to show up fully in the world as a person, with no labels, not as my religion, not as my skin color, not as my sexual orientation, not as my gender, not even as my politics, but as a human being, having a human experience, if only for a moment. I can focus on the doing. Not the being, and sometimes that's easier.
However hard it is for us to be different, or to be made to "feel" different, we can have the courage to make a difference, to make something, be it a statement or not. And it's the making, the doing, that gives us some release, and puts us in "the flow" as they say, right?
After mourning and grieving (and to be honest, I'm still not done) for the past few days, last night I sat thinking. I couldn't shake this gnawing feeling in my chest. That feeling of "what else can I do?" like so many others. I'm not at any rallies. I'm not one of the protestors. I'm not one of the police officers on the front lines. I'm here. I didn't want to share my work anymore or even put my latest collection up for sale. I thought, maybe art has no value if it's just to make you "feel good", that it wasn't a time to put something beautiful out into the world anymore. That art itself didn't matter.
I reached out to my community on Snapchat and various Facebook groups, a community which by the way, has been very vocal in the past 48 hours (Mark Zuckerberg himself even weighed in) in voicing their stance against the atrocities we've witness thus far. Even though many of them are not black. Even though it's uncomfortable. Even though it would be easy to keep going on with business as usual. And some of my artist friends have replied back with their thoughts, but there's very little answers.
The thing is, everything we are supposed to do as artists we are already supposed to do as human beings. We mourn. We listen. We help our neighbor. We practice self-care. We communicate beauty. We be the light. But we do not sit quiet. We say something, at the very least. We do something. We make something. And hopefully we can make a difference.
I want to end this post with the wise words of an artist I admire, Jeanne Bessette, who told me today that "Art is enough." It put my heart and mind at ease and so I share it here with you.
Art is enough.
Thank you all for teaching me some lessons today and this week. I've learned the power of standing up for causes I believe in, even if I'm not directly affected. I've learned what it means to be an ally. And I hope to be of service to others in the way many have been on this topic this week. It's been a rough few days and we've got a long way to go. But I needed to acknowledge my creative community. Thank you for showing up wherever you are. Showing up on the hard stuff.
Today, be a little awkward. Ask an annoying question. Have a hard conversation with someone in your circle. Step outside of your comfort zone and if you're learning in the process, you're doing more than most.
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I write you with a full heart and an empty stomach from my mom's home in New Jersey. We're in the last few days of Ramadan, and I've been really enjoying the month. I wanted to take a moment in the midst of my creative madness to write you and share a bit of background on what's been inspiring me lately.
A few months ago, I took a trip to Bali, Indonesia. It was one of those places on my bucket list, so when a friend asked me to travel with her, I jumped at the thought. I started the trip wide-eyed and open for everything in store. I didn't know however, for better or for worst, that the trip would be a defining moment in our friendship. We decided to go our separate ways after the first 24 hours together.
You know how they say, you don't know someone until you live with them or travel with them? That ringed true. And there I was in the middle of Bali, alone, slightly scared, but relieved. I was going to have the trip I was meant to have and I was determined to not waste another minute. I believe there's a revival of the soul that takes place when you travel. And sometimes, the best way to really immerse yourself and truly experience it all, is by traveling alone.
Here's the thing, when I travel, I like to take the unbeaten path. Wander. Meet the locals. And be a bit more low-key than I would on home turf. Bali was the perfect place for me to find myself again. Its colorful markets, and even more colorful people made me swell with love for life again. I cried several times in the back seat of my driver's van. Just overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of this place.
And then I moved back home. And was greeted by oak trees larger than buildings, hills and mountains, sun that hugs you in the breeze, New York City skyline in the distance. Home.
But just for a few weeks. Because after that, I went to Italy for a workshop and was once again moved by the exuberance of getting lost only to find yourself again.
I'm not telling you to brag or pretend to have this glamorous life, I promise. A trip to a neighboring town can be every bit as meaningful globe-trotting (and less scary, too). But I wanted you to know what it means to me and how the recent weeks have affected my spirit.
Once I came back home, I went straight to the art store to find the pigments and materials to match the colors I saw in Bali and Italy. It looks like bright fluorescents, tropical fruit, seas of green, rich skies and sparkling seas. Here's a peek at the work I've been making thus far. Some of them are stripes of patterns and lines. Others are layered with rich passes of Sennelier oil pastels, requiring me to spray them with fixative on my mom's back porch.
It's bold. It's colorful. It's summer, and I want you to have it.
I'm planning to put these beauties out into the world some time in July. I don't know an exact date because I've been really taking my time with these. Fine tuning some corners, editing, and exploring. I don't want it to end. But when it does, they will be in my shop, and I'm thinking of including some little treasures with the purchase of each original painting. They are recycled glass beads made by a lovely family that I met in Bali. Some contain the mala prayer bead and colorful tassel, others are more minimal but beautiful in color. Which one is your favorite?
Update 7/15/16: New works are now released in the shop!
If you've been keeping up with me on Snapchat (amirarahimart) or Instagram, then you may have seen me documenting my trip to Cinque Terre, Italy last week. During May 19-24th, I joined dozens of women from all over the world to meet with our social-media spirit guide and leader of all things Jungalow, Justina Blakeney.
We met in the gorgeous and colorful Italian coastal village, Riamaggiore, for a 3-day workshop designed to light the fire under our feet and get us moving in our creative businesses. If you would have told me that a thing like this existed, I would have screamed with excitement. And that's exactly what I did when an art collector of mine in Abu Dhabi politely shared the news of this trip with me. Needless to say, I booked the trip within the hour of perusing the website. I was taking the leap, and would figure the rest out afterward.
And what a leap it was. This trip was truly the trip of a lifetime. Women from all ages came together, many proclaiming that this was their own sweet little version of Eat, Pray, Love. We were the most international installment yet, with a diverse representation of cultures and nationalities including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Amsterdam, Singapore, United Kingdom, Phillipines, and Nigeria. Some of the women were bosses in their own right, owning businesses that recently caught the eye of Oprah Winfrey herself. One of the attendees is an actual rockstar. But for the most part, many of us were there on a whim. We've got this creative itch that we have to scratch and we've been blessed to see it turn into profitable businesses. Photographers, designers, fashion gurus, artists, and more, we've plunged through doubt and fear to go on to create businesses that support our families or at least our wanderlust. And now we're ready to see it soar.
Enter Justina. Effortlessly cool and collected, Justina took the stage in our castle's conference room (no really, we had class in a castle), and proceeded to blow us away. Within the first few hours, many of us commented after the break that we had already got our money's worth, even though it was just the beginning. By generously sharing her story and her wisdom, Justina got us all to think a little bit bigger, work a little bit harder, and damnnit stop and look for rainbows, too.
Some of the key takeaways from the experience was the power of owning what makes you unique, falling passionately in love with your brand, and LOTS of hard work. Justina's work ethic was echoed by our lovely host, Bianca Gignac, owner of Italian Fix and certified boss. Her own personal story of triumph and dedication moved us to tears on the final day and was truly inspiring.
Seriously, y'all, this was such an amazing experience. I got lost the first day of traveling (oh those Italian trains) and ended up in Tuscany. But the second I got off the train and was met with the waves of Riomaggiore, all my troubles melted away. I had the best time and learned a ton. Friendships were made, nights were had, and gelato...well, you'll just have to check out their feeds for the rest!
Search on Instagram with the hashtag #JungalowinItaly to see more photos! Ciao, bella!
Inspiration is overrated.
I know, I know... I'm an artist, right? I'm not supposed to say that.
I get asked from time to time: "What inspired this piece?" and I'm supposed to come up with a great intellectual explanation. I've attended workshops and art seminars on storytelling, and artists are rightfully advised to sell our work always with "the story" behind it. Be it fact or fiction, we must relay some sequence of events, preferably starting with obscurity to sudden clarity, as if that can somehow give rhyme or reason to a finished painting.
Can I be completely honest with you? I'm not really fond of the question. Not because I lack inspiration, but because my art practice is not a linear one. I paint in cycles. Often working on several canvases at once. Some end up in the proverbial trash bin, and others make it to the other side. And guess what? I have no idea which pieces will be the successful ones.
So, I'm just going to call B-S on the whole inspiration thing, and here's why:
And that inspiration, man, when you find it, you'll know. It's like love. And just like love, if there's anyone out there trying to give you a roadmap or formula, know that they're drinking their own Kool-Aid or straight up just making this stuff up. I reject the notion of a singular idea leading to a singular painting. That some genius idea grabs hold of us and doesn't let us rest until we execute it to completion, and then we are out of work until the next big idea strikes.
Perhaps Chuck Close says it best:
So in the spirit of showing up and getting to work, I wanted to leave with 5 ways to consistently cultivate your creativity so that you'll be equipped the next time you find yourself slipping into artist block.
1. In the process
Cultivate your creativity in your process. Painting is one big playground. Give yourself permission to get out of your own way, relinquish control, and just go for it. I'll be the first to admit, painting a lot of times is just experimentation. When I'm painting, my subconscious chatter probably sounds like: "I wonder what would happen if I place this color here, or scratch out this layer, or add in this texture?"
So many times, I am just so inspired by the process itself. I'll have a song stuck in my head, or a line repeating from a book I'm reading, or I'll be in the flow and random memories will just pop up into my consciousness. And then, BOOM! There's the title for my next piece. There's the feeling I'll want to convey, or the end result starts to form and I'll know what to edit out and what to take up a notch. I guess what I'm trying to say is, painting is fun. And I don't have to have a reason to do it every time. Sometimes, just being with my paints on a white surface, a good cup of coffee, on a sunny studio floor is all the inspiration necessary.
2. In the hope
Cultivate your creativity in your hopes and dreams. In speaking of inspiration, another misconception is that the way a painting looks is how the artist was feeling at the time. Gosh, wouldn't that be convenient? If, happy paintings came from happy people. I deliberately use happy colors in my work and people often assume, "Oh you're so happy to create work like that." This couldn't be more further from the truth.
I've created some of my cheerful happiest paintings when I was depressed. Not always, but the two do not depend on each other. And what a relief it is to know that my work doesn't have to depend on my emotional state. I can tell you that if it did, my body of work would be all over the place because that is the human experience. We're not consistent. But I believe our deepest, core desires are. We all want to feel joy. We all want to be connected to the world around us. We all want to be loved. And so we can let that define our work, continuously and always about: love, connection, humanity. You don't have to paint what you feel, but you can use the process of painting to be a healing one, and arrive at a piece of art that will lift your spirits by the time your finished. And that, in my opinion, is the most empowering thing about being an artist.
3. In the rest
Cultivate your creativity in the rest. It seems counterintuitive, but pulling back and allowing yourself to live outside of the studio is very important. Go out. Travel. Spend time with family. Spend time with yourself. Watch a season of something ridiculous. Chill. It may not give light to a new idea, and that's okay. You might run into Stephen Colbert at your local Whole Foods instead. I've learned that creativity is a muscle, and while challenges like painting 30 in 30 days and showing up regularly can definitely build your endurance, you can overwork it. Rest from being so damn inspired. Rest from art. And searching. And feeling so fricking much. Because, man, are we a sensitive bunch.
4. Through your previous work
Cultivate your creativity through your previous work. This is super key. In fact, this should probably have been #1, but here we are. As an aspiring artist, in the beginning you're trying to find your style and your voice. And naturally, so much of that is looking externally. But a key turning point in your art practice begins the moment when you start to look inwardly. Truly inward. Your work starts to speak to each other. Especially if you're painting on multiple canvases at once (highly recommend), one painting informs the next. This is when you're truly independent as an artist. And the freedom that you feel in that moment, even if just for a day, is one of the best feelings in the world. You're feverish with ideas. And you can't paint fast enough because you're just so into your own journey. You don't have time to second-guess yourself. You're too busy painting your heart out.
5. Via your peers
This is a controversial, one. But yes, cultivate your creativity via your peers. I love Austin Kleon's book "Steal Like an Artist". I highly recommend you read it, but in the meantime, allow me to digress for a bit.
My background is in Sociology. Fun fact, as an undergrad, I completed an honors thesis (literature review, data collection, worked on it for 3 years, and all that, y'all). I thought I wanted to get a Ph.D. and I still indeed love social research. But anyway, much of my training still affects how I think today. One idea that sticks is this concept of a "unique contribution". Every thesis candidate and research student knows this. Essentially, it's the idea of synthesizing all of the existing work out there, weeding through the noise, and deciding what's missing. What can be remixed or reworked for the greater good.
And so for that reason, I recommend looking at other art, especially in the beginning and look to not only what catches your eye, but the gaps, and what you think you could do better. That's where you can find your place. And that's how you steal like an artist.
This was a very long blog post. But I guess the simple message is this: If you're like me, you're probably still learning and enjoying every minute of it. You don't have time for lofty ideas about art. You've got nothing to prove but the work itself. Let the art stand on its own. And if people connect with it, it will be instant. And if not, that's fine. You'll move on to something else that lights you up inside. Because that's the thing, when it's real, you don't need an explanation. You feel it. That's inspiration. That's the je ne sais quoi, and no one owns it. Not even me.
What are your thoughts on inspiration and how do you cultivate creativity in your day to day life? Share more tips below!
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Hey guys, I am back refreshed from a week in beautiful Bali. On my plane ride back to UAE, it hit me that I have exactly 2 weeks left in Abu Dhabi. Can I be completely honest with you? I'm a little scared. I have so many fears about the big move.
How will I adjust in the USA? Will I feel truly "at home"? What if no one in America buys my art? What if the buck stops here?
Indeed, so many people have asked me, "Are you sureeeee you want to move? Your art career is just starting to take off?" True, indeed.
But guys, if there's one thing I learned over these past few years is that, whenever you show up consistently and courageously as yourself doing what you love, the right people will find you. I have faith. I have anxieties, too, of course. But, this is chapter 2 (or 3, or 4, depending on how far you wanna go back). I'm still writing this story!
I will continue to mail work all over the world, and thanks to so many of you, we've mailed work to Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and more. I know we can rock out even further in the USA. But as a small farewell, I am hosting a 3-day Open House in my studio home on Reem Island.
I have so many original paintings from my archives. Everything from realistic oil paintings that I completed in my hotel apartment back in 2013, to my first time flirting with abstract art, up until my most recent work that you may have admired online, some of which the paint is drying as we speak. So, here's what you can expect!
- THE WORKS WILL BE DISCOUNTED ON A SLIDING SCALE: Wednesday it will be an automatic 20% off. Thursday, we will have 35% off. And by Friday, if there are any remaining pieces, you can make me an offer, because hey, do you know how hard it will be for me to get 20 large scale abstract paintings to America? Prices will be displayed and in dirhams for your convenience.
- H'ORDERVES WILL BE SERVED: I'm pulling out my fancy pants this week. And, I don't do fancy often. I want you to be comfortable and satiated, not just visually but also tummily (is that a word?). So come for a small bite and the art, of course.
- CREDIT CARD, PAYPAL, AND CASH PAYMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED: I've got all ends covered. If you've got the big bucks on your card, you can sit down at my table and checkout right there. No hassle.
- YOU CAN WALK OUT THE DOOR WITH YOUR NEW MASTERPIECE: All of the works will be ready for you to take on that day (with the exception of 2 or 3 newer pieces). That's exciting and also super convenient. I will also have some information for my framer on hand so you can get that baby framed and jazzing up your walls in no time.
- THIS ISN'T GOODBYE, BUT SEE YOU LATER: I'll be back. If not in a few years to live again, then at least for some events and hopefully if I'm ever asked to exhibit my work in UAE I will happily oblige. So please come out and support. I'm not dying. Although it feels like it haha.
Be there or be square:
April 20, 21, & 22nd - 11am-5pm each day
Reem Island, Gate Towers, Tower 3
Flat #3009 (Visitor Parking Out Front)
I'm so happy to share these latest paintings. I shared them a few hours earlier on my newsletter first, and I couldn't wait to hit the publish button. These pieces are stunning, if I do say so myself. When I'm painting, I am truly in the zone. From the moment I decided to paint until the time the painting is complete, it's like I'm in a mental bubble. But once it's done, and I look at it again with fresh eyes days later, they sort of take on a life of their own.
Maybe it's like giving birth? They come through you but once it's out, you also rejoice at the beauty. Art is a gift. I love that they get to come through my two hands and my heart, but I don't own them. At least not forever.
Hope you enjoy viewing the new works. How do you view art? Is creativity something you channel or is it something you possess? Would love to keep this conversation going.
By Gabrielle. Photos by Ekaterina Ivankina and Ingrid Nielsen.
Amira is an artist in Abu Dhabi, creating her vibrant work up high on the 30th floor of a skyscraper. I wondered what her daily life was like, as an artist, an expatriate, and also as a Muslim who wears the hijab. She was gracious enough to discuss it all with us!
My day begins at dawn. A small alarm wakes me to get up and make the morning prayer. This is the first of the five prayers we will pray that day, and it is the shortest. It takes less than one minute sometimes and getting out of bed so early to prepare and make it on time, many days feels rough. After that, the sun begins to rise.
We live in a 60-story skyscraper in one of Abu Dhabi’s islands. On the 30th floor, the view is usually breathtaking. The ceiling-to-floor windows throughout our corner bedroom gives us this near-panoramic view of the city, and I draw so much energy from watching the sun rise over the waters and lighting up the terrain. I usually sit on the floor for a few, then do some meditation or journaling. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about my mornings because I tend to get really anxious at the start of the day.
For me, it’s the tug of business matters or social media. So I try and leave this for the middle of my day. I move into my rituals, lighting an incense or candle, making a pot of green tea, and then I head into my studio, which is a converted spare bedroom. I feel such peace in this room, and I love to paint as early as possible. I will break in a new canvas or do a few exercises on paper, often working on the floor with a podcast playing in the background. I feel like the freshness of the morning allows me to take greater risks in my work with no attachment to the end result. I’m just so entranced with the process and humbled that I get to do this for a living.
End of excerpt.