Let's Talk About Self-Care in September

September deserves its own “before and after” photo. Before September, we are pretty relaxed, riding the summer vibe. By the end of September, we’re frazzled and frantic, crushed by the sudden amping-up of our schedule and our expectations. Those with kids in school are overwhelmed by the new school year’s adjustments. Every one of us also faces a big realization in September: the end of the year is a few weeks away. We take stock of our goals and resolutions and recommit ourselves to them. How many of you participated in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days project this September? I want to give a huge congratulations to anyone who successfully completed it—and a big hand to anyone who gave it a try!

 

I’m with you—I too faced the September stress mess this past month. As I reflect on it now, I see how critical my self-care practices were to getting me through it in one piece. I’d like to share some of them with you, and I’d love to hear about some of your self-care tips and routines in the comments.

I Deleted Facebook

Deleting Facebook from my phone was a productivity hack but it also had a positive impact on my mindset. I felt less distracted by constant notifications, which are so hard to ignore and even harder to not respond to in the moment—all pulling me away from my work and out of my flow. Interacting on Facebook became a mindful activity that I would accomplish when I sat down at my desk.

Rituals

My morning rituals have proven to be a powerful way to ground myself for the day:

  • Staying off my phone first thing in the morning and doing short meditation or journaling sessions instead. This is the best way to set my intentions for the day and get in touch with myself. The day starts with peace and not from a place of reactivity.

  • Some days I use Louise Hay’s wonderful book Mirror Work to guide me through self-love exercises or mirror work exercises.

  • I have also found that starting my day by diffusing essential oils makes a powerful difference in my frame of mind. My favorite type of oils are Doterra oils. Do any of you use oils? If so, I’d love to know how you use them and what your favorites are.

 

 

Investing in joy

As September wore on, I struggled with whether or not I could—or should—attend an art workshop in Sedona that I’m registered for that takes place the first week in October. If you follow me on Facebook or IG or both haha, you are aware that I even offered up my spot. I had a lot of thoughts of resistance, such as thinking that I was way too busy and that I didn’t need to guilt myself over skipping it. But after practicing some of my grounding rituals, I was able to realize that I’m not as overwhelmed as I was letting myself feel. I can give myself the gift and investment of this five-day workshop. This is an act of self-love.

The fact is, too, that I could always talk myself out of going to an art workshop: if things are busy, I could tell myself I can’t get away; if things are slower, I could convince myself that I need to stay home and hustle to pick things up. The bottom line is that I know that I deserve and need to be inspired and rejuvenated by these retreats. They are an investment in myself. Taking good care of myself and investing in myself have led to abundance and prosperity, so I need to keep up my end of the bargain.

Returning to San Miguel, Mexico

Speaking of art retreats—I attended a life-changing retreat with the remarkable Desha Peacock in San Miguel de Allende last winter. Her retreats for creative entrepreneurs sell out every year, and for good reason: phenomenal content and leadership in an inspiring setting (a beautiful mansion in a gorgeous artist town). Desha is an amazing and very present retreat leader, and I found this retreat very nourishing. It was a large investment, and I felt that it was worth it—and I am worth it. I am thrilled to be returning in Jan 28-Feb 3, 2018 to teach an art session as part of the retreat!  There are only two more spaces left. Would you like to come? Take a look at the link, and let’s meet in San Miguel!

I hope that the beginning of October finds you well. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and investing in yourself. You deserve it! I look forward to sharing my trip to Sedona with you, and to hearing about how you practiced self-care to get through September!

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 🌴🌴🌴

Leaning into the 30in30: Week 1 Recap

It's January 7th. Which means, if you've started the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge, you're probably catching up to completed 7 paintings in this past week. Pretty serious, even for a compulsive obsessive painter like myself.

"By The Beach (1&2), 16x16" mixed media on canvas,  Available

"By The Beach (1&2), 16x16" mixed media on canvas, Available

I remember when it was the same time last year and how I felt, and although I was able to see it through the end of the challenge, it was anything but easy. I probably had one or two small panic attacks, and my poor hubby ate lots of takeout. I'm surprised that fast-forward a year later, the resistance is still very real, even though I know how important these creative disciplines can be.

So, just to give you a glimpse into what it's like, the first day or two passes without a hunch. By the 3rd day however, I start to feel tied to my studio, and looking for reasons to get out of painting that day. By day 6 (i.e. yesterday), that all too familiar feeling of "why did I agree to do this and announce it to the world" starts to show up again. 

Today in the studio, I was listening to a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts "Being Boss" and the co-host Kathleen Shannon, talked about this concept of creating without the drama. I'd like to think that's exactly what the 30in30 challenge is all about. Just showing up, painting, and getting it done. No drama, no over-thinking, no what-ifs, and no more damn excuses. 

So, this is what I've done so far. If you're doing 30 in 30 this year also, I'd love to connect. Please share a link to your blog or paintings in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading.

Amira xx

 

Facing the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

And so it begins...Another year, a new beginning. It's January again and that means it's time already for the annual 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. It is hosted every year by Leslie Saeta on her art blog and this year, I'll be joining nearly 1,000 artists worldwide to paint and share a painting everyday.

I'll be honest with you guys, I'm not terribly excited. I painted sooooo much in this past year. Actually, I just finished releasing a new collection of abstracts two days ago! I put everything I had into those last pieces, and yet somehow, I'm committing to an even greater challenge. Not 8 paintings, but 30!

The cool thing is about the 30 in 30 painting challenge, however, is that you can make it as tough as you want, or as easy as you want. They can be drawings, small paintings, large, complex, simple. There are no rules. 

Last year, it was the very first time I completed the 30 in 30. I was so tough on myself, I thought by trying something a new subject (faces) and committing to it publicly that I would be focused and know exactly what to paint each day. I thought I wouldn't get bored because I don't typically paint faces. Well guess what? I did. It's not my passion and there's a reason why faces don't normally show up in my work. I'm not a portrait artist, and subjecting myself to such constraints in an already stressful time-sensitive process was not smart. And by the end of the first week, I was dreading the passage of each day.

This year, I'm taking a whole different approach. I am not setting any rules, not overthinking it, and just remembering why this challenge is so helpful. It's about showing up each day and doing my very best in the studio. It doesn't have to be perfect. Not every painting has to be a hit, but I will try.

My inspirations have been pretty consistent lately, and I'm sure much of my upcoming work will reflect it. I want bright colors. I want lots of white space. I want texture. I want happy. We need more happy.

I will be sharing the new pieces  on Instagram under the hashtag #amirarahim30in30.

Hope you can follow along!

30 in 30: Day 16 "Zoey" Pet Portrait + Process Photos

pet portrait commissioned painting by amira rahim Hey guys! Today it rained in Abu Dhabi and stormed with hail in other parts. It's been a gray, cloudy day, and I'm not complaining. I decided to spend my day indoors and get to some of the commissions ahead of me. This is of a sweet dog named Zoey who passed away recently. She was a joy to paint. I loved capturing her coat and sweet nature. I had many photos to choose from, but thought this captured her in a simple, but pretty light.

I decided to capture the process and share it with you, so here it goes:

This was the reference photo. After a few sketches and composition options, I decided the zoomed in crop of her face and collar would be best.

After working out the drawing in pencil, I then went over it in black gresso, bringing in the basic shapes and shadows that would define the painting.

Since the owner wanted a fairly realistic rendition of Zoey, I knew I wouldn't be using much color in this piece. So, I decided to tone the canvas in magenta. It makes for a nice graphic effect against black and white, and it is feminine, which can reflect the dog's sex.

I used Paynes grey, titanium white, raw umber, and indian red for most of the fur and features. I also decided to lift some of the highlighted areas with a little cerulean blue.

Propped my iPad up on the easel for most of the painting. As you can see, I painted from the photograph without any editing or fiddling. Just dove right in. I really need to invest in an iPad stand since I use my iPad so much in the studio!

I'm happy with how well the portrait came out. I don't typically paint dogs or cats, but some are just adorable and this girl was no exception. The final portrait moved the original owner to tears, so I can say, my job here is done. All on a rainy day's work!