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Learn, Laugh, and Breathe

 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to finally leave Long Island. I spent the weekend camping in the Hudson Valley region of New York and it was worth every precious moment I spent there. There were three different components to this weekend that I highly encourage everyone to partake in, whether you can leave your hometown or take it on from a new perspective. 

LEARN

The main event that sparked this camping weekend was my unfulfilled desire to visit the Sculpture/Earth Art Installation Opus 40 created by the artist Harvey Fite. These 6.5 acres of land and stone was a labyrinth that made us feel like we were going to find buried treasure or become one with the mountains in the background. The organic nature of it all juxtaposed with the sturdy material of stone had my mind and eyes meandering, at times speechless. The autumn foliage played a huge role in the scene. The gray slate stone against the orange, yellows, greens, and reds was a real treat. Everything to be seen was from this earth, but structured to depict human presence. I highly recommend visiting. You get to walk within and around the sculpture, as well as, all of the other walking trails the park designated. This experience helped me learn about an artist I have never researched and fascinate over their ability to see medium and design in ways I never could. 

 

LAUGH

This weekend I was accompanied by my wonderful boyfriend and camping expert, Jacob. Having him around to explore, road trip, and discuss life with was essential to a weekend filled with with laughter, smiles, silly moments, and relief that maybe, just maybe, there are good things in this world right now. Despite the stress and unease of the current world, on top of my own concern that my O.C.D. may spiral a bit more than it already has, I was able to enjoy every moment. We both could not stop taking in the colour change, the mountain range, all of the differences that make this place feel beautifully unfamiliar. Recently, my thoughts have been getting the better of me, maybe due to my own personal situations, maybe because of all that is going on in the world, or maybe that is just life, an ebb and flow of finding balance. Despite adapting to our current situation, it all still feels surreal on some level; the social effects of COVID-19. While we did not laugh at the use of masks or the strict restaurant guidelines, we appreciated them and were able to laugh with each other, smile a little bigger knowing we were able to see part of this huge planet again. 

   

BREATHE

Lastly, I was able to breathe. As much as I love creating my artwork and as much as it is intrinsic to who I am as a person, sometimes you need to break away from the everyday. Being an artist means at times, I never stop working. Creating and updating content does not stop just because it is a Saturday or a Sunday. There is part of me that loves this about being an oil painter, but there is a deeper part of me that needs to leave my familiar spaces and remind myself of the bigger picture. I need to reconnect with the earth, the ground, the natural flow of life. Frequently, I found myself craning my neck allll the way up to the sky to see the tops of the trees around our campsite and taking a deep belly breath in. I wanted to savor the quiet, the crisp, all the parts of this season that remind me, oh yes, I am alive. These moments breed inspiration, motivation, and a deep knowing that I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

  

Reflection: 30 Paintings in 30 Days

It has been one week since I completed the 30 day painting journey.

30 paintings in the 30 days. Phew!

Honestly, this is difficult for me to say, but I am proud of myself.
I am proud of myself for creating 30 brand new paintings that I LOVE admiring. 
To me, each one is incredibly special. 

This journey took dedication, consistency, and inspiration. For those of you who have taken on any time constrained journey, understands the mental preparations that are involved. Before September 1st, I planned out a plethora of guidelines for myself. For anyone who is thinking about beginning any type of 30 day journey I recommend at least two weeks of preparation – preferably a month. The more you understand exactly what you are setting out to accomplish in your given time frame, the easier it is to wake up every morning and continue! 

                                     
      “The Simple Things,” oil on canvas, 7″h, 5″w                                        “Imminent Ideas,” oil on canvas, 10″h, 8″w 

One of the first actions I took was a decision on the language I would use about these 30 days. I intentionally spoke of this as a journey instead of a challenge. Language is important and I wanted this to be something that could organically grow for myself and for anyone who cared to listen! A journey to me is something you learn from, contemplate. A challenge is something you wake up every morning wanting to complete that may be difficult for you, but an accomplishment in its own right. While there is absolutely nothing wrong a challenge, I wanted this experience to be more, for me consistency can be a challenge but, the act of painting, creating my abstract artwork, this is something I enjoy. Painting literally brings me joy. The process has never been a challenge for me. In fact, I believe a real challenge would be NOT creating 30 paintings in 30 days. That genuinely might be impossible for me. Painting, creating, it runs through my bones. So, the combination of something that could be a slight challenge (consistency) tied with something I love (painting) led me to a journey. 

To set myself up for success and aid in the unfortunate event of painter’s block (is that a thing? I think so!), I created color palettes for each week of this journey. This was something new for me. I am notoriously, not a planner when it comes to my artwork, but I have truly enjoyed creating, mixing, and working with a predetermined set of colours. I enjoyed this so much, I think this is how I am going to begin paintings and collections from now on. 

Intentionality is everything. <— this may be my biggest takeaway from this journey. 

 

                                    

Once I gave myself the guidelines of a colour palette and determined I would only painting on three different sized canvases the possibilities began to feel endless. Instead of feeling constrained and controlled the more I worked with one colour palette the more I kept going “well, what if for the next one I use these colours…” OR “what if I use this brushstroke with these colours”. I began a process of exploration that I have never given myself before. Each painting led to the next, which led to the next, because each painting bred a new idea. It. was. wonderful. 

On the flipside, while everything I just said is completely true. That does not mean that there were not some hard moments. I am not going to lie, posting a painting on my website, newsletter, and social media interfaces became exhausting. I was almost always on my phone or laptop. By Day 20, I was a bit burnt out from the hustle of it all. So, you know what I did? I took a day off. What?! Yep. I painted two paintings in one day, the diptych “Curious Discovery No. 1 & No. 2”. This allowed me one day out of the whole month where I did not have to paint, to post, or to write. This act was extremely difficult for me to succumb to because I am an all or nothing thinker. Taking a day off within the 30 day journey felt like I was cheating and lying to all of you. But, you know what happened? I rested and I came back ready to take on the last 10 days of the journey.

“Curious Discovery No. 1 & No. 2”, oil on canvas, 10″h, 8″w (each).

These 30 days have shown me more than what I can accomplish with a paintbrush, a palette knife, colour, and a canvas. This journey has shown me how much I value my work and my process. It allowed me the time to contemplate how I wanted my paintings to feel. Lastly, it gave me a brand new set of tools to become an even better artist. 

If you are beginning a 30 day journey in any aspect of your life, artist or not, I wish you love, consistency, and the willingness to learn. 

Your Embracer, 

Dani

I bought my first abstract painting… now what?

I bought my first abstract painting…         now what?

A question I have received frequently from people who admire and collect my paintings is:

How should I display this? 

Naturally, I believe you can display your painting however you choose, but I have noticed that others seek guidance, suggestions, or examples on this matter and that is why I am here. For those of you who have visited my website or Instagram page, you know that for the past two years, I primarily work in a small format. The majority of my paintings are approximately 4″ x 6″.

Small paintings have their own quirks when in search for placement in your personal space, but they also have the versatility that larger paintings sometimes do not afford. Below are some examples my amazing collectors have graciously shared with me.

Float frames have proven to be a fan favorite for these nuggets of color, value, and composition. The negative space supports the painting and allows it to hold its own within a larger room or surface area.

Larger pieces can serve as a statement piece for smaller places such as, hallways and foyers, like this one “Love Where You Are”, oil on canvas, 24″w, 12″w.

When purchasing and hanging abstract paintings many questions can arise, particularly about the color, mood, value, and the space in which you envision it, however, there is another element that I always like to encourage everyone to embrace.

Where does this painting lead your mind?

If the answer to this question is somewhere peaceful, calm, perhaps joyful, or focused. Do the other elements above truly matter?

Small paintings can be placed on your desk, your fridge, in your office, next to your bed. I hope these nuggets serve as a reprieve from the daily tasks of life, the struggles of a work day, or the chaos of a house full of family.

My ultimate advice to you: Embrace the feeling the paintings give you and place it where your mind will find comfort in it most.

Your embracer,

Dani

Finding Time

Finding Time

One question I ask myself daily, weekly, monthly, sometimes even hourly is – Where will I find the time?

While plenty can happen in a day, it cannot all happen on the whim of needs and wants. I have found (and need to remind myself) that in order for everything I imagine to occur I need to stay present.

Two facts you may not know about me, is that I currently work two jobs. I am a full-time in-house Auction Cataloger for a small family owned auction house on the east end of Long Island. Small means an exorbitant amount of hands-on experience for me, but the same amount of time and dedication. In addition, I work freelance/part-time for the company Yaymaker as an artist. Both of these jobs are rewarding and have helped me thrive and afford my own independence (which is quite difficult on Long Island as a younger adult). I am eternally grateful for these experiences and opportunities, however, finding time to set aside for my own personal work has been proven difficult, but not impossible!

The main thing I find myself consistently lacking in (and I’m sure some of you can relate) is energy! 

Split between two jobs means sometimes I will wake up, arrive at my 9am-5pm to then leave and work until 10pm for Yaymaker. While it is financially necessary at this point in my life, (as it is for most Millennials), it also means carving out time during my week for what I truly love to do and that is paint, paint my paintings.

If you have read my earlier blog posts you know that in January of 2018 I set out to create a daily painting practice. This daily practice has turned into the advent of this website and my consistent drive to make myself an artist. One thing that keeps me going despite lack of energy and time, is my own personal mantra Respect The Commitment. Not only have I made a commitment to myself as an artist, but I have made a commitment to all of you. My beautiful art lovers, artists, friends, family, I have committed to making my art known, my colors heard, and my expression present.

Present. Being present. This is another key factor into finding time and staying committed. At the end of 2018, I began a daily practice of yoga with the wonderful free YouTube videos provided by Yoga with Adriene. The little nuggets she drops into my email every week (sometimes everyday if you join her January challenge!) have begun to ground me in the present day. When you focus on the day, the hour, the task at hand everything else proves to become much easier and falls into place the way you had originally hoped it would.

Now, I am not saying that any of this is easy. It is not. That is kind of the point. That is why I need a mantra. I struggle with finding a balance between everything I want to do, everything I have to do, and all of the mid-shades of gray in-between. The most important factor I am finding in life is to stick with a mindset that will only set you up for a positive outcome. Energy, juju, positive vibes, whatever you want to call it, I firmly believe it all starts there and when your mindset begins to shift, your actions follow. When the two coincide that is where magic happens.

So when I find myself asking, when will I find the time? I constantly rephrase, reflect, and remember my mantra, and then I ask:

How can I fit this in my day? In my week?

I truly, whole-heartedly, want to keep creating. At this point, it is not longer a want, it is a need that my soul demands. When you recognize what your soul craves, your mind shifts, your priorities align, and your actions begin to speak louder than any hollow promises you previously made to yourself. Listen to your soul, it knows more than you.

Your Embracer,

Dani

New Canvas Painting

New Canvas Painting

Believe it or not, this canvas painting began with a completely pink background.  It always surprises me when one of my paintings ends up so far from where it began. Originally, I imagined this painting becoming bright, maybe fiery, explosive, but after I applied the pink layer and let it dry I came back to it with a much more different intention.

newest painting

I added blue to subdue the pink, but once the blue hit the canvas it had a mind of its own. There was an extra dimension to the color with pink underneath, a depth that could not be created without that foundation. The more I experiment with color the more I find the foundation becoming the most critical part of my painting. Although I paint the first layer with an idea in mind the foundation can lead to much more than what was ever intended.

newest painting_2

I am not sure if this painting is finished. I am waiting for this last layer to dry (which usually takes about a week), and will revisit the piece again. However, I do think this painting conveys the idea of brightness, an explosive energy. Even though the colors are mostly calm, or associated with calm, the actual painting itself has movement.

The act of painting will never cease to amaze me.

Your Embracer,
Dani