Eleven years ago I made the crazy decision to go back to school to change careers. After seven years of working full-time and going to night school I realized my dream of becoming an art teacher and practicing artist. Four years later still, I couldn’t be happier.
It was an insanely long road full of obstacles, anxiety and financial struggle. My first year teaching I worked three jobs just to keep up with my mortgage and bills. But now I am surrounded by that which I love most every single day. I get to inspire young minds to appreciate the arts for art’s sake, not to mention all of the other benefits that come along with practicing and learning about art (but that’s a whole other story). I get ample time off to pursue my own artistic endeavors and most of all I get to rest. Wait, rest; is that a real thing?
This week as I was painting on my balcony I came to the realization that this is the first time I’ve felt rested as far back as I can remember. I’ve worked since I was fifteen and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to just breathe...until now.
We’ve created this awful society where people work their lives away and then one day they wake up at the end to find that they’ve missed living. Our government and corporations only encourage and instill the mindset that the more hours we work the more successful we will become. They give us a ridiculously little amount of vacation time and then frown upon us when we actually want to use it.
What these silly big dogs don’t realize is that if people are given significant time to relax, enjoy life, and recharge they ultimately end up being more productive and efficient for their employers. Instead most people are forced to commit to an insane amount of hours, stuck in their little cubicles where they spend half their day surfing the Internet to pass time because their so unhappy and overworked.
What it comes down to is that we are better in every way when we allow time for ourselves to just breathe. When we are rested and happy we treat each other better, we make better choices and we work mindfully and purposefully. My advice is to take moments to enjoy life as often as you can and if you’re in a situation that doesn’t allow you to do so, work towards changing it. Don’t wait until your old or sick to realize that you’ve missed out on this beautiful thing we call life!
Visit www.saatchiart.com/danelaart for information and pricing of original artwork and prints.
When you look into your future, do you believe that your path is already set for you or that you control the outcome? Is there such a thing as destiny? I believe that our future is like a blank canvas. You’ve made the intention of having some sort of future because you’ve invested in the canvas, but what it will turn into is uncertain. And while you do have some experience and skills built up to anticipate the outcome, sometimes (might I daresay more often than not) things simply don’t work out how you had planned; what happens is half choice and half chance.
As you work through your painting you choose how you begin by the colors that you select or the image that you’ve created in your mind. However to a certain extent the subconscious takes over and the image develops of its own free will. Some paintings turn out better than you every could have dreamt up, while others become utter disasters. (The disasters are often the one’s you spend the most time on; think about that for a moment!)
As an artist, I am constantly starting over and creating something new. Each blank canvas turns into something unexpected. To be honest I sometimes shock myself with my finished paintings.
As it relates to life, I’ve opened up to the idea of letting go of things that are out of my control and letting life just happen. Meanwhile I must tell you that as a control freak this has been an ongoing challenge for me. It doesn’t mean that I’ve lost hope or given up on experiences that I would still like to happen. It’s rather about enjoying both things that I've planned and accomplished that have worked out well and embracing moments that happen unexpectedly. Mostly it’s about washing my hands of things that don’t work out so well and moving on to the next blank canvas. And sometimes it’s quite liberating just to paint right over the damn thing!
What is emotional intelligence? I believe that the simple answer is being aware of your emotions and understanding why you feel a certain way. While we cannot control how others may make us feel, we can control how we react and how we treat others.
Being raised in an eastern European household, emotions were not something that we were encouraged to discuss, show, or analyze. Rage was normal for boys and girls should hide everything, or at least that’s the way I perceived it. Thank goodness I had art because I don’t think I would have otherwise survived my teenage years.
In recent years I have never been happier (aside from going away to college because that was just awesome). I think it's because not only am I pursuing dreams that I’ve had since I can remember but also because I am letting go of those things and people that continuously affect me in a negative way.
Let’s face it though life is not that black and white. Sometimes you can’t let go of certain people because despite their constant negative tendencies you may have a connection with them; this can be especially difficult with family and friends.
It is inevitable that throughout your life people will upset you. Some purposely seek out to make you feel bad or inadequate, while others simply aren’t aware of their own habits.
While my first instinct may have been (back in the day) to rage back or shut down, I now take a step back, try to figure out what about the situation exactly pushed my buttons, and analyze if it was really directed toward me or if I just happen to be there. Most often when people make you feel bad their anger, jealousy and/or negativity is based on their own personal battles and insecurities. Just remember that the people who continuously live this way are NOT emotionally intelligent and perhaps never will be.
Now the part where I take a step back, this is where the art comes in! I sketch, I write, I vomit every emotional thought into my sketchbook; I hold NOTHING back. Then I sit and think for a long time about what it all means. The most difficult aspect of developing emotional intelligence is having strength not to react immediately, especially when those who hurt you are closest.
Any art form, whether you enjoy music, writing or visual art, helps to calm your nerves and gather your thoughts. Before I began the painting above I was feeling a lot of negative energy, both inside of me and all around me. I desparately needed a sense of calm and peace. I painted outside in my courtyard where I was surrounded by beautiful fountains, happy trees and flowers (get the Bob Ross reference, hehe!), and I was completely inspired by my surroundings. After I finished, all of that negative energy seemed to disappear, and I felt the calm and peace that I so desperately needed. I hope that viewers feel the quiet stillness that I felt after I painted it.
I think that it is important to realize that we are all human and we make mistakes. Do I still occasionally react before I think?...sure I do! But I own up to it and try to be better, and I think that’s what counts. More importantly, I’m making a conscious effort to spend time with those who I do enjoy being with because that feeds my happy soul. Feed your happy soul people!
Visit www.saatchiart.com/danielaart for information and pricing.
Recently I was sick with a terrible cold and I stayed home from work. Unfortunately after several attempts to rest I came to the conclusion that I was restless, and eventually I pulled out a set of small panel canvases and my paints. As I sat at my kitchen table unsure of what would happen next, the blank canvases transformed into the two-panel painting above. I sat there and stared at it for quite some time contemplating where in the hell it came from.
Eight months after my most recent break up, here I sat painting this epic depiction of love and intimacy, with faded memories of the very few, if any loves whom I’ve lost. I’m not entirely sure that I’ve actually ever experienced love in that way.
And then I wondered if we humans are simply in love with the idea of love, or if being "in love" truly exists. If it does exist is it the intoxicating, deep connection that lasts forever or is it something that eventually fades for everyone; where some people experience a hint of it from time to time, some just stay together despite their indifference and others search for that feeling again by moving on to someone else? Do we hold onto this notion of love and pretend that our relationships are fulfilling even when we know deep down that we want more? How many of us settle, how many of us find that true connection and how many of us endlessly search for it?
While I must say that I am the last person to offer relationship advice, I find that I observe others quite often. Given my awesome track record, I probably do this because I’m genuinely curious how it all works. I think that on extremely rare occasions I have had a sort of sense about certain couples who seem to have that lasting love that we all hope for. Unfortunately more often I sense unhealthy relationships filled with anger, jealousy, resentment, fake pretense, and most sadly, indifference. After seeing this so often with others and on occasion even experiencing this in my own life, I can’t help but think that I would rather be alone than live with the alternative.
However every once in a while, I still hope that I might find that person who gets all of my wonderful weirdness, and I get all of him, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I think that this painting represents a sort of hope against all odds, that I will one day experience that unwavering, real closeness. This one's for the LOVE!
Visit www.saatchiart.com/danielaart for information and pricing.
Recently I created a new painting that I was hesitant to put out for the world to see. When you’re an artist, whether it be a visual artist, musician, or writer, it is inevitable that you will be judged by the work you create. Of course those who love you will offer you praise and support and this is unquestionably appreciated in the deepest and sincerest way; it’s what keeps us going more often than not. However the truest compliments are those that come from strangers; those who barely know you who become deeply connected to you and your work in some emotional way.
This past Tuesday I went to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. This was by far one of the best concerts I’ve been to in my life. As I listened, watched, moved, and felt, I was in awe of the musicians and their raw talent, undeniable passion, and their quirky awesomeness. Karen O has a smile that lights up a room and a kind of electric energy makes you feel elatedly happy and free. And while I smelled Ms. Mary Jane all around me, their music is so intoxicating it’s all the high you need. This band puts the punk in punk rock!
So how does one story fit with the other? One of the reasons I love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs so much is because they are original, unlike anything I’ve ever heard or seen, and I’m sure that they have been criticized and judged for that very same reason.
However, as I looked around the room that evening and witnessed how many people they so profoundly touched with their sounds, I imagined how many others have felt their awesomeness all around the world.
And so I decided to put my artwork out there. Even if I touch the life of a single person with that piece, it will outweigh the indifference and criticism I may receive from others. After all, those who are often deemed bizarre and out of the ordinary are also often extraordinary!
Stories about how art inspires and changes us.