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Dancing Sakura cherry blossoms

“Dancing Sakura”

I got the idea to paint this piece after seeing the vibrant, almost neon pink pot of watercolor paint sitting in the bag. I love painting flowers. It’s one of my favorite things to paint, because flowers make everything so beautiful, both in real life and on canvas. I’m a person who is prone to getting depressed easily, so looking at beautiful flowers cheers me up. I have trouble walking around a lot. I get fibromyalgia pains in my legs, so I can’t walk through gardens as often as I used to. Looking at spring flowers makes me feel happy though, so I often paint them so I’ll have something beautiful to look at.

The dancing effect I thought of because I like the way that flower petals look when they’re falling off of trees, blowing around in the wind. I like using sweeping, swaying motions when I paint. It gives more life to a painting. I also added a few bits of purple paint into the piece because I hate monochrome paintings. You don’t see just one color when you see spring flowers in real life, so why would you paint them in just one color? I’m all about color!

Why cherry blossom? Because I think they’re some of the most beautiful flowers there are, and because I like the association with Japanese art and imagery. I’m obsessed with Japan, particularly its traditional arts and culture. My dream is to see the cherry blossoms in bloom one day in Japan.

I painted this piece using a stencil brush from Japan, on a canvas that’s also from Japan. It’s on an 11 x 9” canvas, and I used only watercolor gouache paint on this one.

I need to sell my art in order to survive. Please buy my art and share my work with others. Please support the arts, and artists. We are people too. Thank you.

https://squareup.com/store/mayasdivinedesigns

Featured

Before the Fire

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‘Before the Fire’ is a historical fiction novel by MλYΛ Garcia, Author. It is a love story, set just before the American Civil War. Benjamin Hollis, a Virginian gentleman, falls madly in love with the charming, French-Louisianan debutante, Vivienne Marchand. He courts her in secret for months, before the Mardi Gras soirée. Benjamin has another big secret: he is an Abolitionist. He abhors slavery, and fights against the ‘peculiar institution’ of slavery.

Joining him in this fight is his elder brother Alfred, another gentleman and Southern ‘dandy.’ He thoroughly enjoys being a ‘man about town’ until he meets the alluring L’illien Marchand, Vivienne’s younger sister. Their coinciding love stories unfold amidst the chaotic backdrop of the Civil War. They celebrate love in the midst of an environment of hatred, fear and repression.

Their dramatic tale is compounded by a fierce rivalry between the Hollis men and Henry Farnsworth, a fellow shipping tycoon and member of the landed gentry. Their rivalry takes a violent turn as the story reaches its climax.

‘Before the Fire’ is fresh, original and ‘mind-blowing’ writing. MλΥλ Garcia has a true gift for weaving together words in a way that will inspire your mind, and capture your heart. Far from your typical historical fiction novel, ‘Before the Fire’ was inspired by a series of curious recurring dreams and deja vu incidents during Ms. Garcia’s travels through the United States, particularly through New Orleans. She also illustrated the book, so the reader gets a unique glimpse inside the mind of the author, and can see precisely what she envisioned as she wrote the story.

‘Before the Fire’ is available now, through these fine retailers:

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515264

Amazon Kindle:

David of the Flowers

I’m not fond of doing portraits in general, because in all honesty, though I can do them capably, it’s not my strong suit. My harsh inner critic comes out, and it slows down or even hampers the creative process. Most of my best work has resulted from the free flowing of spontaneous ideas, bringing what’s in my head onto the paper or canvas, and my mind works a heck of a lot faster than my hands. If I have to work from a photograph it takes a lot of careful studying of facial features, plus shading, etc. Just getting the thing to look enough like the person who’s being depicted is enough of a chore, let alone coming up with a clever concept for the other details of the background. I don’t do simple or understated art, or negative space, it’s just not my style. Also, many portraits that I’ve seen are pretty bland in terms of ideas, and tend to be a straightforward replication of a human being.

So when I was thinking about coming up with an art piece in honor of my idol and guiding light, for his birthday, I was intimidated at the prospect of getting the likeness right, and also coming up with something different, that can only be created by me. This idol has been celebrated around the world by millions of admirers for over forty years and was a visual artist in his own right, not to mention being one of the biggest recording artists ever. So no pressure!

Even though it’s not my first David Bowie portrait, and it probably won’t be my last, I wanted to outdo not only my previous pieces, but create a portrait of him that nobody’s ever seen before. David Bowie was an Outsider artist, a term that fit very well within the parameters of his public persona, of the disaffected nonconformist. So I decided to break any and all rules regarding realism, portraiture, and go nuts with experimentation.

Once I’d sketched the famous face onto the canvas, using charcoal pencils, I started to let go, using opaque watercolor, then glass bead gel and luminescent paint, to get maximum light reflecting qualities into the piece. I then started layering more opaque watercolor, and used a drawing gum pen to create a sort of tattoo effect on some of the details. And I finished with chrome ink and metallic paint pens, to add extra shimmer and light refraction to the portrait. I had the idea of paying homage to the Mexican folk art tradition of portraying the saints on blankets and tapestries.

His words, music and life will always serve as an inspiration to me, because he stood for the outcasts, the eccentrics and the marginalized people of this world. He not only made it ok to be different, he embraced it, even when going through his own version of hell, in the 70’s, while battling addiction. He’s been with me every day since I was still a kid, and he’ll always be an important part of my life. Whenever I am afraid of trying something new or taking a risk I ask myself, “what would David have done in my shoes?” And the answer inevitably is to do the things that I’m most afraid to, because my life is that much richer for the risks that I take, even when it doesn’t work out how I’d hoped. But sometimes it does work out, and that’s where true happiness comes in, by remaining true to myself, and by trusting in the signs that the universe is showing me.

David wasn’t a “prophet or a Stone Age man,” but he was a remarkable man, who lived multiple lives in one go, and that’s worth emulating, as an artist and as a human being!

Global Warning: Willfully Ignored

This mixed media piece is a visceral, abstract, intuitive art expression of my feelings after seeing the television series “Chernobyl,” and watching news footage of the terrifying wildfires in Australia. I was particularly haunted most recently by the images and stories of the Australians, some of whom were forced to take refuge on the beach and even in the ocean, to escape the looming bushfires. I depicted this also in the piece, showing the stylized figures with their hands up, a symbol of surrendering to the waves in desperation, fighting for their survival from something much bigger and more ferocious than themselves.

In my mind, the Australian bushfires and the Chernobyl disaster are synonymous with the issue of climate change and the destruction of our planet by the way we use unsustainable and unsafe sources of energy and manufacturing. These energy sources are changing the climate and altering the ecosystem, leaving massive destruction in its wake. I started this piece on art paper, using black chalk pastels, to simulate soot and ash, and the shadowy outline of a nuclear reactor, then I moved on to using markers, to create the flames, the ‘poison’ signage, the ocean, figures, and the obscured face of a koala, arguably an emblematic symbol of Australia. I finished the piece with some opaque watercolor paints, using only a minuscule amount of water, just to add shadows to the flames, and subtler nuances to the ocean’s waves.

I’ve seen the impacts of climate change first-hand, watching the world around me disappear into a cloud of choking smoke, when I lived through California’s wildfire “seasons.” I’ve felt the frozen winds of the Midwest, followed by abnormally warm days, that disrupt the animals and growing cycles of the natural habitats. Climate change is truly affecting us all, and the most vulnerable and marginalized among us are usually the ones who suffer the most from the actions of the powerful, who’ve decided that it’s more profitable to maintain the status quo, despite the literal hellscape they’re accelerating by their inaction and willful ignorance. That’s why the title of this piece is “Global Warning: Willfully Ignored.” The lessons from the past disasters in Ukraine and Japan should inform our current and future decisions regarding how we source our electrical power and fuel, but sadly it seems that we will continue using both fossil fuels and nuclear energy until we have decimated the earth.

Our stubborn reliance upon the unsustainable and dangerous, maintained for a profit, will continue to damage the environment beyond repair, unless we swiftly transition to renewable fuels and find sustainable materials for our products.

The truth is, when something happens in one part of the world, it affects the rest of us. That’s the overall message of the piece, along with a stark warning about the direction we’re headed for.

Details, “Global Warning: Willfully Ignored,” by MAYA David Garcia
Details 2, “Global Warning: Willfully Ignored,” by MAYA David Garcia
Details 3, “Global Warning: Willfully Ignored,” by MAYA David Garcia

The Artist And the Show

I don’t often do shows or craft fairs, though I enjoy introducing new people to my work. Why? Because as an independent artist and small business owner, they’re just not cost effective.

Despite the fact that many art shows and craft fairs often draw a wide audience due to advertising and word of mouth, most participants don’t actually sell all that much art, and end up at a loss or just breaking even. Now, there’s many reasons for this, such as the audience in attendance, the price of their work, and their sales technique. However, there’s also the time and upfront cost involved with preparing for a show or fair, and it’s not just the labor of creating the art and buying the art materials. Most artists are expected to get their pieces ready to hang, provide tablecloths or fabric to cover their displays, and sometimes even provide their own tables and chairs. That’s on top of printing extra business cards, creating branded signage, labeled descriptions for their pieces, and any extra props to create their own unique ambiance.

And then, there’s the so-called “jury fees,” and/or application fees, which are a stich-up. They are arbitrary fees that are required from the artist in order to even be considered for the esteemed organization’s show. And finally, there’s the event fee itself, which can take any number of forms, from booth fees to other kinds of rental fees.

Frankly, you’re considered successful if you manage to recuperate the upfront costs by selling some of your work, but most attendees are there to window shop and maybe buy one or two smaller, more inexpensive items. You won’t usually be talent spotted by agents or courted by the bigger art collectors at these events.

Yes, it’s a good way to get your work out into the community, and possibly a way to attract more fans and followers, but just like “prestige jobs,” that are code words for unpaid gigs, giving away your money to do shows and expecting to make any kind of a profit in return is generally an exercise in futility, and just not worth it.

The shows I’ll participate in these days are typically either very low or no-cost, or targeted events where the organizers might collect a percentage of my sales as commission, but the upfront costs are nominal. OR, they’re opportunities to send a clear message, to an audience that’s likely to be more receptive, such as the themed exhibition I did called “Side Effects.” I was successful with that event not necessarily because I sold a lot of my work, but because message came through very clearly, and because I was successful with raising the funds I needed from my community in order to participate. That was worth the tremendous hard work that was involved.

Having said all that, I am always open to new experiences and opportunities to grow as an artist, and to meet new people. Have an idea that you’d like to share with me, or an event coming up that you’d like to invite me to participate in? Drop me a line. The holidays will be here before you know it, and I’m always up for a good themed event, as long as it’s not too pricey to get into!

Words, Audio and Visual Storytelling

Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: Words Spoken at Warped Speed: audio art, performance and spoken word. https://anchor.fm/mayasdivinedesigns/episodes/Words-Spoken-at-Warped-Speed-audio-art–performance-and-spoken-word-e3eu1n

My podcast series is alive! Topics on my second podcast episode include my survivor stories and struggle with eating disorders, gun violence, unrequited love and even a fabled story!

Please subscribe to my podcast and share this episode with your friends if you enjoy my work.

This is a multimedia experimental series, including audio art, ambient music, performance art and storytelling. Truthbytwo is the sister label to my art business, Maya’s Divine Designs.

From idea to fruition

I’ve always loved flowers. They’re one of my favorite things to both look at, and depict in paintings and drawings. Although my work is intuitive and abstract-based, I do often like adding some symbols, stylized objects or figures into my pieces. It’s become my signature style. Inspiration for my art comes from many different places- books, articles, social media, other art, films and everyday objects/landscapes.

One of those everyday things is a flowering tree in the backyard of the house that I live in. It’s a wildly growing thing, that’s creeped over the side of the neighbor’s fence into our yard, such as it is. My landlords have cemented over the backyard, so there’s not much greenery, but our neighbors have a small, suburban farm, complete with a mini orchard, chickens and several flowering trees. It makes for a pleasant view from my window, which faces out to the yard. I noticed the flowering tree a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure it’s a cherry blossom tree. The flowers look very similar. I’m striving to recreate the beautiful flowers in bloom. I’m not interested in just capturing the changing seasons. I think flowers are a symbol of timeless beauty. Here are a few images, to demonstrate the progression from an inspirational object, to an idea, resulting in an artwork. I’m actually working on a series of paintings and illustrations based on these gorgeous pink flowers. You can view more of my work on my website.

The flowering tree
Closeup of the flowers, during their first spring bloom
Painting in progress
One of the finished pieces, “Dancing Sakura.”

Printing and Painting Pretty Things for a Living

As part of the continuous evolution of my brand, Maya’s Divine Designs, I want to offer my artwork to customers at as wide of a range of options and prices as possible, so that there are choices for everyone’s budgets. Therefore, I’m working with a new vendor to offer art prints on watercolor paper, for a very affordable price, or ‘do it yourself’ printable electronic images that you can order, download and print at home.

I will continue to also offer original paintings too, which are a little more expensive, but still reasonable in price. The prices for all of the items in my store are based on labor, materials and the methods of delivery, but every piece is my original work.

There’s cute gift options too, including hand-decorated fans and hand-painted postcards. I decided to do these pieces by hand because I think they’re more special than mass produced items. There’s something very rewarding about traditional craftsmanship, and I’m pretty old school when it comes to the arts. I believe that artists have a place in the world, just like other skilled tradespersons, such as builders, furniture makers, and so on.

I’m a small business owner and artist, but I’ve also experienced challenges with changing financial circumstances over the years, so I understand that not everyone can afford to collect fine art, but I hope that if you enjoy my work and my story you’ll consider investing in it, in some way. I believe that art should be for everyone, and that everyone should have the chance to invest in something beautiful, that will bring a lifetime of joy and a pop of color into the home, and the heart.

But sadly, big commerce has devalued the works of many artists, and because most artists must also sell their work to live, they accept terms that not only undervalue their skills, but lead consumers to believe that art should be a cheap commodity, like any other form of decor. I’m all for artists succeeding, but believe very strongly in shopping small, in artisans over big commerce, and in the care, attention to detail and artistry of craftsmanship that only small businesses can produce.

So, my business is based on a hybrid between affordability and artistry. I won’t compromise my quality standards based solely on price, and I believe in both artists and vendors being paid fairly for their work. I operate on a very small budget, with zero overhead, since I work from home, so the prices are honest, fair and as affordable as possible.

I can’t work for free, and I don’t believe that what I do is any less valuable than building a house or installing a bathroom sink.

Art should inspire, and sometimes challenge the viewer, but it should also elicit emotions. Thank goodness for the ability to share my life stories and my work with others for a living! I have the best job in the world!

My art and design business, Maya’s Divine Designs, is now accepting orders! https://squareup.com/store/mayasdivinedesigns

Continue reading “Printing and Painting Pretty Things for a Living”

The Origin of Illusions

“Elephants, Swimming Through Illusions,” is a watercolor painting on canvas, by me. I painted my name, “MAYA,” in Indian Sanskrit at the bottom, which is one of the language origins of the name, and it means “Illusion.” Once I got the idea to paint a swimming elephant I started thinking about India, then my mind went back to Illusions, and Indian Sanskrit. Then I decided to paint an Indian temple, which is depicted at the top of the painting, then I wanted to dress up my elephant in peacock feathers, since peacocks are the national bird of India.

I wanted to create a fantastical scene, one that can only be replicated in either a lucid dream, or in a deeply meditative state. I was raised on a hybrid of beliefs taken from Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, and my name is considered to be sacred in two out of the three religions. Ganesh is also a Hindu god that resonates, because he symbolizes a removal of obstacles (in the artist, obstacles to creativity and prosperity,) and governs the forces that propel the wheel of life. The elephant is also an emblematic animal of India, and was my grandmother’s favorite animal, so a guardian spirit (as the elephant) is pushing through illusions and obstacles, and guiding the viewer towards a clearer path.

This piece was painted on an 11 x 9″ canvas, using watercolor paint. You can view this piece and more on my site:

http://www.mayasdivinedesigns.com

Full size view

The Art of Intuition- my journey

I’m proud of how far I’ve progressed as an artist. I’ve been interviewed, profiled, featured, gained a following, and had opportunities to showcase my work in public.  I’m well on the way from crashing down those barriers, and moving beyond being an Outsider, and actually gaining a reputation in the art world.

I’ll let you in on a little secret though: I never went to art school. Everything you see here was created with my own two hands and brain with very little formal training outside of high school art class, and two community college classes. I never fully learned the rules of perspective, light and shading, or studied under an esteemed master in the field. Partly, it’s because I didn’t have the money for art school. Partly, it’s because I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me with my art as happened (almost) with my writing. I didn’t want ‘rules of technique,’ or ‘constructive’ (BIG quotes there- because it was anything BUT ‘constructive’) criticism to affect my motivation to create. I also didn’t want to study other artist’s works for inspiration, because I wanted to develop a style and technique that’s completely my own. Besides, as mentioned I did take one art history and one drawing class in community college, and while they were both interesting, they completely stifled my creativity , and intimidated me into thinking I wasn’t an artist. Though at first I did try going down the traditional route to becoming an artist.

Seeing and hearing  the negative comments from “friends,” and from an ex (who had excellent drawing skills, by the way, but lacked imagination, and had a knack for projecting insecurities on others, but that’s another story) I was convinced that I wasn’t a good enough artist, so I gave up painting and drawing, a passion I’d had since childhood, for years. I became a housewife, who was frankly miserable and lacked a sense of purpose. Then, when my marriage dissolved I drifted from job to job, desperately trying to find my sense of purpose. For awhile I thought I’d found it through nonprofit work, serving the community. And while yes, for a while it did feel good to help others while getting paid, I still felt directionless, especially when I wasn’t working.

I studied cooking, I failed the course, because the stress of working in a commercial kitchen and holding down a demanding full-time nonprofit org job was too much for me to balance. Though I’m still passionate about food, and am an excellent cook. I learned I am just not cut out to be a chef in someone else’s kitchen.

So I worked some more, at different offices, and found a varying degree of satisfaction, but found considerably more satisfaction in my ‘side job’ as an artist, with a growing presence. Once again, I did a balancing act, attending art shows while working full-time, exhausting myself beyond belief.

But I learned that here, I’d found purpose, through fulfillment. I learned that when I’m in the creative process, or writing about the creative process, or talking about the creative process, I feel a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that I can’t find anywhere else. That when I’m creating anything for my art business I feel infinitely happier than even my very best day of working for someone else, no matter what the business was.

So, backing up a little, how did I even overcome the negative voices of this world, including my own, who told me I wasn’t good enough to be an artist? I started using social media as an outlet for slowly, cautiously, sharing my work with others. I’d already noticed that drawing had become a habitual practice for me again, after many years of stagnation. It started with doing little doodles on my notepad at work, then gradually those doodles became more elaborate, and colorful, and I’d start doodling at home, also. Then, I started sharing my work with friends, privately, and one friend in particular encouraged me to start sharing my work publicly…so I did.

But that’s not how I became an artist, it is how my art career began. I started using my inner voice of intuition to guide my choices when I’d sit down to do a painting, or a drawing. From color choices, to mediums, to methods of sharing, my inner voice guides my hand at every turn. The more I listen to this inner voice, the better my artwork is. Every time, without exception, the quality of my work is better. I call that inner voice my spirit guide, or an angel looking over my shoulder. It’s truly been a gift of discovery, that’s not only given me the drive to create, but the confidence to keep creating, and sharing my work.

My inner guide helps me also discern opportunities for artists, and helps me choose things that will allow me to grow, and move further in my advancement as an artist. My intuition is everything, and my inner guidance system is most intact when I’m tuned in and listening to it. It’s not as loud as the voices in the outside world, but it’s much more accurate, and always based on my best interests. So it’s my best teacher, and my business manager.

Speaking of, if you’d like to see my work in greater detail, my art business site is here:

http://www.mayasdivinedesigns.com

I’m on Instagram too:

https://www.instagram.com/ladygrinninghasadivinedesign/

Footsteps at Heaven’s Gate

“Footsteps at Heaven’s Gate,” is a fantasy landscape, combining elements of Surrealism. I was inspired to create this piece after seeing the footprints of my landlady’s dog on the wet earth, outside our home. I had also wanted to paint a Torii Gate for some time, after watching a few documentaries about Buddhism in Asia, and seeing the gates numerous times, in various locations outside several different temples. I had already started painting footprints on the canvas, beneath a blue sky, when I got the idea in my head to paint the Torii gate also, then I decided to start painting what could look like either clouds or waves and sea creatures, depending on if you’re looking at the painting right side up, or upside down. I put ‘gate’ and ‘Heaven’s Gate’ together in my head while I was painting this. I also wanted to subvert the idea of perspective and to make the viewer see the image with more than one possible interpretation in mind.

I can’t say that I have any one particular style or technique in mind when I’m painting. My work is not coming from the perspective of someone who has been classically trained, and I don’t know the technical terms for why I do things the way that I do. I create art purely by instinct, and the way that I’ll move the brush, or choose the brush or sponge that I’m using for one part of the painting or other is purely based on how I think that it will look on the canvas, or how much of a color I want to use in the picture. I’ll then adjust it if I don’t like how it looks, or will layer different colors over it, to give it more depth. Every brushstroke or dab of the sponge is an experiment, and sometimes I’ll get wacky notions in my head suddenly on a whim, that will end up working brilliantly.

For example, once I’d finished painting “Footsteps,” I remembered the bottle of almond oil I saw sitting on my shelf, and remembered that I’d had the idea the other day prior to use almond oil on a painting, just to see what happens. Well, I’m happy to say that brushing the painted canvas with a bit of almond oil actually made the colors look brighter, and it gave a really nice glossy finish to the painting, without smudging the watercolor paint. It dried quite nicely too, so I’ll definitely be trying that experiment again!

If you like the look of this piece and want to buy it there’s a couple of ways you can do it, either as the original painting for $200, or as a print, which is $30. The price for both options includes the cost of materials and labor. Here’s the link to my online store, where you can choose your preference, and buy it: https://squareup.com/store/mayasdivinedesigns/item/footsteps-at-heavens-gate Thanks!!

Any questions? Email me, please. I’ll respond in less than 24 hours, or even quicker during my store’s open hours, 10-6, Pacific Standard Time, Mon-Fri.

Detailed view, “Footsteps at Heaven’s Gate “
Detailed view, “Footsteps at Heaven’s Gate “
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