2020 has been a roller coaster with ups and downs all over the place. I’ve been keeping myself busy with ceramics, painting and dolls but I missed seeing some of my work in galleries. I don’t show much, but it makes me very happy when I am invited to participate on an exhibit.
DOLLMAKERS VII: FOLK TALES
Cactus Gallery in LA kindly invited me to participate on one of their doll making exhibits, and this time the theme will be Folk Tales. I got super excited when I got the invitation and quickly started thinking on a doll for them.
I chose the Mexican folk tale of the Nahual, a shape shifter that is revered by some and feared by others. The folk tale says that a human can have the power to shape shift into their spirit animal and roam the forests and plains at night.
A Nahual takes the shape of their spirit animal, but also that spirit animal takes the shape of the strengths and skills of the person. So, if your nahual form is a bird, is because you have a beautiful voice, or maybe, like her case, she is a Mexican Wolf because she is strong, independent and will take orders from no one.
In Mexican culture, a Nahual is usually a man that commands respect, but I wanted to give this doll the power of femininity along with her shape shifting powers, so I turned the concept around and I created my own version of the nahual. A powerful woman who is free to do and go as she pleases, defying preconceptions of what a woman should be or do and imbued with the power of the Wolf, a rare sight in our forest, but a very powerful one indeed.
I hope you can pay her a visit If you are in the LA Area on September 19th when the exhibit opens at Cactus Gallery. You can reach Sandra Mastroianni via email if you are interested and need more information.
The universe sends you unexpected gifts, and it’s up to you to accept them or not.
My son had been asking for a cat of his own since we got Echo, my daughter’s emotional support cat. To be honest, we were putting it off because we already have one cat, but the universe had other plans for us.
This void started showing up at our doorstep, meowing loudly and looking hungry, so decided to feed him and didn’t think much of it, the neighborhood cats hang around our house so we thought he was looking for a free meal.
He kept hanging out at our front porch for a week in the mornings and cuddled to my son before he left for school, then came back looking for him after he came back from school in the afternoons.
The day before thanksgiving was very rainy and cold and he disappeared, but on thanksgiving he showed up cold, wet and super hungry… He ate two cans wand asked for more! We setup a shelter for the night and decided to take him to the vet the next day.
Our vet said he was in good health, had no fleas or ticks so she gave him his vaccinations, some pills and wished us on our merry way. My son was grinning all the way home, even more when the cat wanted to get out of the carrier to sit with him and purr really loud.
His name is Loki, AKA The Void. He is so dark that if he closes his eyes all you see is a cat shaped hole in the fabric of reality. This was their first night together. He curled up next to him and slept, and slept, and slept. You could hear him purr all across the room! To be honest, I had never heard a cat purr that loud!
I had never owned a cat before, much less two so I had no idea what to expect, but Loki settled up very well and Echo accepted him well, so now I have a shadow that follows me around everywhere I go in the house.
He kinda knows how to cat. He never had toys so he didn’t know what to do with them until Echo showed him his catnip trout, and the laser pointer is a total mystery to him. He does not climb much yet but is very curious and my plants and furniture are under attack, but it’s OK, he’s learning the rules of the house. He took over my laptop as soon as I sat to work. The god of mischief demands pets.
Echo took over my favorite chair and now Loki took over the one in front of it. Now I’m going to need to buy another one so I can read at night! I am truly in love with this cat, his dark fur make me think of magical powers and he will truly be an inspiration on my work. I am already studying the movements of my mini-panther and you will see him and Echo in my work very soon.
And you know what else has been funny? Since he arrived I have been getting lots of good news and opportunities that will make 2020 a very interesting year. Black cats bring good fortune after all.
I got these amazing Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencil Set some time ago. They are some of my favorite and most cherished color pencils. I love their creamy texture and how I can create color gradients with them.
But there’s a huge problem. I love them so much that I don’t want to use them. So they stayed in their box, and I only too them from there on special occasions. Kind of like the Good China our grandmothers used to get out of the cabinet on Christmas.
But no more. I decided that color pencils should be used, not staying on a box waiting for the perfect moment to be used.
So, I was brave and I took them out of the box and into a container I made for them. Now they are available for me when I need them, and I will use them! Oh yes! Just wait and see!
I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving with you and your loved ones!
I cooked a turkey and went to the movies to see the latest in the Harry potter series. I loved it!
You may be wondering why there is no turkey on my pic…. My son is learning to do embroidery at school and he made me this pouch. It’s a peacock (His favorite animal!) and he made it for thanksgiving because they are related to turkeys, so he thought it was a very appropriate gift…. Gotta love him!!
I just wanted to let you know I’m so very thankful for being there and supporting my work. I would not be there without your love. It means everything to me and I am forever grateful for the opportunity you give me to continue doing what I love.
I’m still adjusting to the big change that we had to go over last year. As you know, I had to sell my house and after a huge amount of problems and situations, I moved back to my old home.
This house is old, has a lot of issues that need fixing and it’s not as nice as the one we had before, but I like it. It’s the place where I brought both my kids when they were born and when’re they took their first steps and said their first words. It’s got family history.
Unfortunately, now that I have two kids and one of them is on the brink of being a teenager and the other one an incredibly active first grader, we don’t have a lot of space. I had to give up my former studio to give each one of them a room, and I took over the living room as a makeshift studio.
That means we are still living under a lot of unpacked studio boxes, containers and who knows what else. I am missing half of my materials because I have nowhere to put them, but art calls and I need to work.
My creative brain needs to work, my bills need to be paid but I don’t have a lot of space… What to do?!?
I had to take the situation with a little humor and remembered one of my favorite books, “It’s not easy being a bunny” (Believe me… it’s not!) where he wants to be a lot of things besides a bunny.
Like P. J. Funnybunny, I said to myself… Now I want to be… A WATERCOLORIST!
And you know what? I LOVE IT!!!! I had worked on watercolors before, it’s one of my favorite mediums and I even teach an introductory online class, but I never took it as my main medium because there are so many things to work on!
But I am so glad I took this detour in life. Having to work in a little space and with limited resources has made me appreciate the magic of water and pigment doing their work even more than I used to, and letting my artistic soul take over my brushes and paints and do it’s thing. It’s magical. And loving the process has allowed me to take my time, improve and experiment even more.
I am so happy with the process that most of the pieces I have been making find homes before they are even finished. And that fils my heart with joy. As an artist, it’s one of the greatest honors.
My style is also taking a new direction. More detailed faces and different themes. They still have the same melancholic eyes and mysterious faces, it’s just a new different me. What do you think of them? Do you like them?
Finally, I am able to sit down and paint on a makeshift studio.
hope you had a good weekend and you had a great time if you are a Football fan. I’m not a fan myself and we used the time to try to clear out the clutter and make the house a little bit more livable.
When we had to move everything, I mean EVERYTHING was packed and crammed into boxes and containers, and the studio takes a humongous amount of space. Finally, this weekend we managed to unpack a TV and a couch. You can see it in the back before we unwrapped the couch to have a place to sit in. We have been living without a TV for who knows when. Weird.
I managed to complete your super generous orders (Finally, down to the last packages of the 200+ orders!) in a very very tiny space. Fishing some of the originals that got boxed is a challenge. My deepest apologies for the delays, It’s really inexcusable but the circumstances were extraordinary but I really thank you for your understanding. From the bottom of my heart. Now the last packages should arrive by the end of the week.
Still, in the midst of the chaos, I managed to create a few things. An oil painting that was half done when I left and now a royal princess has come to existence on a beautiful background.
And a few small watercolors on paper because that’s all I have space for right now. It’s really, really tight and I have to move around carts to sit down, then surround myself again when I sit to work so I can reach for the materials. It’s comical actually because now it looks like I build an art supply fort when I work and I have walls made out of paint tubes and a watercolor moat.
I have to pull the carts, move my chair, pull the carts back in and then surround myself with them again. It’s definitively a challenge!
But the show (and the art!) must go on. I am now seeing this as nothing but a bump in the road in life and I will welcome the challenge. After this, I am coming stronger, wiser and a better artist, you’ll see. Well… Enough rambling. Would you like to see what I have been up to? Here they are!
All of them are original Danita watercolors, they measure 5 x 7 Inches on thick watercolor paper. Just click on each painting and it will take you to the link on my online gallery and shop for you to adopt them.
This year has been very tough for me. Really bad this time.
Bad as in having to put everything on sale just to get by.
You may be wondering why, on the busiest season of the year, instead of being burning midnight oil creating, I am almost silent on social media, not posting anything and not showing off my latest creations.
Well, there’s a reason for that. And it’s definitively not a good one. It’s so bad that I have to put everything on Sale. Keep reading to know what I’ve been up to.
Due to very unexpected and difficult circumstances, I was forced to sell my home and move to my old house. Moving is a very difficult decision, and for an artist with a studio in their home even more so. Boxes and boxes of stuff have to be packed and put away.
On the busiest season of the year, no less.
That, I can deal with. I have moved before and although is very difficult, annoying and complicated, it can be done.
My Son and Daughter have to be dismissed from school and we had to look for a new school that will take them in the middle of the school year. Definitively not easy either.
Then, we get contracts signed, paperwork done and we’re getting ready to ask the people renting our home that we will need it so we can move back in. Lease has to be terminated early and we need to handle that. Expensive, but again, it can be done. And that is strike One.
My studio is just an empty room now. It sucks.
And then, we discover our renters wrecked out our hose. Big time. Damaged carpets. Non working bathrooms. Filthy and moldy kitchen. Broken stove and fridge. Everything is left on a very sorry state. I would show you pics but they will make you cry. And they are gone and in Mexican law is not easy to sue your tenants, and the move is going slow. I even had to get my parents to come over and help.
Mr. Danita now has to take time off work to get things going, fixing everything so we have a decent place to move in when closing date comes, ripping out carpets, fixing windows and many other things. I also help but I need to pack everything.
The proceedings from the sale of the house now need to be used in fixing up what we expect it to be a livable home instead of the use we had for them. Bummer. We’ll work it out. That really made things harder, but we will recover. That’s strike Two.
And then, today we get a call from our real state agent with the worst possible news we can get. Buyers are backing out and they are not signing. Without an explanation. On closing day.
We really are at a loss here, no idea what to do next. I’ve already moved my stuff in boxes and they are in Mexico, waiting to be unpacked at our home in the middle of an emergency renovation.
And now, we have no money to pay for the renovation because there is no sale. And on top of that, the mortgage payments will continue if we can’t find a buyer soon. That’s strike Three.
So, I am humbly asking for your help.
I will need to scramble whatever I can so that we can get back on our feet, but I have no studio to work on, no house to move in with my kids (Who luckily are now with their grandparents 4 hours away from where we live) and on top of that, on Christmas season.
That’s depressing me a lot, because on top of all my problems, the magic go Christmas is not home this year. We don’t even have a tree setup this year, and even if it sounds cliche, it’s making me depressed and crying. I really don’t know what do do.
I will be having a sale from today until the end of the year where everything on my shop will be discounted. If you were thinking about a handmade gift this Christmas season, would you consider one of my creations? Please? Anything will help me.
Believe me, I would not ask for your help if my situation was not so dire, but I am at a loss on what to do next. Hopefully next year things will get better.
As soon as my house is in a livable state I’m going to use a temp room and a table to start creating again, and I’ll keep you posted on the progress of things. Once I am back on my feet, I will make my studio nice again, and I’ll share the progress with you.
But for now, it’s time to figure out what to do. There’s a saying in Spanish, Uno pone, Dios dispone y llega el diablo y todo lo descompone. (One plans, God decides and then comes the Devil and messes everything up) So true now.
Some say that inspiration cannot be beckoned, it’s sacred and you have to wait for it come to you, and always ready to read the subtle signs that will tell you when it arrives. I have proof of that now.
I had been totally dry of ideas and I had this girl on my desk, waiting for inspiration to arrive, but to no avail. I kept on sketching on her, but none of my ideas really convinced me.
My last sketch turned out to be some kind of wings on her back, maybe butterfly wings, but I was not really sure what I wanted her to be.
I got frustrated, so I got up from my table and got out of the studio earlier than usual to pick up my kids from school. Maybe a walk could help me gather my ideas.
And just like that, I found it, right on my doorstep. It was a beautiful butterfly, flapping it’s wings on the sidewalk. It looked like it was hurt and trying to fly again but was not succeeding.
I thought about it and I carefully picked it up and took it inside. Maybe she just needed some water and food and she will be ready to fly again.
I put it in a box so it would not get hurt with a little sugary water in a bottle cap, and set out to pick up my kids from school.
I showed the butterfly to my kids and they took turns looking after it, they love animals and they were fascinated with it. My son took his art supplies and started sketching it, and my Daughter took a magnifying glass to study it while it was in the box.
What they didn’t know, and I really had no heart to tell them, was that the butterfly was not doing that good. It looked like it was her last day.
Next day I went to the box to see how it was doing, and as I expected, it didn’t make it.
And it got me thinking, it was alive one moment and the next, it was gone. Poof, just like that. After that, a tidal wave of thoughts and emotions flashed trough and I knew what to do.
I did art. It’s the best way I have to explain all my emotions and ideas and pour them out to the world. I painted the same butterfly wings on the girl I was working with, and I knew it was the right thing for her.
I had been depressed lately, with this feeling of uncertainty about my future as an artist and wondering if I really should continue this path or not.
After seeing this fragile creature hang on and bringing beauty to the world until it’s very last day, I knew I could not give up.
I painted that uncertainty I was feeling on the girl’s face. She is pondering about the future and knows she is fragile, but she is also beautiful.
She stands strong, because she knows that while she exists, there are things to do, places to explore, art to make.
even if you did not know her story, she is still a powerful image. I love the way she is standing, ready to take flight and explore the world.
and now that you know her back story, I think it becomes a much more intimate image. One that speaks of my hidden fears and how I overcome them day by day.
And of course, you know me. Once I start, I cannot stop, so I kept on painting all my feeling and emotions onto canvas until I ended up with a beautiful series of new paintings.
Some of them have my recurring themes, like the obsession I have for twins. You know, two minds, one body. I find the idea so fascinating.
I love the face on this girl, defiant yet gentle and sweet. I like to think that she is my self portrait.
Then I was thinking of the blue fairy from Pinocchio and the movie AI, and the beautiful butterflies I saw in Costa Rica, and I made a blue butterfly.
And last, a girl with a chrysalis on her back. She is waiting for the change that will come. She is not sure when or where it will happen, but she knows it will be one day. It’s a matter of waiting.This was a very emotional series for me, finding that butterfly really got me thinking if this was just a strange coincidence, or if there’s something looking after me and sending subtle messages and letting me know I should keep on making the world a beautiful place.
What do you think? Let me know on the comments section!
Remember I told you I was working to get ready for my upcoming class, EVER AFTER 2017? I am joining 15 amazing mixed media artists to talk about our personal styles and how to develop your own, our art and we share our secrets in a series of video classes where we create a painting just for you.
I chose Alice in Wonderland for many reasons. One of them is because it is my favorite fantasy story, non sensical and surreal as the things that go on my mind, and I love the anything can happen there.
Another reason is because I am in a transitional phase. If you have been following my art for the past couple of years, you will see that lately I am focusing on more realistic and surreal images, I am evolving. And every time there’s an evolution, Alice in Wonderland comes into my art to help me move along. I talk a lot about that search in the interview in style development that you will be able to watch when you sing up to EVER AFTER 2017.
The whimsical, childlike images are changing into more mature and realistic faces, and I am working very hard on this transition, I want to be come a bigger, better artist than before. It’s taking time and that’s why you don’t see me as active as in other years and with very experimental themes and materials.
It’s been a very difficult journey, some of my fans do not like the change I’m going trough and, to be honest, I am struggling to keep my neck above water, but I must continue in the exploration of myself and my expression as an artist.
One of the things I talk about in my interview is precisely that, how a having a personal style is good because it makes your art recognizable, but you can paint yourself into a corner if you are not careful. Evolving is a necessity to grow, and there are growing pains associated with that, but I really hope those pains are worth it.
Here’s a tiny preview of the things I talk about in EVER AFTER 2017. I really hope you can join me there and we can share what it takes to have a personal style and then sit down for a painting demo.
In the meantime, Alice in wonderland is ready to be adopted on my online shop, as I keep on evolving and changing as an artist. Your positive words and constructive criticism are really appreciated, and believe me, that’s more true today than ever. If you have a minute or two, leave a comment telling me what do you think of my latest work in the comments section, and share this article to anyone who will be interested in the class 🙂