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Feeling Powerful In Three Steps

I created the “EMPOWERMENT” series based on self empowerment, as a tool to be used as a daily reminder. This is my social commentary on the way that people talk to themselves or the way they see themselves. I believe we all have the ability to feel confident and strong, but for the most part we have made it a habit to talk to ourselves in a way that makes us feel powerless.

Believe By Rafi Perez

In reality, personal empowerment is not something we feel, it’s something we do. Our sense of empowerment is a reflection of the increased personal value and self-worth that comes out of our experience of having real influence in our lives.

Empowering ourselves and creating change, which ultimately leads to the increased sense of personal value and self-worth we call the “feeling” of empowerment, involves some very specific steps.

Bonafide By Rafi Perez
  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Start improving yourself

People tend to compare themselves to others because at times it will make them feel better about their lives or something they are trying to do. For example I know a lot of artists that feel better about their ability to create art because they compare their art to stuff they consider inferior. This is a double edged blade, because they will also compare their work to other work that they consider vastly superior. When they do this it leads to a devastating realization that their work isn’t that great. The truth is, nothing is better or worse than anything else, it’s just our perspective which can change.

Life By Rafi Perez

When you resist comparing yourself, you will be less engaged in judgement, and self-judgement, YOU WILL focus instead on your work – this alone will be empowering.

Belief By Rafi Perez
  • Take responsibility.

Taking responsibility means simply to be responsible for the way you respond to a situation. Most importantly, no matter how much you want to blame someone else for the way you feel, it’s important to remember that no matter what anyone does, you are ultimately responsible for how you respond to the given situation.

There are many small opportunities throughout the day to take responsibility for your emotions, play around with the concept. This will put the power back in your hands and no longer let your emotions fluctuate depending on the people around you.

Create By Rafi Perez
  • Do Something. Take Action!

One of the best things you can do to feel empowered is take action. Think about all those things you wish you did or that you want to do, but maybe you feel lazy or unmotivated. Whenever you don’t take action on it, it can have a devastating effect on your self esteem. Make it a habit to just take action and stop thinking about doing it.

Golden Glow By Rafi Perez

Taking action means remembering to have fun, at least that’s what it means to me. Have fun!

There are lots of ways to empower yourself and create positive change in your life. These are just a few things I try to keep in mind daily, or remind myself if ever I’m feeling less than empowered. Above all, remember that you are a beautiful luminous being, and go out and rock this life thing!

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Phoenix Reborn

It shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone that my favorite concept and mystical beast is the phoenix. The symbolic meaning of the phoenix is about renewal. The phoenix is about overcoming darkness and rising to the challenge to become powerful and succeed over adversity.

Blue Phoenix By Rafi Perez

It’s a symbolism that I have used a few times, but never like this piece that beautifully displays the body language of both anguish and freedom.

I wanted to create a piece that showed the transitional moment of someone taking a leap of faith into the unknown. This leap is taken with complete abandon and freedom.

Blue Phoenix By Rafi Perez

Several years ago I took a leap of faith that was terrifying. I remember thinking that I had to forget everything I thought I knew, because all those thoughts were telling me I was crazy. I was essentially burning the bridge to my old life, a life that was all I knew for 30 years. It wasn’t the most happy life I could live, which is why I decided to change it. This required me to hop in my car and leave all security and certainty behind… which was absolutely terrifying, yet was such a pattern interrupt in my monotonous life that I needed.

Blue Phoenix By Rafi Perez

Essentially, from the ashes of my old life which had completely self destructed, I rose and felt stronger than I ever had.

The thing is, I could have stayed in my old life… there is always a way to keep things going, but I had made a decision that I wanted things to change.

Blue Phoenix By Rafi Perez

I feel like the Phoenix is a powerful reminder that no matter what, you can always be reborn from the ashes of your old life.

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Be The Light For Empowering Minds

I talk a lot about ways to empower yourself and investigate some of the patterns we play out in our minds that may cause us to feel like victims. To determine whether or not I am feeling powerful, I ask myself whether a situation, circumstance, or person makes me feel like a victim, or do I feel empowered.

She had her own world (2)

Anything that causes you to feel like you don’t have control over your emotions is a sense of victimhood. I don’t mean expressing those emotions, you can sit down to have a good cry because you know it will make you feel better, that’s empowered crying.

A good way to feel empowered and happy is to spread it like a contagion into the world. I do it through art, but I also have a few weapons in my arsenal against feeling like a victim.

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1. Smile at people.

It’s amazing to me how powerful a smile can be.

2. Be positive.

Be conscious about your words and actions so that you can be a positive force, rather than, you know, a drag.

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3. Give genuine compliments.

I’m a firm believer in saying what you mean, when you want to say it. That means being genuine. What is interesting is that a lot of people assume that being genuine means being mean, but I find that when you are truly genuine with yourself and others, everything is infused with love.

4. Encourage creation.

Themed movie nights, to adventure walks, to art parties. Encourage yourself and others to have creative fun.

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5. Live outside your comfort zone.

It’s contagious.

6. LOVE real big. QUESTION everything.

In every given moment there is an opportunity to fear, judge, or love. We sometimes have to seriously question our own beliefs and where they came from in order to get to love. The thing is, the more you love yourself, the more you can love the world… So start by questioning beliefs about yourself.

Become A Butterfly 1

Being an agent of positive change in this world is a label that I’ve proudly given myself. I ask that you also wear it wisely and wear it well. It takes real determination and commitment, but it brings color and wonder back into the world.

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The Nature Of Love

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I have a series called the nature of being, or as some people like to call them “Rafi’s Lady Trees.” This year I have really enjoyed reigniting the series as I set a goal to add subtle differences to the message in pieces within the series itself.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

The series itself is about being rooted here and now in your world, yet constantly growing and reaching higher than you ever have, naturally and organically. It’s about being flexible and naked to the world and showing yourself as you are, never hiding behind a facade of fear.

I wanted to showcase a unity within the scope of the collection with pieces that showed masculine and feminine intertwined with one another.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

These pieces are inspired by the journey that I have been on with my beautiful wife Klee and some of the lessons I have learned about what it means to be in love.

In the past I always assumed that being with someone meant that it was your job to make sure they were happy, and in return it was their job to make you happy.

Yet, this never seemed to work out.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It wasn’t until experience brought me to a place where I started to question the status quo of relationships and love that I realized that I had it all wrong.

It wasn’t about making the other person happy, it was about finding your happiness and sharing that with the other person. This in no way was a guarantee that it would make them happy, but that was alright. See, I found that the only person that could really make me happy was me and it was unfair to try and throw that burden onto Klee… She had enough on her plate just trying to make herself happy.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It was during that realization that I started to understand unconditional love. It meant that I had no conditions or expectations that she would behave a certain way in order for me to be happy, she had the right to be herself. To express herself and continue on her journey of finding out what life was all about for her.

I did the same, and we shared those moments with each other, talking about our experiences and realizations. We also share in our moments of growth as we journey on this road to find what makes us happy and how to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

It is quite beautiful.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of turmoil, because we all experience them, but with every moment there has always been an honest revelation and a stronger bond than ever before.

The thing is, we are both growing, learning, changing, evolving, on our own, yet our lives are intertwined because we choose to walk side by side.

It just wouldn’t work if one of us decided to carry the other… and it wouldn’t look as cool in a painting.

-Rafi

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The Substance Of Reality And Balloons

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Recently I created a painting titled “The Substance Of The Real.” It shows a rather stoic, old century style, statue of a man struggling to hold on to a big red balloon on a string.

The statement for this piece is as follows:

 ABOUT THIS PAINTING
So many things that we hold near and dear… thoughts, beliefs, or habits, we hardly ever question. Yet, many of those hold no substance. This piece is meant to be a daily reminder to question everything, to look closely at your own motivations, and to determine what is true for you… Not to ferociously hold on to something that you don’t quite understand. 

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Now, I wanted to clarify something about this piece and my belief in what is real in the world. I know that a lot of spiritual beliefs state that the world is an illusion, and a lot of people will be surprised to hear that I don’t believe that.

I do believe that we live in a delusion… I know, let me explain.

I don’t believe that the world is unreal in of itself. It becomes an illusion when we look at it. We look at the world through our filter of understanding, through the eyes of our knowledge, understanding, prejudices, judgments, love, ideas, opinions, and current circumstances.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

That world is unreal in the same way that a dream is unreal, because it’s based on delusion. The world is just there minding it’s own business, open for interpretation, it is our interpretation that is the illusion, and thus the way we see the world is an illusion based on our own beliefs.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

You take two people to see a symphony, they sit in similar seats, have the same physical experience, and yet they will have a completely unique experience. One person tells you it was terrible, the other will say it was amazing… who’s right? who’s wrong?

Whoever you agree with the most will be right, and the other person will be wrong.

I like the idea of questioning the whole delusion… Cause, you know, I can’t be right ALL the time, and chances are a lot of what I believe has the substance of a red balloon.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

In my opinion, you get to choose how you feel about the world, people, politics, religion, love, relationships, anything and everything.

If you ever find yourself repeating some crappy saying that you’ve just never thought about, I suggest you look at that. Where did it come from, some older generation that maybe didn’t have their shit together yet? Maybe an old racist uncle? A victimized mother? A womanizing father? A corrupt grandfather? A jealous aunt? A hypochondriac grandmother? All people that love me, all good people, just screwed up.

I say question everything, remember that the world you see is your delusion, and that you get to decide how you feel about the world you see. You can choose love, and not hold on so vehemently to those beliefs that are outdated.

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The Nature Of Being Who You Are

Recently I finished three pieces in a series called The Nature Of Being. This series has evolved over the last four years from beautiful crudely dripped forms to detailed flowing figures, but the message remains the same.

It represents our purest form of growth.

NOB-3-8

We find ourselves on this blue ball hurtling through space and time, constantly in search of meaning. The whole while we are almost overcome by our immediate circumstances, and our world seems to only consist of what is around us. Our fears, triumphs, and aspirations revolve around the ideas we consume growing up.

But our world is so much bigger than that, and we all feel it. We all go out and search for meaning in something to fill that sense of missing. We can find personal meaning in our job, hobby, marriage, kids, religion, clothing style, etc.

NOB-2-1

But rarely do we look for meaning in things that are not outside of us, but simply in being.

I feel like I’ve been running around my entire life trying to find my purpose in things that are fleeting, when the one constant in my life has been the possibility of having a relationship with myself and finding meaning there.

This series is about being rooted here and now in your world, yet constantly growing and reaching higher than you ever have, naturally and organically. It’s about being flexible and naked to the world and showing yourself as you are, never hiding behind a facade of fear.

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Growth, in my opinion, is not about how much you know, or how powerful you are, or the things you’ve collected, it’s about finding that sense of perfection in the simplicity of life. Not worrying about the opinions of others, or how they perceive you.

It’s about stopping, looking, listening, smelling, feeling, sensing, while you experience the fullness of every moment of your miraculous life.

We tend to get lost in our minds, thinking about our problems, looking for solutions, and missing out on the wonderment that it is to breathe a single breath.

Find meaning in you, your experience, in the now, that’s where it’s at.

-Rafi

NOB-All

 

 

 

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Oren International Art Commission

Recently, I was given the honor of creating a piece of art for a great local company, something large that would hang by the meeting room and lobby. They wanted something that would tell a story about their passion for paper, and add a little color to their offices.

Oren art By Rafi Perez

You guys know that I don’t take on commissions unless it fascinates me, for every 10 people who ask me to do something, I may do one. Commissioned paintings aren’t shown in galleries, or in public most of the time, and generally take a lot longer to create. So when I do take on a commission, it’s because I am excited about the concept, or I really connect with the person who is trying to commission me.

This being a corporate commission, I was surprised to find that I was excited about the concept and I absolutely adore the people who commissioned me.

Oren art By Rafi Perez

The piece tells their story, and is constructed of materials that they produce. They ship different paper products all over the world.

Oren art By Rafi Perez

The piece tells the story of their global reach, production, transportation, uses, and overall importance of what they create. So much comes together in order to make a perfect picture, adding a little color to the world in the process.

That was the overall story I wanted to tell.

Oren art By Rafi Perez

I am so proud of this piece, it pushed me beyond some of my own personal limits, and it definitely pushed my studio to it’s size limit, which was fun.

Watch this video for the why and how of the Oren International Commission:

-Rafi

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Because Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright

A few years ago, I had gone through a pretty difficult time and I honestly wasn’t sure that I would make it. It was during this that I discovered the power of reassurance and three little birds.

Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

Bob Marley repeated simple words in my mind with imagery of three little birds to remind me that no matter how difficult things seemed to get, that everything was going to work out for me.

Let me tell you in his words:

 Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying’, (this is my message to you)

Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

Rise up this mornin’
Smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin’, this is my message to you

Singin’ don’t worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh
Every little thing gonna be alright, don’t worry
Singin’ don’t worry about a thing, I won’t worry
“‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Singin’ don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright, I won’t worry

Singin’, don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Singin’ don’t worry about a thing, oh no
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

If you’ve ever wondered “Hmmmm, I wonder why Rafi paints birds?” now you know.

Ever changed and ever inspired by the beauty, simplicity, and love in that song.

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A Cool Art And Jewelry Collaboration

Recently I was asked to create a piece that was unique and quite amazing. It was amazing for three reasons…

Dina-and-Kelly-5

Reason 1, I mean, just look at it!

Reason 2, I couldn’t believe that I had never created a piece like this, considering that my wife and partner in crime… (or creation) is a jewelry designer.

Reason 3, It’s just so freaking cool!

Two very amazing individuals who have collected Klee’s jewelry and some of my work approached us with a request.

“We love both of your work and would like to be able to display them together.”

Dina-and-Kelly-2

They came by the studio and we spent some time discussing an idea they had. Which, I’m going to just say, they are quite fun and inspiring to hang out with, and there might have been wine involved, although, I think the wine came later… either way, we love those two, and it was fun discussing ideas.

They searched and found the perfect piece of wood for the project, which was really cool, because at that point it became a collaboration between the four of us.

Dina-and-Kelly-4

I have to say, I am especially proud of this piece. The fact that my art, Klee’s art, and their ingenuity brought this to life, shows me how powerful unity and creative thinking can be.

Dina-and-Kelly-3

Thank you guys!

 

 

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Why Do I Paint Birds?

I seem to have always been fascinated by birds, from the pigeons in Chicago with the iridescent neck feathers, to the occasional happy bright red cardinal.

Recently someone asked me “So, why do you paint birds?”

rafi painting birds

I though about the question for a moment and said “Overwhelming fascination.”

When I was a wee little artist, my mother who was young and dangerously overprotective, didn’t let me go outside much. For years, my entire world was from a large third floor picture window that looked down on a busy street.

I spent hours a day looking out at the people going about their day, the different birds roosting and flying about, the abstract landscape over the buildings, the little bit of greenery that would emerge from fascinating places in the concrete. I also gave everyone personalities and stories, people would have daily novellas play out in front of me, and so did the birds.

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Love Birds By Rafi Perez

But, although I felt that the humans had dramatic stories of heartbreak, turmoil, and moments of happiness, the birds symbolized something powerful.

Birds symbolized freedom and perspective. Because they fly high into the sky, I believed they were messengers who provide humans with a bridge between the mundane daily routine and powerful spiritual life.

I know, I know… I was a weird kid.

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

Every once in a while I would see someone at a bench feeding bits of bread to the pigeons. From my third floor window I could see a powerful dance taking place between the person throwing the bread and the birds. I could see something beautiful, a powerful connection to something greater, a brief moment of stillness among the chaos of daily life. No one else seemed to notice, they just hurriedly went about their day, barely glancing up or interacting with one another.

Years later, with no window barrier between me and the world, I was part of that chaos. I hurried importantly past people to get to work, or anywhere for that matter. I pounded my fist and certain index fingers at people who drove too slow. I was an adult, I was busy, I had things to do, I was responsible, I didn’t have enough time, and I was miserable.

Flight Of The Hummingbird By Rafi Perez
Flight Of The Hummingbird By Rafi Perez

One day, the overwhelm hit a fever pitch. As I was barreling down the road cursing in my mind at the lady in the car directly in front of me, my heart started to beat out of my chest. I loosened my tie and found that my forehead was soaked in sweat. It was so bad, that I pulled over.

I stepped out of my car to get some air and walked over to a bench.

As I was sitting there, wondering if I was going to die in my stupid suit, on a dirty bench, in a strange part of town, I noticed an old man walking towards me with a crinkled up paper bag.

Rafi Perez Art 2016
Rafi Perez Art 2016

“Great, he’s gonna ask me for money, just look away.” I thought to myself.

The man sat down, opened his bag, and started to sprinkle little bits of bread on the ground in front of us. Like a scene out of the movie “The Birds” a hoard of pigeons and other birds descended on us.

Didn’t he see that I am an important person? I was appalled at how rude this man was, surely a bird was going to shit on my suit.

Then, my heart started up again, and I breathed in deep… and just relaxed.

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Fun Bird By Rafi Perez

Suddenly, amidst the gaggle of birds was a pop of bright color. A cardinal flew on to my armrest merely inches from my hand. I found myself mesmerized and just stared at it, we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. It then jumped down, grabbed a scrap of bread and flew away.

I’m not sure how long I was on that bench. I just sat there and time seemed to slow down. I could see the world hurrying past me, people waving their fists in their cars, and others looking at their watches every five minutes. I felt like they looked so… so… stupid.

At that point the old man looked at me, I could feel him studying me.

“Taking time to do nothing often puts everything into perspective. Remember that, young man.”

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Be Different By Rafi Perez

Then he got up and left.

I get visited by that cardinal every once in a while, when I get caught up in hurrying through life. I sound like a crazy person, but it’s true.

And that is one reason why I paint birds.