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Why Do I Paint Nudes?

So, recently I was asked “Why do you paint nudes? Why not paint something else?”

I found this question so intriguing, especially because nudes are just a small part of what I create. I also don’t see my nudes as nudes. True, the subject of the piece has no clothes on, but it symbolizes how exposed they are to the world, with nothing to hide behind.

Even still, I hadn’t really thought about it. Why is it that some people can look at a nude and be fine, and some people will react as if someone threw acid into their eyes.

Rafi Perez Dream Like In The Garden
Rafi Perez Dream Like In The Garden

The other night I approached a coffee house that had art on their walls and said “Hey, I’m an artist do you display local art?”

They said yes, and I showed them some art on my phone, yeah not very tactful but hey it’s what I had.

Suddenly the woman behind the coffee bar said that the owner wouldn’t approve of any side boob. I looked at the phone, one image was my Speak piece where her arm is draped across her chest and you can see side boob.

“I understand, it’s a coffee house, not a gallery. I meant the other pieces that are a little more neutral, like my trees and bird series.”

“Yeah, it’s just that he doesn’t approve of objectifying women.” she said.

“Ok, well I’ll make sure not to bring any of those.” I smiled.

This made me wonder. Do I objectify women? I paint the male nude body as well. Do I objectify men? Is that even a thing? This really bothered me, my pieces are meant to be empowering and beautiful. They are meant to bring value to the world. So, I decided to sit down and dissect the artist in me that is inspired to use nudes as the subject of some of his paintings.

Rafi Perez Live Painting Empowerment
Rafi Perez Live Painting Empowerment

I wondered first of all if it was wrong. Is the nude body repulsive or evil?

No, in fact quite the opposite, it’s one of the most beautiful creations I have ever seen. The muscle structure, bones, curves and silent language are amazing and unique to each and every individual. I think that is very beautiful and pure.

I thought about how no one would be appalled by a landscape, a painting of a bird, or any animal, even though unless it’s a dog with a sweater those are all completely nude in every sense of the word.

Then I wondered if there was such a thing as objectifying women.

I think there is, but it really has noting to do with the nudity or being a woman in my opinion. I think that every situation is different, but I believe it to be when someone is seen as something that takes their humanity away. Not being seen as a person, just an object… like a walking sex toy, but also a wallet, a child care facility, a daily cleaning service, a taxi service, a restaurant, a bar and halfway house.

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Truth

I think the reason that nudity get’s a bad rap is because most of us are taught to believe it is bad, or we grow up watching our parents hide their nude bodies in insecurity and shame. We decide that hiding and rejecting it in shame is the way we should treat nudity. So, the immediate response is to lump all that is nude into the category of obscene, objectifying and inappropriate. We don’t actually look to see if it is those things or what it is really trying to say.

Sure, some stuff is stupid and simply trying to sell because they believe sex sells. In fact, I’ve been told “Sex sells” by artist who don’t paint nudes. Interesting thing is that my nudes are harder to sell then any other series I create, because they are nudes.

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In The Light

I had a man once tell me “I love the human body, I just don’t want to see it.” A woman once told me “I don’t have a problem with nudity, I just don’t believe it should be in art.” These slightly confusing comments are rare. For the most part people really enjoy all my work, but you’ll never hear someone say “I love trees, I just don’t want to see them” or “I don’t have a problem with birds, I just don’t want to see them in my art.”

The only people that buy my nude pieces are people that see past the fact that there is a naked body in the painting and see the meaning of the piece as a whole. Others see the human body the way I do, beautiful and they are not afraid to express that by owning the art.

The truth is, everyone sees the world differently and I love that. Some people will always see nudity as something bad and dismiss the value, others will see it as beautiful… Others, especially teenage boys may giggle to themselves and point because they don’t even know what to think.

I’ll get lectures, I’ll get kudos, I’ll get stern looks, thumbs up and a giggle or too when I bring my nude pieces out to the markets or galleries. But the reason I create them is because I love the human body and I love the potential we all have to succeed. I believe (Metaphorically) we do not have to hide behind anything, we can be our true selves and we have unlimited power, beauty and grace.

 

 

 

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10 Success Tips That Scream Awesomeness

10 Success Tips That Scream Awesomeness

If you’re serious about creating lasting and significant change in your world this year – as opposed to merely thinking and talking about it for another year – there are a few things you might want to think about in order to help make those intentions a reality…I’m sharing these with you because I think you are awesome and these particular thoughts changed my life… Don’t take my word for it though, just food for thought.

breaking-through-full1. Know what success is. If you don’t know what success is (for you), how can you possibly create it?

Success is different things for different people and one person’s success (a pregnancy for example) might be another person’s catastrophe. That’s because success (or failure) is not so much about the situation, circumstance, event or outcome as it is about what that “thing” means to the person in the middle of it. In order to create success, you must first define it – and far too many people haven’t. Be very clear about what you want and don’t want for your life. Clarity produces excitement. Excitement produces momentum. Momentum produces behavioral change. Behavioral change produces different results and eventually, the internal vision becomes an external reality. Yeah! Get Awesome in the house!

calm-in-universe-profile2. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Some people will live a life of second-best, of compromise and of under-achievement simply because they are (1) controlled by fear (2) always looking for the magic pill or shortcut and (3) not prepared to do the tough stuff. People who always take the easy option are destined for mediocrity. At best. Constantly avoiding the discomfort means constantly avoiding the lessons and the personal growth. Pain could be a great teacher. Not always what we want, but sometimes what we need. I feel like the longer you hold on to some way of thinking that ultimately doesn’t work for you, eventually you are going to feel uncomfortable any way, so you might as well choose. Besides, it’s never as bad as we imagine.

dove3. Seek to be righteous, not right.

Just to be clear, my definition of righteous is to do what you believe is the right thing, for you, and NOT anyone else. The need to be “right” speaks of arrogance, insecurity, ego and stupidity. It’s also synonymous with failure. The person who constantly needs to be right will miss out on much of what life has to teach him and alienate himself from others. Arrogance repels, humility attracts. Chances are, if you are trying really hard to explain your reason or point of view to someone then you are in the midst of needing to be right. I believe there is no right or wrong, just opinions and perspective. Say what you gotta say, then listen, you may change your mind about what you think is right or you just wont agree. Either way, there is no point in trying to prove your point.

4. Seek respect, not popularity.

It’s been said that our nature is “who we are” and our reputation is who people think we are. When the two are synonymous, we’re usually on the right path. In fact, I would say just respect yourself. If you are wondering how other people feel about you, or whether or not they respect you, that is still trying to be popular in their eyes. This leads to a lot of people pleasing and worrying about your reputation. People are fickle and judge you based on how they feel about themselves at that moment. Doesn’t really have much to do with you, so you might as well just focus on respecting, loving and being your biggest cheerleader.

expression-by-rafi-perez5. Embrace mess.

To embrace mess is to embrace life because life is messy, unpredictable, unfair, uncertain, lumpy and bumpy. So get used to a little chaos. Embrace it even. While others succumb to the messiness and unpredictability of the human experience, make a conscious choice to be the calm in the chaos. You can look around and realize how even though the chaos seems to have no rhyme or reason, everything in your existence will make sense on some level to you. It’s an opportunity to be introspective and take a look at what kind of things you may be focused on.

6. Don’t become your parents.

Or your boss. Or anyone but you. The enormity of conformity is a problem for the wanna-be success story. Sure, your parents are great and by all means respect them, love them and learn from them, but please don’t become them; that’s just plain ugly and a little bit tragic. Listen to, and learn from other people, but think, act and decide for yourself. And no, you don’t need anyone’s approval or permission; you’re a grown ass man or lady now. It’s okay.

7. Use more of what you already have.

Imagine what you could achieve if you took all the knowledge, intelligence, opportunities, time, skill and talent that you currently have and absolutely milked it. What if you already have more than enough talent to become wildly successful? Well, you do. There go the excuses. And that voice that’s telling (some of) you right now that you don’t have what it takes to become successful, that’s called fear. Not logic, fear. Not reality, fear. Unless of course, you allow that to become your reality. Be mindful that the voice in your head (the very loud, annoying and persistent one) is rarely a reflection of your potential and mostly a manifestation of your insecurity. And no, you’re not alone in your self-doubt; it’s a universal condition. Many people fail, not because they don’t have what it takes, but because they don’t use what they already have. Successful people typically don’t have more innate potential, luck, time or opportunity than the next person, but they consistently find a way to use much more of what they have at their disposal. While the majority are rationalizing their lack of decision making and action taking, these guys are finding a way to get the job done. The question is not “how much ability do you have, but how much will you use?”. Beside, you can never fail at anything as long as you don’t give up… And you won’t give up if you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t.

1000968_10152914261938532_1547682943_n8. Be an innovator, not an imitator.

Not too many sheep succeed. Baaah. Sometimes it’s a good idea to build your own team rather than join someone else’s. Don’t let your fear stand in the way of your potential to create, innovate or lead. When I decided I was going to begin my art career (after a little persistent nudging from my wife) I was given all kinds of opportunities to be part of projects or dreams that weren’t mine. I realized that my focus would get mixed up and I would find myself frustrated with the situation. I also felt like I was being spread too thin and didn’t have time to work on my own projects. If you are going to focus on something, focus on your success and innovations. I’ve been more helpful to people around me in a focused and confident position than I ever was trying to follow another persons dream.

9. Do what most won’t.

If you want to achieve what most people won’t (happiness, joy, calm, wealth, optimal health, balance) then don’t do what they do. If you want to be like the majority, then do what they do. Producing different results comes from doing different things. Simple really. And effective. Most people won’t persevere, won’t finish what they start, won’t find the good, won’t do what it takes, won’t question their long-held beliefs, won’t be solution-focused, won’t do what scares them and won’t “be the change” they want to see in their world. Choose to be different. Choose to be weird… it’s awesome.

10. Be like water.

Powerful. Gentle. Adaptable. Ever-changing. Being static in a dynamic world – like the one you and I inhabit – is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t adapt, you can’t succeed. Our practical, three dimensional reality, and everything in it, is in a constant state of transition, while some of us are in a constant state of “same”. Statues don’t succeed, they just get crapped on. Every thing is in movement, everything is growing, changing, evolving. So be flexible, don’t hold on to things simply because they have always been there or you believe that’s just how things are. Be flexible, if not then watch out for the pigeons.

Do You Like this? We Like You 🙂

10 Success Tips That Scream Awesomeness was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Metamorphosis By Rafi Perez

This piece is called metamorphosis. With the beginning of the New Year, I find myself reflecting on my life a lot. As an artist who creates pieces based on my reflections, emotions, and experiences it is pretty darn awesome that I can fill a sketchbook simply by reflecting on my year.

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I love looking closely at circumstances that caused me to stress out a bit. Hindsight the “stressing” was unnecessary, in fact in most cases, what ever was going on didn’t resolve itself until I decided I was done stressing. Funny how that works.

A long time ago, well, what feels like ages ago, I was typically stressed out about something. You would usually find me depressed, angry, overwhelmed, and complaining about something. A few years ago, I walked away from that version of me. I decided life was too short to spend every day, every year. Every moment, repeating the same drama over and over. I realized it wasn’t any of the myriad of things I was blaming… It was me, my perspective was whack. I held on to so much drama and blame, that I lived it over and over every day.

Things are very different for me today…

Every day, I try to think about things that make me feel good. Things that make me feel empowered, beautiful, awesome and any other fantabulous word I can think of. I was done talking down to myself and became my biggest cheerleader.

I decided I was done feeling guilty about stuff. I realized that things just kept adding up. I was punishing myself over and over because of mistakes I had made 20 years early and adding them to things I felt guilty about now. I realized I wasn’t going to move forward if I couldn’t forgive myself. Along with guilt usually comes regret… You can’t go back and change anything, get over it and move forward.

This piece is based on letting go and moving forward. Changing your story and emerging from the old story like a butterfly, taking flight in your own destiny.

 

 

 

Metamorphosis By Rafi Perez was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Be Different

I pride myself in the fact that I believe I am extremely different than anybody else. Of course, the truth is that everyone is unique and nothing like anyone else.

I did however spend a good deal of my life trying to be someone else. At the time, I didn’t see it that way, I called it normal. “I just want to be normal” I would say, and feel the frustration that comes with trying to achieve something that doesn’t exist.

I eventually realized that there was no such thing as normal. “Normal” was this boring concept where life was predictable, you were predictable and nothing really exciting happens. True, some people have so much of the wrong kind of excitement in their life that they look forward to a little boring… or at least they think they do.

I think we all want to lead exciting and happy lives. I think we all want to be genuine about who we truly are. The problem is that a lot of people are not sure how to reach the person who they believe they are meant to be. This person is usually under years of posturing, white lies and people pleasing.

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When I had my realization years ago, I started a process that helped me find me. By paying close attention to what I was saying to other people, I was able to examine if I was being genuine. For a brief period of time, I’m sure folks thought I had lost my mind. It went something like this:

Them – “Hey, you going to meet me later at the bar for a drink?”
Me – “Sure, yeah… That sounds good.”
Them – “Cool, see you later.”
Me – “Wait, I didn’t really mean that. I don’t feel like going out drinking with you.”
Them – “Why not? we always go drinking after work.”
Me – “Well, honestly I think you are a good person, but kind of self destructive.”
(Silence)
me – “Well, actually, I lied, I don’t think you are a good person for me to hang out with. You are angry, self destructive and honestly you’re a bully.”
Them – “Fuck you man, too good to hang out with me all of the sudden?”
me – “No, that’s not what I’m saying… Actually, I think we wont be hanging out any more, you take it however you want.”

This conversation took place after a six year relationship with a friend who was a self destructive alcoholic.

I was self destructive by proxy and all we did was sit there, get annihilated, complain about how unfair the world was, bitch about women and blame everyone else for our misery.

 

When I was honest with myself I knew that the only reason I was doing it was because I needed to blame other people for the misery in my life. My friend was the perfect sounding board and he was such an aggressive individual that I felt special that he chose me to be friends with. I don’t know, things get all funky and distorted in your mind when you are not yourself. Later, I realized that everyone I surrounded myself with was pretty much the same… This was a reflection of me and who I believed I was. I was part of a group that criticized the things that make me who I am today… Love, hope, empowerment, laughter, and being who YOU know you are, not just a product of your environment. Being different and embracing it is awesome!

I read a story once about Arnold Schwarzenegger that was quite enlightening for me. When he decided to go into acting, he was told that he would never succeed as an actor. He was too big, Had a terrible accent and didn’t have the “Hollywood” look.

He responded with “I am going to be the biggest box office star of the year.”

He then made a movie that bombed terribly. They overdubbed his voice for the movie and it was a disaster. Instead of giving up or taking voice lessons so he could speak like a “Normal” person, Arnold kept going.

He then made a movie where his voice was not dubbed over and eventually became the icon he is today. Imagine a world where you did not have catch phrases like (in best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) “I’ll be back” or “Get into the Chappa!”

In my opinion, if you embrace what makes you different, life becomes exciting in a very good way.

Be Different was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios

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Speak Your Passion

I created this piece based on something that I believe is very powerful. Word have a certain power that can sometimes get overlooked in day to day exchanges. Many times we relate to each other by talking about the most mundane and torturous experiences we are currently wrapped up in. We talk about how terrible our week has been and usually the other person will commiserate and top your story with an even worse story about their week. This exchange can take place for hours and at the end of it neither person feels better, but they do feel like they got something off their chest and call it venting.

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I believe that by talking about the things that are going wrong in your life or the problems you are running into just perpetuates it further. You will keep experiencing what you are focused on. In other words you get what you think about over and over again, you talk about it over and over again and you keep seeing evidence that it is true because you keep experiencing what you talk about. Interestingly enough, this can change by changing the pattern by speaking the opposite.

When you are focused on your problems, it is impossible to find the solution because your thoughts are not solution oriented. Unfortunately it is really hard to hit this head on and simply try to focus on the opposite because even if you try to think about the opposite you are still thinking about the problem.

I found that it was simpler for me to focus on the things I loved, the things that worked, and most importantly the things that I was passionate about. It seems that when you speak your passion, you mind orients itself to find more of the same. In fact, when you are focused strong positive emotion it changes everything. It changes your chemical makeup, your outlook, your problem solving skills become powerful and your over all state of being becomes one of optimism and hope.

This piece symbolizes the power of speaking your passion and the freedom that come with it.

Speak Your Passion was originally published on Rafi Was Here Studios