Every once in a while I create a piece that causes me to step back and say “Holy crap… I did that?”
This is one of those pieces.
It is a depiction of the most beautiful woman I know, surrounded by white doves. The painting symbolizes silent power, peace, and love.
Usually, when I model, or ask Klee to model, I just use the image as a reference for shadows and perspective. This time, I was so taken by the photograph, and the beautiful expression on her face, that I did not deviate much.
Of course, no doves were harmed in the making of this painting. There were no doves in the actual photograph because… well, I didn’t have any, and that would have been messy.
White doves, are used in a variety of settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves have appear in symbolism for hundreds of years, and by just about all religions. I wanted them to seem as though they were coming from within her, as if she was sending out, pure positive energy to the world.
Her eyes hold a silent confidence, and emit love… A very powerful look.
So there you have it, a beautiful painting of a beautiful girl.
We want to wish everyone a happy, safe and beautiful holiday season. Love you and thank you for being so awesome!
We are excited to invite you to our open studio this Saturday!
Visit the place where the splashing of paint, the hammering of precious metals and the mixing of natural ingredients happens! In celebration of the spirit of Christmas shopping we are opening our doors and saying “Hello, come on in and enjoy some cookies… and art… and jewelry… and natural skin and body care… and did I mention cookies.”
We will open our doors from 11am – 4:30pm and will be giving tours of the studio so you can see for yourself where some of your favorite works of art and jewelry come from.
It wouldn’t be Christmas shopping without gifts for you!! So Rafi will be giving away a free gift to everyone that comes by and says “Hola!” (While supplies last)
LunaStella Naturals will have stocking stuffers and gift kits in addition to the regular product line.
Holiday appetizers will be served throughout the day along with good cheer towards everyone
where: 3403 W Jackson St, Pensacola FL 32505
When: Sunday, December 20th from 11am – 4:30pm
What: Christmas Shindig and Shopping
Who: Every Awesome person in Pensacola and surrounding areas
Why: Because it’s awesome, you get a gift and can shop some amazing things.
If you could ask me six years ago “Hey Rafi, do you think you could ever make a living from your art?” I would have responded “I wish.”
I look at the old version of me, that guy was pretty cynical and pessimistic, it is no wonder I was stuck where I was. I was pretty comfortable in my corporate job following someone else’s agenda and thinking that life was all about sacrifice and quiet desperation. Obviously, I’m not living that life anymore, which is awesome.
I created a piece that is symbolic of the two versions of my life. In the past I was always waiting before making the move towards something I wanted. It was “When I have more money” or “When I have more time” or “When I retire” which never seemed to come. The bottom figure is sitting on his hands and hiding his face with his hat, which means he can’t see outside his small reality.
“Hey Rafi, do you think you could
ever make a living from your art?”
I would have responded “I wish.”
Later in life. I allowed inspiration to guide me like a mad man. I realized that life is too short to not live it fully now. I’ve always wanted to work for myself and create art for a living and decided to take the leap. The top figure is upside down with a balloon lifting him in the air. The balloon symbolizes inspiration, he is upside down because it was completely outside of my comfort zone. I had to become my biggest cheerleader in order to push myself forward through the minefield of doubt, and that was my biggest challenge. The figure is also looking up, it symbolizes the glimpse of the expanse of possibility and potentiality that we sometimes have blinders to.
I now know that it is possible for EVERYONE to succeed at anything that they put their mind to. The only thing you have to overcome is the challenge of doubt, it is the only thing that could ever truly stand in your way. I realized that I was with my own mind 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and I could either be self motivating or self deprecating. Had it been someone other than my own mind saying some of the crap that I said to myself I would have told them to suck an egg a long time ago.
Life IS too short to spend ANY time being mean, sarcastic, pessimistic, critical, judgmental, or mean to yourself. It’s really silly, some of the bullshit excuses we use to be unhappy. It’s your life, it’s your mind, own it. You get to decided, you either sit on your hand and wait or you let inspiration guide you even when everyone else thinks you’re nuts.
Recently I finished a piece called “Contemplation.” It is a painting of a woman who is deep in thought and the magic of her intention is floating around her. As with most of my pieces, I stared at it for a very long time after it was finished and wondered what people would think of her.
This got me thinking about the different perceptions people have about art. Some people would think she was absolutely beautiful, others would just scoff at her and walk away. I wondered what kind of person would scoff at something beautiful and whether or not they were happy people.
It was then that I remembered that I was a very different person in the past. As much as I love art and am excited to see the uniquely awesome creations that people create, back then I was cynical and would scoff too. I can honestly say I wasn’t very happy, I pretty much complained and criticized everything.
This got me thinking about the weather. Yep, the weather. It’s been infuriatingly hot here in Pensacola and as much as I would love to stay inside and hibernate in air-conditioning, I have things I have to do outside.
I thought about people I know who don’t seem to be bothered by the heat and how much happier they seem during the summer months. I thought about hot days at the beach and how the weather isn’t really that big of a deal.
Perception is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. So I played around with the idea of deleting the heat and focusing on the things I enjoyed. I focused intensely on the small breeze, the cold refreshing water, the sound of the fan running in the background, the birds tweeting and how good it felt to wipe the sweat from my skin. Slowly, I started to shift my perception to other awesome things, such as the feeling of walking into air-conditioning after being out in the heat or how the shade feels so good.
I realized that the things I perceive are not good or bad, that judgement comes a split second after I’ve experienced what ever it is. If I spend my entire time bitching about the heat, then all I’m doing is making myself miserable. Instead, I’ll delete the bitching, focus on the beauty and milk that as much as I can. It works wonders for me.
In the past I criticized everything and made myself miserable, guess it’s better to just focus on what you want to see. To see the beauty in a flower on a hot day, listen to the sound of birds chirping, the sound of thunder in the distance or admiring a unique piece of art and taking it all in with a smile. Sounds way more fun.
I recently started a new series in order to visually interpret my thoughts on the simplicity of love.
Many people walk around on this planet looking for the “one” person that will make them complete. Relationship after relationship will end the same way. In the beginning things seem to be great, you become attached to the other person and feel as though they have all the answers to the void in your heart. Then, almost like clockwork you find yourself wondering what the heck you were thinking. The truth is things with love and relationship are complicated because we’ve complicated it… It’s really quite simple. My new series is a suggestion of that simplicity.
Love is simply love. It needs to start from within. Here seven things that work really well for me.
Start by no longer abusing yourself. I have found that even people in an abusive relationship are still being abused slightly less than they abuse themselves. No longer allow yourself to speak to yourself in a negative way. Begin to think positive about yourself and realize that you are perfect just the way you are. This will change the way you feel you are being treated.
Second step is to not take anything personal. You must realize that when your spouse and you are in an argument the words and actions have nothing to do with you. These are deep seeded insecurities and fears they have about themselves, so don’t take it personal.
The third step is to be honest about everything, tell it the way you believe it to be. Be honest about what you feel, be honest with yourself and your spouse. If you are not honest about who you are then you will never deal with the issue. Hiding the issue within yourself will lead to much heart ache, so just speak the truth. Do not say things to see what the other persons reaction will be. Do not try and manipulate a situation and do not tell the other person what they want to hear.
The fourth step is knowing that change is good. In a relationship we tend to fear change, embrace it. Everything and everyone is changing and evolving. You are not the same person you were five minutes ago. Release these expectations about you and your partner based on what happened yesterday because neither one of you is the same person.
The fifth step is to live in the moment. Many people spend their entire lives living in the past or living in the future. They focus on how they wish things would be, they spend so much time there that they miss the moment they are living now. Live right now, in the moment and don’t allow yourself to miss a thing.
The sixth step is to appreciate the good. Too many people will focus all their energy on what they do not want. Live in the now and appreciate everything you have, cherish it. Feel the love that comes with appreciation of all the little things that you encounter throughout your day.
The seventh step is to always be genuine. You are perfect no matter what anyone tells you, remember that their idea of perfection is completely different than yours. You are absolutely perfect in every way and you do not need to compromise who you are for anyone else. So always be genuine. Just be yourself, be happy with who you are, love yourself and you will find the love you have always been looking for.
Although it may seem silly to engage in meaningless questions that have nothing to do with reality, the answer will surprise you.
As someone who spends a lot of time in his mind visualizing abstract concepts into images that may be able to communicate a feeling, I can tell you that imaginary creatures are vastly important. I believe that the imagination is one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal. The only limitation of possibilities in your imagination are set by your interpretation of the world and what you believe is possible.
In a rational, grounded in reality mind the idea that a mermaid could feel passion is absurd. Mermaids simply don’t exist, what would be the point in engaging in such childish behavior?
The brain is made up of over 100 billion nerve cells with each brain cell connected to around 10,000 other cells, which equals around 1000 trillion connections in your brain. The connections that you make up in your brain are based on habitual thoughts. Some of these connections get used over and over and become very healthy while other connections atrophy and die off. It’s all very fascinating stuff.
The point is that your imagination is where you engage in divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. for example, look at some normal run of the mill every day item that is around you. Now, see how many other uses you could have for that item that have nothing to do with its actual use. In two minutes how many uses did you find? A lot or a little? Did you get stuck?
Psychologists have found that a high IQ alone does not guarantee creativity. Instead, personality traits that promote divergent thinking are more important. Divergent thinking is found among people with personality traits such as nonconformity, curiosity, willingness to take risks, and persistence… Basically every three year old I have ever known.
I think at some point we learn to conform and because mermaids are not real, they can’t feel passion. We have been told they are not real because no one has ever seen them, or there is no evidence of them. Yet, the word mermaid is in our vocabulary, it is something that conjures an image in your mind and it is as real as your imagination.
I think, there is so much power in visualizing and imagining possibilities that may seem like they are not possible. Even if it is simply imagining what it would feel like if a mermaid was describing what her and her people are passionate about.
Some people believe that they will never succeed at something simply because they don’t think it’s possible… Imagine what would happen if they used their imaginations to dream and visualize themselves succeeding… They would be unstoppable.
This question pops up often, or maybe I just notice it more because I’m an artist now. I’m always interested to see how people answer this question and am usually surprised by the many answers.
Usually, art is considered the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. That way it can encompass a diverse range of activities, creations and ways of expression, including music, literature, film, dance, sculpture, jewelry and paintings. I kind of like this as a definition but I believe it’s a little simpler than that. Also, sometimes the arrangement isn’t all that pleasing to the senses and the piece could still be a beautiful work of art.
Some will argue that art cannot be defined. As an artist, I think this concept is a little hard to follow considering it would mean that I have a career in a field of undefined products. It’s just a little too scattered for me, although I agree that the definition of art could be different in each artist’s interpretation.
Art is also considered an activity or product done by people with a communicative or aesthetic purpose—something that expresses an idea, an emotion or, more generally, a world view. I can dig this, but I think it over complicates the meaning of art to need a large world changing purpose. It’s one of the reasons that some very popular artists within their collectors are not popular in the museum scene.
I don’t know, the fact of the matter is that Art historians and philosophers of art have long had classification disputes about art regarding whether a particular cultural form or piece of work should be classified as art.
The definition of art is open, subjective, debatable. The truth of the matter is that no one really has a definition, just a bunch of opinions. People will continue to have opinions about what is art and what is not art because there is no one way of looking at a piece of art.
I’ve seen some installations that look like someone just threw a bunch of garbage in a corner, which causes me to scratch my head. I can say “That’s not art, it’s just a bunch of garbage.” MOMA would say “It is the artists representation of our culture and wastefulness.” Who’s right? Me or MOMA? Some people would say MOMA is an expert establishment so it must be art. Others that love my art would say Rafi is an artist so he must know what art is. People that don’t care would say it’s garbage, but then again those people could look at a Picasso or a Jackson Pollock and say that is garbage.
Honestly, I think it doesn’t really matter. If people connect to the meaning of something on some level, and they consider it a work of art, then who’s to say it’s not. I won’t be putting any deliberate garbage installations in my house any time soon, although my father has a few of his own installations in our yard. Truthfully, once a pile of garbage had a deliberate purpose and placement, it did make me think a little, so maybe, just maybe I can think it’s art.
That being said, I think everyone will either find value in something someone created or not. Whether or not something is considered art by the masses is not important. I think the important thing to remember is that no one can tell you what is or isn’t art. If you like something and you want to display it proudly in your house, then it is art. Simple as that… Of course that’s my opinion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.