Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

The other day was a pretty difficult day for us. We finally had to make the decision to say goodbye to our old car. I know what you might be thinking, “Rafi, it’s just a car… get over it.”

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The truth is, it IS just a car, an inanimate object, a piece of machinery that got us around from place to place. It is also so much more than that.

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PBS Interview

The Explorer was our home, our little engine that could, our adventure partner, a place where we felt safe, and most importantly our friend. The Explorer was our little sanctuary away from it all, a place where we felt empowered and safe.

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Even when we were no longer living in it, we found ourselves reaching out for the security that beautiful little car provided us. walking outside to take a difficult phone call ended up with us sitting in the back of the explorer, the way you would sit on a front porch that you love.

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The explorer had a similar story to our own before it hit the road with us. It had sat neglected for years, and was rusting away, without doing what it had been created to do. Klee and I gave it a completely new life and in the process created a new life for ourselves.

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There were many great conversations, tears, laughter, breakthroughs, moments of insecurity, love, and amazement in our great little home on the road.

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It represented our joy, our freedom, and our hope for the future. It brought smiles to so many people around us and became a part of our story.

 

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But, it finally reached a point where it gave all that it could give. It never broke down, even though people looked at us funny in 2009 when we hit the road in it. They said it wouldn’t travel for very long, it truly was our little engine that could.

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Neither one of us could bring ourselves to send it to a junk yard, so we donated it to a place that helps children, this seemed like the right kind of viking send off this little car deserves.

We sat in the back one last time, and had a really difficult time getting up from the place we knew so well. We still shed many tears that day.

Saying Goodbye To Art Car
Saying Goodbye To Art Car

I’d like to think that the Explorer will have a new life helping children in some way and continue to be an amazing and magical force of good in the world.

We’ll miss our friend dearly.

4 Reasons Why I Paint Trees

It’s no secret that I love to paint trees. In fact, one of my longest running collections is a series called the Seasons Of Change. It’s an abstract representation of the four seasons in its constant cycle of change.

Rafi Perez Art 2016
Rafi Perez Art 2016

So, in case you are wondering why, I think I’ll let you into the crazy tangle of optimism that is my mind.  Here are the four things that I believe we can learn from trees.

Trees are rooted in the here and now.

I believe that we are all rooted in the here and now, but we tend to forget that. We could easily live in the past, reliving an experience over and over. It’s easy to taint what is happening right now in front of you with some drama from your past or some anxiety you have about the future. But really, when you think about it, all that matters is what is happening right now.

Rafi Perez Art 2016

Trees are constantly growing upwards.

We tend to look at our lives sometimes and think that we can plateau, or be stuck for years in some situation that sucks. Although it may be true that we are slowing down our growth by stubbornly holding on to something that doesn’t help our situation, we are still growing. No one else can see it, sometimes you don’t even notice it, but the growth is so powerful that the moment you remove that stubborn thing, you explode upwards. It’s like a tree growing through concrete.

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Trees have a lot going on under the surface.

Just like us, trees have a lot going on under the surface. What we can learn from trees is simple, make what is under the surface something that supports you. Trees get nutrients, a foundation, and connection from their roots. Some trees are an interconnected network of support to one another and it all happens under the surface. I think if we looked inside ourselves and made it a point to nourish, support, build a positive foundation, and connect with love for one another, we would be surprised at how strong we can become.

Rafi Perez Art 2016

Trees are all common, but so unique.

If there was one tree left on the planet, people would travel from all over the world to lay eyes on it. You would take in its beauty and wonder. You would actually stop for at least five minutes to admire it and take in how amazing it is. No two trees are exactly alike. Similar, but never identical. Just like us, no two humans are alike and yet we are so common that we are willing to compare, contrast, and judge each other based on false pretenses. We are all beautiful and unique, and it is about time we remember that.

So next time you take a walk somewhere and pass that tree that you have passed a million times without glancing at it, just pause for a moment and say hi.

-I love you

Rafi

Getting My Morning Started Off Right.

So, I have a confession… The last few days I have been in a confusing place when it comes to my own sense of happiness.

Honestly, it’s something that I think about a lot, and feel like I am constantly reevaluating where I’m at, and what I can do better to feel more fulfilled and whole.

rafi happy sketches

This morning, I had somewhat of a revelation.

My mornings, for the most part can be pretty routine:

  1. Drag myself out of bed.
  2. Think about how I feel and determine what I can do to feel better.
  3. Listen to an uplifting podcast or audio-book.
  4. Drink coffee and read positive quotes.
  5. Clear my mind for 5 or 10 minutes or meditate as you hipsters like to call it.
  6. Think about the here and now, and what I’m grateful for.
  7. Plan my day, look at my calendar.
  8. Get a little workout in, I prefer to just go for walks, mostly I just lift heavy things.
  9. Shower, and get started with what ever I’m doing at the moment.

That’s how an ideal start to my day would look. Lately, its been looking more like this:

  1. Drag myself out of bed.
  2. Think about how I feel and wonder why I feel that way… usually blaming someone or something.
  3. Drink coffee and begrudgingly look at my calendar.
  4. think about how I really should meditate or something.
  5. Feel overwhelmed and like there’s not enough hours in the day.
  6. Rush to get started, try to do everything… and I mean EVERYTHING.

So, needless to say that my days are a little less focused on well being, and more focused on the task at hand. Whether the task is in front of me or inside my head, makes no difference, it’s just all reactive.

I prefer to be in a powerful state of mind in order to create my art. The underlying message is meant to be one of self empowerment and happiness, and if I’m not feeling those things, the art is going to reflect that. So, although I have all these things to do, I do none of them, because I’m not willing to sacrifice my message for the sake of being productive… which can make me feel like a failure… it’s so stupid when you think about it.

rafi happy sketches

Ok, back to my revelation.

So, this morning I was thinking about how I felt, and wondered why I felt that way… when it hit me like a ton of bricks… on the forehead… while falling off a mountain.

I wasn’t choosing my thoughts, I was reacting to my feelings right from the beginning. Instead of determining what I wanted to think about, I was evaluating myself emotionally without setting a solid set point for my day. which meant that my day could go either way.

Being deliberate about what you are going to think about is key. Choosing a subject that you want to think about and just thinking about that, and training your mind to focus on what you decide to focus on.

The subject should be empowering, make you feel alive, bold, bright, powerful, exciting. It can be a question that is framed in a way that causes the answer to be a positive one, such as “What are all the things that make me feel awesome today?”

rafi happy sketches

So my days would start off like this:

  1. Drag myself out of bed… Still working on this one.
  2. Think about what I want to think about and determine the most powerful thought.
  3. Listen to an uplifting podcast or audio-book, maybe about the same subject.
  4. Drink coffee and read positive quotes.
  5. Clear my mind for 5 or 10 minutes or meditate.
  6. Think about the here and now, and what I’m grateful for.
  7. Plan my day, look at my calendar.
  8. Get a little workout in..
  9. Shower, and get started with what ever I’m doing at the moment.

I’m not one for routines, but I am one for forming deliberate habits, so this should be fun. I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far, so great!

 

Live On Purpose

So, I’m sure you heard the phrase “Live with purpose.”

If you haven’t heard that phrase, then you probably live under a rock somewhere…

Rafi Perez Art 2016

It’s one of those phrases that is so overused that I feel like it’s lost its power a little with most people. But I also think it could be a little confusing when you’re in a place where you are not really sure what your purpose is, or why a sense of purpose is so important. You know, because life could be confusing.

There’s a lot of information circulating around out there about what is good for you, bad for you, what this means, and what that means.

Rafi Art Delivery

There you are at the grocery store deciding whether or not you are going to get the gluten free tortillas, or just get the cheaper ones that have gluten. You’re not really sure why this is a thing but you know everyone is advertising gluten free, so you assume gluten must be bad.

Everyone has their own opinion about it… My opinion? Slather it up with gluten, what ever it might be. I don’t know why.

That being said, I understand there are some people out there that have a genuine intolerance to gluten, but not as many people as have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon thanks to advertising and influence.

The same thing happens with the term “Live with purpose”

Depending on who you are listening to, it may have different meanings. Trying to apply all those different meanings to your own life is impossible.

Some people say, to base it on your beliefs and values.

I hate to break it to you, but beliefs and values change throughout your life. You may be holding on to a belief or value that isn’t really working, it might be a belief or value you picked up from a racist uncle or parent, that you’ve never questioned.

Rafi and klee

This makes things super confusing because most of us haven’t really thought to much about our own thoughts and whether or not we agree with them.

Other people say “Follow your passion and it will show you, your purpose”
That’s great, but again that whole thing is confusing too. What is my passion, and if I can’t figure out my passion, how am I supposed to figure out my purpose?

So, to make this whole thing a little less confusing for myself I’ve changed one of the words in the phrase “Live With Purpose.”

I changed it to live on purpose.

So what do I mean by that… How do you live on purpose?

So, picture this, the moment you wake up, you repeat the words… “Today, I’m living on purpose.”

That means I will stop, observe, and appreciate my world and the things that are in it. It means that I will change things about myself that I do not like, it means I’m going to be deliberate about how I spend my days and the things I think about. It also means that I will think about my thoughts and whether or not they are actually mine.

This isn’t a cake walk, trust me when I say it is quite easy to just go back to not questioning your own thoughts, and saying things like “Tony Danza’s face makes me so angry, I don’t know why, that’s just who I am!”

I’ve determined that I’m alive, and my purpose in life is to live my life as fully as I can. That means not buying into the excuses that make me feel angry or small.

Sure, it’ll take some work, and I may be doing it until the day I die, but I can’t picture a better way to live… Every day, every minute, every second… On purpose.

-Love Rafi

Overcoming Fear and Keeping It Real

Some of you already know that I am a big supporter of overcoming fear. If you have been following my art for any amount of time you may have noticed a common theme of self empowerment and badassery.

Rafi Perez I Am Not An Exit Art Show
Rafi Perez Internal Universe

A lot of people assume that I am fearless because of the topics I tackle and the things I push myself to do in life. The truth is, I’m kind of afraid of everything, and when I say everything, I mean… EVERYTHING.

I think fear is an ongoing thing, like layers in an onion, the more you uncover, the deeper the layers can go.

I don’t think there are people out there that are completely fearless. I think they just handle their fears differently than most of us are used to.

Rafi Perez Live Painting Empowerment
Rafi Perez Live Painting Empowerment

I’ve developed the mindset that I would be more afraid of sitting on my ass and not following my dreams, than letting day after day go by without me taking action and conquering the things I fear.

I have four things that I do when facing a fear:

1. Go to war

Your brain is going to give you a line up of worst case scenarios. Use it, act as if you are giving yourself the opportunity to trouble shoot and prepare yourself for the worst thing that can happen and plan accordingly.

2. Will I regret not doing this?

Simply ask yourself if you would regret not having at least tried.

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3. Blow your own mind.

Ask yourself four questions that follow this pattern:

  • What would happen if I did this?
  • What wouldn’t happen if I did this?
  • What would happen if I didn’t do this?
  • What wouldn’t happen if I didn’t do this?

It will blow your mind and breakdown any irrational logic you are using to stop yourself.

4. Stop thinking about it and just do it already.

Stop hesitating… plain and simple.

I go into more detail in this video and Klee tells a powerful story about her own experience with fear… it’s pretty awesome.

 

Let me know your thoughts on fear and how you overcome your own fears that may be keeping you from following your dreams.

Twilight Glow Tree’s New Home

One of the pitfalls of selling my art is the fact that many times I don’t get to see where my piece will live. I create a part of me and expose it to the world in the hopes that it will end up in a good home and be appreciated. I spend so much time just staring at a piece as it is being created, that I develop a very close relationship with my art.

Twilight-Glow-Tree

Don’t get me wrong, I interact with the person buying it whether in person or online (and have turned offers down because of the persons vibe) but for the most part, that’s where the interaction ends. They buy the art, and I never see it again.

When I created the glow tree, I had this piece in mind for a special person that would appreciate every single deliberately molded peak of texture.

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This tree represents a concept and idea that is very special to me.

“We are rooted in reality, and yet we expand and grow out towards the heavens. We are constantly expanding and growing, even when no one else can see it.”

With this piece, I was hoping this would be one of those rare occasions where the person stayed in contact during the process of receiving the art.

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Every once in a while, I get to see how the piece is welcomed into the new home, and I it is always a joy.

I received a special message last night from the Alfredo Z. who purchased this piece online from me a couple weeks ago.

He had contacted me several times asking for suggestions on the size, color, and style of frame. He sent me pictures of his favorites, and I made my suggestions and that was that.

The color and texture of this piece requires the frame to be very specific as to not take away, but add to the message.

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I could not have imagined how amazing the piece would look with the hardware that surrounds it.

It is stunning. Thank you.

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Being A Dreamer – Innovation and Imagination.

It’s been said that I spend a lot of time in my imagination. In school, daydreaming was something I was constantly getting in trouble for.

The Dreamer By Rafi Perez

Instead of being in class, listening to my fat, balding teacher drone on about  the importance of multiplication, I was off in a magical land flying on the back of dragons.

SLAP on the desk! “Pay attention Mr. Perez!”

I guess the value of imagination can easily get overlooked in an environment that doesn’t foster creative thought. School is all about following directions, listening to the “Boss”, and being evaluated for your performance. No wonder “A” students usually end up working for C and D students. Imagination is innovation, so if it is not encouraged, we lose innovation.

The Dreamer By Rafi Perez

A lot of my art focuses on the power of imagination. The innovators, those great thinkers and adventurers that put this country on the forefront of discovery. The dreamers that believed in the impossible. The diverse culture that came to american soil because this is the land of opportunity.

The United States is great because of our innovators, our creators, our dreamers… it’s people out there like you, that dream of a better tomorrow for themselves and their children.

The Dreamer By Rafi Perez

There is a reason why artists are the first to be suppressed when a dictatorship takes over… because creative, abstract thinking, is nearly impossible to control or dominate.

Unfortunately our educational system as it stands hasn’t improved much since the industrial age. It does not cultivate creative thinking, it doesn’t allow for divergent problem solving… or being a dreamer.

The Dreamer By Rafi Perez

Essentially school teaches you how to be a good employee.

Memorize some stuff, do some stuff, get evaluated, fail and get punished, pass and get praised. Do something great and get a gold star you can stick on the fridge. Do something bad, get suspended or expelled, RARARA! school spirit…. Rinse, repeat.

Then you go to work, memorize and do stuff, get evaluations, fail and get punished, pass and get praised. Do something great and get a paper certificate you can frame. Do something bad and get suspended or fired. RARARA! company spirit. Rinse, repeat.

The Dreamer By Rafi Perez

Don’t get me wrong. I value education and I know there are a lot of very passionate teachers out there that foster creative thinking… I’ve had a few.

But, I believe that it is our ability to imagine that gives us power. Knowledge is only facts that change as new discoveries are made. Imagination is what fuels those discoveries.

We spend most of our days in our imagination anyhow… Imagined worse case scenarios, replaying or imagining arguments, negative self image, and so much more.

Imagine if you will, what it would be like if we were taught to harness our imagination. How different the world would be if we had learned how to focus on positive outcomes and innovation, instead of following directions. What would it be like if we learned to see the world through eyes of possibility and wonder?

Maybe some day… For now, let’s teach ourselves.

 

I’m pretty sure my dad hates my art.

As you know, recently I was invited to create an art chair. This was a big deal for me, because there is a finesse that needs to happen when turning furniture into art. I wasn’t really sure I could pull it off.

Art Chair By Rafi Perez
Art Chair By Rafi Perez

You might think that something as common as a “chair” just needs some paint and crazy designs to stand out. Not true, just like any abstract painting it can go wrong really fast, and just like an abstract painting you have to rely on your gut feelings and not technical skill.

All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez
All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez

So I went through the typical creative process of feeling like I had an epic failing every step of the way, until it finally started to come together.

So, I created my first art chair, worked through my own insecurities, pushed through the boundaries of what I thought was possible for me, and validated my self status as an artist.

All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez
All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez

That’s about the time my dad stepped into the picture.

He stood there and stared at it for a while… didn’t say anything.

At that point, I apparently felt the need to boaster the chair up and make it important in terms my father would understand… money.

“Yeah dad, people were putting $100 in raffle tickets for it!”

He pause, scrunched up his face and then said…

“Someone paid $100 for that shit?”

All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez
All You Need Is Love Chair By Rafi Perez

Yes they did dad… yes they did.

There are so many stories like this when it comes to my father and art, luckily, it doesn’t bother me any more… in fact, I find it kind of funny.

I spent a long time blaming him for my insecurities, and as it turns out, they were my own insecurities, and I needed to get rid of them myself.

It’s still a work in progress, but I think it will always be.

Watch this video to enjoy the full story, and more stories of my dad and my art… including a big event that took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago… Oh boy.

Have fun!!!

Happy Easter! My Favorite Memes.

Easter is upon us, for a lot of us, it’s about sacrificing sleep, Easter baskets, and egg laying rabbits.

For others, it is a day to give time to reflect on a great sacrifice made for humanity, and to pray that the impact of Easter continues to impact all for the better.

For the better… A lot of us have different ideas on what that means.

For me on this beautiful day, I will spread joy in appreciation for Easter in the form of Easter memes… Enjoy!

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes
This one is just so cute… Which is weird, because I would never want a pet rabbit.

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

So, this next series of memes, just takes me back to my childhood. The whole ridiculousness of the frighting mall picture experience that many of us have had… these pictures crack me up.

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes

Rafi's Favorite Easter Memes
WTF!?!?!? Why??? Why?!?!?!?!?

Happy Easter you guys! I love you, be good to each other and remember to enjoy this amazing thing we call life.

What Will I Do With This Chair? Art Chair!

I was invited to create something new out of something old that will be something awesome for something that we all care about.

This old chair that you see pictured here will be converted into a work of art… maybe even one you can sit on. This is for “From Blue To Better Campaign” to prevent child abuse.

Art Chair By Rafi Perez

I recently did a mural for Child Abuse Awareness at the Graffiti Bridge, which if I’m honest with you, was a little outside of my comfort zone… but, it is for such a great campaign that I had to try it.

This is a little outside of my comfort zone as well, I’ve never created an “art chair” and of course my mind is trying to over think it with all kinds of elaborate plans, that are a bit ridiculous. That being said, what I have planned is going to blow you away… just sayin. Wish me luck, hope I can pull it off.

Art Chair By Rafi Perez

If you get a chance to be there, I will be putting the finishing touches on it on Thursday, 6pm, April 6th, 2017 at Beyond The Grape at the Cordova Mall, where you will be able to buy a raffle ticket and win the chair.

Here is More Info From Event:

“Wine Tasting And Live Painting Thursday April 6th 6-9pm in support of the From Blue To Better Campaign to prevent child abuse. What goes better with wine than a delicious pairing of live art. Join Rafi Was Here Studios – Artist Rafi Perez on Thursday April 6th from 6-9pm at Beyond the Grape at Cordova Mall, right across from Red Robin. He will paint one of our former conference room chairs to be raffled off that evening. His work will be displayed and we will have other art pieces from local artists available for raffle … It doesn’t get much better.

There will be complimentary wine tasting and a special 15% discount on bottles purchases that night. Munch on light hors d’oeuvres and enjoy a fun evening of Wine, Art and Food! Beyond The Grape will host a wine tasting with their range of specialty Florida fruit and infused wines as well as their monthly selections of the best traditional varietals from around the world. Enjoy a glass of wine at the antique tasting bar, or Pensacola’s favorite Wine Smoothies.