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We Are All Powerful

It can be very easy to feel small sometimes. The world is so big. The universe is massive. Time keeps moving. In the grand scheme of things our life is but a speck on the camera lens. Yet, we are so much more than we may realize.

We were all born with this amazing power within us. Many people don’t seem to acknowledge the gifts that they have and instead choose to conform to the status quo. It saddens me to see these magical people never go for the things they want out of life. They choose to live what is considered a normal life by the people around them. Never willing to take that first step. Why is that?

CHANGE IS SCARY.
Some of us resist change at all costs. We may do this because we fear that a change will alter the stability we feel. We can be habitual creatures who tend to feel a sense of safety and security when we know what to expect. The problem is that everything changes and evolves. Everything grows and nothing will stay the same, resisting change may lead to a comfortable stagnation in your life. Embracing and becoming comfortable with change allows you to expect the unexpected and not be controlled by fear. It allows you to challenge yourself to believe that no matter what circumstances or situations arise, you will be able to navigate them.


NOT WORTH TAKING THE RISK.
Let’s be honest, not changing can be a risk. However, change is often more associated with risk. Taking a chance on yourself and following your dreams is a risk. Going against the grain is a risk. Creating an art career is a risk. Driving your car to the store is a risk. Everything in life is risky. We tend to forget that we take calculated risks hundreds of times a day in the smallest of decisions. We make determinations and predict outcomes all the time, but at the end of the day, big or small, they’re all just guesses. Following your dreams feels risky because you may have spent many years talking yourself out of it. The question isn’t “is it risky?” because everything is. The question is, are you willing to face the risks? Do you believe that YOU have what it takes to persist through the suck?

If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.

― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

We all have our own gifts to bring to the world. It could be music, art, poetry, books, leadership, innovation, architecture, love, a smile, conversation, or anything. If these gifts are not making it into the world because you are afraid of the change it will bring or it is too much of a risk, remember your power. The only way these gifts can manifest is by the investment in yourself, believing in yourself, and being willing to go all the way. Persist through the suck. You have the power within you to leave the world a little different than when you came into it.

You are special, you are worth it, and you can do anything you set your mind on. Everything we see around us was created by a human who persisted through the suck, and held onto a desire to live life beyond what they know.

Go all the way, you have the power to do that.

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A Few Thoughts On Impostor Syndrome

I’ve been a creative human for as long as I can remember, and a full time creative for about a decade now. Recently, and many times throughout the years, Rafi and I have talked about impostor syndrome. You know it? The feeling like, even though you’re passionate, authentic, dedicated to your creative endeavors, and growing and evolving each day… that somehow you’re just not enough. That secretly you suck, and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone else discovers your suckage. I suspect most everyone has felt this at one time or another.

If left unchecked, that feeling can really thwart your efforts to share who you are and what you do with the world. I’m guilty of overthinking what I share and say on here, for fear of judgement … analysis paralysis. I’m guilty of the same when working on my art, and especially where music is concerned.

Real-time example, ready?: I second-guessed myself immediately upon embarking on sharing these thoughts with you… and then spellcheck informed me that my spelling of the word “judgement” in the paragraph above was incorrect… so being the human I am, I googled it, and found that both “judgment” and “judgement” are acceptable spellings, but “judgment” is more widely accepted these days. I’ve always spelled it “judgement” so I’ve left it that way, but secretly feared your judgement not only for my chosen spelling, but for my humble human opinions on the topic of impostor syndrome. Who am I to talk about this? I’m just a person with my own thoughts on my own experiences, who, by the way… also misspelled “Impostor” at the beginning of this blog and had to go back and correct it. I think you see what I’m getting at here, all of that happened just trying to share this with you.

The thing is, there’s no rule book for creative and entrepreneurial humans. We’re all just trying stuff and doing the best we can, whatever the best is for us right now. This is one of the reasons I try to share all kinds of things with you guys, my creative family. Not just my creations that I’m proud of, but my failed experiments, challenges, life stuff, thoughts from my brain jar, small victories, and everything in between.

Wear TV Interview


So I wanted to take this time to say this to myself and to you, beautiful human who is reading this. If you are doing something, anything, that you’re passionate about, and making any effort to share it with the world, to put it out there, and to grow as a human and a creative, THAT makes YOU a badass.

You may not be at the level you aspire to yet, I know I’m not, but I’ve realized it’s a lifelong work in progress. You aren’t doing it wrong, and you don’t suck. You don’t have to get it perfect out the gate, just play and try to remember why you love what you do. Try to remember why you love who you are. You are unique, you are beautiful, you are contributing to the whole in your own special way, and you are most definitely enough.


I think ultimately, this is a long-winded high five from me to you, and from me to me. Let’s keep going and bring our awesomeness into full view for 2021 and beyond. Say it with me: “I’m real, and I’m spectacular.”

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Imagination Usage Can Cause Crazy Eyes

Klee and I have been together for 11 years and during that time I was made aware of the fact that I look like a crazy person when I am using my imagination.

Apparently, I freeze in place and my eyes widen as I stare off into nowhere. I also seem to enter some type of weird time vortex where I am completely unaware of how long I’ve been creepily staring… usually at someone.

Klee will ask, “where were you?” and that is usually my indication that I was just venturing through the wormhole of my imagination.

Someone once saw me doing that and asked, “is he ok?”

Klee responded, “he’s doing creative research.”

I love her 🙂

Listen, whether you have crazy eyes, make a weird chin face, or look like a zombie when you are using your imagination, I’m here to tell you that it is a beautiful thing.

So stay beautiful crazy eyes.

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Sing Your Heart Out And Remember To Play

Klee has always loved to sing. She started her career in music with a hot pink boom box and a hairbrush. Over the years that beautiful freedom that came from singing for the enjoyment of just singing became a career. She is now trying to get back into that freedom and sing for the sake of singing.

Whenever we do anything creative in a professional capacity we have to watch that the “adult” self doesn’t overpower the child self. Those things that brought us joy and excitement can easily become a struggle. We can take it too seriously and forget to play.

Playing is where the magic happens.

Playing is where we are not stifled by perfection.

Playing is where we experiment and try new things.

Playing is where we know that if we fail, we can simply start over again.

Playing is where we push ourselves to try something that others may think is beyond us.

Playing is where the joy comes from.

Playing is where you create without the negative critic in your head, because negative people don’t know how to play.

So whether you are singing, playing an instrument, writing, painting, acting, sketching, creating jewelry, or doing something you love… remember to play awesomely.

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The Most Wonderful (Thing About) Time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we are bouncing around the art studio like crazy elves who have lost their minds.

Every year, I say “Next year I’m going to take it easy and not put too much on my plate.” By the time June arrives, my Jekyll and Hyde shambles out of hibernation and forgets what the plan was. That’s usually when I get REALLY excited about doing some project that I’ve wanted to do, which then leads to another and another. By the time the holiday season comes around, I’m writing two books and a workbook, recording audiobooks, designing a new series of paintings, revamping the website, designing playing and tarot cards, finalizing art calendars, expanding on video and music creations, and planning for art encased in resin for jewelry. Not to mention all the ongoing projects, commissions, orders, and normal business running type things. Then you get into the multitude of projects Klee is working on and it looks like a metal confetti bomb went off in the studio.

Rafi in a messy art studio

The thing is, I honestly don’t know that I would have it any other way. I remember the first three years that Klee and I really went for this creative lifestyle that we are living, and the studio was a snooze fest. I mean, we had music, fun, and the occasional projects going on, but I think I was a little timider back then when it came to time. I would hear myself say things like “I’ll work on that when I have time.”

The problem was that I never had enough time to do anything… so I never got started on things and they went in a journal.

The one thing you have to do as an artist is create. If you are not creating and you are always just thinking of creating, then I’m not sure you can call yourself an artist. I mean, you can call yourself whatever you want, but you won’t FEEL like an artist, which is what matters most in my line of work.

The irony is I am working on WAY more projects now and seem to have more time. A few years ago, I realized that it wasn’t the number of things I was doing, it was how I felt doing them. More importantly, what narrative was I repeating to myself about what I was doing?

Time seems to follow a universal, tick tock rhythm… but it doesn’t. In the Special Theory of Relativity, That guy with the crazy hair determined that time is relative. In other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference.

Let me blow your mind with some strange and most likely incorrect “Rafi logic”. We know that the faster a clock moves, the slower time passes according to someone in a different frame of reference. That’s why GPS clocks on satellites have to adjust depending on their speed because the faster they move, the slower our clocks run down here on earth. Yeah, that shit is cray. The clocks on the satellite tick slightly faster, by about 45 microseconds per day.

To me, that means that if you are in movement, time slows down around you. So when you are just sitting there telling yourself you don’t have enough time or hemming and hawing about how to start, chances are, you’ll feel like there is not enough time. In my experience, whenever I get stuck in an indecisive rut, the day just flies by and next thing you know, I haven’t done anything.

On the other hand, when I just fa-chunk it and get started, I usually get more done than I anticipated. Klee likes to call it warping space and time.

That is the most wonderful time. The time I make for the things I love. This year as you run around trying to get all the things done, keep this in mind… Just do it.

Get started on that project. Give that hug. Say I love you. Take that walk. Take that phone call. Take a moment to appreciate the little things. Do that thing that scares you. Change that habit you don’t like. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Take time to relax. Read that book. All of those things that you have put off… Just do it.

No one said you have to get them done in a day, or do them ALL now, but if you don’t get at least one started, it will never happen.

Try not to repeat the words “I don’t have enough time.” and replace them with the words “I make time for the things that matter to me.”

So enjoy this Holiday and make time for ALL those special little things that you love.

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Happy Thanksgiving – Let The Craziness Begin

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! This is the day where Klee and I contemplate our year and appreciate where we are and who we are. This year has had a bunch of stupid challenges for us all, but there is so much to be grateful for. We are grateful for you reading this right now and so I give you a big turkey hug… or tofurkey hug, depending on your preference. Other than gratitude, I have had something else on my mind.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the holidays coming up and holiday sales. Things are actually changing a little due to the pandemic. Thanksgiving is two days away and the holiday shopping season officially starts the day after. Every year the sale has started earlier and earlier, I have some friends that pull an all-nighter on Thanksgiving every year for the Black Friday craziness. This is usually followed by Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and finally, the Holiday Shopping weeks leading up to Christmas.

Every year, Klee and I gear up for this season and prepare for the madness. Usually, we have a local face to face presentation at the market and put together an open holiday studio day where people can visit the studio and peruse the art and jewelry available. That is not going to happen this year. We pulled out of the market (which was canceled for most of the year due to the pandemic) and have to be careful about who we invite into our space. Luckily, some artists will be able to take advantage of little markets that are popping up now for the holidays, we however will not. Klee and I have been very careful this year since my father has all the conditions that the “RONA” loves.

Admittedly, the holidays are not big for art. Art is very personal and honestly what if you get someone a nice work of art and they don’t connect with it? So I usually focus on my calendars, special commissions, and my textured prints. Every year I try to focus on something new that I’ve never tried before to see if it meets the needs of the holiday shopping hoard, which makes it a fun social experiment. Klee on the other hand creates something that is personal, beautiful, unique, and much easier to gift. She’s usually the breadwinner during the holidays while I bring in little scraps of roadkill here and there, but we get by pretty well.

In 2020, however, we are completely reliant on the internet (which was out and spotty for 2 months after the hurricane) so that has changed everything. To say that it has been a year of challenges and having “make it work” moments is an understatement. So this year in lieu of an open holiday studio we are having a Virtual Open Studio live stream event on December 4th (More details soon). Our plan is to make it laid back, fun, and full of gifts for people who will actually take time out of their day to watch us.

We are also running various sales on things like the limited edition calendars and special items only created for the holidays. In the meantime, Klee and I are working on commissions, special art and jewelry for the live sale, and a book that will release early next year. One thing that I have learned from being a full-time artist for over a decade (Our Studio Anniversary is tomorrow November 25th, 2009) is that no matter what things look like financially, you have to keep moving forward and create your own opportunities. Sometimes those harebrained ideas pay off, sometimes it takes years, and sometimes they wither and die… but no matter what, you gotta keep creating.

No matter what, this holiday season is going to be different than pre-2020 with less in-store shopping. Looking back, I’ll be honest, Black Friday got a little ridiculous.

It started with opening 8 am Friday morning.

The next year being 5 am…

To the next year being 2 am…

To the next year being midnight…

Finally to last year when stores opened just after Thanksgiving dinner between 5 pm – 8 pm on Thursday evening.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of employees having to go to work on Thanksgiving and deal with an extra day of Black Friday madness. If you have never worked retail, I can tell you that it is a nightmare scenario.

Because of the pandemic, store openings will look noticeably different this year. Stores, such as Walmart, BestBuy, and Target, that have been known to open on Thanksgiving day to begin their Black Friday sales early, are in fact closed on Thanksgiving day this year. The earliest opening I’ve come across for this year is 5 am on Friday, November 27th.

Honestly, Black Friday has begun much earlier this year online, with many companies doing either “Pre-Black Friday” online sales, or even simply starting their Black Friday promotions early. Although I’m sure you are disappointed that you will not have the bloodshot bleary eyes from staying up all night watching people rip apart dolls and fight over parking spots, you can find most sales online.

Cyber Monday sales will also probably continue the sales over a week past Thanksgiving.

For small business Saturday, I know small businesses could really use some love, so could the artists and vendors who are setting up for shows and markets… So support local, whether you do it online or in person, support those badasses.

We will most likely be doing a Small Business Saturday Sale as a thank you to our awesome collectors and friends out there who have helped us get through some tough times this year.

Either way, whatever you do, whether you are a shopper, a business, or an alien, be safe and smile. If you can support local businesses please do so. This year has been extremely challenging for a lot of us, and I want to just send you my love. My final thought is this, it is all just stuff, what REALLY matters here is the human connection we have with each other… that is why I am a big fan of these shops staying closed until it is ACTUALLY Black Friday… Families could take a day to eat good food and feel grateful without having to run out after dinner… Just my opinion.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! How will you be approaching holiday sales this year? Let us know in the comments.

Stay safe, and happy shopping!

Rafi and Klee wish you Happy Holidays
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Are You Too Emotional?

This month has been personally challenging for us… well, this year has been a challenging cluster of fudge. No matter how much we try to avoid negative crap in our lives, crap happens sometimes… or a lot of times. 

For the most part, Klee and I focus on the positive and look on the bright side of things. Even then, there are times that can get overwhelmingly craptastic. It should come as no big surprise that when stuff goes wrong, things tend to stack one on top of the other. 

This is where the last proverbial straw can easily break the camel’s back. 

“That’s the last straw!!! I can’t take this anymore!!” may come out of your mouth or other less PG statements which all mean the same thing… I have had enough.

No matter how much we focus on the positive and look on the bright side of things, there is always a chance of being overwhelmed by negative emotions and dark thoughts. In other words, when it feels like it is just too much, it is easy to lose your shit.

Some people build a wall around this because they see it as a weakness to get angry or emotional. Usually, these people are more concerned about what other people may think of them, so behind closed doors they struggle in solitude while the world around them only sees what they want them to see. Honestly, this is the culture we all live in. It is normal to put up a strong front for other people when you are literally falling apart inside.

On the flip side to this, you have people that easily lose their shit and become volatile. They are so consumed by their own drama that they completely overlook what the people around them are going through. They become absorbed by what is happening to them and want others to feel empathy without feeling empathy themselves.

I grew up with examples of both.

With one person, I had no idea what they were actually feeling so I would overcompensate to try and get an emotional response. I always felt like I couldn’t get anywhere with them, and when I broached on a subject that was buried, they would lash out and get defensive… that’s usually where the conversation ended and I would walk away feeling like I had done something wrong. Most times this person would tell me I was doing it wrong and it was my fault that they didn’t open up.

With the other person, I was constantly walking on eggshells to make sure I didn’t say, do or have something random go wrong because it would set them off. This is where you try and control circumstances in the environment because you want the other person not to encounter a trigger. I was perpetually trying to predict and prevent anything that would make them upset. Again, I would overcompensate and usually cause a situation to become worse. When this person had a meltdown, they usually got upset with whoever was there and lashed out.

The interesting thing is that everyone has these moments, moments where shit gets to you. Some of us have an explosive moment and reflect and realize that is not who they are or who they want to be… many don’t. 

It’s like the social norm is to be either a person who doesn’t allow feelings to break their social appearance, or you are just an emotional wreck.

The thing is, WE ALL HAVE EMOTIONS… AND WE ALL HAVE A CHOICE ON HOW WE DEAL WITH OUR EMOTIONS. We all lose our shit sometimes, even if you bury feelings or use them as a weapon. The problem is not knowing that there is a big difference between reacting or choosing to respond. I think growing up being called too emotional or that we don’t have feelings is the reason people are not educated in dealing with their emotions.  

Reacting: Something triggers an emotion and you react with a knee-jerk response that is typical of the way you usually react. You tell people things like “Whenever YOU do that it causes me to do this, so stop doing it that way.” Some of these reactions have been repeated thousands of times over your lifetime and are usually learned habits. When this happens, there are usually conditions in place that need to be met in order to trigger it or make it go away.

Responding: Something triggers an emotion and you react with a knee-jerk response that is typical of the way you usually react. At some point (either right away or when you are in the midst of the reaction fog) you stop and take your focus off of the trigger and ask yourself “Is this who I want to be?” Understanding that you are dealing with your own habits and you can chip away at those little by little. You also understand that you have to face the feelings to actually make some headway. This means being brutally honest with yourself. It will require you to say things you don’t want to hear about your behavior and insecurities that you feel control you. This is the hardest part and why it’s easier to lash out and bury the dark feelings. Unless you confront those deep dark recesses of yourself, you may never release whatever is causing the emotional reaction.

Yesterday I shared a motivational artist mp3 with our rogue artists on Patreon. Motivational MP3’s are something I’ve created for myself over the last ten years. Basically, it’s me talking to myself, reminding myself of something that is easy to forget when a particular shit hits a particular fan in my life.

Listen To Rafi’s Motivational MP3’s

I have some recordings on staying motivated as an artist, continuing on despite the obstacles, and remembering that I get to choose my life no matter what the naysayers or I might think. They are my way at chipping away at the habits of insecurity that I may have. 

When you go down a downward spiral of reacting to anything in a negative way (person place or thing) things can easily stack on top of each other and next thing you know, you feel like you are drowning in molasses. 

As an artist, it is easy to feel discouraged, unmotivated, or even stupid and frivolous. We tend to feel lost in a wilderness of solitude surrounded by a world that doesn’t respect or understand what we do or why we do it. It’s easy to feel like you are losing. 

We are constantly just waiting for things to get easier.

I’m sorry, but I am going to be brutally honest with you now… Things never get easier, we just grow, evolve, and find better ways in overcoming obstacles. We form new habits and learn to smile more. We learn to not dwell on the past, or let our negative thoughts (or someone else’s) shape our world. 

It is the struggles, hardships, and moments where we feel we can’t keep going that make us stronger. These are the moments where you have an opportunity to show yourself once and for all who you really are.

So if you have what I like to call “A Momentary Lapse Of Brilliance” that’s fine. Just respond to it. It doesn’t define you. There is no such thing as TOO emotional, or NOT emotional enough… they are both ways of not confronting our own emotional shit.

So get mad and lash out and refuse to let it control you. You fight. You cry. You curse. You punch. You wave your fists at the heavens. Don’t blame the person, place, or thing… look at your own insecurities.

Tell your insecurity,  your bad day, your crappy situation, or whatever else “NOT TODAY!”

I GET TO CHOOSE

I GET TO DECIDE HOW I FEEL TODAY.

I’M IN CONTROL OF WHO I CHOOSE TO BE EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY. 

AND TODAY, I AM FOCUSED ON THE FACT THAT I AM A BADASS.

Then you live your damn life like the badass that you are. 

Remember, chip away… You may only be a teeny bit more badass than yesterday and THAT IS BADASS 🙂

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Surreally Complementary Group Art Show

This is surreally happening! It is that time again for some amazing art in your inbox from artists all over this blue dot. Below you will find pieces created for the Surreally Complimentary Collab Lab Challenge.

  • Parameter 1 – Incorporate at least one surrealistic element in your piece (you can go full-on surreal or just have one element).
  • Parameter 2 – Utilize only red and yellow (and any colors you can make with those, as well as values) as your color palette.
  • Parameter 3 – Include two contrasting/complementary elements in your piece (these can be imagery, textures, finishes, subjects, materials, etc).

I am excited to share these with you because they really push some boundaries. If you are interested in any of the pieces below that are for sale, please contact the artist. Enjoy this awesome show.


Ellen Reiser

Ellen Reiser

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$150.00
Artist Statement:
Title: Fried Chicken and Waffles with Maple Syrup

A surrealist study in yellow, red, black and white. In this day of social unrest, sharing a common meal seems to be a good way to bring people together. There are many recipes on the web for this delicious meal. Medium: Digital Drawing with Adobe Fresco. Find me at www.starrynightdiner.com

Chicken and Waffles on Wikipedia:
The exact origins of this dish are unknown, although several theories about its origin exist. Waffles entered American cuisine in the 1600s with European colonists. The food’s popularity saw a notable boost after 1789 with Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of four waffle irons in Amsterdam.

In the early 1800s, hotels and resorts outside Philadelphia served waffles with fried catfish. Such establishments also served other dishes like fried chicken, which gradually became the meat of choice due to catfish’s limited, seasonal availability. Waffles served with chicken and gravy were noted as a common Sunday dish among the Pennsylvania Dutch by the 1860s. A 1901 memoir recalled a tavern in East Liberty, Pennsylvania, well known for “suppers of spring chickens and waffles.” By the end of the 19th century, the dish was a symbol of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, brought on in part by its association with tourism.


Michel Belisle

Michel Belisle

Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement:
In the spirit of the “Cadavre exquis.” This piece is devoid of any meaning or raison-d’être. It simply virtually “is.”
(digital collage)

Other unrelated elements can be found at https://belisssle.com


Everett Stanton

Everett Stanton

Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement:
This Collab Lab is actually a performance that can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/3WJJLmOxTSw

Paper Straws Puppets and Studio is the dream project of artist, Everett Stanton. Ev deeply loves making, playing with, and filming puppets for all sorts of media and art projects. He hopes that his work truly brings pleasure to anyone who sees it. It is his main goal in life to build a group of like-minded artists who can live their dream though the creation of new, exciting and thoughtful work in the world. Thanks for taking the time to enjoy the video!

~Ev


Christopher Doll

Christopher Doll

Is It For Sale
SOLD
Artist Statement
They come from miles away, together, unquestioning their purpose. Compelled by anger, shame, and expectation. The visage can be seen for miles but they don’t recognize its form until it’s too late to turn back. Gazes lowered, lest they see the true horror, their last walk to the steps guided by the others who also hear the call. A masked sentinel is the last they see before they enter. None ever leave. christopher-doll.com


Lee Edward Evans

Lee Edward Evans

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$70.00
Artist Statement
Mirage

(16 X12) mixed Media (acrylic and oil pastels)

This piece was inspired by Egyptian heritage and the optical illusion know as a mirage. I wanted to capture the essence and Embodiment of the desert in the form of a goddess. The surrealism landscape complements this notion adds an over exaggerated form of a mirage.
For more information or more artwork please check out the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/Levansarts


Dana Ellis

Dana Ellis

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$150.00
Artist Statement
“Revealed”
11″X 14″ Acrylic and Oil
Women exude real beauty, but with a stroke of a brush what lies beneath is where her true beauty emerges.
www.danaellisart.com


Lee Suzanne Jordan

Lee Suzanne Jordan

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$275.00
Artist Statement
Youth vs. Wisdom uses a limited color palette and symbolic images to explore the concepts of secrets, growth, imagination and transformation. This is a surreal self-portrait. I included many creatures and objects that have personal meaning for me. Octopuses are one of my favorite creatures. They are smart, curious, caring, and creative. Pythons are dangerous but can also represent knowledge, healing and growth. One of the random elements I chose as part of the challenge was a bark texture, which I used on the face to represent time and contrast with the youthful side. On her left side, the figure is youthful and her hair transforms into flowering branches. On her right, she ages and her hair transforms into bare winter branches. I have mixed feelings about aging, and this Collab gave me different ways to explore the power and fragility of it. Medium: Acrylic on Birchwood, 11x14x1. website: www.lsjart.com


Rudi Bloes

Rudi Bloes

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$15.00
Artist Statement
This is not a burning forest.

4.3 x 4.3 inches
aquarel and white ink.

website: https://www.rudibloes.be on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rudibloesart/


Kyle Wood

Kyle Wood

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$750.00
Artist Statement
Title: To Observe And yet Disregard. Contrasting: “to observe” and “to disregard”. Some realities do not make sense here, so you have to disregard them to observe what is going on in this painting. Using only red and yellow with black and white as values, I created this image with chalk, colored pencil and acrylics on wood 24″ X 24″. This is apart of my dreamscape series that I am developing. The human forms are brought in to help you enter into this unreal world and navigating through various conflicting perspectives. I created the frame to allow the elements freedom to go where ever they please. Prints are available on my site: https://www.kylewoodcreations.com


cRuz kAi

cRuz kAi
Email
cruzkaihawaii@gmail.com
Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement
Surreally Complementary Collab-lab October 2020
Rogue Artist – cRuz kAi
Title “Mellow Day 0.1”
Canvas 9” x 12”
Fluid & Soft Body Acrylics
Perimeter Colors – Yellow & Red / Values – Black & White


Megan McFadden

Megan McFadden

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$85.00
Artist Statement
I called this piece Toxic to me it means sometimes toxicity can go both ways. The mediums I used were ink and colored pencils on 9×12 Vellum Bristol Board.
The rest of my art is at www.instagram/azurasmallpaws


Heather Graye

Heather Graye

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$250.00
Artist Statement
“The Messenger”
24×30″ Oil over acrylic on museum-wrapped canvas
This piece was created to explore the nature of vision- both physical and spiritual.
Connect with the artist on Instagram @grayefineart or via email GrayeRN@gmail.com


Marilyn Savage

Marilyn Savage

Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement
I created this stained glass piece for the Collab Lab but it does double duty for Halloween. It meets the color parameter for yellow and red. And it meets the parameter for two contrasting textures. It’s hard to see in this photo but the yellow glass is textured with tiny lines and the black glass is smooth. I went rogue and didn’t meet the third parameter which was to add a surreal element. This is the first piece I’ve made with decorative solder and I really like the look. The moon is a 9” diameter and the bat wings spread 13” from tip to tip. My website is gabrielleartsnv.com


Arzhela F

Arzhela F
Email
arzhelaf@gmail.com


Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement
This art challenge included many firsts for me as a beginning painter. Not only was it my first challenge, but also a lot of time was spent planning the painting, including using thumbnails to test color palette decisions, and test painting different parts. There were some hard lessons learned, specifically about the limits of overworking the paper (which can be seen most clearly on the chameleon). The entire painting was about 60 hours of work, and has shown me possibilities beyond what I thought I was capable of producing.

One parameter of the challenge was the limited palette. A particular shade of yellow on my palette (Da Vinci Hansa Yellow Deep) glows like sunlight. It inspired me to create a painting based around a very bright planet/star/space object.

We are in a stark landscape with only a few trees. A weathered frame outlines a portal where a space traveler is reaching through. We see in the visor of the space traveler that their view is of a bright space object, but on our side of the portal, we see that it’s a ball of light to which a chameleon is calmly clinging.

My hope is to invite the viewer to ponder that both realities exist from different viewpoints. It’s worth considering the perspectives of others, to attempt to “walk in another’s shoes.” The chameleon illustrates the patient mindset needed to observe the other’s intentions. The space traveler is reaching through the portal, illustrating how we are always seeking a deeper understanding of what is in front of us.

Painted with Da Vinci professional watercolors on 9×12” Fluid 100 paper.


D. Mark

D. Mark
Email
fern7220@gmail.com


Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$75.00
Artist Statement
This challenge has been great fun! I painted a large old tree that still has some life in it and the egg as major components. The symbolic courageous old tree provides many things including food, fuel, and shelter. The egg stands for new growth, rebirth, and new life. The meaning here implies hope for the future.
The surrealist elements include a suspended spatula with a fried egg, egg fruit, and egg flowers hanging on the tree.
Why did I create this art? Simple-I love nature and I wanted to participate.
In this painting, I applied a very thick matte acrylic medium on the under the painted tree trunk, as I wanted it very textured. The old tree contrasts with the new eggs and egg flowers growing on the tree.
The creation of my art includes experimentation with different methods and materials in watercolor, mixed media, and acrylics. My style changes as I enjoy painting landscapes, whimsical art, and abstracts.

Title: Egg Tree
Painted with acrylics on 11×14″ stretched canvas.


Kelly Sterr

Kelly Sterr

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$400.00
Artist Statement
I haven’t yet given it a name but this painting signifies that in a heated situation those with the warmest heart, no matter what they shield themselves with, will always lose against someone who is cold hearted.


Sara Vicky Neville

Sara Vicky Neville
Email
Saraartist1508@yahoo.com
Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$600.00
Artist Statement
Hindu warrior goddess. That she is all women. connected to reality the element of fire. .real and unreal at the same time as all in this universe. ..40″X 34″ acrylic on canvas
No website currently. contact. For other available images: Saraartist1508@yahoo.com
Peace and Love


Jason Boushard

Jason Boushard

Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement
I have always been a bit of a joker but having served 22 years in the military I have to be able to turn it off at a moment’s notice. The mouth moved to the eye and the eye moved to the mouth represents the shock my sailors would have the first time they saw the change. I think feeling like you can have fun at work is a huge factor in having a good work experience. My key things that would set off the change are being unsafe or disrespecting your shipmates regardless of rank. There is a place and time for everything.


Klee Angelie

Klee Angelie

Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement
The Unwearable Ring. Objects like the one I’ve created here are highly upsetting to me. You know the ones, they’re often referred to as “mock objects”. Things that don’t function as they appear to. Things with which you cannot do the very action that the object beckons you to do. Pockets that are sewn shut, zippers that don’t zip, tables that look like a trunk but don’t open, musical instruments that are decorative and don’t play. Room recreations in museums that you aren’t allowed to enter. The fact that the bizarro opposite world in the mirror is entirely inaccessible… So I created a ring, carefully sized it and made sure it was comfortable to wear, meticulously set the center stone, and then made it completely unwearable. I can’t hold this ring in my hand without feeling that anxiety of wanting to slide it on my finger, and it cannot sit properly on a chain as a pendant. So the contrast for me here, is the pleasure of creating a piece of jewelry using materials and techniques I love, juxtaposed with the end result being something that I find very displeasing.


Melissa Peacock

Melissa Peacock

Is It For Sale
No
Artist Statement
This is actually an art journal page. Rude cats bottle up their prey, on display, where other rude cats can watch and harshly judge from their usual safe and comfortable impunity.

find me on youtube/twitter/instagram: @yellowmelle


Bonnie Friedline

Bonnie Friedline

Is It For Sale
Yes
Price
$275.00
Artist Statement
“Confession” 18×24 mixed media on canvas. I left home (Virginia) when I was 18 and have lived all over the east coast from South Carolina to Vermont. Currently I am 35 and living in Pennsylvania. I don’t necessarily love it and maybe it’s the pandemic, but I am incredibly homesick. Not only do I miss my family and friends, I miss knowing people for real. I have found in my career (Radiologic Technologist) that we are so busy it’s hard to get a good conversation in to really get to know my coworkers. Beyond the “mask” you wear to the public. Further, I am so exhausted after work that I just want to go home to my husband and kids and hopefully get to create something. I am tired of the casual “hi, how are you?” conversations that I have 50 times a day with complete strangers.
The contrasting element of my painting is the concept that what you see on the outside is not always what is in the inside. I wish we could so easily peel our layers away and reveal the hard crap/trauma of our lives instead of just “I’m good! How are you?” I’m not good. We are not good. We have pain, and holding it, hiding it makes it hurt so much more.


If you are interested in any of these amazing pieces and you can’t get a hold of the amazing artist who created it, contact us and we will try to get you in touch with them.

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Showing Up For Life And Being A Bad-Ass

Life happens so fast, and opportunities often come our way at lightning speed. I don’t care if we’re talking about a creative opportunity, a personal goals opportunity, a career advancement, the chance to see or do something new, a moment to look at the stars, or the opportunity to visit with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

I’ve really learned something this year, and I intend to own it. That is, to try my best not to be so wrapped up in what I’ve got going on, so absorbed in my very important things, or so embedded in my daily schedule (or how I think my schedule should be) that I don’t, can’t, or won’t seize those opportunities, big or small, when they come.

In light of the current state of things and our “new normal”, seizing the will to simply get through a day can seem downright daunting. To paraphrase a rogue artist friend, “These days things seem to take twice as long, are twice as hard, and can leave you feeling twice as tired and burned out.” Wherever your seize the moment barometer is at present, it’s okay… believe me, it’s more than okay.

I’m not saying you’ve gotta do everything, be on point at all times, be a superhero, or anything like that… but I am saying, be aware of the excuses that you know are bull-garbage and start taking the time for the things you do want, for the things you don’t even know you want. Embrace being flexible and adaptable. Start saying “Yes. I’m here.” for the moments you’d regret to miss, for the moments you don’t even realize you’d regret to miss until you regret you missed them.

It’s never the right time, you’re never dressed appropriately, you never prepared as much as you’d hoped, there will never be enough hours in the day, something in the house always needs your attention, things never happen the way you think they’re going to, and you’re never going to be 100% ready or comfortable.

Your heart will always be racing, your shirt will always have that wrinkle, your lizard brain will always be searching for an “out” an “exit strategy” or a “rock to crawl under”. Show up anyway.

None of that stuff matters when you’re in the moment and the life stuff is happening, and you’re fully present, and for better or worse, you’re like “Wow, none of that stuff matters!”

I know, that last bit was redundant. Let me say it again. “None of that stuff matters.” Sorry, not sorry.

It’s just, those unexpected things are often the best experiences and the most cherished memories. I’ve practically built my art career on them. My most favorite times spent are almost exclusively them. Relationships are sometimes made, strengthened, weakened, or broken on them. Pivotal life goal moments are born from them. Last moments spent with a loved one sometimes hinge on them.

I’m hella guilty of avoiding, excusing myself, offering great reasons why I couldn’t. Hella. Guilty. But then, I’ve also had so many moments of absolute bravery, total adaptability, fearless seizing, utter appreciation, full presence, total awesomeness.

I’m a self proclaimed “Recovering People Pleaser”, so I have to be careful not to do things that really aren’t me, just to please others. But conversely, I also have to be careful not to use that to excuse myself from life as it’s happening, just because I don’t think I’m prepared in that moment for whatever is going on.

I say this as someone who is also a recovering “Grade-A Worrywort and Victim” once highly prone to lengthy bouts of self-pity, anxiety, regimented micro-management, stubbornness, and self-sabotaging obsessive-compulsive behavior. I no longer identify with that person, but I can’t pretend like those tendencies don’t exist within me. So I keep an eye on myself, a compassionate eye (because I’m not trying to punish myself when I have less than good moments), and a willingness to call “bullshit” on my own behaviors and thoughts.

We only get so many days. I intend to spend less of them worrying, prepping, planning, avoiding, and making excuses… more time being present. More of that life stuff. Why? Because for me, the alternative is sameness… stagnation… numbness… coasting through the days waiting for some indeterminate future scenario in which I stop that and start living. For me, just coasting on auto-pilot equals “why even bother” and I personally don’t find that state to be very good for my health, emotional well-being, or getting up in the morning.

Show up. Be flexible. Pivot. Adapt. Run outside in your jammies because someone needs you. Answer the phone. Take the interview. Bring your portfolio to the client. Have the hard conversation. Pursue that hair-brained idea. Call your mother. Kiss your person. Grab their ass. Grab your own ass and tell yourself you’re gorgeous. Watch a storm, even if emails need correspondence. Wear that outfit. Take a breath and look at the sky, even if laundry needs folding. Step outside and sing the harmonies to Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of your lungs, because your neighbor happens to be caterwauling the lead melody at the top of his lungs from his porch. Make coffee with a blowtorch because your power is out. Stand up for what you believe in, however you can. Vote. For pete’s sake, vote. Question your motives. Question your excuses. Ask the questions you’re afraid to ask. Ask them of yourself and others. Sit and listen. Listen to ambient sounds. Listen to a friend. Listen to an adversary. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to your own heartbeat. Don’t listen to your lizard brain when it tells you “I don’t have time. I can’t help there. I’m not that person. I don’t have answers. I don’t matter.”

Just show up. Life shows up everyday, and it’s not always golden opportunities, unicorn farts and rainbows. Sometimes it’s some messed up shit, and that’s still an opportunity to decide and show who you are. Your bravery, your bad-assery, your inconceivable, unconditional love, your ability to laugh, your ability to cry, your ability to speak, your ability to hear, your blowtorch coffee making skills, your now huge collection of cloth face masks, your compassion, your “Make It Work” moments, your fucked up clothes you only wear when no one’s going to see you, your adaptability, your resourcefulness, your passion, your weirdness, your light that shines so bright it could melt the faces of onlookers (in the best way possible, of course).

Life will continue to show up every day. Decide now, and every “now” going forward, who it is on the other side of the door when life comes knocking. I don’t know what that personally means for you, but I strongly suspect that you do.

So take your now, and live the crap out of it. Take care of yourself, and one another. The world needs you, and you deserve nothing less.

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This Is The Crap We Use To Make Our Videos

Some of you may not know that we have a semi successful YouTube channel where we post artist tips videos. We also have a vlog channel where we post random videos about stuff, and a podcast where we talk about even more artist tips.

Some of you do, and you have asked me how I do it, so in this blog I am going to list the programs and equipment I use to make videos. To be clear, any of you that have watched our videos know that we do not record the highest quality artistic stuff. In fact we spend most of our time talking into the camera, answering questions from artists all over the world.

So Let’s get into it… Just a warning, if you are not interested in doing videos, this post may be a snooze fest for you. I will add some inspiring tidbits here and there so don’t get discouraged, I got you. By the way, we have collected this stuff over the last ten years, but as I said, we started with the camera phone and a discontinued app for editing that sucked.

1. Program I Use To Edit Is – Vegas Pro. (not sponsored)

The program I use and have used for years is Vegas Pro, which used to be made by Sony back in the day when I started making fun horror films with my kids. It is an EXPENSIVE program, but I have always found good deals online. The outdated version of Vegas Pro that I use now and refuse to get rid of I got for $60 from HumbleBundle.com The regular price is more like $600… look for deals.

Now, I am sure that there is other editing software out there that is way cheaper, but Vegas is so easy to use that it is worth the investment to me. Obviously, everything has a learning curve where you dick around with a program and create crap, but it is so easy to use that I tend to always come back to Vegas. Keep in mind, I do not have a Mac, or I would probably be using Final Cut Pro… I feel like Vegas is the Final Cut for windows.

Someone I know was trying to use Adobe… Adobe is great for special effects, but a pain in the ass for simple video editing, it’s just less drag and drop… So I recommend Vegas. BTW, I am not sponsored or making any money from them, I just really dig the program.

https://www.vegascreativesoftware.com/us/sem/vegas-pro/

2. Cameras I Use Are Sony, Canon, And GoPro (also not sponsored)

Rafi and Klee On YouTube

Before I get started here I just want to make it clear that the first 6 years of filming YouTube videos, I used our iPhone. I think anything you want to do with video, you can probably do with a camera phone. That being said, transferring files was a giant pain in my ass. So, I got cameras with SD cards to make my life easier. Just to be clear, I don’t know jack about cameras, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera

I got this camera with a vlogging kit that came with a microphone. By the time I decided to get a camera, the idea of having a microphone input was super important. The video quality on this camera is amazing and it has a touch screen LED which makes focusing on my face super easy. I still don’t really know how to use it, but this is the camera that we use around the studio when Klee and I talk about whatever silly things we are talking about.

This camera is about $649 so it’s not cheap, but it is not as expensive as most cameras of this quality.

Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera

Years later we got this camera because the LED screen is on top of the camera so we can look at ourselves while talking and not look awkwardly away to check how we look. This camera also connects to the microphone. This is a more expensive camera and I’ll be honest, I’m still getting the hang of learning the settings. We look weirdly yellow whenever I film us with this one, but chances are it’s my fault.

This camera is about $796, which is not terrible, but it is not cheap.

GOPRO Hero 8

So I had this little cheap “made in china” camera that was supposed to be like a GOPRO that I spent $70 on. I’ll be honest, just get the GOPRO. Although the sound and video quality are not as good as the cameras listed above, they’re not meant to be. It is an action camera that is really easy to use. I use this camera for time lapse and for out and about filming where I can just throw the camera around. Honestly, I would probably be fine with just this camera if I could figure out better sound. It’s also small and easy to take around with you and control from your phone.

This camera is about $295, but SO worth it for easy use.

3. Microphone I Use For In Studio Cameras (again, not sponsored)

So for the longest time our sound was so shitty that no one even noticed all that much how shitty it was… probably because it was fine, but for some reason we decided we needed microphones which we still are not sure how to use.

Rode VideoMic GO Light Weight On-Camera Microphone

This shotgun condenser mic is so awesome because all you do is plug it into the camera and it works beautifully. The only issue is that if you have ALL the wireless things like laptops, printers, and phones, it might pick up the signal and do this weird vibrating sound while you are talking. When we use this mic, we have a sweet spot in the studio where it doesn’t make weird sound. That being said, this mic is awesome for recording directional, which means it records in the direction it is facing so you don’t get too much of the other sounds in the area… which is great.

This mic isn’t too bad at $97.

There are some different Rode mics out there and we own a few, but they are all different and do different things, so I’m not going to list the other ones that we own. I will say the more expensive ones do not pick up interference.

4. Sound Editing (and finally, not sponsored)

I use Audacity, which is an open source and free download for sound editing. It has noise reduction and all the bells and whistles. Even though Klee owns a bunch of expensive software for music editing, I find that audacity is pretty awesome… and I know how to use it. (Secretly, Klee uses Audacity the most too.) There is a learning curve, but once you get it you can play around and learn pretty easily.

Rafi and Klee On YouTube

So that’s it, as far as what I use for video production. There are other things like cheap diffuser socks that you can put on your lights and stuff and obviously our podcast microphones. We have all the equipment we use in the studio for our music, video and art listed on our Affiliates page (CLICK HERE) where we can make that mulla (more like chulla-change) if you purchase it from amazon.

To be honest with you, a camera phone, some free app that you know how to use for editing video, and a wifi connection is all you need to post to YouTube and make it look awesome, but eventually you may want to get the stuffs.

Hope my list helps as far as what we use. Let me know what you use, or what you know of that is way easier than the crap I’m doing.