I created the “EMPOWERMENT” series based on self empowerment, as a tool to be used as a daily reminder. This is my social commentary on the way that people talk to themselves or the way they see themselves. I believe we all have the ability to feel confident and strong, but for the most part we have made it a habit to talk to ourselves in a way that makes us feel powerless.
In reality, personal empowerment is not something we feel, it’s something we do. Our sense of empowerment is a reflection of the increased personal value and self-worth that comes out of our experience of having real influence in our lives.
Empowering ourselves and creating change, which ultimately leads to the increased sense of personal value and self-worth we call the “feeling” of empowerment, involves some very specific steps.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Start improving yourself
People tend to compare themselves to others because at times it will make them feel better about their lives or something they are trying to do. For example I know a lot of artists that feel better about their ability to create art because they compare their art to stuff they consider inferior. This is a double edged blade, because they will also compare their work to other work that they consider vastly superior. When they do this it leads to a devastating realization that their work isn’t that great. The truth is, nothing is better or worse than anything else, it’s just our perspective which can change.
When you resist comparing yourself, you will be less engaged in judgement, and self-judgement, YOU WILL focus instead on your work – this alone will be empowering.
Taking responsibility means simply to be responsible for the way you respond to a situation. Most importantly, no matter how much you want to blame someone else for the way you feel, it’s important to remember that no matter what anyone does, you are ultimately responsible for how you respond to the given situation.
There are many small opportunities throughout the day to take responsibility for your emotions, play around with the concept. This will put the power back in your hands and no longer let your emotions fluctuate depending on the people around you.
Do Something. Take Action!
One of the best things you can do to feel empowered is take action. Think about all those things you wish you did or that you want to do, but maybe you feel lazy or unmotivated. Whenever you don’t take action on it, it can have a devastating effect on your self esteem. Make it a habit to just take action and stop thinking about doing it.
Taking action means remembering to have fun, at least that’s what it means to me. Have fun!
There are lots of ways to empower yourself and create positive change in your life. These are just a few things I try to keep in mind daily, or remind myself if ever I’m feeling less than empowered. Above all, remember that you are a beautiful luminous being, and go out and rock this life thing!
As I approached the gallery I found myself wondering how in the world I was going to get the massive sculpture I constructed up the stairs. I had somehow managed to squeeze it into my car without damaging it, which I attributed to dumb luck.
Luck seemed to be on my side that morning, considering I had pulled into a parking spot right in front of the shiny and unending staircase into the gallery.
I’ve entered the juried art competitions at Artel Gallery a handful of times with varying results. I still remember the first piece I entered, which was rejected with no particular pomp and circumstance. It was laid off to the side with the other rejects waiting for me to glumly collect it, like picking up a child from detention.
That rejection had a devastating impact on my self esteem as an artist for some time. I had just started selling my art and gaining some traction with local collectors, and it caused me to feel like I wasn’t good enough to continue masquerading as an artist.
It wasn’t until several years later that I decided to enter another piece, which didn’t get rejected.
The marble steps to the gallery blazed white in the hot sun, daring me to make a move. I had managed to get the sculpture out of the car without damaging it, knocking myself in the head only once.
The only idea that my mind could seem to muster that morning was to pick up the sculpture and maneuver the stairs as quickly as possible. The sculpture isn’t necessarily heavy, it’s just awkward to carry around, because like most sculptures, I didn’t design it to be carried around.
I prepared myself at the bottom of the mountainous stairs, glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and steadied my breath. One false move and all the work and effort that went into my art would be laying in pieces on the forbidding marble steps.
After deciding to enter my art again, I got pieces into four separate shows, won best of show, and had a solo show in their alcove. I also got rejected two more times, but it didn’t have an impact on my self esteem as an artist. Some might attribute the lack of feeling dejected to the fact that I had a couple years as a career artist under my belt, but I know plenty of seasoned artists who have a difficult time with any rejection.
I don’t have difficulty with rejection because after two years of avoiding art competitions, I finally realized that you can’t win if you don’t enter; and your art is not being rejected, it simply didn’t match the taste of the juror. The thing is, that art competitions don’t matter, but if you want to win one, you are going to have to face rejection. In fact, if you want to do anything awesome or important with your art career, you are probably going to face a lot of rejection and criticism.
If you want to be safe from rejection, then don’t put yourself out there, don’t do anything different from the norm, don’t try to have a voice, and definitely don’t become an artist.
Simply because someone rejects your artwork (or whatever it may be) doesn’t mean that you are worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, and never will. A lot of people avoid thinking about being rejected or losing, but in my opinion it’s a good idea to think about that worst case scenario, and face the fear in your mind.
What if my piece gets rejected? How will I feel? What does it mean?
These could be hard questions, but until you ask yourself and question the validity of your answers, you are going to keep reacting in misery to rejection. The really cool thing about exploring these questions is that you don’t have to react at all, you can respond to the situation however you like.
My answers are less dramatic and devastating since I’ve had a chance to explore this topic and really decide how I want to respond to these questions and this particular type of rejection.
What if my piece gets rejected?
Then it get’s rejected. I pick it up, bring it home and probably sell it at some point in my lifetime. Who knows, it may win a prize at some other art competition… just didn’t suit the juror this time I guess.
How will I feel?
Fine, I have other more important things to focus on.
What does this mean?
Only what I think it means. If I think I’m a failure or a reject, that’s on me. This is an opportunity for me to show myself who I am, by the way I respond. I choose to respond by saying “Well, maybe next time… I got shit to do right now.”
I glanced around one more time, held my breath, and made a run for it. I verbally counted every step as I ascended the stairs with the agility of sloth in running shoes.
Out of breath and elated that I made it to the top, I stood there gleaming in victory. I then proceeded to scrape and bang my way awkwardly through the front door, hitting my head one more time for good measure. I placed the sculpture safely in the gallery lobby, signed it in, and breathed a sigh of relief.
By the way, it was number 13 in the roster… talk about dumb luck.
I had done it. I achieved something I thought was impossible to do on my own, willing to face humiliation and rejection for something I love and believe in… my art, my sense of fun, my freedom to be me.
Had I given up, after that first rejection it would have controlled me. I would have spent the rest of my life being afraid to face rejection, and I would have been filled with “what ifs”.
I don’t believe you actually fail, even if your art doesn’t get in. Even if you get rejected, or lose… I think you only fail if you give up… because that’s the one thing you have control over.
It’s sometimes easy to give up because things might seem hopeless or hard. I didn’t think I could possibly get the sculpture to the gallery on my own, but my belief in dumb luck took over, and I decided to try.
I recently created a piece out of recycled plastic bags and it was giant. Two things that have been on my to do list for quite some time was to create a life size sculpture, and create something awesome using garbage.
Crossing both of those off my list with this awesome Nature Of Being Sculpture that I created for the Artel Gallery show called “RECYCLE, REUSE, REPURPOSE… REPEAT.”
And guess what??!? I WON BEST IN SHOW!!! How awesome is that?!
Opening reception will be Thursday May 3rd, 6pm-8pm at Artel Gallery in Downtown Pensacola.
This sculpture is modeled after a series of mine called the nature of being. This series combines human beings with trees to create a beautiful symbol of being rooted yet consistently expanding towards the heavens. Connected, growing, evolving, expanding, and beautiful is the message that I want to convey.
In this piece I wanted to expand on that message, by using old plastic bags to create the form and pose. I wanted the piece to be dynamic, to show some distress, yet be fluid and organic in its movement.
The message is open for interpretation, but in my mind, it is nature reclaiming the world, and bouncing back from the brink.
What: Art Exhibition – RECYCLE, REUSE, REPURPOSE… REPEAT.
Where: Artel Gallery – 223 Palafox Place, Old Escambia County Courthouse, Pensacola, FL 32502
When: April 24-June 1st, Opening Reception May 3rd, 6pm-8pm
Why: Because it’s awesome! Come hang out with me during the opening reception!
I know that a lot of people out there assume that I spend my days blissfully ignorant to the real world, carefree as I float on my cloud across my studio painting feverishly. I assume that when they think this, they are either hopeful that one may chose to live that way, or spiteful that I don’t take life seriously enough to grow up.
Yet, as much as I would love to live that way, I don’t have a cloud that can support my weight.
Here’s the thing, us human beings doing what ever it is that we are doing in our short yet miraculous lives, tend to take ourselves seriously.
Even as a guy who spends his days mixing paint and finger painting, I can easily play the adult.
Have you ever watched kids when they play a grown up? They get all stern and furrow brow as they shake their pointed finger angrily… and guess what, we never stop pretending, we just actually believe it’s true.
I think that growing up and watching the adults around us stress out over the things in their lives, causes us to believe that is the way you act when you are an adult. Responsibility equals stress, or at least that’s what we think it’s supposed to mean.
I’ve found myself stressing out every once in a while when I have commissions and deadlines, which then causes me to become devoid of creativity, which then causes more stress.
I’ve found that in an attempt to have ourselves taken seriously we tend to complicate our lives by pretending to be serious adults. We stress out over things and try to figure out the solutions while focused on the problem.
I could tell you two things from experience, it doesn’t work, and it’s killing your body.
My solution, or at least what I attempt to do every day (which I can easily fail miserably at) is to simply have fun and not give a rip whether ANYONE takes you seriously or not.
Just do you, your way, the way that you want to, in the most funnest way…
Life is going to happen anyway, you are going to solve your problems, or not. Either way, stressing out about it isn’t doing you or anyone else, any good.
You might as well remember and practice how to have fun.
Recently I finished three pieces in a series called The Nature Of Being. This series has evolved over the last four years from beautiful crudely dripped forms to detailed flowing figures, but the message remains the same.
It represents our purest form of growth.
We find ourselves on this blue ball hurtling through space and time, constantly in search of meaning. The whole while we are almost overcome by our immediate circumstances, and our world seems to only consist of what is around us. Our fears, triumphs, and aspirations revolve around the ideas we consume growing up.
But our world is so much bigger than that, and we all feel it. We all go out and search for meaning in something to fill that sense of missing. We can find personal meaning in our job, hobby, marriage, kids, religion, clothing style, etc.
But rarely do we look for meaning in things that are not outside of us, but simply in being.
I feel like I’ve been running around my entire life trying to find my purpose in things that are fleeting, when the one constant in my life has been the possibility of having a relationship with myself and finding meaning there.
This series is about being rooted here and now in your world, yet constantly growing and reaching higher than you ever have, naturally and organically. It’s about being flexible and naked to the world and showing yourself as you are, never hiding behind a facade of fear.
Growth, in my opinion, is not about how much you know, or how powerful you are, or the things you’ve collected, it’s about finding that sense of perfection in the simplicity of life. Not worrying about the opinions of others, or how they perceive you.
It’s about stopping, looking, listening, smelling, feeling, sensing, while you experience the fullness of every moment of your miraculous life.
We tend to get lost in our minds, thinking about our problems, looking for solutions, and missing out on the wonderment that it is to breathe a single breath.
Find meaning in you, your experience, in the now, that’s where it’s at.
Recently, I was given the honor of creating a piece of art for a great local company, something large that would hang by the meeting room and lobby. They wanted something that would tell a story about their passion for paper, and add a little color to their offices.
You guys know that I don’t take on commissions unless it fascinates me, for every 10 people who ask me to do something, I may do one. Commissioned paintings aren’t shown in galleries, or in public most of the time, and generally take a lot longer to create. So when I do take on a commission, it’s because I am excited about the concept, or I really connect with the person who is trying to commission me.
This being a corporate commission, I was surprised to find that I was excited about the concept and I absolutely adore the people who commissioned me.
The piece tells their story, and is constructed of materials that they produce. They ship different paper products all over the world.
The piece tells the story of their global reach, production, transportation, uses, and overall importance of what they create. So much comes together in order to make a perfect picture, adding a little color to the world in the process.
That was the overall story I wanted to tell.
I am so proud of this piece, it pushed me beyond some of my own personal limits, and it definitely pushed my studio to it’s size limit, which was fun.
Watch this video for the why and how of the Oren International Commission:
It’s that time of year again where Klee and I spend so much time in our studio, that when we do head out and about, it feels like we are two aliens visiting earth for the first time.
But, I love this time of year, holiday music, festive lights, and all around joy and goodwill. It is also Black Friday sales and the kick off to the holiday shopping season.
So, to stay in the spirit of the holiday season, Klee and I are doing a sale on EVERYTHING (except calendars) in our online stores. So instead of fighting off crowds and wrestling a woman to the ground for the last Suzie Pee’s A lot Doll, you get to enjoy the sale from the comfort of your own home.
Black Friday through Cyber Monday Sale! Save 15% on every item in my shop, and free domestic shipping!
Here are some of the items for you to enjoy!
All Sale prices are listed on the website so check it out, and don’t forget, this online sale ends on Monday Night.
Wow… the day has finally arrived. This is the deadline for pre-ordering calendars and there are 3 hours left… I will be pulling the calendars down at midnight tonight.
“Thank you” to everyone that made it possible for me to achieve something that I have been too scared to do (I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either). Your love and belief in me, expressed in your excitement for these calendars, has been a driving force in pushing me to continue past my doubts. Because Of that, these are AMAZING!!! And I can’t wait for you to see them.
I will be shipping out calendars incrementally after the deadline. Expect to receive your calendars before December 1st.
I know a lot of people are asking me if I’ll have calendars at the Palafox Market after the deadline, and to be honest with you, I don’t think so, we’ll have to see. As for now they are only available on line.
This was a huge learning experience for me, one that I am proud and thankful for. I can honestly say, I’ve got next year on lock down.
If you are still interested in a 2018 Rafi Calendar please order before midnight. Thank you!!!!
Deadline To Order Calendars: November 15th, 2017 at 11:59PM
SHIPPING: Will ship after deadline, you will receive your calendar before December 1st.
I have always been fascinated by portraiture, and what I think of as an artistic snapshot of the personality of a human being in motion through life. Although I admire and have an appreciation for portraits, they’ve never really been my favorite thing to work on.
I am currently working on some studies, where I take images of real people and apply them to the life concepts that I put in my collections.
I am always looking for inspiring pictures, and would love an opportunity to paint you or someone you know into a piece of “Rafi Art” and as my friend said, be immortalized.
All you have to do is email me an image and some info to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Follow These Rules Of Thumb:
Images must be sharp and not blurry.
Please have good lighting in the photo.
I will accept- close up of the face (preferably no smiling for the camera poses), artistic poses, tasteful nudes, something that tells a story, or just an awesome photo.
It would be helpful if you gave me a little insight on the person in the image.
Things like, favorite color, strengths and what you would like say with the painting are helpful.
Please keep in mind that if you are chosen for one of the works, I will take the image and info and create something inspired by the information, but ultimately I retain full control of the creative process. This is not a commission. If you would like to commission me, contact me with details for consideration.
If your image is chosen and created, you are in no way obligated to buy the original piece, these are studies that will be done on 11X14 paper. I will send you a printable copy via email that you can print out (FREE) as a thank you.
I will contact you if I intend to use your image. This is a side project so please be patient.
By sending me an image you are giving me permission to use it in this project.