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Why Do I Paint Birds?

I seem to have always been fascinated by birds, from the pigeons in Chicago with the iridescent neck feathers, to the occasional happy bright red cardinal.

Recently someone asked me “So, why do you paint birds?”

rafi painting birds

I though about the question for a moment and said “Overwhelming fascination.”

When I was a wee little artist, my mother who was young and dangerously overprotective, didn’t let me go outside much. For years, my entire world was from a large third floor picture window that looked down on a busy street.

I spent hours a day looking out at the people going about their day, the different birds roosting and flying about, the abstract landscape over the buildings, the little bit of greenery that would emerge from fascinating places in the concrete. I also gave everyone personalities and stories, people would have daily novellas play out in front of me, and so did the birds.

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Love Birds By Rafi Perez

But, although I felt that the humans had dramatic stories of heartbreak, turmoil, and moments of happiness, the birds symbolized something powerful.

Birds symbolized freedom and perspective. Because they fly high into the sky, I believed they were messengers who provide humans with a bridge between the mundane daily routine and powerful spiritual life.

I know, I know… I was a weird kid.

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Three Little Birds By Rafi Perez

Every once in a while I would see someone at a bench feeding bits of bread to the pigeons. From my third floor window I could see a powerful dance taking place between the person throwing the bread and the birds. I could see something beautiful, a powerful connection to something greater, a brief moment of stillness among the chaos of daily life. No one else seemed to notice, they just hurriedly went about their day, barely glancing up or interacting with one another.

Years later, with no window barrier between me and the world, I was part of that chaos. I hurried importantly past people to get to work, or anywhere for that matter. I pounded my fist and certain index fingers at people who drove too slow. I was an adult, I was busy, I had things to do, I was responsible, I didn’t have enough time, and I was miserable.

Flight Of The Hummingbird By Rafi Perez
Flight Of The Hummingbird By Rafi Perez

One day, the overwhelm hit a fever pitch. As I was barreling down the road cursing in my mind at the lady in the car directly in front of me, my heart started to beat out of my chest. I loosened my tie and found that my forehead was soaked in sweat. It was so bad, that I pulled over.

I stepped out of my car to get some air and walked over to a bench.

As I was sitting there, wondering if I was going to die in my stupid suit, on a dirty bench, in a strange part of town, I noticed an old man walking towards me with a crinkled up paper bag.

Rafi Perez Art 2016
Rafi Perez Art 2016

“Great, he’s gonna ask me for money, just look away.” I thought to myself.

The man sat down, opened his bag, and started to sprinkle little bits of bread on the ground in front of us. Like a scene out of the movie “The Birds” a hoard of pigeons and other birds descended on us.

Didn’t he see that I am an important person? I was appalled at how rude this man was, surely a bird was going to shit on my suit.

Then, my heart started up again, and I breathed in deep… and just relaxed.

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Fun Bird By Rafi Perez

Suddenly, amidst the gaggle of birds was a pop of bright color. A cardinal flew on to my armrest merely inches from my hand. I found myself mesmerized and just stared at it, we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. It then jumped down, grabbed a scrap of bread and flew away.

I’m not sure how long I was on that bench. I just sat there and time seemed to slow down. I could see the world hurrying past me, people waving their fists in their cars, and others looking at their watches every five minutes. I felt like they looked so… so… stupid.

At that point the old man looked at me, I could feel him studying me.

“Taking time to do nothing often puts everything into perspective. Remember that, young man.”

Why I Paint Birds By Rafi Perez
Be Different By Rafi Perez

Then he got up and left.

I get visited by that cardinal every once in a while, when I get caught up in hurrying through life. I sound like a crazy person, but it’s true.

And that is one reason why I paint birds.

 

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The Man And His Shadow

Hi guys, here is a short story I wrote a while back, I wanted to share this with you. It seems a little dark in the beginning, but I promise the ending is pretty bright.

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The Man And His Shadow

One day, a man was walking down the street on his way to work. His thoughts were on his life as he looked into his passing image in the store windows.

“What has happened to you, you look horrible.” He thought as he turned away
from his reflection.

His stomach rumbled a bit in passing the faint smell of delicious coffee and pastries emanating from the small café on the corner.

“If only you had woken up earlier, maybe you would have time to eat, not that it
matters, you don’t have a dime to your name. You’re such a loser, you know that?”

The man’s expression soured and his shoulders slumped a bit. He made his way to the bus stop and stood next to a group of people, none looked up from what they were doing.

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“You don’t even exist, you could die tomorrow and no one would notice. You are
worthless.”

He looked out at the passing cars as people made their way to work. Some were talking on their cell phones, others seemed barely awake, and some were applying make up.

Just then, a man in a beautiful expensive car drove up. He had a smile on his face and exuded a confident warmth.

“Look at that, if you actually had done something right in your life, maybe you would drive your own car instead of taking the bus with all the other losers.”

The man looked up briefly at the crowd and then back at the crack in the cement by his feet. The bus arrived and he fumbled with his change, and felt slightly embarrassed that he had taken as long as he did.

“You do this every morning, you make yourself look like an ass everywhere you go. You are such an idiot.”

Not looking at people, he made his way to the handrail and stood there quietly as the bus took off. A beautiful woman stood at the other end of a group of commuters. The man always looked forward to seeing her, but had never had the nerve to talk to her.

“Are you kidding me, what the hell do you have to offer her? She would laugh in your face, or vomit. If you talk to her you’re just going to make yourself look stupid again.”

He looked away disappointed, and wondered if he would ever meet someone. He glanced at his reflection on the bus windows and noticed something on his shoulder.

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When he looked down at his shoulder, there was nothing there. Looking back at his reflection, he could distinctly make out a form of a small person sitting on his slumped shoulders. It bent down and whispered in his ear.

“Not only are you an idiot and a loser but now you’re going crazy too. You should just end your meaningless life now and put everyone who knows you out of their misery.”

He blinked his eyes and the image was gone.

Maybe it was just the fact that he was hungry, he couldn’t afford to start going crazy now on top of everything else that sucked in his life. 

After getting off the bus, he watched the beautiful woman walking away, a dream that would never come true. Suddenly, a cab honked it’s horn, startling the man. 

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“Watch where you’re going you idiot!” Screamed the cab driver.

The man jumped out of the street and looked around, embarrassed.

“Even the cab drivers know you’re an idiot. You might as well walk around with a sign that says “I’m an idiot”.

The rest of the day pretty much went the same for him. He avoided talking to people, and just kind of kept to himself. The conversations he had were either about work or mindless small talk.

That night as he was getting ready for bed, he looked into the mirror and saw the shadowy form sitting on his shoulder again.

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Frightened, he looked away. After a few seconds, he felt himself compelled to
look again, and the shadow was still there.

“Who are you?” The man asked.

“I am you. A form of you anyway.” The shadow said.

“What does that mean? Why are you here? Am I going insane?” The man questioned.

“It means” The shadow shrugged “that I am the voice that tells you what you think you should hear. I am you, telling you what you can’t do, in order to keep you safely where you are most comfortable.”

“I have been conditioned by you all your life.” The shadow continued “You have told me what to think, what to say, and how to remind you.”

“My whole life?” The man asked.

“Yeah, but our relationship was much different when we were young. I was much brighter then. Our world was one of wonder, exploration, and imagination. We played for hours and loved openly. There was nothing we couldn’t do, and we did everything our hearts desired.”

“What happened?” The man asked.

“We were introduced to fear, limitations, intimidation, by words or actions. You started to tell me to remind you of these things so you wouldn’t get yourself into trouble. All of these fears and limitations were based on other people’s opinions. We believed them as our own because they would keep us safe.

After a while we were just not good enough. We believed we had to be something other than we are in order to be worthy, worth it, or good enough. We consoled ourselves by saying nobody was perfect, but everyone else seemed so much more perfect than we could ever be. So a shadow filled my light, and I became darker. It became my job to remind you of your imperfection.”

“Why does it have to be this way?” The man asked.

“It doesn’t. I am tired of telling you horrible things based in lies. The truth is, you are perfect, you are the most perfect and beautiful version of you that exists in this universe. You are a unique gift to the world.”

The man looked deep in the mirror, and tears swelled in his eyes. He saw that the shadow was actually him. The shadow was the smoke that had prevented the light from shining within him.

The shadow was a lie that hid the truth from him. In that moment he caught a glimpse of his perfection. He realized that almost everything he believed to be true about himself was a lie he believed. The light shone within him, the light that was always so familiar.

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He made a choice at that moment based on what he wanted out of life. A choice based on fearlessness and limitless potential. He made a choice, looked at the person in the mirror and said…

“I love you.”

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In The Mouth Of Madness Again

As some of you know, we recently took a nice long impromptu trip to explore the country, see an eclipse, and visit family. A necessity for anyone that is wondering what this whole life thing is about. It’s also for anyone that wants to throw caution to the wind and lose their mind.

Rafi and Klee In Franklin Tennessee

Now, I know, I know… why would anyone want to lose their mind?

Well, think about it, when you get stressed out, where does it usually take place? When you are missing something in the moment, because your mind is thinking about your bank statement, where does that take place?

Why do you think people meditate? it’s the best way to train yourself how to shut off your brain and pay attention to what is around you.

I’ll be honest with you, I look forward to times in my life where I am completely out of my mind and enveloped in the moment. Creating art does that for me, taking walks in nature, sitting by a bonfire, star gazing, singing and dancing like a ridiculous buffoon, plus anything else that makes me lose a sense of time.

Magic Seasons Trees Textured Original Painting by artist Rafi Perez on Canvas

I focus on that when I’m creating, every piece is my attempt to slow time down and pull the viewer out of their mind and into the moment. To lose themselves in my art, to give them a breather so they can come back from it without the mass jumble of thoughts that preoccupy busy lives.

Well, that’s what I’m attempting, along with giving a sense of empowerment, happiness, and a general sense of well being. I like challenges :). I believe happiness is a result of  just taking a break every once in a while and letting our minds go. Well, it’s just a thought.

I’ll leave you with this, stare at this for a while and go out of your mind.

Magic Seasons Winter Tree Textured Original Painting by artist Rafi Perez on Canvas 18X24

Stay awesome!

-Rafi

 

 

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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!

 

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You’re Invited To Our Happy Holiday Shindig 2016

Friends of Rafi and Klee Studios and LunaStella Naturals are invited! We are happy to present our 2016 holly jolly Christmas Open Studio/House Shindig on Sunday December 11th From 11am – 5pm.

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We invite you to visit the place where the splashing of paint, the hammering of precious metals and the mixing of natural ingredients happens! In celebration of the spirit of Christmas shopping we are opening our doors and saying “Hello, come on in and enjoy some cookies… and snacks… and beverages… and art… and jewelry… and natural skin and body care… and did I mention cookies.”

Rafi and Klee wish you Happy Holidays
Rafi and Klee wish you a Happy Holidays!

We will open our doors from 11am – 5pm and will be giving tours of the studio of Rafi & Klee, and LunaStella Naturals upon request. That way you can see for yourself where some of your favorite works of art, jewelry, and skin and body care come from.

It wouldn’t be Christmas shopping without gifts for you!! So, we will be giving away a free gift to everyone that comes by and says “Hola!” (While supplies last)

Monica and James wish you a Happy Holidays
Monica and James wish you a Happy Holidays!

Holiday appetizers will be served throughout the day along with good cheer towards everyone! :)

Where: 3403 W Jackson St, Pensacola, FL 32505

When: Sunday, December 11th from 11am – 5pm

What: Christmas Shindig and Shopping

Who: You! Who are invited (although walk ins are welcome, please respond to this email to RSVP) or sign up on facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/149889972154317/

Why: Because it’s awesome, you get a gift, you get to play with us, eat some snacks, and can shop for some amazing things.

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Don’t Forget That Life Is Amazing

Today, a good friend of mine, shared a blog post with me. I had to share the information with you because it is just that good. It came at a perfect time too.

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Usually, this time of year, Klee and I are busy with commissions and orders for the holiday season. It can get a little crazy. We sometimes find ourselves spending full days in the studio, for weeks at a time, without venturing out into the world. Leaving the house only to buy groceries, like vampires leaving their den in search for food.

Don’t get me wrong, we love what we do, but just like anything, you need to remember to stop and smell the roses every once in a while, or you’ll find yourself caught up in deadlines and an overwhelming sense of duty to the next task. You find that there is more to life, when you are willing to look at the bigger picture.

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Remembering how amazing it is that we are alive, at this very moment, on this planet, is necessary for quality of life. It only takes a few minutes a day, to remind yourself.

STOP, GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK UP

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Rafi Looking Up

Look up to the sky or out to the horizon. Let your awareness expand to fill the vast distances that you see. Focus on the sounds, the feelings on your skin, the smells, the colors, and Breathe deep. Just do this for a few minutes, until you feel a physical change, then go back to what you were doing.

FEEL HAPPINESS

A smile, a happy song, laughter, a silly dance, these are just some of the things we can do to create a feel good moment. We can also become aware of more amazing moments around us that bring us joy, and milk them for as long as you can throughout the day.our-journey-46

STOP AND SMELL, INSPECT, AND STARE AT THE ROSES

Just pause for a moment and see if you can look at something deeply. Really give yourself time. See if you could make it a priority. Your mind might scream at you and tell you that you have better things to do… But you don’t. Take some time to just appreciate the world you live in, and experience it fully for a few minutes. This will get easier and easier, eventually your mind will just shut up and let you do your thing.

If you want to read the original blog post on MIND FUEL DAILY click here.

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A Beautiful Painting Of A Beautiful Girl

Every once in a while I create a piece that causes me to step back and say “Holy crap… I did that?”

This is one of those pieces.

Rafi Perez Painting Of Klee
Rafi Perez Painting Of Klee

It is a depiction of the most beautiful woman I know, surrounded by white doves. The painting symbolizes silent power, peace, and love.

Usually, when I model, or ask Klee to model, I just use the image as a reference for shadows and perspective. This time, I was so taken by the photograph, and the beautiful expression on her face, that  I did not deviate much.

Rafi Perez Painting Of Klee
Rafi Perez Painting Of Klee

Of course, no doves were harmed in the making of this painting. There were no doves in the actual photograph because… well, I didn’t have any, and that would have been messy.

White doves, are used in a variety of settings as symbols of love, peace or as messengers. Doves have appear in symbolism for hundreds of years, and by just about all religions. I wanted them to seem as though they were coming from within her, as if she was sending out, pure positive energy to the world.

Her eyes hold a silent confidence, and emit love… A very powerful look.

Rafi Perez Painting Of Klee
Rafi Perez Painting Of Klee

So there you have it, a beautiful painting of a beautiful girl.

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My Art Teacher Was Wrong

Have you ever had someone tell you that you are not good enough? Did you believe them?

Rafi Perez in Studio
Rafi Perez in his art studio

This picture is of me working in my art studio, creating art for a solo exhibition, because I am a full-time artist, who makes a living from his art. This is not what my teacher predicted… Guess he’s not a psychic.

If I had believed my art teacher in school, when he was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, and that “You will never make it as an artist” I probably wouldn’t be writing any of this right now.

But, I didn’t believe him… Well, eventually.

It’s interesting how such an insignificant event, had such an impact on my career as an artist. I’m sure he doesn’t even remember saying it, but his words stayed with me longer than I’d like to admit.

Watch this video to hear the full story:

Now, I wouldn’t change a thing, because eventually my journey lead me to finding my own confidence, and there is no point in wishing that things had gone differently.

It would be a lie, if I didn’t admit, that every once in a while, I wonder where I would be, had I started my art career sooner… But, it is what it is, and I’m enjoying the ride thus far.

Rafi Was Here Studios
Klee didn’t listen to the naysayers when she started her jewelry business and her work is amazing. She also didn’t listen to the naysayers when it comes to her music. She’s an awesome role model for me.

Why am I sharing this story?

I wanted to reach out to anyone out there that may be experiencing the same thing. Whether it be a creative field, a life goal, or a dream, Don’t ever believe anybody that tells you that you can’t do something.

It took me a few years to learn this for myself, but now that I have, I am unstoppable. I’ve learned that the only way you can ever truly fail at anything, is to give up. With my art career, I had given up, before I even started.

Being Childish Is Fun
My friends Monica and James didn’t listen to the naysayers when starting LunaStella Naturals. Their company is rocking the natural skin and body care market.

Because I lacked confidence in my ability to persevere, I took to heart the comments of naysayers in my family, and eventually my teacher.

Luckily, I put all that crap behind me and I know that the only thing that matters, is whether or not I believe I can do it.

So, if you believe you can do it, (no matter what it is) then you can… plain and simple.

Thank you for reading my rambles! Remember to stay endlessly inspired by the stuff of life.

-Rafi

 

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Childish? The Best People Are.

It’s no secret that Klee and I are all about embracing your inner child, and living a life full of adventure… Also being weird, and all those other things that people think artists are.

 

Being Childish Is Fun
Rafi The Clown Being Childish Is Fun

I am pretty much convinced that kids have life all figured out. I mean, think about it, chances are you were once a kid. Chances are you were even fun and spontaneous, with a great sense of humor.

Being Childish Is Fun
Klee and I photobombing our friends booth at the market

Then, at some point, you were welcomed into the ritualistic daily grind of adulthood, gradually eradicating your inner child. Let’s be honest, most adults suck, they feel frustration instead of hope, and care too much about what others think of them.

Being Childish Is Fun
My favorite thing to do when we go shopping is color in the kids area.

But, if you are reading this, chances are, you are not much of an adult. You are that magical creature that keeps the inner child alive… Like Peter Pan.

The more of these traits you have, the more childish you are:

*They are curiously looking at the world.

*They make it a point to learn something new every day.

*They make small things enjoyable.

*They persevere.

*They stay active.

*They are more optimistic.

*They see the beauty in nature.

*They don’t hold grudges.

*They are adaptable.

*They don’t care about what other people think about them.

*They dream big.

*They are kind to others.

*They aren’t rushed.

*They have more fun.

Being Childish Is Fun
She makes a very pretty clown.

Living a life full of wonder, appreciation for the small things, humor, kindness, resilience, and big dreams is exactly what your inner child would want you to do. So, embracing it, just might be the most awesome thing you can do for your life.

Watch This Video On More Of My Thoughts On The Traits Of Being Awesomely Childish:

Leave a comment in the section below of how you embrace your inner child.

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My Saturday Night Art Party

I was asked yesterday if I was going to an event that we were invited to, called “Art Party is Dead.”

My answer was “no, I already have plans.”

Now, I’m sure “Art Party Is Dead” was a blast for everyone that went. I’m also sure that among the body painted performers and neon lighting, people were wondering where Klee and I were.img_8278

For the record, we are hermits, don’t drink all that much, and are socially awkward… But that doesn’t usually stop us from uncomfortably socializing and pretending to be normal.

Like I said before, we had plans…

We were having our own awesome art party with some very special guests to our studio.

There was music, art, imagination, wonder, good friends, pretty girls, good lookin’ dudes, and even some body paint… Lots of body paint… But probably not the kind of body paint you are thinking.

If you ever want to watch something great, give a paintbrush and some paint to a 1 year old and let them take over… It’s amazing, and scary all at the same time.

Also, watching a child paint seems to bring magic back into the world… Just sayin.

So if you are ever wondering what an awesome time looks like for an artists like me… It looks like this:

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So, thank you for the invite, and I do apologize for not going (maybe next time), but as you can see… Awesomeness was to be had in my art studio.

Also, thank you to my special guests… Hope you enjoyed the visit 🙂

-Rafi