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Be comfortable with who you are

A really popular phrase is – no one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws, what we’re not rather than what we’ve got, or who we really are.

I would challenge everyone in the world and say, yes you are perfect. You are the most perfect version of you that exists out there. No one can be like you, and you can’t be like anyone else. There has never existed someone exactly like you, there is no one like you now, and there will never be anyone like you… you are it.

Love Yourself

I think imperfection comes when we try to be like someone else, because we see them as perfect, or more perfect than us. Sometimes it’s things like looks, hair color, skin color, beauty ideals, education, height, weight, eye color, and so much more. But who is to say what is perfect and what is not?

First of all, ask one hundred people to describe what is perfect and you will get 100 different answers. Usually, these people will be describing someone other than themselves because they think they are flawed. This version of the idea of perfection is what is flawed.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

Listen, you are beautiful, unique, and perfect just as you are. Simple. You don’t have to be ANYONE else in order to be perfect, you just have to be the best version of you that you can be.

Feeling like you are flawed, letting people down, a loser, ugly, dumb, unmotivated, not good enough, and other popular presets of society is not going to help you achieve the perfection that is you… No, you are going to act like a dumbass, because you feel that you are nothing more than a dumbass compared to that jackass over there.

Golden Glow By Rafi Perez

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, there is no comparison. Focus on being the best possible version of you that you can be. Take time to determine that for yourself. You know you are there when you think you are beautiful, but you also think everyone is beautiful.

If you think you are more beautiful than someone else, then you’re just playing the same stupid perfection game that everyone else plays.

Learning to accept ourselves and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. So figure out who you really are for yourself. Just food for thought.

What is the real you like?

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Get Out of Your Head and Into The World

As an artist, I work from home, in my studio, on my laptop, at the easel, and sitting on the couch sketching. We have a YouTube channel, Patreon account and other social media where we connect with many people online, but few “real-life” interactions.

Rafi Perez in his art studio

Luckily, Klee and I share an art career and get to spend that time together in the studio, but sometimes we can spend over a week inside. There are times when talking with the cashier at the grocery store is the social highlight of our day.

Klee In The Studio

In a world where so much happens online, we have to be careful to not neglect the importance of real face-to-face connection.

I find that sometimes things can feel a little disconnected when you don’t venture out much. Listen, I love our studio time, and I totally thrive as a hermit… but sometimes it can go too far.

If you’re going through a tough time, you might feel especially inclined to isolate yourself, but it’s only going to make things worse. I find that even when I don’t want to be around people, it’s important to surround yourself with people you love, and people who inspire you.

Rafi and Klee Art

So next time you are feeling a bit down, or you are stuck in your head, go outside. Interact with humans, have fun, and live an adventure with people who inspire you.

Then, once you get your fill, go back to your creative hermit hole inspired to create your next masterpiece.

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You’re Awesome Reason #1

This is written simply to tell you how freakin’ awesome you are! Yes, YOU! Stop looking behind you. You are more awesome than you might like to believe, and I want to give you one reason today, so listen up.

Rafi And Klee Studios

Reason #1: You Are Beautiful – So Darn Beautiful!

That’s right I said it. You’re beautiful! Yes you!

Listen, the way you look is different from anyone else around. Your unique look is beautiful.

You have been through so much in your life – you have come so far and you’re still moving along. No one has experienced your exact experiences, and that’s one of the many things that makes you beautiful.

Klee is so stylish

Your laugh is beautiful (even when you snort). It is. Nothing is better than your joy.

You may not think of yourself as a creative person, but you are. Somehow, somewhere you have created something, imagined something, dreamed something. Creativeness is beautiful, and you’re creative in your own way, and that is beautiful.

No matter what you’ve thought about yourself in the past, someone out there thinks you’re perfect. Someone loves you for who you are, just the way you are, and wouldn’t change a thing.

Be Brave

You are brave. At some point in your life you had to do something that you were afraid to do. You had to face your fear, and that is beautiful.

You have your own unique thoughts, your own unique experiences, and your own unique life. Your uniqueness makes you beautiful, and it’s what makes you, you!

You exist. That’s beautiful in itself. Life is a precious gift, and knowing that out of all the unknown in the world, you were created, and you turned out… well, as you – now that’s beautiful.

Happiness is beautiful. Even if you’re having a bad day, or you don’t feel the greatest – smile. Smiles bring happiness, happiness is beautiful, and your smile is beautiful.

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Rafi And Klee Studios

I’m writing this because sometimes I don’t feel as creative as usual. There are days where I’m just staring at a blank canvas, or the cursor blinking on a blank screen as I attempt to write my book.

With my book in particular, I’ve been stuck. I’ve been in a middle-earth of wanting to write, but can’t.

I am writing this right now to Be Raw. To Be Real. To Be Honest.

To Be Present.

For me, inspiration starts the moment that I just focus on this moment right now. The joy of writing this line. The idea that one of you may read this. It’s inspiring. As long as I allow myself to go there.

Inspiration does not magically show up when I snap my fingers. Although, there are days that I wish it worked that way.

Sometimes I’m on fire… other times it’s more of a tiny flame

Inspiration for me is like a small buzzing of a bumble bee that is skipping from flower to flower. Fuzzy concepts and ideas that don’t have any solid foundation.

And then, just like that — Poof. It’s gone. The tiny bumble bee turns into a grouchy old man yelling words of self-doubt, self-apprehension, and indecision into my brain hole.

“Shit, I had it!”

The crumpled piece of paper.

Sometime I just have to be Patient, Open, and Honest.

And Present.

Because, inspiration comes from inside of us. It comes when you least expect it, or when you most expect it. It is your best friend, or a bitter ex girlfriend. It could be an inspiring memory, or a new experience. It comes from moments of frustration, fire and passion. It comes usually when you are ready to give up.

Ultimately, your inspiration is you. It’s how you see the world. So no matter how stuck you may feel.

Don’t give up yet… and keep smiling.

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A Love Connection With Self

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Time to sacrifice a goat in a cave, slap people on the street with its bloody hide to help with fertility and purity, and then party all night! Well, maybe not any more. Luckily, the origins of this very loving Hallmark holiday is way in the past, so today we celebrate each other and our loved ones in a less sacrificial blood and chanting way.

I’m sure everyone who is in a relationship is planning dinners, gifts, and private moments, so I’ll get right to the point. I would like to add a little something else to this day, to be your own Valentine. I’m saying, let’s take the opportunity to watch how we talk to ourselves, trust me it’ll help your relationship.

Much of our self talk has a huge impact on our relationships. This stems from low self esteem and negative self worth. Many people find themselves not good enough to do or be something, and they make sure to remind themselves of this often.

In the area of love, this is one of the things that complicates our relationships. We sometimes get into a relationship with someone and convince ourselves that happiness lies in the other person. This is because we feel we are not worthy to make ourselves happy, and that we are incomplete.

Incompleteness is a silly concept, although it may sound romantic to tell someone that they complete you, really when you think about it, it’s stupid.

It is a concept full of expectations and assumptions. You expect the person to always complete you, and that will lead to resentment and judgment because ain’t nobody got time for that.

We tell ourselves that we are incomplete without this other person because we think they fill the void we feel in our being. They do not fill this void, they remind us how to fill it ourselves because they love us and we temporarily see ourselves through their eyes. This wears off eventually, and oh boy can things get complicated.

Rafi and Klee Silly In Love

Hey, all I’m saying is if you love someone, you better love yourself and be nice to yourself, or you’ll be making yourself miserable no matter who you have around. You’ll also be making the person you love miserable. Food for thought.

Love you valentine! From both of us!

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Be The Light For Empowering Minds

I talk a lot about ways to empower yourself and investigate some of the patterns we play out in our minds that may cause us to feel like victims. To determine whether or not I am feeling powerful, I ask myself whether a situation, circumstance, or person makes me feel like a victim, or do I feel empowered.

She had her own world (2)

Anything that causes you to feel like you don’t have control over your emotions is a sense of victimhood. I don’t mean expressing those emotions, you can sit down to have a good cry because you know it will make you feel better, that’s empowered crying.

A good way to feel empowered and happy is to spread it like a contagion into the world. I do it through art, but I also have a few weapons in my arsenal against feeling like a victim.

Never-Fear-Shadows-9

1. Smile at people.

It’s amazing to me how powerful a smile can be.

2. Be positive.

Be conscious about your words and actions so that you can be a positive force, rather than, you know, a drag.

Be-The-Glow-3

3. Give genuine compliments.

I’m a firm believer in saying what you mean, when you want to say it. That means being genuine. What is interesting is that a lot of people assume that being genuine means being mean, but I find that when you are truly genuine with yourself and others, everything is infused with love.

4. Encourage creation.

Themed movie nights, to adventure walks, to art parties. Encourage yourself and others to have creative fun.

Never-Fear-Shadows-8

 

5. Live outside your comfort zone.

It’s contagious.

6. LOVE real big. QUESTION everything.

In every given moment there is an opportunity to fear, judge, or love. We sometimes have to seriously question our own beliefs and where they came from in order to get to love. The thing is, the more you love yourself, the more you can love the world… So start by questioning beliefs about yourself.

Become A Butterfly 1

Being an agent of positive change in this world is a label that I’ve proudly given myself. I ask that you also wear it wisely and wear it well. It takes real determination and commitment, but it brings color and wonder back into the world.

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The Nature Of Love

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I have a series called the nature of being, or as some people like to call them “Rafi’s Lady Trees.” This year I have really enjoyed reigniting the series as I set a goal to add subtle differences to the message in pieces within the series itself.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

The series itself 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.

I wanted to showcase a unity within the scope of the collection with pieces that showed masculine and feminine intertwined with one another.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

These pieces are inspired by the journey that I have been on with my beautiful wife Klee and some of the lessons I have learned about what it means to be in love.

In the past I always assumed that being with someone meant that it was your job to make sure they were happy, and in return it was their job to make you happy.

Yet, this never seemed to work out.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It wasn’t until experience brought me to a place where I started to question the status quo of relationships and love that I realized that I had it all wrong.

It wasn’t about making the other person happy, it was about finding your happiness and sharing that with the other person. This in no way was a guarantee that it would make them happy, but that was alright. See, I found that the only person that could really make me happy was me and it was unfair to try and throw that burden onto Klee… She had enough on her plate just trying to make herself happy.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

It was during that realization that I started to understand unconditional love. It meant that I had no conditions or expectations that she would behave a certain way in order for me to be happy, she had the right to be herself. To express herself and continue on her journey of finding out what life was all about for her.

I did the same, and we shared those moments with each other, talking about our experiences and realizations. We also share in our moments of growth as we journey on this road to find what makes us happy and how to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

It is quite beautiful.

Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez
Nature Of Love By Rafi Perez

I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of turmoil, because we all experience them, but with every moment there has always been an honest revelation and a stronger bond than ever before.

The thing is, we are both growing, learning, changing, evolving, on our own, yet our lives are intertwined because we choose to walk side by side.

It just wouldn’t work if one of us decided to carry the other… and it wouldn’t look as cool in a painting.

-Rafi

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The Substance Of Reality And Balloons

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Recently I created a painting titled “The Substance Of The Real.” It shows a rather stoic, old century style, statue of a man struggling to hold on to a big red balloon on a string.

The statement for this piece is as follows:

 ABOUT THIS PAINTING
So many things that we hold near and dear… thoughts, beliefs, or habits, we hardly ever question. Yet, many of those hold no substance. This piece is meant to be a daily reminder to question everything, to look closely at your own motivations, and to determine what is true for you… Not to ferociously hold on to something that you don’t quite understand. 

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

Now, I wanted to clarify something about this piece and my belief in what is real in the world. I know that a lot of spiritual beliefs state that the world is an illusion, and a lot of people will be surprised to hear that I don’t believe that.

I do believe that we live in a delusion… I know, let me explain.

I don’t believe that the world is unreal in of itself. It becomes an illusion when we look at it. We look at the world through our filter of understanding, through the eyes of our knowledge, understanding, prejudices, judgments, love, ideas, opinions, and current circumstances.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

That world is unreal in the same way that a dream is unreal, because it’s based on delusion. The world is just there minding it’s own business, open for interpretation, it is our interpretation that is the illusion, and thus the way we see the world is an illusion based on our own beliefs.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

You take two people to see a symphony, they sit in similar seats, have the same physical experience, and yet they will have a completely unique experience. One person tells you it was terrible, the other will say it was amazing… who’s right? who’s wrong?

Whoever you agree with the most will be right, and the other person will be wrong.

I like the idea of questioning the whole delusion… Cause, you know, I can’t be right ALL the time, and chances are a lot of what I believe has the substance of a red balloon.

Balloon Man By Rafi Perez
Balloon Man By Rafi Perez

In my opinion, you get to choose how you feel about the world, people, politics, religion, love, relationships, anything and everything.

If you ever find yourself repeating some crappy saying that you’ve just never thought about, I suggest you look at that. Where did it come from, some older generation that maybe didn’t have their shit together yet? Maybe an old racist uncle? A victimized mother? A womanizing father? A corrupt grandfather? A jealous aunt? A hypochondriac grandmother? All people that love me, all good people, just screwed up.

I say question everything, remember that the world you see is your delusion, and that you get to decide how you feel about the world you see. You can choose love, and not hold on so vehemently to those beliefs that are outdated.

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Don’t Forget To Just Have Fun

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.

Office Decorated By Rafi Perez

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.

Rafi Painting Bird Series

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.

Rafi in front of his turtle

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.

Rafi and Klee Silly In Art Studio

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.

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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.

Rafi-Perez-Art-92
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.