DrawGrowSmile is written by Yanuary.
Yanuary Irasema Navarro is an illustrator, writer, and designer. She was born in Honduras, Central America, raised amongst the beaches and swamps of Florida, and now happily resides in hilly Nashville, TN.
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Winters in Nashville are interesting. It starts getting the coldest around January and it only snows for a few days on and off unless there is a rare winter storm, but those are not common. I’m not complaining though since being outdoors and walking in nature is my go to for relaxation and the most effective way to unplug from the constant buzzing of daily tasks and errands.
Since my hiking adventures began in Nashville I started noticing a common pattern. There are mushrooms everywhere! I had not seen as many mushrooms or the amount of varieties elsewhere (so far). It rains a lot in Tennessee, so I suspect that may have something to do with it. Mushrooms love humidity and need it to thrive.
So far one of the most vibrant mushrooms I have witnessed on my adventures has been a neon green kind. It pulsated with life from a far and the brightness of the green beckoned me from a far to come and take a closer look. It was an unexpected surprise to discover how interested I have become in these tiny, spongy and diverse fungus. Sometimes we end up finding sparks of joy in the most unexpected ways.
Here’s a sneak peek of how I created the Mushroom Fest illustration.
I started by drawing all of the elements very loosely and quickly using black ink on cold-press watercolor paper. (pictured above)
After all of the ink dried, I went in the next day and started adding color using acrylic paint and gouache paint.(pictured below)
It took several days to complete the final piece which measures 9″ x 12″ inches. The color choices are mostly invented but the shapes are based on actual mushroom types. I like the technique of starting with a pen and ink base to paint over because it leaves a subtle boldness throughout the piece without looking too overpowering. I would say it creates an edgy but still friendly aesthetic.
Finally, after everything was painted to my satisfaction, I scanned the painting, dropped it into into Photoshop and moved the composition around so everything felt a little more balanced. And Tad Dah! It was done!
Forest clam dense and velvet soft you cling to the rough edge of a mighty companion is it an arrangement of convenience? Or perhaps, something more? How did you get up there? So high does the rest of your kind know where you are? Your Orange burns bright amidst this barren way.
This year I had my first autumn experience. My eyes had never seen so much beauty all at once. As an artist I know I will never make something as beautiful as a creation made by nature, and I don’t ever want to try. There is something unexplainable about being in the Awesomeness of nature that no words can describe. It can only be felt by the senses.
As a Floridian, autumn was never a big deal and now I understand why. It’s always summer there, and I dare say a tropical paradise like no other place on Earth. There are two coasts to choose from and you can grow food and garden year round, and swim in the ocean in autumn. However, once you’ve lived there for a good decade your body becomes removed from the experience of the other seasons.
I’ve never lived in an extremely cold climate but I have visited cold places during winter. After seeing my first autumn I like to think that the beauty of the changing leaves is a gentle reminder from nature of the reality of our impermanence. Our lives are more fleeting than the changing leaves. The leaves will come back next year and put on another spectacular display but the next second in our life is never guaranteed.
Living in the city means limited space and most likely no yard. I come from a family of farmers and plant enthusiasts. In Honduras gardening is the norm in the countryside because each town is miles away from the nearest shopping center.
In the US farming is big business. We pay high prices for the convenience of not breaking our backs tilling the soil, planting each seed, and nurturing each plant to harvest. I am happy to see more and more everyday people like me carve out a little space in our tiny homes for our own gardens.
I went through a period of disconnect with gardening in my younger days but eventually our true nature circles back around to meet-up with us again. Gardening is a healing practice. There is no hurriedness in the work, a seed will sprout in its own time and sometimes not at all.
It has been one year since I moved to Nashville from the sunshine state of Florida. Since then, a lot of sight seeing has happened. One of my goals for 2019 was to explore this new land and make memories to cherish with my bae. The Tennessee landscape was a drastic change from Florida.
Pictured above: Downtown Nashville in fall & some spring, and parks nearby
In 2010 the Nashville community suffered through a catastrophic flood that left a lot of the city, especially downtown, 50 feet underwater. Can you image? Flash floods are a common (but not too frequent) natural occurrence in Tennessee. It took businesses and residents years to repair the damage.
One of my favorite places to eat in downtown Nashville is Greek Street Food. It is a tiny building packing a lot of flavor. As a food enthusiast everything I have tried there has been made fresh and amazing.
I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to live in such an interesting city full of diversity, concerts year round, free access to national parks, the cutest houses on hills, amazing food (hot chicken is the best), and friendly folks. Much like most of our cities across the country, the city of Nashville and the Nashville government have a long way to go to keep up with the growing population. The shadow side of Nashville is that the roads are in poor repair, there is litter everywhere, there is a clear economic inequality where dilapidated housing is next to resort style apartments and expensive homes, and homelessness is common through out the city. I hope in the near future more effort is put into making Nashville a great place to live for everyone.
I see our little planet as our very own precious floating terrarium. It’s too easy sometimes to forget how we are indeed floating.
This one is hand-painted using gouache on cold-press watercolor paper. I can’t remember when it was done so it may have been some years. 2 or more? Time flies especially when making something with our hands. Each mark is a recorded moment in time. Preserved. Saying, “this is how I spent that day” and it was wonderful.
A lucky few have been gifted with effortless talent for their chosen craft or field. There rest of us have had to work tirelessly for decades and that is perfectly beautiful too.
I have been drawing and making pictures since I discovered that pulling a pencil or paintbrush across a surface was calming and kept me out of trouble as a kid. I simply never stopped.
I was terrible at it, making ugly whole-hearted little paintings. I have grown after years of devoted practice not talent and call myself an artist because I see it as a lifestyle. A commitment to live a creative life which in turn becomes a fuller life full of wonder, play, and intellectual curiosity.
Today, I think I am a confident painter rather than a skillful one. Time spent creating something of our own gives confidence to those of us who need it most regardless of what the final piece looks, sounds, or reads like it is never time wasted. It is time spent learning about all the potential burning inside. Or in the least it keeps us out of trouble by engaging restless energy in all of us.