A Third Language

I started writing this little blog DrawGrowSmile a few years ago to motivate myself to practice my writing consistently and to face my long time fear of sharing my words. After the age of 9, I have spent my whole life trying to learn and understand English. My native language is Spanish. Ever since I moved to the US I wanted to feel like I belonged and the language barrier made me feel disconnected from others. I have managed to learn the language quite well ( I think 🙂 ) but the insecurities never went away. Yet, here I am still writing even if it is in my own imperfect way.

A third language

Since I struggled for decades to find my speaking voice and doubted my ability to communicate effectively as a speaker and in words, I turned to an alternative option. I began to learn a third language, visual storytelling.

I started to seriously develop my art practice late in high school. I never intended to do it professionally and back then I didn’t even know it was a real option. All I knew was that art made me feel happy and all I desperately wanted was to feel happiness. That single motivation has kept me actively and consistently nurturing my craft every single day since I started.

More to come

Now with a couple of decades under my belt of consistently practicing my craft I have accumulated some expertise. I will be sharing more of that knowledge at http://www.yanuary.com.

How has language affected you personally? How has art contributed to your self-growth? Leave a comment.

Neon Greens

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.

Forest Clams

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.

Local Ecology

Local ecology observations, 2021 ©yanuarynavarro, watercolor (Dr.Ph.Martin’s) on paper

Crunching leaves
tiny life
sprouting out
of a decaying log
rebirth
in a new form.

Hard Work Versus Talent

Franklin, TN. sketches of Tennesse ©yanuarynavarro

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.

Writing with pictures

Rubin and The Mango Tree, story by ©yanuarynavarro

Before he was Rubin the Mango Spirit.
He was Rubin, a little one.


Jotting a story down sometimes with pictures first, sometimes with words first. It’s always a different process with each story revealing itself in a different form. Just jot it down, scribble it down, make stick figures, whatever it takes so you don’t let it run away with whatever moments you have. Stories are impatient and temperamental they want to keep moving.

Art as Prayer

February Snow, acrylic on paper ©yanuarynavarro

Art is prayer. The voice of the spirit unveiling the heart. Sometimes prayer is graceful painted with gentle strokes of light. Other days the prayer comes out broken with a sorrow tinted voice; or no prayer comes to mind at all. Each color in the palette plays the murmur of a greater symphony waiting to be heard.

Back to traditional

Gouache and Watercolor on watercolor paper ©yanuarynavarro

Most of 2019 has been spent working on digital mediums. Learning new techniques using digital software and keeping my digital design skills sharp. But I have missed the feel of a pencil scratching the surface of a blank piece of paper.

The above painting was made using traditional materials. Gouache and Watercolor. Every time I look at it I am reminded of the tiny moments that came together to make this image. There is no going back once you start a watercolor painting. You have to commit or start all over again, and perhaps that is what I like about traditional media. The assertiveness it demands. That I had to just keep moving forward because the option to go back and erase was not available.

Enchanted Portraits & Decision Making

Queen Suya in the Cranberry Forest, Gouache on paper

I’ve had this drawing for a long time and it wasn’t until recently that I figured out how I wanted to finish it. The trouble with moving forward sometimes is the infinite choices and possibilities. How can we make it easier for ourselves to finally make a choice?

Setting specific limitations or project boundaries helps.

For example: Things that have helped

•Deciding to only work with a certain number of colors

•Making a time limit or “finish by deadline” regardless of what it looks like

• Choosing one subject matter to focus on

Fairy Book Club

A Fairy Library, 2018, Watercolor & Gouache on Paper ©YanuaryNavarro

Have you ever wondered what sort of mysterious happenings take place in the Florida swamp lands? I wonder all the time because one of the things that makes the state of Florida unique is that due to the weather it is the home to a highly diverse and extensive population of plants and animals. Including book fairies who meet in hollowed-out ancient Cypress trees and fill them with books.