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.
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.
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.