Friday, December 15, 2017

Why your inner voice matters most - article on inspiremetoday.com

Long ago I was given the privilege of access to my inner voice through painting. I managed to survive high school and college by practicing this precious gift. Yet, when real life hit, I became afraid of losing myself in my dream world and let it go. I took a more practical route. I needed to make money and start a family, and be an overall reasonable person.
However, it hit me with time that a huge part of me was dying little by little. It felt like I was blindfolded while walking through the dilemmas of this world, and instead of developing my best self, I was selling my soul to the devil. That child within me had no way out. It was imprisoned, dying of thirst for a connection.
When things got really bad and I was crying nightly about a miscarriage, about lost opportunities in my career, about my life that was going nowhere, I took a three-day painting workshop and realized that I almost killed this little beautiful child inside me, my real me, my true self. I began devoting more and more time to painting and to re-connecting with this fragile voice.
I had noticed with time, as my practice got more and more constant, that this voice does not push. It guides gently. It assures me in my abilities. It builds out the inner strength that I never knew I had.
If I die today, I would be forever grateful to this voice of intuition that I was able to utilize. I so hope that more and more people find their true voice by doing something for their soul, be it meditation or yoga, dance or painting, making music or playing with yarn.
I inevitably come out of my painting sessions with an ‘aha’ moment, a solution to a real-life problem that has been nagging me for a long time. Somehow, whatever issues I resolve on canvas have their roots in the psychology of life. It’s quite remarkable that the little inner voice only comes out during painting but I’m so grateful that it does. I really wish for more of us to connect to their true selves, to find our humanity.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Murakami vs Rothko at the MFA in Boston - is art meant to make you smile or cry?

There're a few new shows at the MFA currently that are quite interesting to me in their contrast to each other. It's the very much talked about Takashi Murakami exhibit vs. the Mark Rothko exhibit, which virtually noone knows about.
I find Murakami to be so flat, impersonal and superficial. Yes, he found a symbol that is now our association with him, that of the flowers with a somewhat sickening grin. When you see it, or especially them in bunches you immediately recognize that they're his. But what does it do to you as a viewer except for this pleasure of recognition? It invokes nothing. It's just a pure Pop statement that just like Warhol before him, or Lichtenstein or Jess Koons - has no emotional connection to anything in anyone's psyche.
And then I step into the world of Mark Rothko and I begin to weep while on my second painting. I can't really explain what makes me weep. It could be the layers of his emotionally charged juxtapositions of color. It could be the simplicity or the perceived simplicity of his vast rectangles chosen for all his compositions. But I can feel his fingertips spreading the paint, touching it, making it visceral, psychological, incredibly emotional. I can feel him getting to the core of the message, to the core of my soul. I see this incredibly powerful effect of layers on my psyche as a viewer.
If one encloses simple relationships that are of utmost importance in a casing that does not distract from the message, that's when it starts to say what it's meant to say. Therefore, in a way these two exhibits are about the same elements. There's a symbol or idea that is key, and through its repetition, within the same casings you see it manifesting as a style.
This casing or composition should not distract from the main idea and that's where I think my problem lies. My landscapes are always seen as of utmost importance, and the play of colors as secondary. When in reality what I want is for the landscape to translate as a shadow of itself, and for the real quest of color harmonies to manifest as a primary goal.
But my main issue with the perception of these two exhibits still remains. Are we as people of today more attracted to the superficiality of Murakami than the depth of feeling of Rothko? Or do auction prices for the sales of Rothko pieces say otherwise? Or were there always two camps of viewers - those who want to look at art and smile, and those who are searching for something that would make them cry?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Could painting actually be better than sex?

Why melt? Because I want to enter the painting. I want the gates of ecstasy to open, to experience the merge of colors and textures, and to discover new possibilities.
First I build a city by looking at it, concentrating on its proper angles, turns, the scale of things. But then I want to dissolve into it, to feel like I'm one with it, existing on this particular day, while I'm staring at it, purposefully, with a mission to truly feel it. And just like Gaudi, I want to re-build it from the drips of paint, forming up like sand castles, directing my thoughts with these rays of hope, droplets of creation.
I've been waiting for this day for so long. It's because no matter how great sex is, with you giving into it completely, this is so much better. I peak time and again with each penetration of a new drip. It's an opening to absolute freedom.
But why not melt it all? It's about questioning boundaries, about giving you a glimpse of what could be vs. what is. It's about not being perfect but always striving for it. Perhaps I'm not strong enough to destroy it, as it pains me when my subjects get completely dismembered: houses losing their windows, foundations merging into roofs. Maybe these are windows into my soul and it's tragic to me when they clogged up. Perhaps it's this struggle between the practical side of me and the crazy destroyer side? They're always at war it seems and my work is an attempt to have them co-exist.
Do you have two warring sides? How do they and where do they play out their struggles?
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I do write quite a bit about the artmaking process, and you could be among the first to see my newest blogs if you sign on to my mailing list !
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And this 36x48 oil and wax on canvas of Parisian rooftops is now finished, beaming with light and raw energy. It's available at $1,900. 
Please feel free to email with your thoughts and comments!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Is Social Media Killing Our Self Worth?

My time in the studio is the time when I get away from the world, relax into my inner self and discover things within my psyche. Yet, here I am, working away and hoping the door will open any second and someone will come in to ask what I'm working on, and perhaps praise it, or even offer some critique or a word of advice. I know I'm here for me, to pacify my worries, to take a break from the hassles of my world. Yet, I crave acceptance. I crave recognition. I really want someone to finally see that I have talent, someone from the art world to pick me up and take me places. Maybe that's just a natural human state, the one Dale Carnegie talked so much about? Our need for acceptance...
It's stifling though. It also got a hundred times worse with the need for instant gratification via social media. I skipped a week of painting. Yet, instead of yearning for that time alone with myself, all I kept thinking throughout this week was: "When I finally get to the studio, I need something truly powerful to show my Instagram followers and Facebook fans". Then, when the long-awaited time in the studio had arrived, I spent most of my time shooting videos of my process instead of really dissolving into it. I couldn't stop myself either even though I knew this was utterly wrong. It was almost like I was afraid to truly listen to my inner voice. Instead, I was drowning it with the desire to be seen and praised.
And then, when the likes and comments didn't come as fast as I wanted, I started to really doubt myself and my abilities. I took down the stage I most enjoyed because this lack of attention shamed me into hating my process. I almost wanted to bring the painting back to the stage when it was most liked by the viewers, but then I caught myself and decided that this is enough.
I need to cut out this destruction of my self-worth by avoiding my phone during my working time. I need a vacation from social media. At the end of the day, I'm doing this for my journey and I won't go anywhere unless I'm fully on board. If I continue down this road of adjusting my actions because of social media, my inner voice willalways be unheard by me, or worse it'll be shamed into silence because I'll only be focused on the approval by others. The only way to get away from this is to have a clean break. This is how I truly start doing things for me, for my growth: I stop caring...
Do you find yourself drowned by social media? Do you schedule time-outs? Are they week-long vacations? Or do you have periods during each day when you stay away?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How do you deal with anger?

I'm angry. There needs to be contrast and darkness. Something inside me craves the play of opposites. I want to destroy my stupid mistakes, and enforce the vibrating texture of the main character and the background. Who cares what remains in focus: what's in the front and what recedes to the shadows? That is absolutely secondary.

I can't stand rejection. We all know we should not take it personally but every single time it's a knife that pierces straight to my heart and soul. I start hating everything I do.  I minimize all my accomplishments. This gnawing feeling that I'm worthless and utterly ungifted makes me want to slash it all, cut it up, and trash all these degenerate half-baked creations.Where is the darkness? I want it to be visible, to conquer the light, to penetrate my hopes and dreams. I need it to co-exist with the light and enclose it, and shape it.

Then, suddenly, this hatred passes and now there's too much contrast. My little inner child awakens and tells me that it's time to move on. It's time to balance it out and add some dimension. I'm that person that plows through. I don't dwell on the negative. I push myself to find new solutions. In these dark moments lies my strength. I find them disturbingly invigorating. They push me to new boundaries.

These nuances in mood and color bring depth and uncover the many dimensions of my life. I could be reveling in these contrasting color combinations forever. I love that it takes me four or five sessions to bring my paintings to completion. There is a span of all kinds of emotions, priorities, struggles captured with each piece. These feelings might not translate to the viewer, but they're apparent to me because I lived them all. These are little pieces of me, my true inner life away from the hustle and bustle of daily pressures.

Each canvas is a battered creation, attacked from all kinds of angles, yet made stronger because of its multiple mini-victories. I wonder what would happen if I could devote my sole attention to painting. Would these get somewhere faster, like they did while I was in college? Could my quest be solidified if I had all the time in the world - no work, no kids, no monetary concerns? Or are these paintings so incredibly deep because they reflect all of me: all my perturbations and the hundreds of existential questions I ask myself while I paint. One never knows. A fairy does not flicker her magic wand granting me a new life - so I make due with what's given me - n'est-ce pas?

For the painting that this process has produced, and more insights into life's existential questions sign on to my newsletter at www.dianastelin.com

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to not screw up your second marriage


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The most difficult stage in any relationship is adjusting what's already working, trying to make it more pronounced. You feel like you're walking on egg shells. At any moment this beautiful harmony of visions and relationships can snap. It's so crucial to refrain from passing any judgement during this arduous task. You want to turn your mind off and to just listen to that inner voice that can really guide you if you let it.

Only when a new pattern becomes clear, will your mind pacify, learn a new routine, begin its new training. The path should always stem from your heart, from finding your true priorities. You want to learn your weak sides where compromises won't work, and figure out where a shortcut is possible, where the other can lead.

This does not mean I'm done for good. One always tends to step into the same traps and it's a constant mindful decision to steer into a different direction. We will inevitably make mistakes. We will ruin a good thing time and again. I might add too much drama where there really isn't any place for it. You will need to learn to play with opposites, and learn to have empty space so we can just breathe.

However, the most important aspect of it all is to not judge any outcomes until we're finished working through the problem. Just go through the motions of the task without giving it much thought. Do not overthink anything! Trust that it will all come together in the end.

Yes, these are all tips on building a harmonious relationship. But guess what this manual of sorts actually pertains to?

This was me talking to myself while working on a third layer of a large scale painting. I was trying hard to pacify my alter-ego. If  I don't calm myself down during the painting process, I will give up and not get anything out of it. I want to get something out of this practice. If I keep up, I know that every single time I will come out of a painting session with an 'aha' moment. I will find an answer to an important question in my life.

During this go around I guess the universe wanted me to rethink the strengths and weaknesses of my relationship with my husband. We're going through a difficult phase: three kids under ten, my running a business. Plus all of a sudden I decided to actually start promoting my own art. There certainly are a lot of shifting priorities and my head feels like it's about to explode. My painting practice is my way to hold on, to think through the issues, to stay balanced...My writing about the process puts all kinds of things in perspective.

If you'd like to keep up with my analysis of life dilemmas through artmaking, I invite you to join me on this quest. While you're at it, feel free to check out my art and leave any feedback.
http://www.dianastelin.com/jointhemeltingcrew.php

Friday, June 2, 2017

Confessions of a Failed Gallery Director

 I studied to be an artist. I tell everyone this story of how I wanted to be a fashion designer but my mother met a 'starving artist', Andrey Tamarchenko, who convinced her that I needed to learn how to paint everything in order to become one. She had me enroll to take classes while in high school, prepping my portfolio. I was then accepted into all the art schools where I applied, and of course without even knowing how to sew, I surely wasn’t getting into fashion schools. So I just kept going with the life of an artist. But truly it’s a more complex story.
Just like every art student I graduated with a thought that I’ll never make a living as an artist. After a number of different stints I landed a gallery director job and that surely was the dream of every art student and every parent. All that prestige: the gallery openings, art fairs, auctions, fancy clients, celebrities, worldwide travel, crazy money. It’s a perfect life, isn’t it? What more could you possibly wish for? But you know what? It’s a brutal backstabbing world. It’s a life where I didn’t sleep at nights because I knew I wasn’t honest with clients. I suffered from ridiculous bouts of depression – never knowing who my friends at work are, not trusting any information I was given. I sold my soul to the devil and I felt it every single day.
Then one day I was sent to Italy to check out the Venice Biennale and I stayed another week for an art retreat with that same art teacher I met back in high school, my one and only guide through life, Andrey Tamarchenko. Painting every day with him in the hills of Alessandria, I saw just how deep my abyss was. I was balling my eyes out again, every single night of that week. But this time it was different. I cried due to the realization that I cannot live like this anymore. I saw that no amount of money can fix the horrible damage I was inflicting on myself every single day. This art retreat was a deciding factor that finally made me leave the gallery and reevaluate my life.
Yes, it has been tough not getting a six figure salary, and building a business of my own from scratch. But at the end of the day, it’s my painting practice that still keeps me honest with myself. Every week it gives me strength to tackle all kinds of dilemmas that come my way. It’s the only way to stay balanced.
-And here's a little piece I did with Andrey while in Italy. Feel free to email with questions if you're interested. -
Hugs,
Diana