Be Nice to Your(self) Art

As you may notice I’m not writing much lately and here between us I must confess I’m not painting much either. Partly is due to that I’m a bit busy and heavily tired in the nights due to Dragon Boat training (my inspiration comes late at night and lately by 11:30pm I’m already sleeping). I believed these two were the only reasons but after having some time to think and analyze what was going on I got to another conclusion.

Some months ago I had the opportunity to participate in my first exhibition here in Taiwan. I have to say it was an honor and a great opportunity to meet two great artists but it also changed me for bad (and now for good)… Let me explain myself better:

The month before this event I spent several sleepless nights preparing some paintings to show in the exhibition. I didn’t have much done that I could consider “exhibition worth it” (first mistake right here) so there was lots of work to do. I love to do small scale drawings and paintings, as a matter of fact most of my works are the size of a notebook page… well most of my works are in one of the thousand sketchbooks I love to collect. The thing is that when I thought of something “exhibition worth it” I thought of BIG canvas and fancy acrylics, not all those sketchbook pages filled with colors of any source (including coffee stains, pens I asked from anyone sitting close enough to me during lectures, pencils I randomly found in my bookbag , etc)

So… sleepless nights, acrylics, canvas, blah blah… after all these the big day came and I was so nervous. Somehow I felt I, as an artist, was not worth it for any of this. I looked at the paintings hanging there and thought of a better shade of purple for the petals of the tulip, wanted to grab a marker and finish the details of one of the leaves in a better way, and regretted adding ink to the face of the girl… People came and congratulated me about such great works and while I was smiling, deep inside me I just wanted to run away and go back to my room and read a nice book and drink a cup of tea.

How could I feel in such way in such a big day? How could I be so ungrateful?

To top all of this I received two comments from one person (someone I’m pretty sure has never even touched a paintbrush or combined two shades of oranges to reach THE color for the sunset) that just sunk me more into all this aggravating battle inside my head. Till today I’m not sure if it was the remarks on their own or the tone that human being used to make such remarks but ohh how they hurt…

“You need to change your signature. Ericka Bastias is too long… think of Picasso for example… he’s just Picasso. There are just few exceptions like Pinto Rodezno here who can make it work” So… now even my “artistic name” was wrong. Thanks. First of all, is not even my artistic name, it’s just my name. I decided to sign every single piece of work: letters, poems, paintings with Ericka Bastias as a way of honoring my mother who was my first motivation to start painting. Second, I keep the Ericka because it has been the name I have heard all my life and in that way it can be clear that behind all that you see there’s a girl, woman, female. After signing more than 200 works with my name here comes a stranger telling me how not “artsy and professional” it is and how I’m of course not an exception that can make it work.

This comment just made me feel uncomfortable, it didn’t really affect me because I have pretty clear reasons for my signature and I love them and it. But the next one did kill my soul a bit, not because it was a direct critic to my art but because it just pinpointed something I was lacking and something I’m probably still “lacking”

“So… I just want to make sure because someone asked me and I didn’t know what to answer. What is your style? I just see so many things put up together… and I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like you have your own style.”

Yeah, the person was actually right. If you saw my four works you saw pretty different things: small works, big works, pencil, acrylic, ink, flowers, faces and anatomy… there was even one CIRCULAR canva in all that space of squared pieces.

I stare back blankly with no answer at all… and then just say “Well… I guess I’m still looking for it”

After those two days I kept on thinking to myself “So what it’s your style?” “What do you like painting?” “WHO ARE YOU?” and I couldn’t really answer that. I went through all my sketchbooks and saw dark drawings with sad stories, colorful flowers and animals, love and loneliness, sharp details and crazy scribbles, drawings that took me minutes and others days…. such a mess.

I felt lost and disappointed because at this point I thought I knew what I was going on about. What is my art? What am I trying to say to the world? 

After thinking and thinking I convinced myself that: EUREKA! I have found it! I found my style and now I’m going to start a collection with it and some day show it… It was going quite well. I was using the ink I so much love and still implementing bright colors in the background, I was drawing women and some flowers too… Yes, this was it, this is me…

Soon enough I was getting bored of having to follow this collection. I HAD to do at least eight of them and I HAD to do them in ink and I HAD to think of a color for their background and I HAD to look through thousands of women faces to get right some features. They were looking good but what was I saying through them? Was I sad? Was I happy? Had my heart just been broken? Or was I feeling empty? Because this was sure looking empty to me..

And there I went again sitting with all my sketchbooks piled in front of me and I started browsing them again… I did found the same mess I found months ago but I also found something else: I found the time I failed my first quiz ever in my first week of university (with an 18 of 100 by the way, go big or go home they say), I found the time I stayed up until 4am because I wanted to do something nice before going to sleep one typical Tuesday night, I found my broken heart and myself completely in love, I also found one of the many times I recalled my mother because of a small thing and had no other way of getting it out than through art, and when I get bored in lectures and just run far far away without leaving my chair…

I found myself in all these different faces with all these different feelings just trying to let it out and scream to the world “THIS IS WHO I AM” without being taken to the police because of disrupting public areas with my screams. I wanted to share a piece of me with everyone without needing to get a piece back.

And that’s exactly who I am… a woman (I’m 21 now so I’m not consider a girl anymore in any country, damn it) who’s trying to just express herself without talking but still saying a lot. Someone who takes a notebook with her and closes herself up when surrounded by all this meaningless and empty noise. Someone who indeed is a mess and can’t define herself inside a “artistic style”.

Art is something I do for myself. Art is the time I close up all my walls and at the same time let it all out to share with others. Art is all this tiny moments I want to remember forever. Art is all these persons, places and memories that have built me up and changed me. Art is… art is something way beyond what you can see in front of your eyes but what you get to feel through it and for it.

So… if being an artist is about big canvas, having a proper signature and having a defined style… let me keep being a not-artist with all her sketches, her counless incomplete notebooks and way too many feelings to fit hanging in a fancy saloon.

-Ericka Bastías.

PS: To celebrate my own art freedom I bought myself two new black pens and two sketchbooks… 

PPS: Even though this post might seem like the person who made those remarks is THE enemy… I must tell you that my biggest enemy was no one else but myself. These past months I must accept I was quite harsh on myself and this is something I know happens to a lot of us. So remember: be your best friend, you have to live with yourself… forever. 

PPPS: Now it’s all about drinking tea and waiting for inspiration to take me back in its loving arms… 

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Share the Light

65321202I’ve been quite busy lately. I’m finally sort of done with (almost) all of my tough courses in university so I got overexcited about having a tiny spec of free time and decided to join every possible extracurricular activity I had interest in. This took me back to my high school years when my mom would be exasperated by the amount of things I got myself into and would ask me “Do you really need to do all this!?” and I would go “But but… MOOOM”. The funny thing about now is that I have no one to keep track of my activities so I just went all out. For this same reason I have not found much time to paint or write blogs, though now I’m keeping a mini journal (nothing interesting really, just me babbling whatever is in my mind)

Aside from the fact of trying to keep myself together during the week and enjoying  my (still sort of busy) weekends, everything has been sweet. All though now I understand one of the reasons my mom got so stressed about me and my everything activities… THEY-REQUIRE-SO-MUCH-MONEY. I’m literally broke as I can get right now… but it’s okay. Who needs money… haha… or stability, right?

So now, let’s get down to what I was thinking to write about…

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Art & Feelings (from the inside)

Some days ago I was talking with a friend of how happy I am lately: All smiles, staring at the sky and shaping the clouds in my mind, singing while biking in the street, all sunshine… and the first thing he told me (to my surprise) was that he was hoping I wouldn’t stop writing and painting due to all this happiness.

I’ve already commented in other posts my belief that the best art comes from the biggest sorrows. Maybe it is our desesperation to free our soul at least from something, to throw away a bit of all the things that we are carrying… maybe it is all the things we want to scream but we don’t dare to say. It is easy to scream to the world how happy we are but we tend to hide our sadness and well… that sinks the soul to the point we have to do something or else we’ll drown and that is when art comes to the rescue.

But…

What happens when happiness is so overwhelming we want to get it out? What happens when the butterflies fill your chest and you have to tear yourself open or else you’ll explode? What happens when everything seems brighter and you want to capture a moment forever?

Art happens. 

These last couple of months I’ve been keeping a careful record of the drawings I do and when I do them… Am I feeling happy? Have I just hung up from a two hour phone call with that someone? Have I had a bad day because nostalgia decided to visit? And everytime I draw I wrote what I was thinking or feeling…

So let’s get a bit personal… follow me to a small tour around my mind these past months.

(though, sometimes drawings are not so much about me but what surrounds me… countless times I’ve seen something in the streets while I ride bike and ended up writing or drawing about it)

1517626_10154009139921948_4899726402216509845_n“Oh, you fill my lungs with sweetness and you fill my head with you”

Bloom – Paper Kites was playing on Spotify in repeat while I was drawing this. Why am I even playing this song in repeat? Oh no…

Then the lyrics get stuck to me and I am getting tired of it… it’s been a couple of weeks without drawing and I think I am in one of those “inspirational breaks”. But all of a sudden I feel the need to show what I am feeling so I grab my pen and it starts. A girl with her lungs full of butterflies (because having a stomach full of butterflies is too mainstream)… and in her head, or well in her hair, we see this lonely fox staring at the far moon. When all of a sudden this butterfly touches his nose and… loneliness is not so lonely anymore.

I was watching Sia’s Carpool 12885843_10154017548201948_3561206874277318735_oKaraoke when she started singing Elastic Heart. I just found her song so powerful that I HAD to do something. I went to read the lyrics and played it a couple of times. When this picture came to my mind… A girl with her heart being teared away… but not just that but her heart is made of ink which turns into birds… which are the same birds who are then fighting for her heart. I know, it sounds crazy… but this is actually my interpretation of a love that turns harmful. It is something that was part of your heart before… but then it starts hurting you. And since love is blind she has her eyes covered with a bandage which at the end if we watch closely (in the real life vesion it is easier to decipher this) is a bandage made of the words “Love Love Love”.

12928217_10154053946776948_3819573433392966708_nI also did this one with a song! Fever To The Form – Nick Mulvey. But I think this one was more about the rythm than the lyrics… It got me to think of the sea, I do not know why. And then that made me think of the beach… which lead me to think of being in the beach with someone… which lead me to think of love.

I believe falling in love is not actually falling in love, falling in love is diving in love. I think that we have no choice on which persons we connect with or we are attracted to, but falling in love is taking that step of jumping in. And loving someone normally is not easy, since it involves getting close to them and attaching. So this is why this drawing has a tiny woman at the border of a plank ready to dive in, into a sea (the other person’s mind) full of unknown monsters (the other person’s fears), waves (the other person’s mood), mermaids (past lovers), with the only salvation of a tiny boat (hope)… So I tried to capture that exact moment when you look down and you see all this, but still take the leap and… yeah.

Delilah – Florence and the Machine. This12670691_10154036504796948_6364641904746468129_n one is a drawing someone asked me to do, well… they picked the song. I love Florence and the Machine so I was happy to do so. Delilah is a song which makes me think of someone wanting to be set free… in addition to the strength of Florence’s voice and the crazy (amazing) video I could not do anything but use red a red pen and draw all these faces screaming to be set free, to be saved…. Then I thought of the soul rising when being set free and a the eternal wave of thoughts that fills a person’s mind… so I drew the woman on top being held by some strings and her hair falling down creating some sound waves representing the strength of her demons (with demons I don’t mean literal demons) inside her mind… (please, don’t think I am crazy)

12933023_10154056320001948_8978227702152735960_nThis one I did it on the bus on our way to Chiayi, the time we climbed up Alishan to watch the sunrise. There was something (someone) going on my mind for a long time already and I just wondered what would my mother think about it (him) so I thought the biggest question I have since five years ago “Are you here?” and I answered myself through the drawing in the stars which spell “I’M HERE” and with the mother fox sleeping inside the moon while her tiny fox is resting besides her grave under a tree. (This one is easier to explain and understand than the others, SEE! I am not THAT crazy)

13063013_10154114160501948_4659815133247301543_oIt’s been a while since I’ve been writing and drawing about love, right? So… this time I tried to draw about it again but with a whole different point of view: a happy one. This time there is also a song involved (Oh, so unexpected) but this one is in Spanish (ha, that was actually unexpected!) Espacio Sideral – Jesse & Joy which talks about loving someone and feeling all these nice things. So… remember the girl with butterflies from the first drawing? Well, I drew her as a doll this time… and she is openning her chest (exactly where her heart is) and butterflies are coming out to this crazy world. Then in the background we see some mini-me’s doing some crazy stuff such as reaching for the stars, swinging on the moon, climbing Saturn, walking under the rain and tanning on the sun. So… we could say this is the representation of the bubbly feeling of love in Ericka style.

12963859_10154073090896948_501754655696502866_n

Last but not least, I bring to you my first drawing in full color after a while (which is also my own statement of a new phase, a new beginning)… Fire and Ice, Sun and Moon, Explosions and Calmness, Day and Night, see it however you want to see it, I just believe it is two souls meeting… The red fox representing all this wild things while the blue fox representing something more calm, so we can see that the blue fox is placing his nose in the… “forehead” of the other fox in a way of saying “there, there… here I am, calm down”. Which I guess can be what some people with chaos going inside there minds is all they need to hear from the right person on the right time.


So, yeah… these are some of the drawings I’ve been doing lately and some of the things that have been around my mind. What I want to say with all this is 1. Yes, I told you I am crazy. 2. Yes, I told you I’ve been drawing what comes up to my mind lately. 3. There is no NEED for sadness to get artsy… I believe we just need an overwhelming feeling. Positive, or negative.

So, happy Ericka, sad Ericka, angry Ericka, in love Ericka, lonely Ericka, super excited Ericka, frustrated Ericka, all of them can create art. (except Finals and Midterms and Projects Ericka, I hope she doesn’t because I do not want Failing Ericka to appear this semester).

Hope you enjoyed this and do not think I have to go to a psychologist!

Art is what the Heart speaks… and I believe all our hearts are able to speak more than sadness.

 

 

Goodbye Aesthetics

First of all, today I had this song in replay all day long. No real reason, it just happenned so it will be cool if you read the entry while listening to it!

“Why did you stop painting pretty things?”

When this question hit me a couple of days ago I actually wasn’t sure how to react. Of course my first instict was to feel offended. My drawings are like my babies, or a depiction of how I see the world and myself, therefore it felt as a critic towards myself rather than just to the ink and paper. I paused my drawing process (yes, I was drawing at that moment) and directed all my attention to this humanbeing, but before snapping out an ugly answer I took a second to think and asked back “What do you mean with pretty?”

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It’s Okay to Be a Little Messed Up.

It’s finals season which leads me to cooking, drawing, getting back in touch with old friends, cleaning my room, staring into a blank spot in the wall, reading all Berlin Art Parasites posts, checking airplane tickets to a thousand destinations for “someday to be” plans, looking at old phootographs, etc. So, no better season to get a little inspired, right?

20160102_072702As a new year begins I try to get all my mess in order. Try to tidy it up a bit before starting a whole new cycle and well, trying to make it better, but… Still, I find myself carrying a couple of unanswered questions which have been part of my luggage since years, months, weeks or days. Still, I am having conversations with ghosts of those who left. Still I procrastinate until the last night before the deadline. Still I crave McDonald’s every 4:00am that finds me awake. Still I am thinking whether I made the wrong choice of major. Still I read old letters over and over and over again. Still I sleep “power naps” that last over two hours. Still I am writing when I should be reading System Programming powerpoints… so basically, I am still a mess.

But then, I look back to the times when I’ve been the most under-control-no-mess-less-emotional human being. Maybe somewhere along the beginning of  my third year of high school. Family: check. In love? Pff, who needs that. Friends: check. Grades: double check. Spare time: check. Social life: check. Drama: close to zero. (I even remember answering to an impulsive love confession of a friend with a “awww… So what are you doing now?”, not even a moment for considerations, no long paragraph about wrong timing and things like that, NADA)

I was happy, I don’t doubt it at all. I had everything I wanted and all my puzzle pieces fitted perfectly. I had never experience a farewell. Or a heartbreak. My biggest strive in school was keeping my locker in order. Death was something I saw in television only with a lot of ketchup blood splattered all around. Feeling alone was what I felt when my best friend did not go to school. Goodbye was synonym of “see you soon” and being far from those I love was maybe being on different cities, same country. Sounds pretty easy, right? But also, back then I did not paint… I did not run… I did not write. So, was that even me?

And when I’ve been the calmest the flow of art reduces. They are definitely inversely proportional. (Oh damn, this girl must be really messed up right now then… Probably) So as I strive to tidy up a bit all this mess. Cut some strings, close some doors, let go of some memories, bury some feelings I can hear my inner (someday to be) artist screaming not to do it, not to kill her. Because each of this small chaos, each scar or well… each open wound, each open door to the midnight ghosts to come and visit, each faded photograph and live memory is what makes the artist alive.

So, maybe my New Years resolution should not be to “fix myself” (eww… no, who wants to be normal?). No need of making scars disappear. No need of burning old letters. No need of scaring ghosts away. Maybe my New Years resolution should be to keep on doing what makes me smile even with all t20160102_072625hose things going around. Paint a flower on every scar. Steal words from those old letters and create something beautiful. Run the extra mile and leave ghosts breathless as they try to catch me.

And oh, don’t get me wrong. Not all my paintings are sadness, not all my writings are about lost love, and when I run I am not always running away of my memories. But everyone needs a spark to ignite the fire… and maybe, just maybe my little mess is mine. 


It’s 3:27am and this is something I would normally write on my cellphone’s notepad and not share with anyone else. But… New year, you know.

Dating Someone With a Passion

DSCF6095I know you are staring at me. I can feel your piercing stare in my back and I can picture a straight line across your lips, but I don’t stop. I just let the brush slide down on the canva leaving a red trace over my work. Dead silence… Yes, you are still staring and I know what you are thinking “It’s been already four hours and she is still there, ignoring me.” It’s hours of silence, countless minutes in which I float all over the place without leaving the same spot on the floor with my back facing you. I smile to myself appreciating how the colors are blending together, and then I see it: that white spot that had escaped my brush all this time. I think of a color… yeah, blue seems about right for this spot. I take my brush and smile,  I stretch, breathe in and– Oh, you are still there, it’s true.

Becoming deaf, speechless, and very much attentionless to the outside world is something that comes naturally to me when I am “working”. I could feel guilty, a bad person for closing myself up and forgetting the rest, maybe a bit selfish, or antisocial… But then, when days got grey, when my laughs did not come easy and when everyone left: Art was still there.

And honey, I am a faithful lover. I will not sell my love for flowers and kisses. I will not stop my passion for an expensive dinner or balloons in
Valentine’s. Take me like this, with my messy bun, my stained glasses, my hands covered with French watercolor stains (which take a day or two to be gone). Share my 11800190_10153527444406948_9142967733471403944_nnights with my load of unfinished skethes. Love me like this, absent, quiet, loving.

And I promise to love you like this… tracing your smile in every line, painting the sunset with the color of your essence, and loving you quietly while making you inmortal in every single of my pieces.

Oh honey, I am a faithful lover. And all along, in my lack of attention, during my absence, inside my silence: I’ve been painting loving you.


Some time ago, maybe a day, maybe three months, maybe four years, maybe other life. I was sitting down with one of my most precious belongings resting on my lap: my sketchbook. And I was eager to open it and share all the world inside it with the person who was seating next to me. Big smile, sparkling eyes, beating heart. Like when you are 8 years old, your best friend comes for the first time to your house and you give them a tour around as if it was the adventure of a lifetime. I open the book and give it to him, and as he quickly passed the pages my eyes were pasted on his face, looking for some reaction, some feeling, SOMETHING. I was left there… waiting. Nothing came.

He gave it back to me and smiled.diego-rivera-quote

“It’s good”

Thanks…

“Doesn’t it bore you? Drawing so much…”

No…

I took my sketchbook back and place it on its usual spot on top of my desk. Smiled, and started talking about other things, taking importance away of what just had happenned.

Next day I packed my bags and moved to Mars.

Well, not really. But I did get to understand something.

Every person with a passion needs to find a person with their own passion.

Maybe not the same passion. Maybe not even something the other likes. Maybe she’s into basketball and he is a singer. Maybe she is a contemporary dancer and he loves cooking. Maybe she loves reading and he has something for explaining Linear Algebra (if someone reading this actually has this passion, please contact me). But the point is that THERE MUST BE SOMETHING.

Something that moves them.

If-a-writer-falls-in-love-with-you

Or else there’s no way they will ever understand you screaming at the TV because the referee declared penalty. They will try to make you throw away your new culinary creation which looks sort of… “is that even edible?” There’s no way they will make out something in their mind of your messy verses written at midnight. They will roll their eyes when you cry about that character who died in your favorite book. They won’t try to see the face that you painted unintentionally in the petal of the flower of the vase you were actually painting. And they won’t try to pay attention while you explain to them the difference between the 3 lenses you use for the same camera.

“They all look pretty” “You are good” “It’s nice” “Oh, I like those… lines” “Cool…”

 No, I don’t want compliments.

image

I want understanding.

No, you don’t have to understand what I did (Do I even understand it myself?). You have to understand why I’m doing it, why I love it. And the only way… is for you to have something you love as well.

I want vision.

You have to be able to see me in the lines. And see yourself. Because probably you are all over the place. If I write, you are the words. If I paint, you are the colors. If I sing, you are the songs.

I want challenge.

You have to push my limits. Make me angry, make me crazy, make me wild. You have to make me want to become better. I need someone who will see in me what I can’t see in myself and push me until I reach it.

I want inspiration.

You have to be able to deal with my lousy sketches of… you. I want you, as you. I want to get lost in every corner of your soul and draw the map. I will take you and try to make you mine through what I do… of course never succeeding but also never giving up.

I want acceptance.

You have to be able to accept me. Crazy,tumblr_mv17t2FQYl1s4h8o2o1_500 messy, moody, quiet, loud… and not only me but what I do. The ugly paintings on the living room, don’t try to take them down while I am away. Don’t throw away my love letters, even if what I call a love letter is a post-it with an amorphous heart drawn on it.

Probably all I want is crazyness. Someone crazy, crazy enough to take all this crazyness I carry inside me as daily company. 

Someone who goes crazy about something as well. Someone capable of loving something as abstract as colors, words, the feeling of grass under their tennis shoes, the sunset seen through a lens.

Someone who loves crazy, because crazy is me and crazy is my passion.


 

Yeah, you better not date an artist. Save yourself the trouble.

I chose not to do it, or well did I ever had an option?

We Need More Art

I have so much I want to talk about. So much going on this big head of mine that I don’t even know what this post is going to be about. Or well, first I’ll tell you a story and then I’ll move to the post, since I just figured out what I want to talk about, but I also want to share with you something.


It all started when I was running late for Salsa (I was planning on skipping for second time in a row but then that tiny voice in my head made me feel guilty and lazy so… I left my bed). I was running in the streets, some raindrops hitting on my face (and annoying me since I was wearing my normal glasses nad not contacts) and with music booming in my ears when Bloom – The Paper Kites started playing. All of a sudden my mind just traveled back to the past. It was February 2011, I was (almost) 15 and I was in the rooftop of my old apartment building.

In the morning when I wake
And the sun is coming through,

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