JH: Imagine yourself standing in an art gallery in front of a display of your work. You are speaking with a customer who has never seen your work before. What would you say to that customer to help her better understand your work?
SD:I was born in Brazil into a family legacy of artists. I've been a professional artist and art educator for 13 years. Having travelled extensively and acquired (nearly) three citizenships, my work focuses on the idea of home, belonging and the inexorable passage of time.
As a practicing yogi and avid student of zen Buddhism, my painting process is a spiritual practice. If home is where the heart is, then by its simplest definition, home is where we are.
I infuse my environment into my paintings to create ethereal, textural abstracts namely; salt from the Great Salt Lake, iron-rich Utah dirt, foraged sawdust, plaster, repurposed acrylic paint & local newspapers.
I believe art-making is a catalyst for transformation & personal empowerment. I am living proof!
JH. What questions would you expect the customer to ask? How would you reply to those questions?
SD: The 2 most popular questions I get are: 1. "How did you make this? and 2. "How long did this take you to make?" The second question is the most difficult to answer:
"A lifetime" is my honest answer. My unique process and unorthodox technique has taken years to develop. They've come as a result of my life experiences and thousands of hours honing and perfecting my craft.
Some of my paintings have as many as 42 layers on them, which makes them extremely heavy! Each painting varies in their time of completion. On average, and depending how many layers there are on each piece, a painting takes 4-6 weeks to complete.
JH. How do you select your subject matter?
SD: As a result of my yoga, I have lots of practice channeling energy to animate my body. I use the same process when it comes to creating my paintings. I see myself as a co-creator with Source rather than the sole creator.
For me, painting is a spiritual practice. I enjoy allowing the process to evolve into ideas rather than having a fixed idea of what the paintings must look like. I enjoy being "led" and surprised by the outcome on the canvas.
When I paint from an "ego" place, the process is more difficult, less enjoyable. When I can silence the inner critic, the process evolves effortlessly as if "supported" by unseen forces.
I describe my process/subject matter as "mindful meditations on canvas".
JH: What draws you to any particular scene or composition?
SD: There is a Japanese art called Kintsugi. It is the philosophy that something broken and put back together again with gold is far more valuable than something that was never broken. This is a metaphor for embracing our flaws and imperfections. I adopt this philosophy into my work.
I enjoy creating paintings that are neither "too perfect" or "too balanced'. I lean towards surprising the viewer with something unexpected rather than adhering too vigorously towards traditional rules of composition.
JH: What inspires you?
SD: I am inspired by aligning myself with Source, so that I can create from a place of effortlessness. I am inspired by Mother Nature. Mother Nature is my color wheel. I am inspired by decay, peeling paint, rust and weathering - the inexorable passage of time. Introducing one of my "weathered" paintings into a modern interior - ripe with stainless steel and concrete, fills me with excitement. I delight in the juxtaposition.
JH: Do you have a plan that you are following that guides you to your next piece, or is each piece discovered as you begin? Explain.
SD: "The analytical mind is a beautiful servant but a lousy master." This is a guiding principle in my work and a philosophy I strive to adopt in my own life. My work is never preconceived. I prefer to have the work direct me instead.
JH: How does your imagery come to you?
SD: I think of my paintings as "messengers between realms''. A snapshot of energy. I paint feeling rather than imagery. What comes out on the canvas is a byproduct of my mediations.
JH: Do you plan each composition, or does it come to you as you work? Explain.
SD: Composition is a lot like background music to me. It's something I am aware of, but it's not at the forefront of my mind. I think this is a result of working with these elements for many years. It's a muscle I've strengthened over time.
JH: What is your process for creating your work?
SD: I approach each canvas with an intention. Often a mantra for mediation is written on the canvas. Although these words will eventually get covered up, I believe these intentions will be felt by the viewer. I surround myself with my favorite colors and texture mediums. I play, experiment, dance, have fun!
Pablo Picasso said "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like child." I attempt to paint with the same creativity, spontaneity and freedom that I see present in the way kids create.
Layers are added, layers are subtracted until a sense of balance and harmony is reached on the canvas.
JH: What is unique about your technique?
SD: I see each canvas as a unique fingerprint. An extension of its creator. I believe my paintings have "soul".
JH: How has your technique evolved over time?
SD: My technique has become much more complex and multi-layered. My tools and materials have incorporated less and less towards the art store and more towards gathering materials from my environment to create my texture mediums.
My paintings have become increasingly larger over the years. Also, as I have studied and gotten deeper into yoga & Buddhist meditation practices, I also see these elements incorporated into my work.
JH: What is your greatest challenge when creating?
SD: The challenges ebb and flow. Balancing a consistent work schedule, painting commissions, dead lines knowing when the painting is finished, etc. My greatest concern is remaining centered so that I can create from a place of abundance and peace vs a place of lack & fear. I believe all of our actions create concentric circles of influence that have far reaching effects. Being present with each painting and creating from a place of love is important to me. We begin to change the world by changing ourselves.
JH: How do you know when a piece has succeeded?
SD: It's a feeling. It's a confluence of technique and intention. Knowing that there is nothing I could add or take away from the painting that would make it better is a huge clue.
JH: What would you say all of your work has in common?
SD: Good intentions, creative innovation & grounding elements that come as a result of infusing Mother Earth into the work. A message that art is a catalyst for art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof!
JH: What is unique about your art?
SD: Having travelled extensively and acquired (nearly) three citizenships, my work focuses on the idea of home, belonging and the inexorable passage of time. If home is where the heart is, then by its simplest definition, home is where we are.
I infuse the environment into the work namely: salt, sand, wood shavings, plaster, metallic pigments and newspaper to create ethereal, textural, sculptural abstracts.
JH: What have teachers or mentors shared with you about their approach to capturing your subject? What have you incorporated from their approach into your work?
SD: My mentors and teachers continue to influence my process immensely namely:
Thich Nat Han
JH: Which great artists have influenced your art? What do you admire in their approach to subject matter that is similar to yours?
JH: What have people said about your art?
SD: The 10 most popular adjectives used to describe my work are:
Recently, someone described my work as "sacred". I really appreciate that. I see myself as a channel and as a co-creator with sources. I am grateful that this influence can be felt by the viewer.
JH: What message do you want to share with your art?
SD: 13 years of quitting my corporate job at a law firm to pursue art full-time my message is still the same: The art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof!
JH: Where do you see your work going in the future?
SD: I try not to think about that too much. I have a tendency to get very swept up in thinking about the future and when I do this, the present moment loses it's magic. My primary goal is to be 100% present with my work and opportunities here and now in an effort to create harmonic creations - whether that expresses itself through works or canvas or interpersonal relationships with collectors and students. If I can give the present all of my focus and presence, when the future arises I will be able to meet it with great power and presence.
I imagine spending more time creating in the great outdoors. I think a painting infused by the elements of mother nature is extremely powerful and grounding. I think we all need that kind of energy in our lives and in our homes.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.