'Reflejo de Frida' is the first painting of 2016 to add to my existing series of Frida Kahlo inspired paintings. I find the inspiration to create another Frida, begin around May of every year, and peak in the summer, around her birthday and also around the time of her death (July). This year, I've decided to use real photos of Frida, as reference. I was drawn to this one of her, as it has such a peaceful quality to me. In many of her photos, she seems quite alone, with the exception of her animal friends. Her lonesomeness seems to intensify in this piece. I wonder as she would stare at her own reflection, if she could fathom the gravity of her life, and how much she would impact future generations of artists, fans, and lovers of Mexican art and culture? Can we the viewers, from the outside, begin to comprehend her experience of pain, life and love? As I painted this piece, I heard voices whisper, 'Will you miss me when I'm gone?', or 'will you remember me when I'm gone?'. I almost titled the painting, with one of these phrases, because they came in so clear, I decided to paint her in skull, on the left, because it is my style; in skeleton, but not a black and white skull. I used every color in the spectrum to create the skull of Frida, because color is life, and although we pass, I believe we continue to live on. I took this a step further, by creating her reflection in the flesh, again using every color to symbolize life, from black to white, and everything in between. The face in the reflection seems to me, not so realistic as it is a spirit of her face. Her face is almost too sacred to paint, and I couldn't look at a photograph but rather, how I felt she would want me to paint her image. Falling from above, from the light, I painted rose petals cascading down upon the two of them. This is a symbol for the love that surrounds Frida today. As the petals fall to the floor, they take on life, transforming into roses, with red vines that continue down the path. I added my 'Tiki Man' statue in the left corner, which symbolizes something ancient and always present, witnessing all our life moments, emotions, struggles, death. For me, this painting is a glimpse; a moment in time, living forever in our hearts and never forgotten. In love, we remember Frida Kahlo.
This is the first painting, I've created that's of a personal photo. It depicts a couple, in a dark, old time Movie Theater, enjoying, more the company of each other, than anything else. This is a painting of me and my adoring husband, Noel. When you first meet that person, who you know you will spend the rest of your life with, you just want to share anything and everything together; watching movies was one of the things we enjoyed doing a lot, in the beginning of our relationship. We shared all of our favorites, again with each other and discovered so many new, amazing movies together, which then became 'Our' favorites. Some of those movies were, 'Sweeny Todd' and 'Cinema Paradiso'. I hoped to give it that kind of vibe, along the lines of Tim Burton. This is a near and dear one, and will be kept for our home and family. I wonder if it will creep out our future grandchildren one day haha! Even for me, this one is a little bit chilling , to walk in the room and see ourselves as muertos.
This is a piece that came to me, much like the other ones; it began with a vision into a beautiful forest, following a path of light. I saw a shadow inside and surrounded by the light. As I got closer, I saw it was a little deer, so small and innocent; not afraid. All I wanted to do, was get closer to this little deer in the light, because I believed, if I touched him, all my pain, worries, and sorrow would disappear. It would be like turning a new chapter, leaving behind what ails us, and beginning again, fresh and new. All there is on the other side is LOVE. This is what this painting means to me. I often have these feelings of beginning anew every Spring; that's why I titled it 'Primavera ~ Forest of New Life'. The message is: Everyone has a chance to begin again. Everyone gets a new start. It's up to us to go within to find the strength there and the Love that makes this possible. I used myself as the model in the painting
Divine Mother Earth' began as an abstract; just for fun. I needed a break from my normal process, of imagining a picture first, then getting it out of my head to canvas. This time, I had no preconceived idea of what I would be painting; just that I would be playing around in paint. I started with blues, and yellows, with some red and purple, with the canvas laid flat, and let whatever would happen; happen. I started to see something like a castle, or a forest, and also shapes like figures began to appear. I let it dry, and put it vertically on the easel, and switched to oils. I then started making apparent the figures that I saw and forest. I sensed a great feminine energy at this point. In those feminine figures, I gave some of them faces. I called it divine, because every inch of this piece feels magical to me. All the colors are connected to one another. There are no limits or boundaries. To some up what I see in the finished piece is Earth in it's divinity; The cycle of life, and how it never ends. The center of the painting is middle ground, where we exist with nature and the Divine Mother who watches over us and is nurturing. The top of the painting is universal flow, and the bottom, is the dirt and earth, which we die into, but transform into new life. Wow this was a deep one for me!! What do YOU see?
'Ribbons in my Hair
Ribbons in the moonlit sky
Red and Yellow, flowing through the air
Tell me you love me
Ribbons in my Hair
Ribbons in the night garden
gently whispering their secrets
Tell me you love me
Ribbons in my Hair
Red and Yellow, flowing through the air
Ribbons, Ribbons... Ribbons are everywhere'
This is the poem I heard in my mind, after seeing the vision of this painting, 'Frida in the Moonlight Garden. This is the first time I heard phrases whispered to me, as I saw a painting to create. I was able to fly all around inside the painting, and see and feel everything. I immediately sketched the image along with the words. This is how 'Frida in the Moonlight Garden came to be.
This painting came about in a dream. I dreamt that I created a series of 3 new Frida inspired paintings. I was able to see rather clearly each one, individually and fly around in them, seeing the colors and themes for each one. I knew this was a gift. Part of me knew I was dreaming, so I tried as long as I could, to gather all the information necessary to create these pieces. I also saw in the dream that two out of three pieces, would be hung in San Francisco. I woke up and immediately grabbed my sketchbook and wrote down as many details as possible to later create them. ‘Thinking about Life’ is the first painting of this 2015 series of Frida inspired pieces. Before I began painting, all I knew was that it would be Frida in the sky with some red and blue accents. I didn’t have a clear vision but in faith, began painting anyway. The entire painting just flowed out of me effortlessly. When I painted her skull in the clouds, a circulation of clouds seemed to encompass her, looking to me like one of her famous head dresses, that she painted herself in several paintings. I felt so much Life in this painting and Light! It surrounded her and also emanated from her, coming from her forehead, above the brow and also shined upon her from above. As I progressed, I felt something very significant below her missing...I initially thought bright and vividly colored flowers would be at the bottom, but it needed something more. On a whim I added a child; a baby which could be a doll. It was a symbol for new life and for innocence. The titled came to me just as easy as the painting; While thumbing through one of my Frida books, I found a painting, which I had not really taken notice. It was another self portrait, where she has a skull on her forehead above the brow. It's titled, ‘Thinking about Death’. A voice came to me in that moment, ‘Your painting must be titled, ‘Thinking about Life’, and it was decided. What do I think this painting represents? For me it means, Rebirth, New Beginnings; the eternal. Ultimately it’s for others to decide what it may mean for them. I see my art as being a gift for others, left for Their interpretation. This painting will be featured in Fiestas Fridas San Francisco, a two month long celebration of the life of Frida Kahlo, from July through August, 2015.
I created this painting after reading a book called, ‘Letting Go’ by David Hawkins. The book was about learning how to let go of all negative emotions that plague our mind. By releasing the negative emotions, they could be replaced by positive emotions (LOVE). I really liked the idea of this since my mind tends to be a very busy place and honestly, many of those thoughts are negative. When I began to practice the techniques of this book, I immediately felt lighter as the negative thoughts left me. The more I became aware of these thoughts and let them go, more and more seemed to arise to the surface. I was surprise at the amount of fear driven thoughts I had, carrying around with me. As I felt them leave me, I felt more and more filled with light and joy, and simply happy. It felt like the negative thoughts had no where left to hide and ran and hid away from the light. It reminded me of lifting up big rocks as a child, and watching all the creatures living under there, run and scurry to escape back into the darkness. I saw this image clearly of a while light, presence lifting up my mind, uncovering what dark creatures lay there and witnessing them leaving me. The painting arose in my mind perfectly clear, and I was then inspired to to paint it.
‘Summer Sanity’ came about back in 2004, when I was making a huge transition in becoming a single mother of 2 children, and going out on my own, living in Longmont, CO. The experience was incredibly freeing, although uncertain and terrifying at some moments. Overall I was very thankful to embark on this new journey with my children. The vision itself for the painting, just came to me, while at the swimming pool in June. I was feeling quite happy while being out there in the sun,watching my kids play, when the image began to emerge into my mind. I was able to fly all around the image in my head and see so many vivid things in there, that just seemed rightfully in place. I didn't question the vision, or why must there be a creature with rooster claws, traveling with fruit falling from the wagon, nor did I question the broken vase with red liquid pouring from it. It was all really clear; that I just, Must paint it. Understanding it, would come later ; if ever! It’s not my task to understand that which I paint...So I went on to create this painting, completing it finally in 2009. During those years, between 2004 and 2010, life became rather complicated but the the vision remained the same. There was a lot of breaking of wine glasses, spilling the wine, and much heartache as well. I felt very unsettled trying to make ends meet, with my job as a needlepoint canvas painter and an in home care-giving job. Life took an incredible turn when my kids and I moved to South Florida in 2011. I moved for love lead me the way. It was a beautiful blessing. This painting remained in my possession and was even part of my solo exhibition in Gallery 2014, Hollywood, FL in 2013. It wasn't until recently, while walking past the painting, that I began seeing new life emerge in it. The colors and the concepts were just jumping out at me. This doesn't usually happen with me with older paintings. This was a first. I saw it all coming together and finally making sense to me. I had to clean it up and clean up the red liquid. I had to create light blasting through the gate and the light above the gate! It erased although not fully,creating a ghost of the traveling devil like creature. It just felt right to make these changes. I also transformed the painting from acrylic to oils. What I get from this change, is that all time and phases pass on. It’s always and forever changing. It was perhaps a phase of my life, that is behind me, but still remains a part of me and is still changing. My life today is getting cleaned up and is a daily process. Although that complicated part of my life is over, and I am now more at peace and settled, am I really? The painting speaks for itself and appears so much more intense to me; still busy but shining so much more brightly! Life is a beautiful, unfolding process, like that of the most exquisite flower. What I value more out of my gift of painting, is not what I get out of it, but what others see in this. I may never fully know why I paint some of my paintings, but it’s not necessary. If this means something to someone, then I have fulfilled my purpose.
Music has always been and will always be a big part of my life! I studied piano from age 2 - 17 years old, classically and by ear and still play today. I also played, violin and cello in school. Music is another way to express my inner feelings and joy .I love playing and singing popular songs by artists such as Coldplay, Fleetwood Mac, REM as well as old Mexican folk songs. I grew up listening to Linda Ronstadt's 'Canciones de mi Padre'. I believe that playing music makes me a better artist and person all around. Music brings people together!!
January 27, 2015; two days after the first #GirlNoticed mural has been created by Lori Pratico of my daughter Veronica; I felt the real need to express what this project has meant to me....
It goes way back.... When I was a little girl; around 5 years old, I was captivated by a small and realistic oil painting of a parrot that hung in my mother's room. As most children do, I asked a lot of questions. I was amazed to know that it was my late Grandmother (my mom's mom) who had painted it, and also shocked that she had only been 13! Her talent had been incredible!! I had never met my Grandmother Winifred Tolly, because she died when she was just 42. I asked my mom if she had been a famous artist, and my mother began to describe her life; She married very young to an Army Colonel, and had 3 children( my mom Pamela, and two younger brothers). They moved all over the world throughout my Grandfather's service. She was a housewife and made art as a hobby. My mom remembered and described fondly some of the art she witnessed her creating throughout the years. When my Grandmother's marriage fell apart, due to my Grandfather's alcoholism, she filed for divorce, only to fall into another alcoholic marriage. Grandma Winifred ended up getting pregnant at age 40, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, but her own health deteriorated rapidly. She had been a smoker, and although she had quit, her emphysema took over her frail and tiny body, and Winfred passed away at just 42 years old. My own mother was 21 years old at the time, and was expecting her first child (my oldest sister Lynea) and the loss was devastating. My question again and again, was why didn't she pursue her art?! She was so incredibly talented!! Didn't anyone NOTICE that??!! My mom didn't have an answer for me that could appease me; 'It was a different time' she said. 'She didn't' think she was good enough'. 'She didn't know how'. I felt tremendous sadness, even at this young age whenever I would look at her parrot painting, and when I discovered that I too had a talent for art, I felt determined to do what my late Grandmother felt she couldn't. I was stubborn like that.
As I entered my teen years, my stubborn, and head strong determination began to waiver. I began feeling very insecure around 13 years old. I started caring too much what others thought of me and wanted desperately to feel like I belonged. I became aware of not only my insecurities but also my Mom's insecurities. She would say things like, 'I'm not smart enough', 'I could never make it on my own'. She too had a talent for art at a young age, and when I asked her why she didn't follow it, her answer was' I wasn't good enough'. I began to get really confused and wonder was I good enough? Would anyone NOTICE me or my art? I began to distance myself from everyone and throughout High School , became quite a loner. I felt very broken,alone, and in the dark. This was not a good time for me. I had lost that enthusiasm for a lot of the things that I had loved as a child. The only thing that I held onto during this time was my art. It was my last year in High School, when I was just barely getting by to graduate, when I was thrown into an AP English class. A teacher had recognized that I could write, and sent me to this advanced class. When I showed up, among the college prep kids, I felt like I didn't belong there.I felt like I would be just lucky to graduate! It was the most challenging class, but I happened to love it. One day after class had ended, I felt compelled to share with the teacher, Mr Fett, a couple of drawings that I was inspired to do after viewing a replica of Michael Angelo's 'La Pieta' of a 'Vatican Treasures' exhibition in the Denver Museum. One was of Christ and one of his Mother. Mr Fett, held the drawings for a very long time. He appeared to get emotional. I began to feel a little uncomfortable. After a long moment, of holding and looking at the drawings, he looked me in the eyes and said,
"Padilla (that's what he called me), You are going to do something really big in your life".
Time seemed to stand still in that moment. His words and sincerity touched me in a way I couldn't' describe. I felt NOTICED.
I never forgot that moment, and would always go back to it, whenever I felt I was in a bind, or had doubt about what I was doing. It fueled my high ambitions with my art all throughout my life.
Moving into the future, when I had my own daughter, Veronica, I strived to be the role model, that she deserved. When I recognized that she too carried on the talent of art that runs in the family, I tried to encourage her any way possible. I wanted her to feel strong, and invincible!! I wanted her to not doubt herself like I had, and not have a rough time like I had, through the teen years. But as she entered 11,12,13, I saw that glimmering spark of determination begin to dwindle. I saw her become more and more quiet and isolated; full of self doubt and lacking confidence. This deeply saddened me, and I felt helpless. What was happening to my daughter to cause this break down of self esteem?! It made me have to take a look at my own experience again and ask the same questions. What was this?!
Just at this point in time, when this a real experience for my daughter and myself, in walks Lori Pratico. We are fellow artists at Gallery 2014 and we were painting live for an art walk. I happened to bring along Veronica that night, because she loves to attend and sketch in the ambiance of the beautiful Gallery 2014, and I thought it was good for her. During the night, Lori approached me, and casually asks, "Heather, is your daughter here tonight?" I said" yes, she's over on the other side drawing in her sketch book haha!" Lori had seen my daughter maybe once before but wasn't sure. She had just NOTICED a quiet girl, sitting off to the side, drawing in her sketchbook, but said there was just something about this girl that had intrigued her; like there was 'a story behind her eyes'. At the end of the night, Lori surprised me by asking me if it would be okay if she painted my daughter!! I felt incredibly touched and special that she had found my daughter as one of her subjects to paint. Lori is a portrait artist, but doesn't just paint anybody. She seems to have this sixth sense about her, that points her to who she needs to paint. It's an incredible gift, and I think not even Lori herself knew how this would play out. I can't tell the story of how Lori got the idea to create this project, but as a witness to what has transpired, I see an artist who has asked the question, 'how can I help the world' and has opened her heart and let herself be guided to create the #GirlNoticed project. That night she NOTICED my daughter.
Lori created the first #GirlNoticed charcoal mural of Veronica on the corner of Harrison St and Win Dixie Highway in Hollywood, Florida. It's created in charcoal because there is only a window of opportunity to catch someone's attention and NOTICE them. As time passes, and life moves, on, so too will the charcoal mural fade away. "NOTICE ME; My eyes dream your future" reads the inscription below Veronica's face.
#GIRLNOTICED which will be a nationwide charcoal mural project is a gift for girls like my daughter, Veronica and all the girls who have felt broken down by society, have low self esteem, and felt insignificant and unnoticed in their developing lives. It gives them the gift of being NOTICED . Lori's project brings #HEALING not only to these young girls, but also to the generations, like me in my family of women who are passing this down subconsciously to each other. Along with Lori Pratico, Owner of Gallery 2014 and Photographer Elizabeth Sanjuan has been a key instrument in helping Lori to deliver this powerful message to the people. She will document their journey through her photography as they travel all 50 states together, choosing a #GIRLNOTICED in each charcoal mural created .
Thank you Lori Pratico and Elizabeth Sanjuan for listening to your hearts. This is an incredible gift!!! We feel #NOTICED!!!
When we #HEAL ourselves, we HEAL each other.