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.
'Blue Buddha Sky' is part of my 'meditation visions' series. I paint my meditation experiences. This time, I was floating in a dark bluish and purple sky. I sensed many beings also floating there with me. There were hundreds of thousands of souls there, and it was extremely vast, dark and peaceful. As I floated through this space, lights began to emerge. They looked like stars and what I could compare it to, would be pictures taken of the universe from Hubble space telescope from my book on the Cosmos. As I noticed these bright and what first appeared as random shining stars or lights, I realized they were all taking a formation. They were all perfectly placed. When I floated away from them, looking at them all, I realized they took on the face of what looked like Buddha. The Buddha face was looking down, and was just the top portion. It filled the entire Universe. It was incredible. I was in awe of such beauty. I came out of the meditation state within exactly an hour, and immediately found my sketch book and recorded my experience, to later create this painting.
'Light in the Garden' is part of my meditation visions series. In this series, I paint my experience from a meditation session. During this session, I was floating through a vast, dark and beautiful forest. I was drifting towards a beckoning light, that was illuminating the path I was to travel on. This path was full of twisted roots,moss and foliage. My feet were bare. I couldn't help but be fixated on the light calling to me. As I drew closer to this incredible light that I can hardly describe, I realized it was a figure. The closer I got to the figure, I realized it was larger than a human; almost 8 feet tall. The light was so intense that it was difficult to see any details of this figure. I couldn't tell if it was a male or female. It was divine. I wanted to get as close as possible to the figure. I was so close, that the light radiating from this being, lit up my entire being. Flecks of light radiated from the face of the illuminated figure, and felt like the wings of butterflies brushing my face. I was filled with a tremendous sense of Joy, Peace and Love. I never wanted to leave. When I awoke from the meditation state, it had been exactly 1 hour to the exact minute. This has happened time and time again, and I felt like I had traveled somewhere.
I believe the title perfectly describes this painting. This is a painting that came to me while in meditation. I saw a very dark and vast space, which had a ray of light that was vertical, creating a hollow tube, that had no end and no beginning. The only direction it traveled was up, not down. I saw many beings, which could have been the same being, clambering and climbing in this light, which had spirally, and twisted branches all through out the light. The beings were carefully climbing up this spiral, trying very hard to not touch the thorns that were everywhere. There were many different ways, that they could try to make the journey upward, but it was the being right in the center, and in the brightest light, that figured out, if you just trust the light in the center and raise your hands upward, the light will Carry you up and you will not be hurt from the thorns. It was the quickest way up!
Sometimes I get visions of paintings as analogies. I believe this is one of them. I think it's a metaphor for living one's life and Trusting the universe is definitely something I need to work on! It's amazing how much we think we can control, but actually we control so little; such as the beating of our own hearts.
This painting came about as one of my meditation vision experiences. I get visions sometimes while I meditate, and some of them are so captivating, that I am inspired to paint them. The title of this painting is 'Seat of the Soul'. I never knew what that was and still don't understand fully what this is, but I will tell you how the titled came about and what this painting means: As I am fairly new in my practice of meditation, I had been leaving my sketch book beside me, for any reason that I might find to write about each experience. I began this session as usual, in the sitting position with hands extended to the sky. As I focused on my breath, I began to again get distracted by my thoughts, which is usually the case in meditation. It took me a while it seemed, but I began to somehow fly away from these distracting thoughts and a beautiful light began to emerge, which I was naturally drifting towards. In this immense light, I began to see a dark figure that was sitting in the same position as I with a crown or some type of head dress upon the head. I couldn't tell if it was male or female. It seemed to be sitting upon all my thoughts in the center of this light. The thoughts looked like ropes or tubes, carrying different ideas, like the normal chatter of the brain; what's for dinner tonight, what responsibilities I have to do, etc. It felt like I was separate from these thoughts for once as I witnessed this very peaceful being sitting upon where all thoughts begin or cease. I tried to get as close as I could to try to distinguish the face of this being and it spoke to me: It said, "You have to be more pure". I stayed in this space with this being, until my thoughts seemed to be pulling me away. It was like my time was up or something. As I began to drift backwards and away from the being it spoke again, like to say 'oh one more thing'. It just said, "Pineal Gland". I was confused, as I never heard that word before and didn't know what it meant and it repeated again, "Pineal Gland". My thoughts, then seemed to gain control, and took me out of this space and back to where I could hear things around me again and then I opened my eyes. I felt like I had just traveled somewhere, like you feel when you have a really deep dream. I immediately picked up my sketchbook and wrote down what I saw and the words, 'pineal gland'. I looked at the clock, and although it had felt like only minutes I was in this, it had been exactly 1 hour to the exact minute. I put the sketch book away and carried on with my daily activities. It wasn't until several days later that I remembered about this experience while browsing for a documentary to watch. I decided to look up on YouTube, 'Pineal Gland' and was shocked and amazed to what I found. It is believed the pineal gland to be the "principal seat of the soul" and is where the third eye, or all seeing eye is located. This send chills through me. When I try to explain to people how I get my painting ideas, they arrive somewhere like a movie screen located at the front of my forehead. I believe this to be the third eye. I still do not understand fully why I had this experience, but I don't have to. I decided to paint exactly what I saw and experienced in my mind's eye. I decided to title the painting, 'Seat of the Soul'. I am continuing my practice of meditation to say the least! I have also just discovered a book with the same title, written by Gary Zukav. I believe I am embarking on a new adventure, not only with my art but for my entire being.
Niña Artista' was just one of those ideas that just popped into my head one day while gardening. I just had a burst of the entire image enter into my mind, and I was actually able to fly around in the entire idea of this painting to see all the detail. I saw a little skeleton girl, which looked like she fell into a well of some sort with immense light shining down on her head, and geometric shapes surrounding her. She was an artist, and these geometric shapes were all the paintings she would create through her entire life. The shapes also resembled blocks or buildings; like building blocks. There was also a tree of some sort that looked like she was a part of, growing along with this little creature. The entire painting would be in soft blue tones. I immediately grabbed my sketch book and jotted down as much as I could remember. Whenever a painting idea comes to me this fast, I know I need to paint it quickly, which is exactly what I did. As I began the painting, other things began to emerge, like the baby in a basket, and the over turned bicycle. I do not have a clear explanation of how this painting idea came to me. It could be a window into the subconscious or a daydream. I rarely question why I get these ideas, I just paint them, and then like to try and figure them out later or hear anyone else's version. At the time I created this painting, we had just thought about relocating to another house. Right before I completed the painting, we were about to begin moving. Maybe I had a premonition that we would move and I would feel uprooted. For me I think 'Niña Artista' means, no matter what life brings you, no matter where you live, or who is in your life or not, to never give up. Don't get discouraged. Always look to the light
I put Frida in her beloved Mexico and put her dress that she had put in her piece titled, 'My Dress Hangs There' in the painting to depict a more happier and at peace Frida. You see, she was very unhappy when she created this because she was tired of being in America in the Big Apple, with Diego and yearned to travel back home to Mexico.
In Frida's painting, She puts her dress in her piece, surrounded by big, grey buildings, industrialization and city life. This kind of life depressed her. She wanted to escape from it all and go back to a simpler way of life, surrounded by colors, nature and her pets.
My painting is a continuation of her journey and into the after life. We all hope Frida's suffering is over and that she is in a restful place.
I had always wanted to create a piece of a Dentist, that was similar to my painting, 'El Doctór'. The time came to create 'La Dentista' as I was preparing for my show, 'Skeleton Garden' at Gallery 2014, Hollywood, FL. My family and I had just moved from Hollywood to Coral Springs, which left me with less time to create paintings for this solo show. I was very nervous that I wouldn't have the time to create the paintings. As I began, this painting seemed to just flow out of me, rather quickly and effortlessly. As I painted, the colors all came together and I was enjoying the process, although still concerned with lack of time. As I was nearing the completion of the painting, that night, my husband began complaining of a tooth ache. It was the next day, that I planned on completing 'La Dentista' with details left to paint on the tooth extraction, that my husband visited the real Dentist and had to have an emergency tooth extraction!! As I painted the very last details, at the very same moment I was painting, my husband was in the hot seat at the dental office, getting his tooth extracted!! I almost felt guilty for what happened; like I had something to do with it! It was so remarkable, that I decided to paint a clock in the painting with the time that this synchronicity occurred!
What I take from the bizarre occurrence, was it was the Universe's way of telling me, it's okay! Everything is happening exactly when it's supposed to! Do not worry!! You'll have enough time!
Niña Artista came about in my mind, in a flash. It was a vision of the entire piece, that I was able to fly into and explore, while still in my mind's eye. I didn't question what it meant or why to create it, but knew I had to get this idea out quickly. Some paintings come to me in this way, and I can try to figure them out later. The figure or child in the middle represents a child painter, but could be any child with aspiring dreams and imagination; pretty much all children.
As life goes on and we learn to fit into society, life can get complicated, with kids of our own, mortgages, jobs,responsibilities. It's easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of life and lose sight of the child we once were; the child full of hope, imagination and dreams. I think if we keep that light alive, inside of us, we can aspire to come into our true and authentic selves.
The message of this painting for me is hope; to hold on, look to the light, and not lose sight of that child within us.