Have you watched me on the Hustle Show yet? Well what are you waiting for!? Learn more about who I am, what I do and the business that is fine art. I sit down with fellow entrepreneur and friend Marquese Wheaton to chop it up and shed some insight into the life of an artist.
I recently had the privilege of joining a project spearheaded by the Relentless Life Project at Banner Desert Medical Center. I was one of 7 artists who created murals to be placed in bays that are used for cancer patients at the Oncology Center to receive chemo therapy. The bays are small rooms with a chair and medical equipment that patients sit in for hours at a time while they receive their treatment. The bays lacked a certain "oomph" and seemed to be a bit lifeless. So, artists were called into action to create a beautiful and inspiring space for patients.
This was hands down one of the most important projects I have ever worked on. I am going to be totally vulnerable as I explain why this mural was such a significant part of my journey as not only an artist but as a human being. I have to start first by telling you a little about a few very important people who I have lost in my life and the impact it had on me.
I will never forget that day. I was eleven years old. I think it was around 5 am. I way laying in my bed. The sun had barely begun to creep in through the blinds so there was just enough light to see the silhouettes of all of the furniture in the room. I had just opened my eyes when I felt it. I just knew. A few seconds later the phone rang in my moms room next door. I heard my mom get out of bed to answer it. She said, "Hello" and then... tears. I knew the moment I woke up, before the phone even rang that she was gone.
My mother came into our room to give my brother and me the news. For some reason, I was filled with this unexplainable sense of peace. A voice told me that I had to stay level headed and keep my mother calm as she drove us to my aunts house to meet our family. On the drive there my mother was hysterical. I asked her questions to take her mind off of the trauma we were experiencing. Something just told me to try to keep her at ease and I followed that voice.
We arrived safely, pulled up in front of the house and parked. I remember walking up to the door and still feeling at peace. The door opened, I walked in and as soon as I passed through the doorway, I lost it. I completely broke down. It all hit me at that moment that she was GONE. My Aunt Julie Ann was gone.
She had breast cancer and she fought it so gracefully. For awhile, I didn't even know she was sick. I spent every summer with her. I love her more that my words can ever explain. The day before she passed my mother told me that she had received a call that my Aunt had 10days to a month to live and that in the morning we were going to say goodbye to her. But she had passed before we had the chance. Instead of arriving that morning to tell her one last time that I loved her, I was standing in her home with my family confused and completely devastated.
If true beauty was a person, Julie Ann would be her. She taught me what kindness and love looks like. Her smile is forever etched in my mind. I can still hear her voice and her laugh. I remember sitting with her every week and doing arts and crafts together. Some of the greatest memories I have in this life come from my time with her and my cousins. I often find myself in the midst of trial thinking, "I wish she was here. I wish I could drive to her home and cry on her shoulder. She would know what to say. She would know what to do." Though she is not physically here, I can still feel her love. I know she is with me each day and smiling. I know she is proud of me.
A few months after Julie Ann left this earth, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. The day my mother said "I have cancer" I remember being absolutely terrified. It was like, cancer just stole my Aunt from me and now there was a chance it was going to take my mom? As an 11 year old I couldn't truly process all that was going on. That was the day I told myself it was time to grow up. I literally thought to myself that I didn't have time to be a kid anymore because I needed to be there for my mom. I had to be an adult so I could make sure my mom made it. I needed her. I had zero time to grieve the loss of my Aunt because my mind went into survival mode. I actually didn't start the grieving process until I was 21 years old.
I watched my mom fight with everything she had. I watched the struggle. It was chaos. It was insanity. It was pain and fear. It was trauma. It was years of not knowing, years of anxiety. It was like we were trapped on a lifeboat in the middle of a perfect storm that seemed to have no end in sight. But, it did. She survived. She beat breast cancer. She is my hero and today she continues to inspire me to be the best woman I can be.
Though my mother made it, to this day she struggles with survivors guilt. Not only did we loose my Aunt Julie Ann, we also lost my Grandma Linda to breast cancer a few years ago. My grandmother passed on the day before the 13th anniversary of my Aunts death from the same disease and in the same room in her home. It was such a mirror of loosing Julie Ann that it is still hard to comprehend. Maybe it was Julie Ann telling us that she was with my Grandma. Maybe it was their way of telling us that they were together and that they were okay.
When I stumbled across the Relentless Life Projects mural initiative, it was a no brainier. I had to do this for them. I decided to remember the lives of my Aunt and Grandmother and to honor the strength and courage of my mother. I just felt like I had something to tell them and that there was no better way to do that than through my art that I was giving to the world and to the people who need it.
Below I have posted a few photos of the mural. The flowers I painted represent life, more specifically the lives of three beautiful women that was gifted to the world along with the lives being saved at the hospital through care and healing each day. The galaxy represents and endless space filled with endless possibilities, hope and love. In that space anything you want can exist.
I could feel them with me when I painted. I could feel their pride when I was done. When I was finished and I walked out of the hospital, I could feel them in the wind and see them in the clouds and I truly felt like it was okay. Most importantly, I could feel their love. It was that day that I realized that I never needed to say goodbye because love doesn't have to be articulated. Love is energy and energy can never be destroyed. It never leaves, it never dies, it stays with you in this life and the next. My love will forever exist with them whether they are physically here or not and their love will remain with me for all of eternity.
I'd like to say thank you to Kara and Linda for this opportunity. I appreciate you both.
For more info on the Relentless Life Project Please visit http://www.relentlesslifeproject.com/
Midnight to 3AM- are my peak creative hours. I spend a lot of time late at night/early in the morning working on paintings and drawings. Recently I've been experimenting more with my paints and my pencils in an effort to grow and push my creativity into realms I didn't even know existed. I feel like an artist should constantly be evolving and developing new ideas.
A couple nights ago, I decided to listen to Chance the Rappers album Acid Rap in a quest for some inspiration. Immediately mind went CRAZY and by song number four, I couldn't help but grab my pencils and sketch book. The feelings I felt while listening to this album are best described as hectic. My mind raced at a pace most would find difficult to keep up with. The energy and mental chaos I felt is pretty accurately reflected in this drawing. This album really took me on a trip and I'm not 100% sure I ever fully came back. I feel music should take you to another world. I turn to hip-hop for inspiration in a form of an escape and this album definitely delivered.
Good lookin' out Chance.
So. Last night was pretty EPIC. For those of you who don't know, I spent the last week working on a portrait of Kehlani. Last night I was able to give her the painting and see her reaction. Okay so I'll admit that I was super excited and don't remember our convo verbatim but it was somewhere along the lines of this:
Me: I made this painting for you!
Kehlani: WOAH. GIRL! THIS IS AMAZING! WOAH... Girl, I normally don't keep these things because it creeps me out to look at my face all over the place but this one I am definitely keeping. This is INSANE.
Me: I poured my heart and soul into this one! I'm so glad you love it! You're amazing!
Kehlani: Thats you girl! You layed hands on this painting! Thank you so much!
This was the first time I was able to give a painting to the artist I painted. But, you can bet it wont be the last! Until next time- xoxo
I am so excited to debut my short video "Legacy", directed by Shanice Malakai of Malakai Creative. I've had a ton of people ask what inspires me so I thought I would show you. Take a step into my world as I give you a tiny glimpse of who I am as an artist and what influences my work the most!
“I got these Ideas and I’m tryna make some records,
So when the train stops this time I’ma catch it.
When the train stops this time I’ma catch it.
When the train stops this time I’ma catch it.
When the train stops this time I’ma catch it.
When the train stops…”
How many times have you let the train of opportunity pass you by while you set contently at the train stop on a bench made of fear and doubt? I spent my whole life thinking that I had no control over anything, not even my own success or happiness. While working on my latest painting “When the Train Stops…”, a portrait of Dom Kennedy ( inspired by his song “Locals Only” and set to debut 5.29.15) I had a lot of time to reflect on my journey, where I have come from and where I am headed.
It all came crashing down a couple of months ago. I remember sitting at that hard metal table at Tempe Town Lake. I remember it feeling really nice outside and the water next to the seating area was especially calm. All the while I was sitting there completely torn up inside doing my best to hold it all together. I sat there with my good friend Rell as he asked me, “What’s wrong Antoinette?” I was visibly upset. I dropped my face into the palms of my hands and burst into tears, crying so hard it was tough to get my words out. “I just… I just want it so bad.” “Want what?” he asked. “My art. I want to make it so bad.” The feeling I felt in that moment was comparable to being trapped under water with your face only inches away from the surface yet, you just cannot break through to reach the fresh air. No matter how hard you try you just can’t reach it.
I truly had an epiphany that day. Never had I felt that I that my dreams were so close to becoming my reality than I did on that day. They were so close in fact, that it broke me down. I needed that break down in order to realize that there was a major problem that I was facing. There was someone stopping me from getting to where I needed to go. This person was sabotaging my pursuit of happiness and shaking the very belief that I was going to be a successful artist. This person had spent years building a wall of uncertainty and anxiety that stood between me and something truly beautiful. That person was me. For years my mind had been clouded with the thoughts of, “What if I am not as good as I think? What if people don’t rock with me? What if I fail?”
I’ve spent the last couple of years doing lots of soul searching, pushing through many sleepless nights and watching countless tears hit the floor. Through it all I have learned that life is not comprised of chance situations and circumstances. It isn’t this guessing game that we are trapped in, never knowing what is next or what was in store for us. No, life in fact is something we have total control over. So, I decided it was time to take control, hop on that train and throw years of fright and caution to the wind while I pursue my dreams with everything I’ve got. No one can keep you from accomplishing your goals but you! No one can keep you from happiness, success and love but you. It all starts with you. Too many times have I let the train of opportunity pass me by while I set contently at the train stop on a bench made of fear and doubt. Never again will I let my chance fly past me as I sit idly by and wonder. Now, I leave you with one question-
When the train stops next time will you catch it?