Thursday, October 27, 2011

Campa Creatives "Inspired" for October

A few months ago, my mother, sisters, and I started Campa Creatives. This creative venture is an excuse for us to do what we love (create!) and share the experience with our family and friends. We sell handmade arts and crafts as well as host events intended to bring together creativity, companionship, and inspiration.

Campa Creatives is an opportunity for me to stay connected with my family no matter where I am. It is also an opportunity for me to practice and refine the skills I learned from graduate school.
I am able to carefully plan our strategy for reaching our goals without a huge loss if things go wrong. This is a low risk project, plus I get to do something that I love.

Since Campa Creatives is becoming a larger part of my self-expression, I would like to feature it monthly on NiGHTandRei.

For the month of October, I have been doing two things- looking for employment in San Francisco and preparing for our second party on November 12. When the job hunt gets tedious, I trade off.
Some days I think my creative moments, drives around town, or window shopping actually help me focus on my career. Each day I am inspired by something new. Here are some photos I snap on these moments with my phone.

Lake Chabot
Just being in the Bay Area inspires my senses. I am told that October is the prettiest time of year, and I believe it.
Today I went to Lake Chabot. I was amazed that this beautiful lake was only minutes from the house I am staying at in San Leandro. I sat on a bench and watched... and listened. I heard: ducks, the exclamations of young fishermen, the low rumble of a motor boat, chirping of birds, the patter of feet against the cement, gossip between walking buddies, bicycle wheels, the breeze.

Rice-A-Roni boxes make up this art installation at Anthropologie in downtown SF. One of my favorite stores, hands down. I have been to at least 5 different locations. I am always drawn in to be inspired by the artistic spaces that they create throughout the store.

Teal Box_2
I recently learned about the East Bay Depot For Creative Reuse. Just the name inspires me. Arts and Crafts meets thrift store. I took home this vintage teal filing box for $3.50, spray painted it gold and tore up the month tabs to make it new!

During one of my wanders around SF, I discovered this unique museum on Yerba Buena Lane. Later I met a friend there and we walked through the gallery. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art features some wonderful art in the gallery as well as a variety of crafts in the store. Definitely worth a drop in if you are in the area.

I took a trip to the Castro Valley Library one slow day and was really impressed. It is fairly new library and features local art, cool architecture, and a lot of cozy spaces to read. I found my 'happy place' in the children's section where I spied on little ones as they read or played with puzzles. There was one group of boys playing an intense game of World of Warcraft. Here is a page from a Calavera Alphabet book that I took home. The art from the book inspired some of my crafts for the upcoming party!

During days where I am working at home alone, I like to find a local place to grab a late lunch. If I go around 3 o'clock, the restaurant is usually quiet so I can get in some writing or just observe the space. This unfortunately blurry photo is of my delicious meal (I must've been anxious to eat it!) at Don Jose's in Castro Valley. New flavors always inspire me and I think that the colors of the food and interior of spaces I explore often influence the pieces that I create.

Writing this blog really brings to my attention all of the inspiration I am absorbing each day, even though I don't realize it!
I have learned to accept that these adventures are essential not only for my sanity during this slow time, but essential for my creative development and ability to appreciate what I have.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why 3 hours of ceramics class was more challenging than 2 years of grad school

This weekend I faced one of my most internally demanding challenges.

After about a year of intrigue around the world of pottery, I signed up for a ceramics class with Create in Clay Studio in Emeryville, CA.
After the instructor did a demo and explained very clearly the what and why for each step, I felt excited and confident. The instructions made sense and most of my experiences with art so far have been a smooth transition.

Something changed the moment I sat behind my own wheel, one foot hesitating over the pedal, and a fistful of clay in my right hand.
My confidence faded quickly and all that was left were my doubts. I could not remember the first step- Wet hands or dry hands? Aggressive or gentle? Fast wheel or slow? The voice in my head grew louder.

"You're gonna mess up!"
"You're not doing it right!"
"You're wasting time!"
"It's not good enough!"

I was embarrassed. I laughed at my uneasiness, and the instructor reassured me. Inside, I wasn't fully convinced.
I jumped in. I struggled. I was afraid.

My inner thoughts remained with me for two more hours as I attempted my second and third piece in the studio. The instructor had to help me both times. There were ways to hold my hands that my body had not identified with yet. There was a method, a strict procedure that is not part of my normal method of 'creating'. Molding that ball of clay on that spinning wheel required technique, skill, and most importantly, patience.

I am not very patient. I have known this for many years. Right now I struggle with patience daily as I wait for the universe to respond to my efforts for a job and residence. I am working on appreciating how good my life is much more I have than most others. These reminders help me to be patient.

But my experience in ceramics class proved to me that I have a long way to go. I am too hard on myself. Nothing is perfect, but I am doing just fine. Matter of fact, nothing will ever be perfect, and a little clay on the hands never hurt anyone.

Won at Bingo in West Covina!
The pieces I made are not ready yet, but here is a photo of two pieces that inspired me to learn. I won these beauties playing Bingo at a church event in West Covina. The artist (whose name I cannot remember) has been creating pieces at Mt. Sac in Walnut for many years.  I look forward to the pride of making my own piece one day. I signed up for 3 more classes at Create in Clay and look forward to more learning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Photographer Alaina features familiar faces

I feel so fortunate to be an adult in this time period. I can connect instantly to my family and friends no matter how far I travel. I recently moved to San Francisco, which I am pretty certain is the farthest anyone has ventured, in my lifetime at least. I am excited to explore the world, but I will always miss the familiar smiles and laughter from my mom, dad, sisters, and family.
On Facebook I am constantly in the know about their latest activity, goofball comment, or moment of pride.

Most importantly, I have photos.

My sister Alaina is able to express herself in a way that the rest of us cannot through photography.
Alaina notices smaller, quieter things that others don't. She discovers landscapes, nature, or forgotten objects and photographs them in unexpected ways.
Alaina is also able to capture moments with people that hold a lot of emotion and tell a memorable story. I was inspired by her latest shoot, featuring our two younger sisters, Tahlya and Makayla, where she captured their individuality and youthful spirits.

Here, Alaina comments on some of my favorite shots of people that she has taken over the years.
Photography by Alaina
"I was really proud of this shoot with Makayla because I was able to capture my baby sister for her first year of high school and on the golf team. I was also excited to take/edit/post this photo because I was using my new Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens. I think it came out nicely."

Photography by Alaina
"I always feel so warm looking at this photo and it's one of my personal favorites... I feel like it embodies our many family celebrations and the clapping was likely accompanied by music - I remember we were doing karaoke. I added a warmer tone to this because I felt it was appropriate."

Photography by Alaina
"Shooting this quince was fun because I got to take youthful photos like this one. These types of photos are necessary for such events... I made sure to add a subtle vignette to draw the viewer in to her smile. Which is super cute!"

Photography by Alaina
"Kristi at times can be so shy and this Senior photo was one of my faves in the set. She was just laughing at something her sister said. When I look at it, I feel like her beauty and sweet personality illuminates through. Sorta like how that sun is coming through behind her ;)""

Photography by Alaina
"Stella and Vido are so funny, and such nice people and Jake is such a bright kid. Photos of my family of course, hold the most emotion for me and I'm reminded of the lightheartedness that my family has with this photo."

Photography by Alaina
"Hanna was really concentrated on making the perfect bubble. I love taking pictures of her because she's always so silly and playful, and also very smart and witty. She'll always be a "little girl" to me and this photo keeps that feeling intact."

Photography by Alaina
"For this small shoot I had with Katie, I wanted her to run around the playground and do whatever she wanted because that's exactly who she is and I didn't want to portray her any other way. I no longer see her as often as I used to and when I come across this set of photos I laugh because it shows her fun and wild personality."

Visit Alaina on Facebook

or her photo blog on tumblr

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Big Nostrils and my Hairy Arms

Those were the two things that always kept me from thinking I was beautiful.
There were always other things of course, I could make a list, but those are the two that caused me to 'stick out'.
My hairy arms always made me feel unfeminine. It didn't help that I chose to date men obsessed with looks and physical perfection and that hardly any of the women portrayed in the media have body hair. I shaved my arms in college at the request of a boyfriend. I grow them out now, and roll my eyes every time I think of how I did that for a boy.
My nostrils, well, I have yet to see another pair that can compete in size.
I used to wipe my nose furiously on my sleeve as a kid, and my mother would threaten that my nostrils would stretch if I kept wiping so hard.
I can't tell you how long I believed that was actually the reason.
But as the years went by, and I learned to ease on the wiping, I could not understand why my nostrils were still extra large.

It took a long time for me to accept these 'flaws'.
It took self-reflection, a companion who thinks my flaws make me more beautiful, and a mini-photo shoot-- bodily features front and center.

Today I took some photos for my new line of Dia de los Muertos jewelry (for sale soon on!). I thought that my strong features complimented my jewelry and I was proud that they were mine.
Dia Earrings Wearing 036
Although the photos don't showcase my hairy arms, I was excited that they were present when capturing a photo of this bracelet. I thought about how a year ago, I chose to tattoo that hairy arm, so now there's no ignoring it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Illuminated" by Art!

On friday night, I attended the opening reception for SOMArts's Dia De Los Muertos exhibit, Illuminations 2011.
For the last couple of years I have grown deeper in love with art inspired by Dia De Los Muertos and... of my Mexican culture.
Even though my family does not celebrate the Dia de los Muertos tradition, I am inspired by the concept.
Every year around this time, the dead are remembered by their loved ones with celebration and art. Wonderful altars hold food, photos, and other trinkets that remind us of the ones that we've lost. Some people make these altars in their homes and there are also places where much larger altars are on display in public.

The event at SOMArts featured live flamenco dancing, Glow-in-the-Dark coloring, skull face painting, and not to mention some wonderful pieces of art.
I discovered SOMArts when researching places to find art in San Francisco, my new home. I am so excited to explore this place more and attend more amazing events!

Illuminations 2011
(above) A 3-D piece! It was amazing! This guy in the picture is putting on paper glasses available for art lovers to use.
Illuminations 2011
(above) Immediately after walking in, I was overwhelmed by this touching piece! It was soft and light, with a playfulness to it. I walked around and under it several times and couldn't take my eyes off of it.
Illuminations 2011
(above)The wall installation on this piece had video projections in the middle of the heart. It was also dedicated to Steve Jobs.
Illuminations 2011
(above) A piece that reminded me of a nest. The top portion was delicate like a painting and the bottom had glittery seashore-type jewels placed inside.

The art will be on display until November 5! Go to SOMArts website for info.
Check out photography of all the installations here!