My Abstract Painting ‘Sky’s Layers’ & The Inspiring View from Nature

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”Sky’s Layers” 20×20 (acrylic paint on canvas)

One of the ‘little’ yet priceless and substantial gifts that inspires me is looking at how visually appealing the skies are . The colors really create a beautiful contrast in the sky and I am fascinated with how the aesthetic appears. Besides being outside staring at it, I love when I am on the train siting by a window and see the sun setting in the sky. To me, it is rather refreshing seeing the colors integrate within the sky to create a mesmerizing view after a long day.  I really enjoy painting my own visualization of the many looks that the sky can form. I am thankful and grateful that I get to see such beauty and artwork, something I will never take for granted.

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Inspiration: My Personal Nature/Astronomy Photography Throughout the Years & What It Means to Me

Nature’s enthralling beauty includes the way the sky appears when the sun is rising or setting and how ethereal it looks outside after an afternoon rain shower , which are all examples of daily/common treasures that should not be taken for granted. The way the orange, blue and pink hues in the sky blends together as the sun rises or sets is a (thankfully) re-occurring unparalleled sight to see. Perhaps it is easy to become comfortable with natural scenic views like this as we go about our daily lives, but there is also a refreshing & uplifting inspirational feeling we can receive from nature’s beautiful art. If something is heavy on our minds or we’ve encountered a lot of negativity within a day, sometimes we can find inspiration in daily gifts that are not always in human form. It is even scientifically proven that taking a walk in nature is therapeutic and good for our well being. I encourage us all to continue to remain purely fascinated with life’s natural treasures because it is a healthy & positive perspective to have throughout life. We all find happiness and joy in different things depending on what speaks to our souls/and passions.  Here are a few examples of nature’s art photographed by me throughout different years & changing seasons that makes me smile and thankful…I hope you find beauty in them too!

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Photo taken back in summer 2012. I saved this because it was very beautiful to me! Especially looking above at it, I nicknamed the photo ”Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning’ from a Journey song. The song’s lyrics do not actually correlate with the photo precisely, but the title of the song seemed befitting to me and sometimes I also interchangeably nickname this photo as : The ‘Will’ in the Sky Keeps on Turning  (”Will” meaning inevitable events and creations from a higher power/God.

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Photo taken on a snowy day in December 2017. I loved the tree’s aesthetic. It’s so interesting how many trees have been here way longer than us and have been present throughout many different happenings and lives as they come & go. This tree, like others, goes through many drastic changes within a year but it is beautiful no matter the season.

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Photo taken in 2018. Whenever I am walking somewhere, I like photographing the beautiful flowers that I see planted.  Unfortunately, I’ve procrastinated in the past when it comes to planting more of my own flowers, but this spring I am looking forward to actually growing more flowers and doing a little garden work with my mother. Photos like this gives me inspiration and they are so pretty!

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Photo taken in Piedmont Park in 2018. I am so appreciative of scenic views in parks. One of my favorite things to do is go to parks & preserves. There are so many activities I can do there. Just walk and take in all of nature’s aesthetics, have an outdoor lunch on the grass with my Dory from Finding Nemo plush blanket underneath, look at the sun setting or rising, go for a bicycle ride, watch the ducks & other animal sightings, enjoy live music, exercise, paint, pet people’s dogs if they let me,  take photos like this, whatever. The list goes on and on!

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Photo taken in December 2017. This photo (taken with an iPhone) made me decide to invest in a dslr camera instead of taking photos with a phone all of the time. I love astronomy and although I see mesmerizing views with my eyes and a telescope, I really want to start capturing beautiful views like this in better quality. Night time astronomy photography calls for dslr camera quality, and since I’m passionate about astronomy, I’ve been working on my photography more with a different camera. But still, I love & cherish these i-phone shots and I remember looking at it, thinking: ”This is so cool to me”…one of the moments in life that makes me happy.

I encourage us all to never forget the so-called ‘simple’ yet amazing gifts that are a part of nature in this world…it is really all around us. Of course, humans value material things to a certain extent, but let’s not get so focused on just solely these things and forget the priceless treasures that are among us daily.

”To walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles”- Mary Davis

Inspiration: Keeping Our Child-Like Curiosity & Fascination Throughout Life

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Su Blackwell artwork from series ”Dwelling”

When we were children, many of us asked our parents a thousand questions a day, genuinely eager to learn more & curious about what is around us. When there are trips to science museums or book club days at elementary schools, many children enthusiastically look forward to these simple yet amazing delights. The reason why I still visit public libraries for personal interest is because I love what I’ve found there growing up, and it has influenced me greatly. It started with my mother taking me to the public library often, & within the children’s section I was introduced to books like The Magic School Bus: Lost in The Solar System and Here in Space by David Milgrim. I believe educational books like these helped me become fascinated with astronomy & complex matters relating to space and time. Presently, I love books such as Space Atlas: Mapping The Universe & Beyond, Final Frontier by Brian Clegg, and physicist Michio Kauku’s books because they are amazing to me. Captivating books like the ones mentioned inspires me to ask even more questions due to passionate curiosity, & think of all the endless possibilities that have yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, often times a child’s curiosity and eagerness to extensively explore a variety of different subject matters can decrease. Many blame school systems’ educational curriculum, but learning is a process that never really ends. Of course, we may not find all of the truths of life and answers to questions that are surrounded in mystery…but there are valuable sources available to us for a variety of different topics if we are genuinely interested. I encourage us all to continue having a curious child-like fascination and to inquire more. Our whole lives are an educational opportunity, and it should not be limited. Let’s keep going to our city’s museums, supporting our libraries that are sometimes in threat of closing, reading daily, and exploring different topics beyond just the surface. As children, we are so eager to learn more and even what is considered ”simple” makes us want to discover why/how. So, as we continue on our educational journey (life)… let’s keep that same pure fascination/interest!

Inspiration: My Abstract Expressionist Artwork ”As Nature Entwines” & Personal Interpretation

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I was repeatedly listening to a song called ”It Keeps Coming Back” by jazz musician Norman Brown from his album ”Let It Go” while in the process of creating this. I see abstract expressionism art as what comes and inspires the mind in a spontaneous way without a premeditated blueprint of a specific object…an emotional intensity that is currently happening and being felt while creating without a previous plan.  All that I begin to feel while the song was playing was being released onto the canvas. For me to be able to create my artwork, my innermost impression and mental visualization of the song inspired me.  ‘As Nature Entwines‘ is what I named my artwork after it was finished, which represents what I was visualizing while listening to the song. Nature is a multi-dimensional existence and while listening to the song, I let this perspective lead me while creating. Of course, my artwork cannot be interpreted from just one ”right” perspective because this contradicts the multi-faceted aspects of nature and who we are as individuals with our own mental views.

I am a self-taught artist and recently decided to put more focus on creating my own artworks.  I am excited to create more artwork in the future and it is an amazing feeling to let the current process inspire me. The feeling that is evoked from a song or emotional state while trying my best to transfer what is in my mind  into a physical form, at that very moment, is my inspiration to create.

Art Media Used: Acrylic Paint on stretched gallery wrapped canvas.  ”As Nature Entwines”, 2018. 20×20

Thelma Johnson Streat: Multi-Talented Artist & Trailblazer

Thelma Johnson Streat was a distinctive and multi-talented artist that emphasized intercultural appreciation. One of her most recognized artworks, Rabbit Man, can be seen permanently at the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). Thelma Johnson-Streat also worked with other iconic artists such as Diego Rivera and she was the first African-American woman to have a painting exhibited at the MOMA in 1942 & her own television program in Paris. Streat was a mixed-media artist, who not only created paintings but also wanted to end stereotypes and prejudice through dance. She performed cultural dances and songs for many children in Europe, Canada, U.S, & Mexico to help them gain an insight & appreciation for cultural diversity. Although she was threatened by ignorant terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Streat did not let this prevent her from expressing herself and emphasizing much needed truthful messages within her creations such as ”Death of A Negro Sailor ” & ”The Negro’s Contribution to Medicine and Veterinary Science”. She also created an educational visual program called ”The Negro in History.” Thelma Johnson-Streat (1911-1959) is an artist and innovative story teller that should not be forgotten. Her artistic expressions and educational works are inspirational and interesting. Here are a few of her acclaimed artworks.

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The Negro’s Contribution to Medicine and Veterinary Science, c. 1945

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Thelma Johnson Streat artwork, title

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Rabbit Man, 1941

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Thelma Johnson Streat Photographed Posing

Art Happenings: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors Exhibition Tour & Past Artwork Creations

I was very excited to hear that Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ is coming to the High Museum of Art starting in November 2018. I am still thankful and grateful that I decided to become a High Museum of Art member back in 2014 (very cost effective & worth it compared to what you get with each membership type), and it is art collections like ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ that makes me eager to return repeatedly for more than one viewing. Yayoi Kusama (1922- present) is known for her captivating and colorful creations that are concept contemporary artworks with different mediums used. Some of her art includes styles such as surrealism, abstract expressionism, and pop art. Here are some interesting artworks by Kusama, which also includes ‘Infinity Mirrored Room’ installation.

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Infinity Mirrored Room, Yayoi Kusama

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Reach Up To The Universe, Yayoi Kusama

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Stars by Yayoi Kusama

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Butterfly-Yayoi Kusama

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Infinity Mirrored Room, Yayoi Kusama

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama

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Yayoi Kusama as a child

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Yayoi Kusama

Why Aren’t Mentally Wounded Inner City Youth Recieving PTSD Help As Well?

Numerous research studies show there are some inner city children that may experience post traumatic stress disorder symptoms at rates comparable to veterans of war. Some of these youth are being immensely affected by traumatic experiences, which can cause haunting flashbacks, paranoia, emotional detachment, unwanted thoughts, and violent outbursts. When an inner city African-American youth experiences traumatic/stressful situations, & commits an illegal or violent act, their mental health & experiences are rarely emphasized. Inner city youth like Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis, a 13 year old sentenced as an adult for the murder of a man in 1999, do not receive professional mental health support. Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis grew up in the drug-infested & neglected ‘Bluff’ area of Atlanta. His only guardian was addicted to drugs, he was homeless by age 11, not enrolled in school, and experienced a plethora of traumatic events while trying to take care of himself. Yet, he remained invisible to most until his first arrest…and when he finally got a ‘home’ it was in a Georgia state prison with adults at the age of 13. Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis is still incarcerated, and there are still questionable inaccuracies in the case that do not support true justice for the victim or the accused.

If a young inner city black boy rob’s someone, he is often quickly deemed a thug or menace to society, but if his white counterpart commits a crime like a school shooting, then he is labeled as a troubled mentally ill youth that did not receive adequate help. Both boys may have experienced traumatic events, but only one gets sympathy or a diagnosis. Racism isn’t the only reason because there are older African Americans from previous generations who also look at these children as thugs with no hope as well. Neglected inner city children like Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis never receive mental health resources, help, or immense sympathy after all of the traumatizing events they’ve experienced. Of course, we cannot always give a PTSD diagnosis to every person who commits a crime with their own free will. However, it is wrong and dangerous to just help certain groups of victims while neglecting others.

There is a substantial amount of youth/children that are mentally wounded, neglected, suffering from un-diagnosed PTSD, and by the time many people care to pay attention to what they are going through…the damage has been permanently embedded. These children have never fought in Iraq, the Vietnam, or Afghanistan…but they are experiencing PTSD like some war veterans. They’re often quietly traumatized and mentally affected by what they’ve experienced, but do not receive enough genuine support to help them. Instead they are often conditioned or forced to think it is enough to just ‘stay strong’, ‘keep their heads up’, try to rise above their situation, and ‘move on’ with life while still struggling mentally.

Here are a list of good organizations that support and focuses on the mental health of youth/children:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

MindRight Organization 

Covenant House

Baton Foundation

My Abstract Artwork ‘Volcano Spring’ & Personal Journey Reflection

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Lately I’ve been focusing more on what I am passionate about, which includes creating art. Among other meanings, I also see art as an emotion that manifests itself in physical form. Volcano Spring is what I imagine when the intensity of a suppressed valuable emotion erupts and spreads in the refreshing season of spring. While creating this artwork, I visualized how a feeling can relate to a volcano that is bound to come forth. Not necessarily in a volatile/destructive manner, but to help nurture in a new beginning and coexist with the starting season. The volcano of emotion integrates with vital spring, creating a mixture that is both intense and expressive while nurturing progression. I am currently working on a collection of artworks, and Volcano Spring reflects a natural inevitable occurrence and how it relates to the complex yet beautiful journey of the intense emotional human experience…something that I am going through right now. In our own distinct pathways, we all are.

Volcano Spring, 2018.  (Acrylic Paint on canvas). 20×20

Retrospective: Memorable Artworks of Ernie Barnes

One of Ernie Barnes most famous paintings is The Sugar Shack, which has been used by Marvin Gaye for his legendary album cover I Want You and for the 1970’s syndicated classic show Good Times. The 90’s rap group Camp Lo also paid homage to the original painting with their album cover for the acclaimed Uptown Saturday Night (which included ”Luchini AKA This is It” song). Before Ernie Barnes was a painter, he was a professional football player that played from 1959-1965 for teams such as The Denver Broncos & The San Diego Chargers.  Of course, Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) also created other memorable paintings that are just as noteworthy as The Sugar Shack. Here are some of my favorite Ernie Barnes paintings.

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”The Advocate” by Ernie Barnes

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”His Effort” by Ernie Barnes

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”Room Ful’A Sistahs” by Ernie Barnes

”The Buffalo Soldiers”by Ernie Barnes

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Sugar Shack Painting by Ernie Barnes for  Marvin Gaye’s ”I Want You”

Ernie Barnes photographed painting

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Ernie Barnes photographed behind his artwork

Inspiration: Being There For Friends/Love Ones Who Are Always There For Others

Often times there are people in our lives who seem to always be there for others,  but may feel as though no one is truly available when they need genuine care & support. Whether it is a simple phone call to check on our love-ones just to see if they are okay or need someone to talk/listen to…our time being available matters. Of course, we all have those love-ones who may claim they do not want to talk about ‘it’ or to ”leave them alone”, but they just may not be ready to open up about what is bothering them.  For an example, sometimes one of my love-ones may claim to not want to converse or talk about something that is bothering him/her at the moment, but I still let them know that I am there if they need someone to listen or talk to. Also, if they refuse to open up about the situation or seem detached, we can tell our love-ones ”I pray/hope you triumph over what you’re going through and I love you”. One of the least positive/effective things we can do is detach ourselves emotionally or mentally just because we have our own obstacles going on in life. No one is perfect, and we may not get it right all of the time when it comes to knowing when someone we care for is hurting, but all it takes is sincere effort and communication. Let’s not take our blessings for granted or only call the ones we claim to care about when we need something. Let’s be there and make sure they do not feel neglected or alone. Unfortunately, there are some people who consider themselves without family or someone who genuinely cares. For those people who feel that way, please know people exist around the Earth who may not know you personally but we are constantly praying & rooting for you, and trying to help in some way… and that is a genuine form of caring!