Perfect Places – How to Love Where You Are [as an immigrant and an artist]

Chocolate Labrador Puppy

It was 8:30 AM. I locked my chocolate lab puppy, grabbed the keys and a tray with painted fondant trees, put the cake in a bag and rushed out. I was excited. 15 hours ago Lorde’s new song ‘Perfect Places’ was trending on Twitter. She asked in the song, what was the perfect place? Today I new it is “where the wild things are”. It was painted on a cake I was bringing to the whether Cake House in Old Town Scottsdale in Arizona. In fact, on the way there, I pulled my “follow the green lights” thing. The trick was to never stop at a red light. Ten years ago that brought me to the doors of the National Art Academy in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ten years after I was parking by the cake house.

View More: http://andrewjadephoto.pass.us/ruze-treats

Jessica, the owner, was making magic with her mom and two other girls at the back of the bakery. She is probably the ‘meant to meet’ kind of person and also, the one who gives the most excited response to anything I paint. That is the second cake we made together, and I find it thrilling to be able to deliver your art to a viewer through food. Not that kind of food, like molecular restaurants, do, that screams: “I am so spoiled and fed up that I need an exquisite something to play with”. No, I learned my homework good. I can still hear Zazu’s voice asking Scar if his mom ever told him to not play with food [in the Lion King movie]. Food is meant to be rich in nutrition.

 

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Now, sweets are where the game begins. The illustration I painted this time on the cake is taken from the Maurice Sendak’s book. It tells a story of a kid who rejected his parents and dinner, and left his room for the place ‘where the wild things are’, becoming the king of ‘wild things’. The book is only about 338 words long but it gets you deep. How many of us are in search of that perfect wild place? I know Lorde is. I always have been.

Primavera Sound 2016 BCN Spain
Primavera Sound 2016 BCN Spain
A year ago my best friend and I went to Primavera Sound concert in Barcelona for that exact reason. My tattooed [during that trip] on the wrist space shuttle brings me “there” every time I seek to it. Today, she made a video call at 7:30 AM on a beach in Barcelona. I am not there this time, but I am happy to have a puppy and a cake to deal with. #FlashBackFriday right?

 

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In the book, the little Max kid chooses the comfort of his room and a ‘still hot dinner waiting for him’ to the wild place. But what if you decided to indulge the wildness? What if you moved to a different country or even a continent. Crowds of people speaking a foreign language, strange glances when you do something so habitual to your birthplace, yet completely odd under new circumstances, weird food – all these may make it seem like a legitimate jungle.DSCN7993.JPG

I remember when I was to Starbucks for the first time (during my first visit to AZ at fifteen years). Those bagels with cream cheese ‘to go’ and decaf caramel macchiato amused and took me away. I was seriously thinking of bringing it to Kyiv and emailed Starbucks later on, inquiring on their licensing policy. Naturally, there was a response that they are not interested…

Am I interested in their bagels anymore? Not really. It has become a regularly available item you try to avoid. (See my nutrition reasoning above) On the contrary, Americans are still flattered to be treated to a home cooked meal made completely ‘from scratch’, (meaning of which they had to explain to me over a long period of time), unless it has a ‘weird texture’.

National Donut Day

Ukrainians have no sense of time, so all the meetings are arranged ‘around sometime’ which can be in a range of at least an hour. Americans don’t seem to approach to a lunch with friends as an activity that accedes an hour and a half time period. Unless it’s a football game on Sunday and you meet at a bar over a beer or bloody mary at 10 AM. Back in Kyiv I once bought a bottle of vodka, celery and tomato juice and brought it to my friend’s place in the morning. Not gonna lie, I received that questioning look, as in whether I needed some help or a friends advice.

 

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The point is, it’s hard to fit in sometimes. It gets confusing. It’s like hyperbolized feeling of leaving your parents home in search of the one of your own. You get to deal with bureaucracy. You need to get a new driving license, work permits, permanent residency cards in addition to rent contracts, cellular etc. I was used to thinking Ukrainian system for that is a disaster, due to corruption. No visible corruption here, in the US. However, you go apply for a driving license, spend 3 hours on a chair, holding random conversations with strangers like you, and then they say you need a social security card. You drive another 40 min to a place, where you can get a social security, only to sit on the same chair waiting for your number to get called and hear you need a driving license, ID or a permanent residency card to receive social security number. And then, like in the book by Marcel Proust it all repeats itself. I traveled a lot around the US. I wanted to stay in Arizona forever, then I cried to leave it forever. According to quantum physics theory and a movie ‘Interstellar’, there are the endless number of layers to our life, we exist within all of them at the same time. To an extent, it will never matter where you at. Finding your inner peace is the key to a ‘Perfect Place’ that is inside of you.

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It’s just being an immigrant makes it more fun! You get to experience multiple childhoods with a need to explore in the ‘trial and fail’ style. It is important to be tolerant, adaptable and motivated to start over and over again. It’s also easy to get lost in a place where nobody seems to care about your existence. But then – see instructions above, regarding the perfect place. In the end of the day, it presents you a life from different angles. Just like that cake that Jessica put on a perfect black stand now. Happy future Birthday baby Max and Happy Birthday to everyone, who immigrated today. For my next move strategy – see a ‘why you should start your bucketlist yesterday‘ post ūüôā

 

 

The Music That Shapes You

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Moment by moment our life floats¬†with a current and we are the brave sailors cruising it. Marcel Proust said: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. It goes along with being conscious of a moment and feeling every second of your life. Music adds an extra dimension to it. It thickens the air around us, filling it with a sound that resonates with every our cell.

In fact, multiple studies show how music, that is physically a number of sound waves¬†reacts with water, troubling it in a certain way that causes the water molecules to change its shape for the moment. Microscopic videos depict the crystal¬†structure of water to actually rebuild when exposed to sound. In fact, I found the German wine manufacturer that creates a special kind of wine – exposed to classical music. He claims that it changes it making it have a better influence¬†on those who drink it. Like better kind of karma. I’d drink it haha. As we all learned in school – 90% of our bodies consists of water. Hense music must literally¬†resonate with us as well. As a result, music influences human behavior and Spotify claims to its add providers that music helps to sell too. Here is the whole book on that, in case you wondered.

As Spotify promotes it – there is a sound for every occasion. I am an artist. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks on youtube when I paint. It is very entertaining especially in the last stages of the art process, as it is mostly working on details, that doesn’t involve too much of thinking activity. It still takes a lot of time, so audiobooks fit perfectly. I did a great deal of high school program catch up like that. Also, I discovered plenty interesting lectures podcasts. As another option – I use this time to be listening news or podcasts to practice my German listening skills. But that involves a fair amount of focus. Got to be careful with¬†it.

At other times, when I am just in the beginning stage of a painting, I try to pick music accordingly¬†with the mood that I am trying to recreate in a painting. Music on a background works similarly¬†to a director in the middle of a filming process. An actor has to persuade a viewer that he really feels the emotions,¬†he is depicting. A director has to educate¬†an actor about these emotions.¬†In the way, he temporarily uploads the leading to the current events history and psychological¬†background to the actor’s consciousness.

Modern practices involve a lot of getting into a role preparation. There were multiple articles discussing Leonardo Dicaprio’s preparation to a shooting of the movie ‘Reverent’. They talked about his physical sacrifices¬†to a hyper-naturalistic style of ‘Reverent’. The same stories surrounded Jared Leto’s¬†approach to a Joker role in the new Bateman movie – ‘Suicide¬†Squad’. The speculations in The Atlantic magazine were that this is the death of Hollywood. In the way that it is more so a ‘behind-the-scenes reality show’ that aims at creating promotional drama and coverage, rather than an artistic process.

In reality, this method of getting into the role was invented by the Russian theater director Stanislavski. He revolutionized the classical romantic acting style, turning it into brutally naturalistic. The ‘Stanislavski System’ changed the drama theater forever but it isn’t by any means a contemporary actor’s ‘knowhow’ drawn to gain popularity. It’s nothing more than a style of acting which may be or may be not preferred by a director.

 

The same thing with painting. With establishing of my artistic style, I have been experimenting with different techniques and genres. That included naturalism, impressionism, photorealism, installations, painting, filming etc. At some point, I had to prepare for an art show that would include 10 of my pieces depicting gigantic candies. So I chose Leonardo’s approach – I stocked my fridge with all sorts of sweets I was painting. Doesn’t help as much, I want to say. Music does, though.

I have no preference for styles – I choose to lose myself in a current moment. Yesterday I worked on the new piece. It is about this freezing snowstorm. Three men are trying to push their friend’s car out of the snow. Windows in the nearby houses are all tight shut. Not a single soul at this ungodly time. But right behind the men, there is a cycling¬†peloton, racing through the snow towards the grand win. There is nothing that can possibly stop them. Because bicycles never get stuck, – cars do. You can read a bit more about my winter adventures as a cyclist in the hilly city of Kyiv (Ukraine) here. These memories inspired me to make a painting on this topic today. I really wanted the viewer to feel that vacuum that you find yourself in at this kind of storm. There are no distinct sounds, you almost can’t breathe, as it makes you feel like you freeze from inside,¬†doing it. But you keep going as there are that finish line and a coziness of electric lights and a¬†hot drink.

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Music that filled my painting process yesterday was from the Under Zauber podcast on Radio Aristocrats. It is a Ukrainian radio. But don’t get scared of foreign language talk – the most of the podcast is pure atmospheric music.

Sky Is The Limit painting creation process

Sky Is The Limit – is the painting that was created at a very special part of my life. I am an artist and was painting for as long as I can remember myself. However after graduating from my art academy I was close to realization that I might be not that good at painting and maybe I will achieve more in promoting art (more of a PR/marketing sector of the industry). I also got involved in advertising and contemporary ballet. In fact, I even developed the whole ballet performance project (Sweet Expiration), that I took to NYC to try to raise funds for its production. Little did I know that was the trip that took me away from home country Ukraine for good.

Ballet performance never was produced. I ended up moving to Arizona. The day my plane landed on the US soil, the national revolution had started in Ukraine. I didn’t paint for two years. Then I started that “so west coast”¬†common routine of doing yoga in the morning at a¬†gym, followed by those super overpriced kale smoothies.

 

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I discovered that my yoga group instructor at the Village gym was a massage therapist. My spine is far from perfect and running/snowboarding etc. really don’t help. So I set up an appointment. She was great. I felt like I could breathe again (that magic was the massage, she gave). That day we agreed for a barter: I paint her a painting and she gives me massage sessions worth of the painting cost. I got intrigued to fit her place and concept of it with the painting I will make for her. I came across the Bolivian salt flats pictures. Then, I read all those stories about the biggest one of them – Salar de Uyuni.

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It is the world’s biggest salt flat desert. And just a¬†few times a year, during a rainy season, it get’s covered by few inches of water. That is enough to make it the world’s biggest mirror. In fact, it’s so perfect, it is used to calibrate satellites. The beauty of it (how I imagine it) has curved into my consciousness for a while now. I read multiple blogs on how to travel there. It is definitely on my bucket list. Among the best ones seemed to be this:

Source: Salt of The Earth, Cycling Bolivia’s Salars – BIKEPACKING.com

Deserts like that, are often used for setting speed records (due absence of obstacles). I saw this bike. It all suddenly came together: the Bolivian salt flat desert and Tour of Italy (Giro d’Italia – pro-cycling bike race) that I was obsessing over recently (as it was the¬†end of May, and I was watching this race live).

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I made the first painting, that inspired me to proceed with the whole series. My yoga instructor loved it. I quit yoga classes and smoothies very soon, and never saw her again. But she appeared in my life in the perfect time to kickstart my painting process.

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There is also a great song Sky Is The Limit by Notorious B.I.G. The actual painting was titled in its name. It still hangs in my bedroom – looking for the right buyer. But it is definitely one of the most special for me.

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The final version of the painting is here.

See more of original art at my website: Createdbymasha.com and follow me on Instagram @createdbymasha. Also please feel free to comment and subscribe to my blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cheers!

Masha

These places are the reason I wake up (part I)

It appears that I accumulated a solid amount of places, that are an absolute must see, while I was thinking on the bucket list. Their absolute beauty makes me ecstatic and motivates everyday to actually get out of bed, and do something, that can bring me closer to any of them. Here is just a few:

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Bolivia

I couldn’t recall what linked me to the country, but it’s picture of the sky reflected in the rainfall-covered desert was deeply curved in my imagination. I read about Salar de Uyuni. It is the world’s biggest salt flat. And just a few times a year, during the rain season in Bolivia, it gets covered by a few inches of water. This makes it the most perfect mirror on Earth. Scientists use it for the satellite calibration. While the local people enjoy its natural salt resources and tourist attraction, as their string to income.

I imagined the surrealism of the place. The infinity. I am obsessed with cycling. The road and the two wheels make me never want to stop, and so I often come back home exhausted and completely happy, laying on the cool floor right next to the dusted bike. I imagine cycling through that salt flat in Bolivia. I imagined the whole cycling competition there, like Tour de France or Giro. The never-ending snake of the peloton. How fascinating that would be? I painted it over and over again. And hope to experience it soon in the real life. If not a race,at least as my own challenge.

 

Chasing The Pink
Chasing The Pink 
Sky is The Limit
The Pink
Flat Tire In The Pink Desert
In the Pink Desert
Almost Emptiness
When Mountings Became Flat 2015
 

 

 

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Iceland

I saw Iceland many times from the plane, during those hideous transcontinental flights. I saw it in one of my favorite movies The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. My friend  found a great reason to go to Iceland: Secret Solstice. It is a music festival, held in Reykjav√≠k over the course of three days in the 24 hour midnight sun during the summer solstice. Iceland also seems to be a thrilling place to see Northern lights. I read a very picturesque description of how to accomplish it the best, in the blog, that was featured on CNN eventually.

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Iceland was very well described by William Morris:

…on Thursday morning about three Magniisson called me up to see Iceland I think I told you we were to go to Berufirth in the east first of all and we were just at the entrance to it now it is no use trying to describe it but it was quite up to my utmost expectations as to strangeness it is just like nothing else in the world it was a wild morning too very black out to sea and very bright sun under a sort of black canopy over Iceland. (William Morris: Journals of travel in Iceland. 1871. 1873)

  

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Secret Solstice 2016
The only party on Earth incide an ice glasier
The only party on Earth inside an ice glacier
Secret Solstice 2016
Inside an ice glacier
Secret Lagoon Party
Secret Lagoon Event

Why you should start your bucket list two years ago

It was a 5am walk along the same single path through the park in Arizona. It was a bit dirty, as it rained last night. The first rain for the past four months.¬†People worshiped the sound of thunder. Humidity brought back smells to the air. The bloody red colored sun started to make its way through the protective clouds. It turns out one has to move to a desert to start to love rain. It took me two years. That was when my friend and I started the battle for that starved kid’s life inside of us. The one that once had no excuses and accepted no obstacles on the way to the wish.

The mission, as simple, as getting together at the music festival appeared somehow beyond accomplishable. For two years there was something in the way. I can remember each dialogue that excused it. The voices that were really trying to convince themselves, had adapted to accept the current life flow as the only option. There was constant lack of: money, time, reason, visa, etc.

February 2016 I received a short message: “Let’s go?”, with a headliners list of the Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Spain. The answer was just as short: “Let’s go.” Next week we bought the tickets. Emotions were overflowing us. We actually had a hard proof of the upcoming trip. It was hard to believe, the whole hing was about to go down, because of the simplicity we accomplished it with. To an extend, the situation reminded ¬†me of the Berlin Wall. When it was physically broken, yet its ghost was still curved in the people’s subconsciousness.

It took us over a month to get used to the idea we would meet at the music festival that was across the ocean.

In Pursuit of Spanish Visa
In Pursuit of Spanish Visa

Then we bought the plane tickets. We only needed a visa now. The vast majority of the world countries need to officially grant you, a Ukrainian citizen¬†a permit (visa), in order for you to¬†enter¬†their territory. It includes, but is not limited to: a detailed trip itinerary; information on the funds that cover your travel costs, and your stay at the country during the planned visit; description of the intentions and reasons for your travel; as well as a descriptive bio, working/marital status and a medical insurance. I found out that the nearest Spanish Consulates to Arizona were on Los Angeles and San Francisco. I couldn’t get hold of the first suggested location and so I booked a visa appointment with the Consulate General of Spain in SF.

Shortly I was on the flight to the most expensive city in the US, with only five hours to spare, in order to avoid the hotel costs, and be back to Arizona before night. The next words sounded like an echo in my dreams. According to the new agreements, Arizona is not under the SF Consulate jurisdiction anymore. I had to contact the Los Angeles office. And yes they have two websites, one of which has the outdated information. Yes, they have a tendency to not receive or return the calls. “Try to email them a lot.” – they said.

 

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Two month later my friend and I were both sitting on the sidewalk at 5am in Barcelona, Spain. We were trying to catch a taxi, but not really.. We were drunk with life, exhausted from all the dancing and high on oxygen in our blood. It was chilly and we had shivers from the sea breeze, that would sneak under our jeans jackets. The happy sound of the heartbeat resonated with the music and the feeling of life. It was so pure and real as if there was nothing else in the world. And no matter how many pros you can find – in the end of the day, it is always worth it!

WE CREATED OUR FIRST ‘BUCKET LIST’, when we came back home. Proudly, one dream was already accomplished, with a lot less effort than we were trying to label it with. The rest of the list doesn’t really fit in our current life stream. Most of it doesn’t pass the logical reasoning test. It is not meant for that magic and longed for post-retirement period of life, when one spare time and cash, hopefully. It is meant to keep us alive and conscious of who we really are. It is meant to teach us, what is worth our time. It is as simple as that: one needs a desert to worship rain; and one needs London to strive for a clear sky. And we all need air to keep us hight.

High