The fifth country revealed in my new Bon Voyage series is…… Spain.
I’ve been to Spain twice. Each trip was unique and incredible.
I first made my way to Spain with a friend for a two-week trip in 2009. We arrived from France, then made our way to San Sebastián in Northern Spain. I was taken with the elegant art Nouveau buildings lining the cobblestone streets, beautiful coastline filled with surfers, lively bars and restaurants, and captivating culture. I knew after that trip I wanted to explore more of Spain.
I returned in February 2018 upon finding an incredibly cheap airfare to Barcelona and knew I had to seize the opportunity for another voyage to Spain. I found an insanely cheap ticket to Barcelona and impulsively purchased my ticket. I was traveling solo for the first time in 5 years!
Once I got to Barcelona, I was immediately present and in the travel state of mind. I thoroughly explored Barcelona: Gaudi architecture, walks to the coast, the Gothic Quarter and El Poblenou, navigating the metro system, and frequent stops for tapas with plenty of beer. I walked 11 miles over the first full day. Despite Barcelona’s offseason abundance of tourists, I had a great time.
On the third day, I flew to Granada in the Andalusian Region. My initial plan was to spend 3 nights there, but after I stepped foot in such a magical place, I quickly decided to spend the majority of my trip there.
Granada is nestled in the foothills of the Spanish Sierra Nevadas. It’s among the most charming cities I’ve ever visited with an abundance of cultures, diverse neighborhoods, boho vibes, Moorish Architecture, and alluring street markets. I could live there I loved it so much and I was pleasantly surprised by its affordability.
Granada is home of the la Alhambra, a palace-fortress complex built in the 14th century during the Nasrid Dynasty. The Alhambra is located right on the edge of the city among green forests with amazing views of the Sierra Nevadas in the background.
My favorite activity was wandering and getting lost in the Albaicin, the old Moorish quarter full of labyrinths of narrow cobbled streets winding up steep hills and lined with traditional white-washed houses. At the pinnacle, there were incredible views of the city and the Alhambra. It was so peaceful and the cloud formations were beautiful. As I ambled the street, I came upon several buzzing city squares with locals hanging about, which prompted me to stop for more beer and tapas.
This trip reminded me of the importance and power of a respite and escaping my comfort zone. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed solo travel. I always learn so much about myself. It was another great trip. I look forward to another visit.
I fell in love with Morocco. It’s opulent, exotic, and colorful. Morroco was my first trip to an Islamic country. I was there for two weeks with my boyfriend in 2001.
The cities are polluted, hectic, and the touts plentiful, but we were in heaven. We drank and ate our weight in mint tea and couscous. We explored the medinas of the cities, Roman Ruins, Berber fortresses and the beautiful Islamic monuments. With a very loosely planned literary we were able to get lost, be in the moment, and let the adventure guide us.
Our adventure started in Casablanca. From there, we took a train to Fez, then hopped on an overnight bus to Marrakesh (barf bags were distributed by the bus driver at the beginning of the trip because of the windy roads ahead). And, we finished up with a trip to the Atlas Mountains.
We loved exploring the medinas. Medinas are the historic parts of each city; part residential, part shopping center, and part market. In medinas you will find twisting streets where shops, restaurants, markets and homes line the streets in buildings that seem too close together. These twisty, eclectic areas of a city were mazes we loved trying to solve, but the more we tried, the more lost we seemed to get. However, we were travelling, so we just enjoyed the journey and the unexpected places it was taking us..
The interior designer in me couldn’t get enough of the architecture and the rich and detailed interiors. I was in awe of the mixed metal works (brass, copper, iron, bronze), wood carved doors and horseshoe arches, plaster color palettes and amazing level of detail found in tilework. Even in the most modest cafes displayed the most intricate tile layouts.. I was in awe.
The daily calls to prayer added an exotic touch to our trip. And, even though our raid (hotel) in Marrakesh was right next to the clock tower which sounded 5x a day, starting at 5am (and woke us up!) we still relished in the experience.
At the end of the trip we rented a car and headed to the Atlas Mountains for some peace and quiet.. Wow, what a completely different pace from the cities we had visited! The mountains were so relaxing and beautiful. Red earth and sparse dwellings as far as the eye could see. And the people were chill. No one approached us to be our guide or to sell us anything. It was wintertime but we bundled up and and did some day hiking. It was a great counterbalance to the our time in the more urban cities and was the perfect way to end our trip.
I am still amazed at how much I was able to bring home from my shopping trips to the medinas--Berber rugs, brass lanterns, antique tea tables, wooden carvings, leather poufs, baskets, tangines. I must admit, it did not make for easy traveling on our return flight, especially when we missed our connection in Paris. But I am thrilled, even years later, with everything that I purchased. A lot of the items still decorate my apartment today.
I am thrilled to share with you my new Spring Collection, City Strolls. This collection is inspired by city strolls around San Francisco and a few other cities that I have recently visited.
City Strolling for me is how I default to getting around the city whenever possible. It’s during this time when I get the most of my inspiration for my work - observing the lighting, reflections, colors, textures, skylines, urban sprawl and the way the shapes overlap. My mind goes on overdrive and the ideas flood in.
When it comes time to create the work, my process is very loose and unplanned. I am in the moment working with the wallpapers, the color of the ink, and the different ideas to paint under the screen prints, etc.
I screen print in small runs of about 15-50 prints per image, using different wallpaper backgrounds. This makes each piece unique from the others within the run. No two are exactly the same.
Here on my site I have selected one image from each run to be available for purchase.
Collect your favorite pieces before they’re gone.
Stay tuned for the next country to be revealed in my new Bon Voyage series.
I was an interior designer for over 10 years. Although I no longer work in the industry, I am still very passionate about decorating my own home and making it an inspiring and creative place that compliments my personality and interests.
A crucial part of decorating our spaces involves embellishing our walls with art, memorabilia, and photos. Although I personally love the look of framed art, framing can be daunting for schedules and budgets. There are many ways to hang art that are budget friendly and convenient, that also look great. Here are 4.
- A print mounted onto wood. This is a ready-to-go solution for hanging art. It not only looks great but there is nothing else to buy except the nail.
I offer a full collection of my digital print line that is mounted onto wood. Lately, I have been obsessed with Command Strips. Each strip adheres to the back of the art as well as the wall. No nails needed which means no nail holes and I love this because I always moving my art around. My walls are a constant rotating art gallery. This might be the case with you, but regardless, noholes in the wall is great.
Can purchase the Command Strips here:
- Wooden Magnetic Hangers: These are my new obsession. I love how easy these are to use and love the finished look. This particular application looks great with my new Bon Voyage Series. All you do is separate the two bars and slip in your print for the top and bottom. The print is secured well and the bottom bar adds weight to straighten the artwork. I sell an 11” size for $18 on my website under the Bon Voyage tab.
- Binder Clips. This might not sound like the most attractive idea, but there are some really cool and fancy clips on the market and can add a chic industrial look to your wall. I think this application works great in offices and kids’ rooms.
There are many on the market. I have these and think they’re great. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KWMQGG2/ref=asc_df_B01KWMQGG25392805/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=395033&creativeASIN=B01KWMQGG2&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167121201241&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4250578803540293646&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9061269&hvtargid=pla-310501726522
- Decorative Tape. There are many on the market these days- Washi tape to a decorative masking tape found at the hardware store. It doesn’t leave a mark on the walls or the prints and can be a good solution for a kids’ room or office. It’s also good solution for those who like constant change as it’s inexpensive and easy to use. This photo combines all of the 4 ways into one
Today I reveal the 2nd country in my new art travel series, Bon Voyage. This is an ongoing series inspired by years of world travel. Here on my blog, around the 1st of each month, I am going to discuss a new country that I have traveled to, then reveal the art I made at the bottom of the page.
The 2nd country in my new art travel series, Bon Voyage is … Cuba!
In 2017, I visited Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos with a friend for 10 days and on my own for 4. We started in Havana, then went on to Trinidad, then Cienfuegos.
I love Cuba! There is a lot to love. Festive and colorful cities humming with life; warm and inviting people living their lives outside; infectious music played at every corner; the smells of ripe fruits mixed with cigar and petrol fumes all mixed with a hot & humid climate. And, I instantly fell for the vintage cars set against the pastel colored architecture. Talk about picturesque!
The classic cars and crumbling buildings are unique and give your experience a “step-back-in-time” feeling, but they are also a reminder of the stunted growth of the country. This is just one of the many contradictions you will face while travelling here.
It’s been said to expect the unexpected while traveling in Cuba and I found this to be true. Cuba is not an easy place for the independent traveler to explore, especially when traveling to cities outside of Havana. It requires patience, flexibility and enough time built in to your schedule to get around. But for the curious-minded, Cuba Has a ton to offer and is a fascinating place to visit.
Here’s the highlights of my trip:
Cuba’s capital and typically the first and last stop for any traveler in and out of Cuba.
Walking aimlessly without a plan, stopping for mojitos (and water!) when the heat got to be too much.
Visiting the museums, especially the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana.
Going to Fabrica Arte de Cubano at night.
Strolling the streets of Havana Vieja and the Paseo del Prado Hanging out in the Parque Central.
Soaking in the street art
Seeing all the beautiful and bustling Squares such as the Plaza Vieja
Stepping back in time by visiting beautiful old churches like the Plaza de la Catedral
Riding in the vintage cars with the salsa music blaring
Sipping Pina Coladas while watching the sunset at the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Cuba’s best-preserved colonial city. Trinidad is a unique mix of 1850s architecture built on sugarcane wealth. This city truly feels frozen in time, and there were no shortage of vintage cars.I loved it and wished I could have spent a few more days there! Word of caution: It is very touristy.
Getting serenaded at a gorgeous bar while drinking a mojito
Hanging out in the Plaza Mayor watching life go by
Going to Playa Ancon Beach (a huge highlight for me!)
Visiting the historical museums
Eating dinner al fresco under the stars while listening to ever-present salsa music
Situated on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos was my favorite city on the trip. It is full of colorful facades, wide streets and charming French colonial architecture. Founded by the French in 1819, Cienfuegos is one of Cuba’s newest settlements and feels quite different to the rest of the country.
It was much less touristy and had nice, mellow vibe. I had three full days here and I let the days carry me without a plan.
Walking the Malecon down to Punta Gorda and exploring along the way.
Hanging out around the Jose Marti Square where there are museums to visit. I spent time here writing in my journal and talking with locals and tourists.
Drinking beer at sunset at the Marina and sipping cocktails in rooftop bars in the evening.
My life has always included strong internal directives. I’ve “jumped and the net has appeared” several times; this includes taking long trips overseas, moving to San Francisco with only an apartment lined up, and then years later, leaving my 9 to 5 corporate job to pursue a creative life that was not clearly defined at the time. I’ve played in the safe pool many times, gone the conventional route, but it was never me and I would eventually get bored and restless. My years have taught me that I like to live on edge a bit. It keeps me on my toes and keeps me stimulated. There are many ways to live. And I want to live inspired even if it’s not always the easiest path.
In mid-2009, the economy was in the crapper and I was unemployed (I had worked as an interior designer for an architecture firm for the past two years prior). I took that time as a welcomed break to take several long-term trips overseas, while keeping my apartment in the city. When I returned, I took up a new hobby at my kitchen table inspired by my photographs and finding unique ways to recreate them. I had a ton of photos and my iPhone was a huge source of photo inspiration at my fingertips. I started doing photo transfers over wallpaper collages--and I was hooked! I actually couldn’t sit at the kitchen table for a meal for six months because it was covered in my art projects. Next, I took a silk screening class and became immediately addicted, although it took many years to dial in the technique. Silk screening is fickle! There’s a lot to go wrong but the class gave me a taste for it and I knew I wanted to explore it further.
In 2011, I made the decision to go back to the daily grind, I went to work for a large multinational company in FIDI (San Francisco’s financial district). It was a bit of a sweatshop and this girl was not happy. I did meet very fun and nice people, but the work itself was not inspiring. So, my art became even more of my focus. Art was my happy place.
2013 was a tough year. I was miserable in my job and one of my best friends was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer. He was 41, and up until that time, healthy, athletic and happy. It was devastating news. My friend passed nine months after he was diagnosed. It was a wakeup call for me. I made the decision to turn up the volume in my life and take control of my destiny. I had gotten the message that each day is a gift and tomorrow is not guaranteed.
In May 2013, I left my corporate job and dedicated myself to around 8 months of a regular art practice, focusing on technique. To help with expenses, I took a very part time sales position. At the time, I had no idea if I could make a living as an artist but knew I wanted to do something creative. I was just focusing on what I liked to do and not thinking about how to make anything specific happen. I took a leap of faith and figured things would unfold as they should.
After 8 months of art making, I had a ton of inventory. I had idea to do my first ever art event, the Treasure Island Flea. I split a booth with a friend as I had zero displays at that time. I actually used an old futon frame that had been in my basement for years as a means to hang the art. It was makeshift to say the least. But OMG, people bought my art! By the end of the weekend, I had almost sold out of product. I could not believe it!
And that’s how I started my business. It took a lot a hard work, tons of hustle, creativity and a belief that if I kept pushing forward things would work out.
After the initial show, I made a lot more art, applied to additional events, and moved my business from my kitchen table into a studio (!). Since that time, I’ve started a wholesale line and my art prints are sold in stores throughout SF, including SFO, worked on numerous commissions, including one with AIASF creating the image for their month-long architecture festival, and worked on a collaboration with Rickshaw Bagworks and my art is featured on a collection of their tote bags sold in stores such as Wholefoods, Sports basement, DFS in SFO, etc.
This August 2018, I celebrate four years of 100 percent self-employment from my creative endeavors. It’s a dream come true. I work harder now than I ever did, but it’s a labor of love. I don’t feel like I am working when I am working, it’s just something I like to do.
It’s a path of faith and embracing uncertainty. And, I have no idea what the future has in store. But I am fairly certain, as long as I am following my joy, I will continue to find my way.
Stay tuned for my next blog post March 1 as I reveal the second country in my Bon Voyage series.
India is unique. There is nowhere like it that I’ve seen!! Each day is an adventure and you have no idea what awaits you when you wake up and walk outside of your hotel. It opens your mind and changes you a little, if you let it. The population is dense, the pollution thick, the honking loud, scams are plentiful yet there is an intoxicating beauty that is hard to ignore.
I’ve been to India twice. And, both trips were an incredible experience. India is eye opening to say the least.
My first time was in 1998. I was on a 6-month trip that started in Europe. I then met up with friends from home in Nepal and trekked the Annapurna Circuit. From there, I went onto India by local bus with British travelers I met in Katmandu. I eventually “went on my own”, but was rarely alone. I met so many wonderful people on that trip and we would travel around together for weeks at a time. It was the adventure of a lifetime and India had a tremendous hold on me. It is a feeling that is hard to describe, like I was in a movie, living in a different time. Driving in rickshaws, zooming through crowded streets, horns blaring to avoid hitting cows, dogs, street vendors. It’s a symphony of smells, sounds, and chaos but it somehow all works. I was obsessed with the architecture; mosaic glass and mirrored ceilings, and all of the ornate, scalloped windows and arches. Then there’s the vivid colors of women’s saris & men’s turbans, mixed in with the camels & elephants, all set against the crumbling architecture. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Picturesque is an understatement. The novelty of being there did not wear off for me, unlike other places I had been to. And it challenged me and kept me on my toes. I was in love.
I returned to India in 2010. I came from Laos and Cambodia where I was traveling solo for two months. I flew into Delhi and met a friend from the USA. We were traveling together for 5 weeks. Wow, culture shock! I had changed a lot since my first visit there. I was a different person than I was 1998-- older, and I liked my creature comforts a lot more. In other words, the honeymoon had worn off a bit. India now seemed so dirty and polluted (I remember blowing my nose and it would be black)! I was blown amazed that I had been there solo 13 years prior. That really took some guts on my part! However, once we got into the groove of things I found myself really enjoying our trip. We did end up getting scammed a couple of times and took a couple of unnecessary detours to cities we didn’t want to go to, but the beauty of India blew my mind, as it had done in 1998. India is definitely not easy traveling (and no place for the prissy!), but when you loosen your grip a bit, have the ability to laugh at the things that you can’t control and slow down, something magical happens.
AND, HERE'S THE ART!!!
This is a 16" x 24"collage. It's made out of wallpaper, airline ticket stubs, Lonely Planet pages, tissue paper, post cards, saris, and Indian Rupees.
Check out my pics:
This is me in 1998. I was in the Thar Desert on a camel safari for one week. We came upon this village, I saw these guys and their colorful turbans, and got off my camel to have my photo with them.
This is me in Udaipur, Rajasthan on my second trip! I have been to Udaipur twice and love it.
I heard a quote the other day that really resonated, especially since I just started my brand new “Living Inspired” journal.
“Rather than searching for life’s meaning, remember that you always have the power to create it.”
Pretty cool, eh? I am not at all attempting to be Deepak Chopra here, but being able to create our own meaning in a chaotic world that doesn’t always make a lot of sense is pretty powerful. And that is why I’m excited about the Living Inspired Journal.
What is a Living Inspired Journal you might ask?
It’s a scrapbook- a physical form of Pinterest, or dare I say “visionboard” that you fill up with anything that inspires you. AND I MEAN ANYTHING. Anything from personal growth to fashion, it doesn’t matter. It’s merely an exercise to focus your attention on inspiration = happiness.
My Living Inspired Journal is an 8.5” x 11” hardcover sketchbook, I rummage through all my old magazines and catalogs and cut out what speaks to me- Headlines that I group together to make my own statements, quotes that inspire me (some of these hand written), etc. (I will go into greater detail below).
I kept my first “inspiration” journal in 2007, when I was in a funk and didn’t have a lot of inspiration in my life (my cubicle days). I was looking for a creative side project to focus my energy. I got really into my journal and I would walk around on my lunch hour looking for materials to fill it with. I think in today’s times, when we are hearing WAY TOO MUCH depressing news, it’s good to have a creative/inspirational outlet.
You don't have to be in a funk, it's just a fun thing to do! Especially this time of year when our new year’s resolutions are “still” in full effect (AKA bypassing happy hour and hitting the gym instead). This is a great activity to do post gym / dinner when the average person turns on the TV, or in the AM before work to kick start your day off on a positive note.
I encourage you to start one! It’s easy, there is no right or wrong.
Go through catalogs & magazines, tear or cut out anything that catches your eye. Cut out the headlines you think are inspiring, a photo of a place you have traveled, or want to travel to, a postcard, a great article, a great quote, colors you love. You can make up your own words cutting up individual letters and pasting each letter down to make up the word. Glue down ticket stubs from museums, concerts, travel memorabilia. Doodle or draw if you desire with pen or pencil. We are not looking for a masterpiece here and you don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to. Remember, perfection is a creativity killer. The goal is to just get started.
You can also dedicate a full page to a specific headline (examples below), and fill it with writing or magazine cut outs (or a combo of both).
- 5 future vacation destinations?
- What makes you happy?
- What are you grateful for?
- What do you want to achieve this year?
- What are you ready to let go of?
- What are you afraid of?
- What qualities or habits would you like to improve?
- What are some of your favorite memories?
- MAKE UP YOUR OWN
Give it 10-20 min a day or longer if you can. If you stick with it, you be surprised how much it strengthens your creative muscle and connects to your inspiration = happy place.
I store all my cut outs that I will glue down at a later time in a large envelope and store all the mags for the project in a shoe box. It cleans up pretty fast, especially if you’re cutting on a table surface over hardwood floors.
- Any journal. I use a hardcover sketch pad that I picked up at my local art store. The size 8.5” x 11”, but any size will do. I bought something similar to the link below.
- A glue stick. Any size is fine.
- Any pens of your choice if you want to write inside. I like Gel Pens
- Magazines of your choice- I would start with min. 3.
Stay tuned for my next blog post February 1. I will reveal the first country in my new art travel series, Bon Voyage. And be sure to follow me on Instagram for art updates and behind the scenes – Link at the bottom of the page.
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were fantastic!! Now it’s time to embrace a new year full of inspiration, hope, and love! I don’t know about you, but a HUGE health kick has started, effective immediately;)
I am so excited to share the start of my new blog, Living Inspired.
I am thrilled to be kicking off 2018 with my first post.
This blog is about what inspires me and fuels my creativity and happiness. Perhaps it can inspire you, too?
As the blog develops, it will encompass 3 categories:
- My journey following my joy which led me to making art and the leaps of faith I’ve taken along the way to make it a full time career. I am not going to lie, it is a hustle. Being self employed, even if it's something you love, is a lot of work! My brain goes 100 miles an hour most days and times! But I would not trade it for the world. More on this to come!
- My travels! A huge part of my 2018 is going to be focused on a new travel series that I have been working on, Bon Voyage. I was bitten hard by the travel bug in 1995, and since then, I have taken numerous trips overseas, some of them solo, buying one way tickets and traveling without an itinerary for months at a time. I have also taken many shorter two week or even shorter trips with significant others, friends, etc. In the future blog posts, I will share tips on how I travel on a budget and share some of my favorite countries and stories. I will taking a solo trip to Spain (Barcelona and Granada) next month in February 2018 for 12 days and my plan is to do it under $2000 including airfare. More on this to come!
- DIY Interior Design. I am a certified interior designer and although my days of working away in a depressing cubicle, drafting on Autocad are over, (I worked in the industry many years), I am still very passionate about Interior Design and sprucing up my own home – on a dime! This is more “decorating” than interior design and I will share low cost ways to bring some extra bling into your home. More on this to come.
Stay tuned for my next post, how to make a Living Inspired Journal.