Home??

“Home is where the Heart is”… or so says the age-old adage.

If that is true, will I ever actually “BE” home again?

I ‘left home’ for college in May, 1997 and other than a 3-month stint after graduation at the end of 2000, I never really went back: I spent 5.5 years in Detroit and it ‘s been 8 years since I moved to NYC. I now own a little piece of Brooklyn that I call my own, and the bank calls me a “home owner”, so it should follow that I AM home, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my apt!! The views, the building, the neighbors, the ‘hood… I couldn’t ask for anything more!!! (well, maybe a 3rd bedroom woulda been nice!.. LOL)…. But, (and there’s always a “but”, isn’t there?), there was always this sense of ‘comfort’ knowing that I went “home” every xmas to spend the holidays with my grandma. Yeah, 17 years after I first left for RPI, I always felt I still had a home in Tijuana: the home i was raised in by my grandparents, the home my grandfather first built to raise his children.

And now, as preparations are made for that old house to be sold, I struggle to figure out if i still have a home — and where that home really is.

If home really is where the heart is, then half my home is on a small burial plot and half in a city I’ve never been to, somewhere in TN — so not only have I lost my “home”, but it seems my heart isn’t really mine anymore, is it?

Will the void ever feel less big? Will my residence ever really feel like home again?

 

Tears to Words… to paper?

A couple of weeks ago, this quote came across my twitter feed: “tears are just words waiting to be written”. Immediately I thought that if that were true, then in the last 4 months I have cried at least two best-selling-Pulitzer Prize winning LARGE books.
But then I remembered how long its been since I was actually successful at putting pen to paper, in a meaningful way.
I am pretty sure that last time I wrote a poem that I was happy/satisfied with and proud of was in late Spring 1997, the week before I left Cali/TJ for my first summer session at RPI. It was my last weekend with my friends and we were out and about, enjoying San Diego together “for one last time”. While we were waiting for another beautiful SoCal Sunset over the Pacific (man, I DO miss those!), we spent the evening strolling thru Sea Port Village and stopped at a little art gallery, not our usual type of thing, but hey, it was a sort of nostalgic night, so we were feeling adventurous.
It was at this gallery (I wish I remembered its name!) that I first noticed a painting I had never seen before in the back corner, almost seemed hidden, away from all other art, but it struck a cord with me. A strong one: I stood in front of it for what felt like an eternity, I studied every stroke of the brush, every angle of the scene and felt incredibly overwhelmed — a feeling that no piece of art ever had before, or since, and I had been a “fan” of art since I was a little kid (I “declared” myself a fan of Salvador Dali’s work when I was 8 or 9 years old, so art has always been a big part of my life and who I am. The piece was called “Looking Elsewhere”, by Malcolm Liepke (you can see this piece here: http://www.artbrokerage.com/Malcolm-Liepke) and all I could think about as soon as we walked out of that gallery was “I need a pen and paper!”…. I borrowed a pen from the girl at the coffee cart outside the gallery and grabbed a couple of napkins, and lost myself for a few minutes on a bench while my friends looked at me like I had just lost my mind, maybe I did, for a moment at least, but I didn’t care: I just HAD to write, right there and there, that second or I would not be able to do anything else for the rest of the night!
What came pouring out of me, without any thought at all and flowed so effortlessly was the last poem I have written since:

Looking Elsewhere, 1997

Looking elsewhere I have stood
Letting life pass me by.
Filled with sorrow disguised with laughter
I live dreaming of a good tomorrow.
Admiring happiness I rejoice in sadness.
Armed with reason I deny emotion.
My life runs by me
And I let it slip away.
But a mirror painted by a stranger
Showed me the right way.
The strokes of his brush displayed my spirit.
The essence of his art was submerged in my passion.
It was with the climax of visual ecstasy
That I discovered myself.
The exaltation of a poet’s soul
Filled my empty body.
The beauty of recognition
Made me reach the stars.
I have lived my first day.

Sure, I’ve put pen to paper a few times in the years since: in the stacks of sketchbooks and ‘travel journals’ I have accumulated in the last almost 20 years there are dozens of verses, half-started efforts, the rare randomly brilliant line, but nothing substantial has ever come from it, at least nothing that felt like it was simply meant to be written by me like that night in California. Since that night, I have “accepted” that I was simply stuck in a writer’s block rut and that it would eventually end. That I would eventually feel so much love, or happiness, or pain, or loss, that words would just come out flowing out of me again like they did that evening… but they haven’t.

Oh, there has been more than enough love and happiness and pain and loss since then that one would expect some meaningful poetry would have been born from all that my life has brought me thru in the last 17 years since that night. But nothing.

I sort of expected it actually, that it would happen suddenly, almost unexpectedly, and yes, somewhat effortlessly. After all, I started writing “poetry” when I was in 5th grade and I always thought of it as “easy”, something that just came to me naturally. Except that as I got older, and life and emotions became more complex, writing them became damn near impossible — even more so than speaking about them.

So, when I read that quote on my twitter feed last week, from a writer I follow, I began to think perhaps it was time to start writing … again. I mean, the last 4 months have certainly provided sufficient emotions to write about, love, death, loss, hope, devastation, disappointment, hopelessness, impotence, desire, friendship. An overwhelming barrage of emotions for sure, and an incalculable about of tears have flowed thru me, from me, and yet I have been incapable of writing about them, and this little under-140-characters post from a stranger seemed to be sort of pushing me to at least think about trying.

But that is something I have a general disinterest in doing: trying — don’t feel like even putting in half an effort, so why bother, right? So, no poetry. No writing — Hell, even this blog has been neglected more than a few times since I started in hopes of reigniting my inner writer’s flow.

And as I’ve been thinking about it more and more this week, I’ve sort of realized that that’s just not me: I don’t try… I just do. My whole life I’ve just moved from doing one thing I was good at to another, never really ‘trying’ anything. I either do or don’t do, it either flows naturally from me, or it doesn’t happen. Whether it was math, chess at 4 years old, sports, writing, drawing, everything – I just did it. There was never any trying at all. Do I even know what trying is? Do I want to know? Do I really need to “try” to write? No, I should just write, right? How else are all these tears supposed to become words on paper?

But, should I be expecting the writing to be in the form of poetry again? Perhaps painting has replaced words as my form of expression, but that has been on hold too.

Then, as I struggled to reconcile the initial ‘push’ I felt from that tweet with what I expect from myself to naturally occur,  I read this list on Friday — ’83 things every man should do before he dies’ (http://www.esquire.com/features/bucket-list-0414). #18 struck me a bit:

18. Write a poem. Make it about whatever you’re feeling about whatever you’re seeing in your mind’s eye. A person. Someone you love. It’s a fucking poem; why waste it on anger or fear? That stuff is what prose is for.

So maybe prose is what I should be focused on, not poetry.

Either way, I know I need to write again. And I will focus on this blog to make this happen — so, expect more posts to keep coming, I hope.

 

After a long pause…. reset!

I think I should apologize to my (handful of) readers for the long delay between blog posts!!… but life has been busy, and my blogging, writing and painting has to be put on hold: between work, trying to buy a co-op in NYC, the NBA playoffs, my ‘baby’ brother moving to Brooklyn to live with me and everything else that makes up my life these days, my blogging journey hit a bit of a snag!!…

BUT, I am back online and I feel the writing & artistic creativity dying to come out, so I should have a few posts coming in the next few days, hope you all enjoy them!

Now, I had mentioned before, the intent of my blog is to document my artistic journey from “merely” an architect into a full-blown artist, so I will not bog you down with minutia on my daily life on these lines, so no worries! Instead, the next few posts will be focused on catching you all up on how I got from first picking up a paintbrush and dabbling with acrylic paints to finding my “calling” of the male nude and oils!… and will give you a sneak peak into my first “commissioned” piece, which I hope to complete in the next month!

So, about the Art Journey… I already went thru how (and why) I first picked up a brush and how I found my first subjects: flowers, for my grandma…. well, to be honest, I was only able to get thru THREE flower still-life pieces before I realized that instead of relaxing, painting was stressing me out more!… it took a while to figure out why, when it should have been clear from the start: I’m a bit of an obsessive compulsive perfectionist and painting flowers simply required much more detail than I was prepared to commit to canvas!!

So there I was, again with a problem: I was still dying to continue painting, but flower still-lives were now out of the question, so what to paint? I needed a new subject, and FAST! That’s when I turned to my overfilled bookcase, thumbing thru art books, pausing to gather more inspiration from some of my favorite artists and still a bit lost…. when my index finger paused as it hit the spine of a book I hadn’t opened since college: Robert Mapplethorpe’s ‘Black Book’! amazing photography of amazingly gorgeous men: THAT would certainly be fun to paint, I though to myself as I wondered if I could be good enough with a brush in my hand to do those beautiful bodies justice…. so, I spent the next couple of days “playing” with paint on canvas boards and discovered that, apparently, the male nude IS in fact my thing: and why wouldn’t it be?? I have always loved beautiful men — some might say they are a bit of weakness of mine — so, painting them actually came easy to me: the muscle tone, broad shoulders, abs, chiseled chests… In 2008, I found my initial artistic ‘niche’: the male nude! A girl could do worse, right?

These are the first pieces that came out of that first weekend with Mapplethorpe’s book as my inspiration:

“Outstretched” – 8×10 – 1/1/08 – Acrylic on Canvas Board – © Rocio A. Acosta

“Decadent Solitude” 8×10 – 1/1/08 – Acrylic on Canvas Board – © Rocio A. Acosta

Not bad for my first nude pieces, right? … The male body is a beautiful thing indeed!

But, what do YOU think? part of what I am looking for on this blog, is some feedback on my work! Critique away…

Now, stay tuned, more to come soon: I plan on taking advantage of the long weekend to catch up on the writing!

Happy 4th of July everyone!!!… have fun, and be safe!!

Rocio

Why this Blog Exists

This should have probably been my first Blog Post, instead of the one posted earlier this evening, but that’s just how my brain works sometimes, which is partially why I am doing this anyway: to put my (sometimes) rambling thoughts into a written order!

By now you must be wondering WHY I am even bothering with a website of my own (instead of a standard Blogger page or some other blogging platform), right?…
Well, that’s where things get a little complicated. Don’t get me wrong, I am overall satisfied with my career choice and would not want to spend my life being anything other than an Architect. But for the last few years I have wondered why I don’t have a best selling book when people like ‘Snookie’ and ‘The Situation’ do??… I mean, I am sure I have more intelligent things to say than they do, and so therefore I should also have more to contribute to the world of literature than some of the other people that are getting published. Plus, with a degree in Philosophy, I certainly spent some serious time in college polishing off my writing skills. But I have been struggling with coming up with ideas and book topics that I consider worthy of writing and, of course, of reading! — I wouldn’t want to write and publish something just for the sake of being published, I need to make sure that it is something worth reading.
Now, not many people know that I have been lucky enough to have had some poetry published in large anthologies quite a few years ago that most people have never heard off, but unfortunately I have basically been stuck in a “writer’s block stint” since college. That means I haven’t really taken pen to paper in about 15 years. For someone who used to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with more poetry than sketches since I was a child, that is a very long time.
So, while trying to digest several topics that I could write a book on, I thought that perhaps starting a blog would help me get the creative writing juices flowing and from that blog the base for a book (or a few books??) would be born!

But what would I blog about? I could pick one of those few topics that I have strong ‘opinions’ on (i.e. politics, social issues, etc), but I am not sure I want to start off in the blogging world with a controversial blog. I also don’t want to blog about the same things that some of my friends are already blogging about — how uncreative is that??

Then I thought about the “other” goal I had set out on last year that is still yet to be achieved: finding a gallery to show my art pieces in! I mean, I live in NYC: galleries abound, right? If I can’t get a show here, then where can I? As an “emerging” artist who only picked up a paint brush about 4.5 years ago, it may seem like a tall order to already want to have my own show, especially when there are ‘true’ artists that spend their whole lives without that privilege. But those that know me will tell you that once I set a goal for myself, I reach it, no matter how long it takes!

So, for now, the bulk of RocioAcosta.com & this blog will be about documenting my journey of becoming an artist: my explorations thru different mediums & subject matter, of getting my art into a gallery, and perhaps to a point where some of this art can be sold! After all, just like when (if) I get a book written and published I want it to be something people enjoy reading, my artwork also needs an audience — and homes to be displayed in and which brings smiles to peoples faces!

I hope you chose to ride along this journey with me!

As far as to why I have gone to the trouble to set up my own website, hosting and blogging sites?…simple answer: I’m a control freak! But really, I just want to make sure I own all of my content (writing, art, photos, etc.) at all times: I have to admit, I was not thrilled to find out that google owns blogger! That definitely made me pause even though I am not a ‘big brother’ conspiracy theorist. ;-)

Since this is an Art Blog, I suppose I should include another one of my pieces.This was my first figure/body/nude piece:

Awaiting #1

Awaiting #1 - 9x12 - Acrylic on Canvas Board - Winter 2007 - © Rocio A. Acosta

I will go into how I went from the flower still-life pieces to figures and nudes on an upcoming blog entry, but I can tell you one thing: it was not what I first thought of as a ‘natural’ progression, but it was definitely the right move for me and my work!

Enjoy… and good night!

Rocio

How the Journey Started

The beginning of my Journey to become an artist is much simpler than you may think: it was born out of creative frustration and artistic stifling!

In the Fall of 2007 I was working around 60 hour weeks between the office and the construction site and felt sort of ‘stuck’ while doing mostly construction administration: It felt as if I wasn’t getting enough of a ‘creative outlet’ to keep me smiling and relaxed, I was almost always stressed and frustrated. Spending time with friends, going out to movies, restaurants and just hanging out wasn’t cutting it; and neither was the overcompensation of sleeping as much as possible on the weekend to ‘get my energy back’.

So, I started thinking that I simply needed another art-related outlet to quell all the frustration and stress. But my writer’s block was still in full effect and the poetry that used to flow from my pen with ease at one point in my life was either completely none existent or incredibly painful to read back. So I thought I just needed to get the ‘right tools’ to get back into the flow of writing and I ventured off to the ‘mecca’ of writing supplies: Pearl Paint, on Canal street — after all, what good is it to live in NYC if I don’t take advantage of one of the most amazing stores I’ve ever been in, right?

While I was strolling thru the tight aisles at Pearl choosing between felt-tip pens, refillable cartridge pens or more architectural rapidographs, the proverbial lightbulb over my head went off: why continue forcing this whole writing thing? maybe it was time I picked up a paintbrush instead? And I remembered my old community college mentor, Tom Rogo. He was not only my Architectural Design Professor during my two years at Southwestern College, but also the one that spent those same two years telling me how I “needed to get over my fear of color” — his suggestion? Painting! Of course, as most 18 & 19 year olds, I pretty much ignored that advice: I did only all that was required to get thru my architectural hand rendering courses with the highest possible grades and then forgot all about the whole ‘fear of color’ thing!

But while I was standing in the paper pads and sketchbooks aisle, I remember Tom saying once “I really think you should explore painting”, and so I headed upstairs and bought myself a set of acrylic paints (basic primary colors and a few others that I remembered from my color theory classes as being ‘essential’) and about half a dozen canvas boards of various sizes, and I was on my way to being “an artist”!!

But once I got all my new creative “tools” home, I had another problem: what the heck am I going to paint?? I now had all that was needed to start the new ‘hobby’, but I really had no idea of what my subject should be. I started going thru some of my art books and remembered that my favorite artist, Salvador Dali, was basically the father of Surrealism and that there was no shot in hell that I could ever be THAT good… so that still didn’t give me a starting point. Then I thought that maybe I should think about this first painting as a gift to someone: if I knew WHO would be hanging this ‘art piece’ on their wall, it would surely be easier to find a ‘topic’, right? So, who better to gift a painting to than my grandmother?? After all, we are talking about the same woman who STILL has all my architecture school models on display all over her living room: so, even if whatever I ended up painting turned out to be hideous, she would accept it with a smile and proudly display it in her home and announce to all her friends and family that I painted it!!!

All the pressure was suddenly lifted and now I had my first target audience, my grandmother…. but I still didn’t have a subject!… Until I remembered how much she loves flowers. I mean, how hard would it be to paint a few flowers, right? I started to remember my still life drawing classes at SWC and did some quick online searches for images of Grandma’s favorite flower: the calla lily and so an artist was born!!

The first piece was “Blooming”:

Blooming - 9x12 - Acrylic on Canvas Board - Fall 2007 - © Rocio A. Acosta