I work in an office. Every day, around 9 am, I get up from my desk, depart my cubicle, ride the elevator down to the ground floor, and leave the building to take a short walk around the block. It’s good for my mood, and helps to re-energize me when I sit back down to continue my work.

A while back, as I was walking merrily along, I saw a man park his car on the curb and walk towards the entrance to his destination. He paused briefly when he saw a piece of litter on the sidewalk, picked up that litter, and put it in the trashcan near the sidewalk. It was such an automatic response, and I don’t think he knew I noticed, but ever since then I pick up litter whenever I take my walk.

I don’t pick up every piece I see. I don’t bring a bag with me. This is a quick walk. But if I spy a water bottle or a paper coffee cup on the sidewalk, I pick it up and put it in the nearest trash receptacle. It’s no big thing. I do it every day that I work, and by Friday I can sometimes walk around the block and not find any litter to pick up.

The other day I was taking my walk, and a man who also works in my building was walking just behind me and saw me pick up some litter. “You’re going to need a trash bag.” “No,” I replied. “I only pick up what I can carry.” The man proceeded to grumble about slobs and something else I didn’t hear, but he didn’t stoop to pick up any litter on his way back to our mutual workplace.

Be the change you wish to see in the world, they say. Well, this world is a big place, and I’m one person. I could grumble about the litter in the city, and the people who leave it there, or I could use my short, 7ish-minute walk to make one small difference. It’s no big thing. I didn’t feed a starving child in Africa by throwing a plastic bottle in the trash. I didn’t end sex trafficking by picking up the empty cigarette pack. But I didn’t do nothing.

I think people who care are often paralyzed from taking action in the world by the sheer enormity and magnitude of the problems faced by humanity. Will to act is a powerful thing, and even one small action in one short walk can inspire other people to make their own change. My small city block is cleaner because I saw a man stop and pick up a piece of litter, and maybe someone has seen me pick up litter on my walk and has been inspired to do the same in their own daily path.

Pick up what you can carry. Start there.

With great love,

Bianca

I am an artist. I am an artist. I am an artist.

You can’t imagine how many times I’ve said those words to someone, and I wondered if I could be taken seriously. Like somehow it’s something I have to earn. Or something someone else has to call me first. Or that I have to have produced a certain number of works or sold a certain dollar amount of my work in order for other people to take me seriously when I say those words.

But fuck that. That external acceptance is entirely beside the point.

I’m an artist in the same way that I’m brunette with blue eyes. It’s part of my DNA. It is who I am at the very core of my being. When my mind isn’t busy with the stuff I have to do every single day, it’s occupied with art. I see the world through an artistic lense. I get inspiration and ideas ALL THE TIME. I breathe in, art, I breathe out, art. I burn with it. There are times when I’m so flooded with ideas that I almost can’t breathe. If only there were more hours in the day.

My work doesn’t have to be good (though I believe it is). It doesn’t have to sell (though I believe it will). I could no more stop being an artist than I could stop being me.

There’s a certain satisfaction in recognizing a part of yourself that’s so intrinsic. There’s also a restlessness, because life goes on, and there are other things I have to do, and all I want to do is be in front of a canvas or a sheet of paper with my brushes or my pens, creative faucet wide open.

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A series I’m working on that I’ll use to apply for an arts festival.

This is a really cool season for me. I’m becoming more confident in my work. I’m making plans to submit my art various places, and making inquiries in other places, and it’s really cool to feel like not only do I know what I am, but that I may just be able to convince other people.

With deep love,

Bianca

I wear a pretty cheerful face most of the time these days, and it’s usually totally real, and I’m usually in a pretty good mood. I’m waiting for the day when someone asks me “How are you so cheerful all the time?” Because here’s the secret to my success:

It takes a lot of work and constant vigilance.

After I started to recover from my major depression, and began to add healthy habits into my life, I started to notice that there were certain things that could trigger a low mood. Sugar is one. Sugar is bad bad bad bad bad for my mental health. A little bit is ok, but if I have too much of it, it can violently push me into a hasty downward spiral. So I don’t do much sugar these days. Lack of exercise is another. I don’t have to do a full hour of cardio everyday or anything like that, but I have to get up and move my body pretty regularly, like walking around the block or my morning yoga.

My husband and I just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. I’ve been very committed to my keto diet, but decided that it would be ok to indulge in donuts on Saturday morning, because it used to be a Saturday morning tradition, and I missed the ritual of it probably more than I even missed the sugar. I also had some wine, and just generally didn’t get enough sleep over the weekend, and my lack of vigilance resulted in about 5 hours yesterday where I just could not get my mood back into balance. Something switched in my brain at about 10am, and even though I tried all of my usual strategies to get back on track, it wasn’t until about 3pm that I was finally able to pull myself out of that funk.

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This image has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I’ve written about today.

It was frustrating to say the least, because I’ve been pretty proud lately of how well I’ve been able to head off those bad moods. It’s my own fault. And I say that with full compassion for myself and no judgement. I made choices over the weekend that I knew could result in a funky mood. Lesson learned, probably.

Most people I know don’t get to see those hard moments of mine. I have an online presence in a couple of different places, and I think it sometimes comes across that I’m coasting on easy street all the time. I don’t want the impression that I leave to be that my life is all rainbows and butterflies. Don’t get me wrong! There are a lot of rainbows and butterflies, because I take responsibility for the actions that help me to maintain that state of mind, but I’m human and fallible and I still sometimes make choices that don’t serve me for whatever pleasure or comfort they offer in the moment.

I was looking through my journal this morning, and I recorded a piece of gratitude a couple of weeks ago that is relevant. It said “Today I am grateful for my job, because there are days when it’s really hard to be grateful for it, and those are the days when I learn and grow.” Every time I suffer it’s an opportunity to learn something about myself, and I value those opportunities.

I’ll do better for myself.

With deep love,

Bianca

Patience is a big theme in my life. I’ve reflected on it here previously, but it’s such a big part of what I am focusing on these days that I’m starting to see the practice reaching it’s little tendrils into every facet of my life. I notice fairly quickly when I’m being impatient and how it impacts my mood, and when I stop to pause and just be in the moment, magical little things happen, like my little duck visitor at the park today.

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She sat a foot away from me as I was drawing and watched me for 10 minutes.

The moleskine that I previously mentioned has become a center of grounding and reflection. I have a daily gratitude practice that I share online and in person with a few different people (in exchange for their own gratitudes), and I’m also recording these daily in this moleskine. I copy down quotes that make me pause in thought, in wonder and in awe. I print out text conversations that uplift me and paste them onto a page. It’s become a magical little tool. If I have a rough moment, I’ll open it and read something. Doesn’t really matter what it is, because I don’t put anything in it that won’t have a positive effect on my life. And sometimes it’s just exactly what I need to break me out of a funk. I highly recommend both a daily gratitude practice and a grounding/centering journal.

I’ll share with you the gratitude that I shared with my circle today, and then I’ll share a couple more gratitude moments that I’ve had since.

Today I am grateful for:

  • The opportunity to help other people feel good about themselves.

  • Feeling happy to go to work today.

  • Starting my morning with meditation and yoga.

  • Loving people deeply for being exactly who they are and not who I might want them to be.

  • My discipline in my eating habits.

And two other pieces of gratitude:

  • My little duck visitor in the park.

  • The message I received from a new friend that was full of love and encouragement.

I hope your day/week/month/year is full of moments to be grateful for.

With deep love,

Bianca

I’m really fortunate to have the job that I have right now. There are the obvious reasons: It pays well. It’s stable. I have a lot of autonomy, and am in no way micromanaged. I get along with my team and the other people on the floor I work on. I have a reasonable commute. I am capital “G” Grateful for my job.

I’ll be honest with you. I’d rather be home painting. Or doing something else creative. Rather than churning spreadsheets or QCing data. But aside from the obvious reasons for being Grateful for my job, I’ve found some rather special and particular reasons to be Grateful that this is where I am at this time, and I fully believe that this time in my life is preparing me for a level of discipline and a sense of balance that will be required when I do finally make the leap to work for myself.

I have lots of opportunities for learning. When I’m only using half my brain to copy and paste data, the other half is listening to podcasts or YouTube videos. Most of the content I absorb right now is either personal development or spiritual content. They’re topics that I might not have pursued with quite so much focus if I was at home, and I find that my attention to these topics over the last few months has wrought some changes in me, most notably increased patience and a greater sense of peace. Added to my meditation routine, my listening habits have also helped me be able to quickly re-correct when I find that my mind wanders to heavy places.

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Doodling on the cover of my Moleskine during a recent trip to the park

I have opportunities to walk. I work within walking distance of a beautiful park, and I walk down there during lunch nearly every day. I also occasionally step away from my desk and just go downstairs and take a walk around the block when I need a break. This city feels safe, and I probably walk more than I would if I worked from home. I find that a quick walk around the block refreshes my mind, and when I sit back down to work I can attack whatever project I’m working on with renewed energy. This attention to my mental balance has helped me to maintain my equanimity even when I am confronted by stressors in my personal life.

I have a healthful morning routine. I’m at my desk by 7:15 every morning. I could get up at 5:30 and have enough time to shower and dress to be at work on time, but I get up at 4:30 instead, because I don’t like to hurry in the morning. Instead, as soon as my alarm goes off, I get out of bed and meditate before I do anything else. I do some stretching. I drink some water. Last thing before I jump in the shower, I check messages from friends, because I’m blessed to have friends who uplift me, and who often make me smile or laugh. My routine helps me to shake off any lingering tiredness, and sets a mood precedent for my day. It is also a discipline that will serve me well when I’m working from a home office, and would otherwise be tempted to linger in bed a little too long.

I am Grateful for my opportunities for growth. I hope to always be able to see every phase of my life for the opportunities it holds.

With deep love,

Bianca

Early last year, before I started working again and had a lot of free time on my hands, I had started to add some healthful habits to my daily routine. I was meditating on a daily basis. I was taking vigorous walks. I was making small and inconsistent attempts to eat better. And 3 or 4 times a week I was visiting a nearby coffee shop and setting up my art supplies (markers and pens at that point) and I was drawing. I started doing these colorful abstract things a friend of mine coined “Pludels”. I love color, and I love tiny detail, and these were very meditative little abstract drawings. I’d sit in the cafe with my headphones on, building my first ever quarterly playlist, sipping my peppermint mocha, and I’d just draw without planning much, without thinking much, and they were some very zen moments that were very needed at that point in my life. They were also my first meaningful steps outside of the house after a period of acute agoraphobia.

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“Pludel” is a name coined my best friend. It’s a blend of “plume” and “doodle”.

This particular pludel was done for my mom’s birthday.

Since then I have painted and drawn and played a tiny bit with collage and mixed media, and I have been VERY prolific. And my art and my good habits have healed me. I’m healthier in mind than I have ever been, and I’m making great strides to repair the damage I did to my body when I was so ill.

I uploaded most of the work I’ve done over the past year and a half or so into an assortment of galleries. There are some series, and some one off works. And nearly everything posted so far has been done in the last 16 months. It’s been a super prolific year, and I’ve learned so much.

I’ll never stop experimenting. For me, that’s half the fun. Trying out a style or medium that I’ve never tried before. Sometimes it turns into a series. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I learn something new from every single brush stroke and every ink line.

With deep love,

Bianca

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what kinds of things I want to write about on this blog, so I hope you’ll bear with me if it seems a little unfocused for a while.

I do think I want to write about the art I make, and the thought that goes into each piece. And, more reflectively, where I am in my head and in my life as each piece comes to life.

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I did this little piece last night while sitting at the kitchen table. It’s a little 6x6 inch canvas that I had applied a coat of gesso to, but didn’t actually have a plan for. And I ordered an acrylic paint marker that I received day before yesterday. So I was sitting at the kitchen table (which is currently serving as a temporary studio until the remodel of my studio is complete) with various art supplies scattered before me, and I just decided to pick up my little canvas and my little paint pen and doodle. This picture only shows the front of the canvas, but all four sides of the canvas are marked as well, and you can see the edges in the video I made in this post on Instagram. (Swipe or click to see the second image, which is the video.)

The doodle style is one I have played with before on paper, and a number of sketchbook examples can be found here. Most of the work I do has lots of color, but it’s fun to do something black and white from time to time, sort of as a palate cleanser. I really like the result, and I think I might pick up some more of these little canvases and do a series of these funky little black and white doodles.

I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about the art I make, which is why I am so drawn to abstract art. For me, art is as much a meditation as it is anything else. If I had to sit down and meticulously plan out everything I paint or draw, I wouldn’t want to make art at all, because I’d spend all my time planning, and never spend any time doing, in fear that I would make a mistake that I couldn’t recover from.

I’m such a planner in my daily life. Are my clothes ready for work? Is my lunch packed? What do we need to get at the grocery store? It used to be a real source of anxiety for me, always needing to have a plan for everything. It’s a personality trait I’ve really worked on softening. Obviously you still need to plan some things sometimes, but making my weird, abstract art has allowed me to flex the muscles in the part of my brain that find pleasure in flying by the seat of my pants.

It turns out that when I don’t look at anything that ends up on my paper or my canvas as a mistake but rather as an opportunity, that I make some pretty cool things. If you asked me, while standing in front of a piece of my art, where the mistakes happened, I could probably show you. But you would never know, because I somehow always manage to incorporate them into the final piece.

It’s something I would encourage everyone to try. Have patience with your mistakes. Try to see them for the opportunity they are.

With deep love,

Bianca

I've thought a lot about the phrase "midlife crisis", and how often people who enter the middle years of their life and express a desire to make a change are often mocked and criticized. In popular culture the phrase is often accompanied by the trope of the middle aged man getting his ear pierced, buying a sports car and dumping his wife of many years for a younger woman, or of the middle aged woman suddenly booking a trip to someplace sun-drenched where she drinks her weight in wine while attempting to write her first novel or create her first work of art. These trite visions reduce this midlife right-of-passage to a caricature, and strip dignity from persons who come to this time in their life feeling a lack of purpose or vision, or who dwell heavily in regret over choices not made. It is a transitional dilemma that I suspect will be visited by most, but which is something that, at least popularly, is not treated with compassion.

I am 42 years old. I am trying, at my middle age, to make an art career for myself. I was recently accepted into a local artists collective, where every member I have met (so far) is younger than me, most by at least 15 years. It's a strange place to be, amongst these young art students. I am a self-taught, not even remotely art educated person. I am deeply grateful for the inclusion, and will learn much from the experience. However, as I have begun to pursue this passion, I have witnessed the reactions of various persons in my life where I can tell that they wonder if they should take the pursuit seriously, or if it's something that I'll just move on from in 6 months. That it's just a phase before I settle into a more typical life for someone my age. (It's not just a phase, by the way. Let me just clear that up right now.)

It's not impossible to forge a new path after 40. There are tons of people who have found their passion after 40 and made a success of it. I believe in my ambition and my passion. And I believe that a "midlife crisis" may just be what some of us need to kick us in the butts. I've been a late bloomer my whole life, and I suppose this is no exception. I'm excited, even a bit impatient at times, to see where this path takes me. I like the idea of being transparent about the journey, about showing people that even people at this age don't have everything figured out or totally know who they are.

With deep love,

Bianca

May 24, 2019

Hi! I’m Bianca. If you’ve landed on this page, chances are you’ve seen some of my art. I thought I might talk a little bit about what art means to me, and about why I make art, as well as what I’m looking forward to and hope to develop out of my passion.

The very first thing I can ever remember wanting to be is an artist. When I was 7 years old or so my mom (who is a wonderful seamstress) made a darling little smock for me that had a little paint palette appliqued on the pocket. At some point during that hazy, idyllic period of my childhood I also received an artist’s drawing kit. You know the kind. It came with pencils, both regular and colored, an eraser, probably a ruler, some paper, and an instruction book. I don’t actually remember how much I used it, but I do remember showing my dad something I had drawn at one point.

Over the years I have always been creative. I’ve explored lots of different kinds of crafts, as well as creative writing. But I think at some point I internalized the fallacy that you cannot make a living as an artist. The starving artist trope loomed large in my mind, and although I always wanted to do something creative, I also didn’t want to starve, and so I shoved those creative ambitions to the back of my mind.

After that I was adrift for a while. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or do, and I was envious of anyone who seemed to know exactly where they were headed. I half-heartedly went to college for a while. I didn’t finish. I worked in retail for a while and realized that I DEFINITELY didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. So I went back to college and completed a business degree. Not because I was interested in business, but because a business degree is something to put on a resume to at least show I’d finished a degree.

I got married. I got additional training in an industry trade school and started a professional corporate job.

And I fell apart. Through a combination of some medicine messing with my brain chemistry, the death of a loved one, and a profound existential and spiritual crisis, I took a swan dive into a deep depression that lasted for years and that nearly killed me.

I pursued various avenues of healing, and over time I began to come alive again. And I started to make art.

I picked up some cheap markers and a moleskine notebook at first. I doodled. Simple things. Silly things. Sometimes I just wrote down lyrics to songs, but with lots of mixed colors. I also picked up a small watercolor kit and a pad of watercolor paper. And I just played. I wasn’t trying to do anything terribly serious. I was just expressing my creative energy for the first time in years.

Slowly, over time, I experimented with different styles and mediums. I played with art journaling for a while, and I will always cherish those journals for the way they fueled my creative passion before I was ready to commit to bigger or more expensive materials.

Around February of 2018 or so I started meditating. And I started to listen to my heart and I remembered that my oldest dream was to be an artist. I created a Tumblr first (which no longer exists) and then eventually an Instagram page, and I started to share my art. I bought my first canvases and some paints and decent brushes and I started to more seriously pursue my self education in art. I followed various artists on Instagram that I admired and tried to mimic their style. Not to steal or sell, but to learn. I made many mistakes, but I learned a lot.

Sometime in the last year I found a settled place in my mind where I could comfortably say that I AM an artist, and that I want to make art for a living. At least partly. I have some other ideas that I’m not ready to articulate that involve giving back and helping to heal people, but for now I’m working on building my art skills and getting my feet wet in the local arts community. In the reasonably near term I hope to make some of my art available for sale online.

I’m excited. It has been an incredible journey to go from a place of darkness and death to where I am today, profoundly healed and hopeful.

Thanks for visiting my site. I hope you’ll come back and watch me as I grow.

With deep love,

Bianca