Blue Ballerina

Hi there! It’s been a while since I made an art blog entry, so I feel a bit rusty. I have had quite a year of life transitions and wonderful new changes, so I am glad to be working on some creative projects more freely again now that I have some free time to myself. It’s become more important to me to spend time with myself to maintain a good balance of my work-art life, as I attempt to cultivate my own rituals and practices for self-care. 

That includes taking on tasks, new creative opportunities, etc. I have been practicing better boundaries with others on energy management, not just time. And so, I think with every step, the universe does listen. What once was a scary thought that I would be letting go of cool opportunities in front of me because I didn’t have enough time for it resulted in me making way for better opportunities when I had my priorities straight. Tsk. Had I known this sooner…

Anyway, I digress. I’m really here to give a glimpse into my latest art commission from a lovely friend of mine. She had the vision of recreating a reference painting of a ballerina in blue but making subtle changes to the image. I was very excited for the undertaking, especially since we were going BIG at 38″x52″! Canvas stretching is always a pain, but I’m lucky to have an amazing helper 🙂 

The mood/feel of this painting is light, airy, and graceful. Per request, the subject matter was also made to look Asian. I was suddenly diving into what I didn’t know was a rabbit hole, when I began searching for asian ballerinas on the web. There weren’t many prominent ones identified, and I was stumped. I eventually landed on Stella Abrera, a world-renowned Filipino-American ballerina.

Watching some of her performances on video evoked feelings of cultural pride and joy. I was reminded that gracefulness doesn’t necessarily mean frailty. That it could embody strength, dedication, and rigor. Her devotion to ballet and reaching for her goals is impressive, and going against a cultural norm of expectations from her family background reminds me of the trailblazers that walk amongst us who are always creating new paths where it was previously deemed impossible. And how fitting, that it was recently Filipino American History Month in October, and lots of stories about the Fil-Am diaspora have been in the media. I also recently attended a life-changing event called Entrepinays Summit in San Francisco, California. I cannot completely put into words how the experience made me feel, but I linger upon the word “seen.” I felt home. I felt regarded and in the support of other Pinays just like me who are making their own career moves and forging new paths in the entrepreneurial field. I never realized that there were so many women just like me, had big dreams like me, and had strength that reminded me of women who raised me.

I slowly realized that this painting was quite an important and special one, and I took to task and got started. The immediate feeling of layering the first color of blue was such a calming effect. I felt engulfed and hugged by the colorful waves. It felt good. I began thinking about how to create a close anatomical representation of the ballerina, and it got me a bit frustrated at first. I became a little stuck with the idea of perfection, making it just right and as close to the reference as I could. But this got me nowhere and annoyed. I had to take some time away and pull back from the work, re-examine my motivations. After some time of thinking, I came to realize that it wasn’t my goal to create a “perfect” ballerina painting, I wanted to create a painting of a ballerina that embodied those same things I said earlier–gracefulness and strength.This was such a freeing moment, I learned. I began to paint more loosely and with ease. I was enjoying painting again. 

I’m putting the finishing touches to this piece as we speak. Overall, I’m quite happy with the work and learned a little bit more about my process. What works for me, and what are some things to check in with whenever I feel stuck during my painting process. Art has been such a journey for me. I look back at some of my previous works in the past two, three, four years, and I can definitely say that I’ve grown into my own style.

I can only hope to continue evolving. 


On Trust

This week’s painting practice got me working on my ability to trust. To trust myself and have faith. To maintain my level of hope that I will be able to find my own way through.

I recently began my prep for a new art commission–and a super fun one to boot! I’m gearing myself up to begin painting a massive art piece that’s gonna take some time to complete. I want to be able to organize myself, plan for the upcoming challenges, and get ready to tackle it with brazen focus and determination.

Starting something new

It’s always daunting to start. So I’ve been painting samples here and there to warm up, and these exercise have unknowingly made me come face-to-face with something that I think plagues most (if not all) artists and/or creatives. The idea that things have to be perfect on the first go, that there’s a “right” way to do things, and that nagging self-doubt that decides it can stop by any time and doesn’t need any invites.

I must say, this has never gone away for me. I’ve been able to challenge it with helpful affirmations and cognitive reframes. Sometimes it wins. But sometimes, I yell back. I don’t think it will ever go away for someone like me. I know the double-edged sword that a good, insightful perspective can bring, but I also fear the other end. What’s changed the game for me is the awareness about what the heck is happening in my mind. That it’s normal, and it’s just one of the 60,000 different thoughts that come in and out of our mind each day. No big. As quickly as it entered my awareness, I have the ability to let it float on by. Guess it’s up to me to always rein in the horses when they get too wild.

DUMBO! Jk it ain’t 🙂

Or in this case, elephants?


Stay tuned for updates on this art piece! 😀 And if you are interested in your very own art commissions, let’s talk.

❤ Danessa

Word of the year 2018

If I could choose a word for the 2018 year, mine would be:

Serendipity: To stumble upon something that is favorable by happenstance or luck

I want this year to be all about me digging deeper into my mindfulness practice and learning to trust my instincts. To reach for the stars and see what I find on my way there. To joyfully breeze through each moment, knowing that with each one that passes, time is leading me to something bigger and greater. You know those Nike ads all over the place?

Yeah, I agree.

I want it all.

And is that so bad?


Photo by Danessa from Art Market SF 2018

But maybe, like always, life has something else in plan for me. For so long, I have planned and pre-planned my life because it seemed chaotic and unpredictable. Personal tragedies have a way of changing people–you are either broken by it or made more formidable. Me? I hate to say it but sometimes I don’t know. So I paint to get it out of my system. It’s a way for me to process what is happening inside and around me–sometimes even unbeknownst to my conscious self.

I’ve been painting a few new pieces that have been an exploration of this idea of serendipity. This latest set began much like any other–a lot of trial and error, feeling unsatisfied about what is currently on the canvas, and wanting to secure a purpose or direction in my work. It. was. tough. But I did hold on and keep trying until I reached a state of mind that was (close to) calm and even-keeled. It was at this turning point that I was able to unlock something excitingly different in my art.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

OMG. Becky, Look at those waves. 0.0

I haven’t painted like this in a long, long, very long time. And stumbling upon this was so fulfilling. It made me think of the post-impressionist works of Vincent van Gogh, and how he reveled in the sheer beauty of color, impasto, and movement in his paintings. What it must have been like to live being misunderstood, isolated, and destitute but doing what you loved. What was that like for him?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I gave in to my curiosity and dove right into painting with graceful, slow movement. It was when I stopped fighting the unhelpful comments/judgments in my head (“Don’t do that” or “Why don’t you paint like you’re a real artist”) that I found progress in my artwork. I initially planned to create a triptych. But ended up with a diptych. Ah, well. A chance to practice some mindfulness skill of going with the flow and adapting to changes, I guess.

Even after all the artworks and paintings I have done in my life, I still battle with these negative automatic thoughts (NATs) in my head. Sometimes, the external world isn’t really as helpful, either. Several times, I have received previous feedback from other artists that I should paint BIGGER. And with MORE SPEED. And demonstrate MORE POWER in my works. Here, look at this paintbrush stroke–seems to lack CONFIDENCE.

UGH. I thought they were helpful in my growth and I considered them for a time being, but now I see that I have a certain style that works for me and that is all true to my own. So, thanks, but I got this.

And here’s the progress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What do you think?

All in all, I’m pretty happy about where this curious adventure has taken me. I think that art is deeply personal and serendipity takes you where you didn’t know you wanted to be, but am infinitely grateful for. I, like everyone else who has ever tried anything new in their life, will continue to work on my NATs and keep serendipity in mind as I continue to take on those new blank canvases.

And I hope that you will too ❤



Light and Bubbly

Started some new paintings recently and had the inescapable craving to splash on a light and bubbly colorful palette for a change.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Maybe it was inspired by my recent art hangout with friends when we made some cute Year of the Dog paintings, or my recent trip to the Museum of Ice Cream, or maybe it’s the recent surge of friends who are on the path to parenthood at the moment (this does not include me lol). OR Maybe it was ALL of it. I am currently inspired and touched by the amazing journey ahead into this weird life phase we now are in. Straight up adulting, guys! From all this happening around me, I wanted to help welcome such new and exciting times by creating new babes of my own (yet still an art reference!). 😛

Check out this time-lapse vid of me getting my mindful art on!


Here I am using my calligraphy brush to whisk on some beautiful light strokes of Windsor & Newton and M. Graham watercolor paints on the good ol’ trustworthy Arches watercolor paper. Super fun! What you didn’t see was my new art-making ritual process of doing a brief but grounding mindfulness practice right beforehand, and then an ease towards making the painting.

My goal is to make each into a triptych set. I don’t really make triptych paintings often, but I think this idea lends well to it. Something about the fleeting movement of the puffy, cotton-candy colors that make me want to keep creating and re-creating it, to evoke the feeling of breathing in and out deeply, resembling when I engage in deep breathing during mindfulness meditation.


and breathe in

a big colorful bubble of light.


and breathe out

an airy,

fluffy cloud

that bobs slowly



and away.

Themes of playfulness, sweet, and carefree. Distant memories of childhood not yet tarnished by the realities of adult life. Curiosity and cheerful giggles that radiate a whole room.


Still a work in progress, I must say. Stay tuned for updates!

Oh HEY! Have you grabbed your copy of my latest FREE art calendar? Get it here and share /print it as much as you want!

An elegant flower lily of delicate hues and a white leaf bumigi for writing lies on a light pink background.