Happy 2024 my loves💗 New Year, same artsy (but more focused) me 🏻 I wanted to share some 2023 reflections with you, as well as some of the growth, self-love, and learning lessons I faced this past year. I’ll be fully honest, when I was reflecting on 2023, I immediately thought about the goals I didn’t meet.. and went down that self-shaming path. However, when pulling myself out of that thought process, I had to remind myself of some really curious and amazing moments 2023 brought. From the self-discovery in my art (and therapy), to the daily doses of “stop and look at the sky” moments, to the many many times my hands picked up a paint brush.
I have to admit that 2023 was hands down the most creative I have ever been in life. And with all of that creativity came a lot of curiosity, exploration, and discovery. Recapping my year really made me realize how much we can change and develop, and sometimes embracing your most creative self can lead you to places you never realized. I hope reading about my reflections will inspire you to keep embracing your creativity & allow yourself to grow through change. Now, let’s dive into my 2023!
On my vision board for last year, I had in big letters, the word “color” as a way to remind myself to play and chase art that fueled my colorful mind, regardless of trends, opinions, or self-doubt. Little did I realize back then how impactful such a seemingly small reminder could be. The journey into the world of color opened up avenues of creativity I hadn’t explored before, and it truly helped me discover my most authentic style of art, something I always felt a little lost about.
I used to try and mold myself (and my art) to be what I thought other people would want. In my art, this looked like trying to match trends that were popular on Etsy and Pinterest, most often a simplistic art style with minimal color and detail. While I absolutely appreciate and admire that style of art, deep down that just wasn’t my art. The moment I started embracing all the colors and layers inside of my paintings, was the moment I really started to grow and thrive. I started to notice this at the end of 2022 and made a promise to myself that I would honor my creativity and be the most colorful version of myself to date.
I allowed my paintings to explode with bright & vibrant hues, painting sunsets, clouds, tropical florals, and more. My once, all-neutral office, transformed into a colorful space of happiness, and some might even say it became a visual representation of my colorful mind. Tan and white wall art became cloud murals on the walls and ceilings, and minimalist decor became quirky artwork created by my ever-moving hands.
A significant part of this colorful journey manifested in my appreciation for all the variations of clouds & skies that we see in this lifetime. My appreciate for the sky became more than a creative pursuit though; it turned into a daily ritual of sharing ” stop and look at the sky ” moments with my social media following. By sharing my look at the sky moments, I really encouraged myself, and everyone, to take time to slow down in life, and admire the beauty around us. I had no idea that these little reminders would resonate with so many people. Eventually, my Instagram DM’s were flooded with the most gorgeous skies from all around the world- from California, a state across the country from where I live in Ohio, to other countries such as India and England.
Through cloud painting tutorials and classes, I found a way to translate the magic of the sky into tangible art that found its place not only on my walls and sketchbooks but also in the comforting corners of your homes and businesses. The shared appreciation for the simple beauty above us served as a healthy way to cope with creativity, and as a way to connect so many people.
[ ↑↑ check out some of my cloud tutorials here!]
Amongst all the colors in the sky and my smaller canvases, came color in a much larger scale. 2023 allowed me opportunities to paint more murals, and to experiences firsts in that side of my business. Over the summer, I started my largest mural to date for Battr Sweets. It was a colorful landmark in quaint city of Tremont, Ohio (a cute village right outside of Cleveland). Completing this mural required a lot of time and dedication, and even a giant piece of machinery to lift me high enough to paint the wall.
You can read more about my dessert mural here: Inside Scoop: My New Cleveland Mural at Battr Sweets in Tremont (arastasia.com)
Now, onto my most meaningful art I’ve ever created. In the fall, I was honored to be invited by the Domestic Violence Project Inc. to paint a mural inside their peer room; a room designed for safety, community, & trust. You see, I didn’t just paint strokes and colors; I painted resilience, healing, and the profound ability of art to speak to the soul. This mural hit especially close to home as it reminded me of some painful memories, and some extremely resilient women in my life. Growing up in an abusive household, this mural felt like a reminder that creativity has the strength to address and rise above even the most painful chapters of our lives, and served as sign that I’m doing what i’m meant to do in life. It was truly a full-circle moment that I will never forget.
The year also ushered in new ventures like Live Wedding Painting and took me to new locations during my travel wedding photography assignments. These experiences injected a refreshing sense of novelty into my artistic pursuits, reminding me that growth often lies in the willingness to embrace the unknown.
I actually started my 2023 year off by Live Painting a New Years Wedding. It was really amazing to walk into the new year with courage to do something new, and courage to believe in my ability to do so. Throughout the year I painted additional weddings, and even completed commission pieces for those that previously got married, but still wanted a meaningful piece of art to hold onto.
[related: Live Wedding Painter: 5 Reasons To Hire one!]
My wedding photography (for those who don’t know, I have been a professional photographer for almost my entire adult life) gave me new locations and opportunities to document people in love. One wedding drastically sticking out, would be the small Gatlinburg wedding I was honored enough to document. Throughout my wedding seasons, I really honed in on the emotions behind my work – truly making a promise to story tell for my clients. At the end of the year, I combined my love for photography and art and made hand drawn gifts for all of my clients, using the wedding photos I captured for them months prior.
I’m beyond grateful for 2023, but I’m ready for 2024. I’m walking into this new year with a lot more clarity, discipline, and focus. Through all the soul searching, experimenting, therapy, and time spent alone – I can say I am finally feeling sure of myself, and I’m ready for chapters that don’t have big question marks. The word “color” may have guided me through 2023, but it has also laid the foundation for a more focused and intentional approach in the new year. I carry with me all the lesson learned, both wins and losses, and I am eager to channel that energy into projects that align with my artistic vision.
So, with that said my friends – Cheers to Creativity and Magic In closing, I raise a toast to all the creative, colorful, and magical moments that 2024 holds for us. May this year be a canvas for new masterpieces, a stage for undiscovered talents, and a journey of self-discovery for each one of us. Stay creating, stay shining, and remember that your artsy friend is here, rooting for you with unwavering enthusiasm 🖤🏻
Arastasia Rolain – Traveling Mural Artist, Art Educator, & Creative Entrepreneur