Birthday Shoot

On the day before I turned 29, I was gifted with the opportunity to be featured in DMV photographer Phillip Herring’s “Melanin Series”.

Here are a few shots from the section entitled, “Royalty”:


I’ll admit, it felt very strange to be in front of a camera again after being out of commission for months. I’m learning to accept myself and new changes in my life. And I’ve found that acceptance is the beginning of many wonderful things.

This shoot was a solid reminder that if you ever forget or question your own beauty, an artist will remind you how beautiful you are. I love these portraits.

When was the last time you saw yourself in a photo and fell in love? (Yes, #selfies count!)

Find more “Melanin”along with amazing portraits, street scenes and info from Herring HERE.



Social calendar #onfleek: 10 ways to find THE best art events in your local area

On fleek: adj. the quality of being perfect, or on point

In my last post, I asked about your most recent art adventures. If you had a hard time remembering the last time you made an art discovery, this post is for you!


Whether you’re interested in artist talks, concerts, live paintings, panel discussions, art exhibitions, recitals, performances, or auctions– use tips from this list to help you fill your social calendar:

1. Social media

I’ll admit, the fact that Facebook can almost always guess what I’ll “like” is a little creepy. But instead of griping about how Big Brother is invading my privacy (true story), I use the site’s suggestions and recommendations to my advantage. Having the information come to me saves me the time and energy it takes to search around for it. You can “Like” and follow accounts for artist, museums and galleries in your local area to stay in the know.

2. Magazines and newspapers

Check out the advertisements and events section of local and global newspapers both in print and online. Two of my favorites, Departures and Uptown  feature art events from all over the world.


3. Your local “city paper”

Whenever I travel to a new city, I always keep my eye out for a newspaper stand with the local arts and interests paper. These gems usually have an entire section devoted to upcoming local events of all varieties. In DC, the Washington City Paper gives me a weekly update on the city’s social and arts scene.

4. Word of mouth

Ask around! Pay attention to the types of events your friends are talking about in person and online. You may even consider sending a quick email to local friends asking what events they’re planning to attend in the near future.

5. Eventbrite is not just a portal through which you can buy tickets to events. The site also has a search tool that allows you to narrow your search for events down to a specific type, cost and/or timeframe.

6. Bulletin boards in coffee shops and restaurants

Many of my favorite coffee shops and casual restaurants lend space to display fliers and other promotional material for local events.  I used to walk right past these sometimes cluttered bulletin boards until I realized what great vehicles they are for promoting local arts events.

7. Venue calendars

When you’re near event venues (theaters, music halls, museums, galleries etc.) in your city, stop by and take a look at the calendars they often post in the window. Many places, like The Howard Theater and Busboys and Poets in DC have calendars that lists their upcoming programs, shows and exhibitions. You can also visit websites of venues that interest you.  wpid-imag1237.jpg

8. Local blogs

Right now in your area, dozens of people are using their voice to write about things that are important you. I mean it! Many of the things you’re looking to read about are being written about as I type. If you’re interested in art, try finding bloggers who are also interested… we’re out here! Don’t believe me? Try a quick Google search for blogs about the arts in your area.

9. Mailers

As  a kid, I LOVED getting envelopes with my name in the mail. As an adult, not so much! Nowadays, my mailbox is mostly full of bills (ha!). But being the responsible adult that I (sometimes) am,  I am pleasantly surprised when I get a postcard or brochure announcing upcoming shows at a local theaters and other art venues. They’re welcomed pieces of creative, well-designed (and free) art landing at my doorstep.


10. Gallery and museum listservs

Many arts institutions send out regular newsletters and/or bulletins that keep you in the know of their upcoming events. One of my favs is the monthly newsletters from Arena Stage and the National Museum of Art. And if the emails start to clog your inbox, the “unsubscribe” button quickly stops the flow of unwanted email traffic.


So there you have it! My top 10 ways to stay informed on the art scene here in DC that you can copy in your own local area.

How do you keep up with the arts in your area? Let me know in the comments below.

I’d also love to hear about events you find using any of these outlets… SHARE in the comments!



Thanks for reading! If you enjoy whatartevokes, FOLLOW and LIKE then SHARE the blog with other artsies… spread the art love!

St. Thomas wedding: My cousin took the plunge and so did I…

wpid-imag0989.jpgAhhh, destination weddings– don’t you just love em?! It’s a vacation and celebration all in one, a great combo of built-in activities and free time to explore and do your own thing.

Just last week, I travelled to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to watch my older cousin tie the knot. It was a blast! She was absolutely stunning on her special day and I was beaming with pride and joy for her.


Just look: how gorgeous is she?!



I even took a trip down the aisle myself… as her bridesmaid, of course!


The wedding itself was beautiful. I was so happy to spend time around my family and enjoy the lovely island of St. Thomas. There were a few more highlights:

1. The beach!!

We took a quick ferry ride to St. John and enjoyed Trunk Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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1 1/2. This guy 🙂


2. Scuba Diving

I went scuba diving for the first time!


Let’s talk about this experience for a minute…

Have you ever planned out an adventure in your head, got all geared up and ready for it then realized that what you set out to do was scarier than you thought?!

Have you ever hyped yourself up, even mentally prepared yourself for an adventure only to find out that no matter what, your mind and body can backfire and actually try to prevent you from doing something that it perceives as a danger?


All of the above happened to me last week during my first shot at scuba diving!

I was perfectly fine and excited all the way through the verbal instruction part: air tank gauge- check, clearing my ear blockage- check, getting water from under your face mask- check, securing the ventilator if it falls out of my mouth underwater, check.


With tank on, flippers in hands and excitement bubbling over, I followed my instructor into the shallow water only to be shocked at my own inability to actually submerge my head under water, even while breathing through the ventilator! I completely froze up, y’all!


I was equipped with all the knowledge I needed for my first dive but almost psyched myself out of an amazing adventure.

Almost… Because guys, we RALLIED!

Eventually, something clicked. maybe it was the fact that I stopped *thinking* as I watched my boyfriend and our instructor start to swim away from the shore without me! But I do remember thinking “you are OK. You can breathe, you can see and you’re with a professional diver. The danger level here is very low…” And with those words of encouragement, I “punched myself in the chest” and started swimming like Ariel!


The experience was so beautiful that at one moment while underwater, I started weeping. Being completely submerged in water and surrounded by numerous organisms that I’d never heard of or had only seen in National Geographic was as surreal as it gets.

By the time I started to master the whole exhale-completely-clear-your-ears-every-few-meters-look around-and-enjoy-the-sights-at-the-same-damn-time routine, our 40min dive was ending and I’d already fallen in love with a new sport.

3. Hotel Art!

I always take a self-guided tour through the hotels I visit, just to see what kind of art they’re working with. I found the delightful pieces below at our resort.


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Time to head home…


So let’s talk! What adventures have you backed out of because of fear? When did you last refuse to allow fear to keep you from something new?



Think art collecting is just for the “stuffy” and “old”? Here are 5 reasons you should make art collecting a priority

Acquiring the latest addition to my collection caused me to revisit why I believe that art appreciation is important and why art collecting for me is essential. Like collecting, travel is a priority in my life and I’ve had amazing opportunities to travel and indulge in art at the same time. But no matter how far I go, the last leg of any trip ends at the same place– my home. I could travel the world near and far seeing all the beauty and treasure it has to offer. But at the end or the day, unless I choose the life of an expat, I wind up back in the same physical space from which I departed.

This realization forced me to accept my responsibility for making my home as beautiful and comfortable as possible. Keeping a clean, orderly space for myself to live, think and work is not always easy– but it is necessary. So, I grow my art collection with pieces that resonate with me, bring me joy, thought, sorrow, humor or any combination of those things. Having beautiful artwork in my space adds value to my space and beauty to my life. I grow my art collection as inspiration to keep things on the walls– instead if on the floor.

The benefits of surrounding your home with art are endless but I’ve narrowed them down to this list of 5 reasons why you should become a collector and beautify your living space with art.

1. Define and highlight your personal style

It’s one thing to snag a new dress or pair of shoes that compliment your style, but buying and displaying a piece of original artwork that somehow reflects a part of your inner world and mind is the ultimate expression of personal style. There will inevitably be pieces in your collection that no one “gets” but you and that’s ok.

Answering questions and engaging in dialogue around your art is one of the best parts of displaying it! I love hearing all the different interpretations that come from one particular piece. It means that people are looking, they are paying attention. And even if they dislike the piece, the desire to engage around it shows that they have a level of appreciation and that excites me.

2. Surround yourself with imagination, creativity and beauty

One of my childhood dreams and adulthood goals is to have a walk-in closet complete with  a Lucite vanity covered in expensive jewelry and fragrances. I want a room where I can go and admire all the pretty little things that I love and adorn my body with daily. As I’ve grown, that desire for a room full of pretty has expanded to one for a home full of pretty. I don’t want all of my treasures to be locked away for only my eyes to see. Instead, I want all of the rooms in my home to elicit that same feeling of awe-inspiring beauty and charm. Through my art collection, I can create spaces that display beauty for both me and my guests to enjoy.

An art collection is an awesome way to cultivate the type of energy and environment in that you desire in you home. It could take a pop of color or a thoughtful black and white photograph that resonates with you personally to transform your space for the better.

3. Support the livelihood of artists

There’s always talk of finding one’s purpose and working towards passion. True artists are people who have found their purpose and boldly pursue their passion. They take the risk of exploring and sharing those passions with the world. Supporting such courage shows you believe purpose exists and if they can live in theirs, you can live in yours. It’s simply good karma. Never underestimate the feeling of knowing the artist who created an artwork. Having the opportunity to “shake hands” with the hands that created a piece that will bring you joy for years to come– it’s a special privilege that only collectors get to experience.

Buying the work directly from an artist also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and hear for yourself the inspiration behind a body of work. You may even find that you have more commonalities with the artist than you first thought.

4. Add value to your life (and potentially net worth)

Art collecting has long been a method of establishing and passing down wealth. While I don’t always advise buying with the sole intention of a pay out down the line, there are instances when procuring an artwork can be a serious financial investment that you can earn from later on. However, that will not always be the case.

You should first love the art you buy since the art market is fickle and liable to change at any time. Keep in mind that though there’s no true way to say that the artist you’re supporting today will one day have a net worth of £21 million— adding value to the pieces you own– there’s also no way to say that they won’t. Buying what you love is the sure way to make sure you’re buy pieces that of value to you personally. Bottomline: when you buy what you like—and buy to keep, you can think of your collection as your estate, something that you can pass on to others.

5. Be a part of a long tradition 

If not for those before us who saw the importance of sustaining and preserving art, we would not have any access to the creative genius of artists of the past. As lovers of beauty and art, it’s on us to find, treasure and protect the Van Goghs, Picassos, and Basquiats of today for generations to come. Art often speaks directly to the state of the society in which it was created making it valuable contributions to the human timeline. Do your part, become a historian for your generation!

So, what are some of the barriers to you starting or growing you personal art collection? Share and let’s discuss in the comments below!



“Steal like an artist” and more inspiration from Pablo Picasso

“I am always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.” -Pablo Picasso

Whenever I see a painting by Spanish artist Picasso (1881-1973), I’m awestruck with the beauty, creativity and sheer iconic status of his works. His distinctive mesh of abstract faces with distorted facial features and use of bold black lines at one moment then use of soft curves and colors the next is enough to make him one of my favorite artists. His catalog spans from still life to abstract, portraiture to sculpture. The guy was prolific. He is one of the greatest.

March, 1932 Oil on Canvas

Girl Before a Mirror. Oil on canvas. Painted 1932.

Not often does an artist’s life spark my curiosity as much as their work. But Picasso’s life, both facts and rumors, fascinate me in a special way. More than anything, I find wonder and inspiration in his quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”). Oil on canvas. Painted 1955.

If you can believe it, you can achieve it! Don’t you believe you can fly?!

OK, sorry for the R. Kelly reference, but that statement is simply The Truth. I believe in this principle so much that I devote time each day to prayer, positive affirmation and visualization. Every day. It’s important to imagine myself accomplishing goals and seeing my dreams come true. Taking the time to use my imagination not only helps me be more creative, it increases my faith and belief that all things are possible for me.

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”

The Kiss. Oil on canvas. Painted 1969.

With so much conflict, hatred and ignorance running rampant in the world, I charge myself with stepping back and asking “why can’t creation of beauty through love ease the pains of the world?” and “what will I do to promote and perpetuate art, beauty and love everyday. How can I make this goal my life’s work?”

“How can you expect a beholder to experience my picture as I experienced it? A picture comes to me a long time beforehand; who knows how long a time beforehand, I sensed, saw, and painted it and yet the next day even I do not understand what I have done. How can anyone penetrate my dreams, my instincts, my desires, my thought, which have taken a long time to fashion themselves and come to the surface, above all to grasp what I put there, perhaps involuntary.”

I cannot find a title or year for this beauty. I hope it is, in fact, a Picasso.

Picasso often spoke on his internal world as an artist giving insight to how his mind works as a person who is an artist. He reveals the long process inner thoughts and overall humanness of who he is as an artist. Such insight fascinates me. I place as high value on an artist’s statement as I do on the artist’s work. I always wonder, “who does this artist say she/he is?” instead of relying solely on who I interpret her/him to be.

“Good artists copy, great artist steal.”

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe (The Picnic). Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Painted 1862–1863.

Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (The Picnic). Édouard Manet. Oil on canvas. Painted

Le déjeuner sur l’herbe d’après Manet. Pablo Picasso. Painted 1960. Picasso was so inspired by Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe that he “stole” it several times making at least 27 versions of the painting!

There’s controversy over whether or not Picasso actually said this but since it has become so synonymous with his persona, I’ll include it here.

I identify more as in innovator than an inventor. With a blank page in front of me, my mind is, well, blank. However, when I look at something that already exists, something that has already been done, I can take it and add to it in creative and unique ways. This ability is a gift and as a result of it, I’m not one to copy something I see. Copying requires taking what’s already done and doing the exact same thing. To innovate, one can take what’s there and make it one’s own (steal it) in order to make it better.

Action is the foundational key to all success.”


This quote spawned this blog post. If I want to run a blog, I have to write. If I want to become an authority in the art world, I must immerse and surround myself with the people and objects that define that world (yes, please!). To get anything done, you have to do it. If you’re a painter, paint. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a hater, hate! It’s just what you do so do it! But seriously, do something, anything to live up to who you are. You owe that to yourself.

Me pondering another favorite quote from Picasso at the Sagamore in South Beach, Miami.

Here’s to more action and inspiration from Picasso and beyond.