Capturing Emotions – Interview With Milenna Saraiva

Without a doubt, Art, especially portraiture channels, a better understanding of ourselves and others. It nudges us towards empathy, appreciation of diversity, and the grasp of emotions. From documentation to speculation, the category of portrait art is fascinating as it gives insights to the interior self. As Lucian Freud stated: ‘I think a great portrait has to do with the way it is approached … it is to do with the feeling of individuality, and the intensity of the regard and the focus on the specific’.

Dynamic and vibrant, Milenna Saraiva captures the spirit and the expressions of her sitter with a strong brush of paint in her portraits. Her strength in depicting the likeness inspired by the individual’s narrative and conviction is passionate. She pushes the age-old genre in new directions where the feelings are revealed, and the appearance utters the individual’s true essence.

Princess Diana – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva – Brazilian Visual Artist

Here is my interview with Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Your story- 

Milenna:  I was born in SÃO Paulo, Brazil. I grew up surrounded by musicians and Art in my family circle, so I was always stimulated to be creative. I recollect always drawing since I was very young. I was a shy child, so drawing helped me to communicate and protected me from the world. I ended up getting into dancing and then gymnastics and became an athlete at 12 years old. I used to practice for 8 hours a day, after school, and travel around the country competing with my teammates. Even then, I continued drawing on the side. When I was 17, I injured myself and decide to stop training. At 18, I decided to go to the US to study Fine Arts, and there I lived for the next 14 and a half years. Los Angeles was an excellent teacher and mother to me, but I missed my real base in Brazil and moved back to my country. I continued my education here with a post-grad degree in contemporary painting. I started to make my way into the art world here, doing all kinds of arts-related activities. One of them was live painting. Once I observed and connected with the visual performance, it changed the way I paint and my approach. It has also given me the confidence I need to loosen up and let my emotions come out with way less restrained. Today I have an art studio that I go to every day and spend at least 8 hours working. I spend my time discovering new ways to express myself through my work, painting commissions, murals, and performing live painting in all kinds of events.

Milenna Saraiva Artwork

Jupilings: What inner force shapes your artistic concepts-

Milenna: Art is the language of my thoughts. I find it easier to paint than to use words. The lights, the darks, and the layers of depth that come from playing with textures and colors give me a freedom that I cannot find in Portuguese or English. Painting is my quiet way of expressing my heritage and questioning social values. My work has become a tool for me to narrate my life experiences in parables. The paintings I make reflect my personal mythology.

Jupilings: As a portrait artist, you capture aspects of a person’s identity, likeness, and emotions. In your artwork, do you aim to portray the individuals as to how they see themselves, or how they perceive them-

Milenna: I want my portraits to give clues about the portraited people’s energy and essence. I do want them to identify with the works too. For that, I rely on trying to perfect my technique. Portraits are tricky, though, people want their portraits made still, in most cases are surprised when they see the final product. Their expectation is to see themselves as they see themselves and not how the artist sees them. The way we see ourselves is unique to ourselves. There are many versions of us, one to each different person that we meet, so it’s impossible to fulfill that desire unless you are a photo-realistic artist. And that will never interest me. In my opinion, an artwork will always have the artist’s perceptions engraved all over it.

Andre – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What are your thoughts on “portraits” to create a visual dialogue to explore social justice, sexuality, race, and many other controversial subjects-

Milenna:  I’m attracted to controversial subjects, clearly, lol. I think portraits have always been fantastic tools to create dialogues, subtle dialogues with those paying attention. Many artists have and are using imagery and symbols to tell stories, to convey hidden or explicit messages. At this moment, I’m not taking advantage of the allegories that painting offers in all its possibilities; instead, I’m investing in the emotions and expressions of the markings, brush strokes and the colors to do all the ‘talking.’ For instance, the portrait of Marielle Franco, a prominent Brazilian human rights activist, and politician, murdered in mysterious circumstances by the militia, I used a very warm color pallet, with red drips, splashes, a well-defined box behind it, and name it “Seed.” I narrated her story in an observable manner, and those paying attention will hopefully understand it. That means my Art allows me to say what I want to say, but only to those who want to hear it. If Art is a form of communication, my paintings are a language.

Marielle Franco – Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

Milenna: It changes a lot from time to time, depending on what’s going on. But there’s a good one I always go back to that says “Live whimsically. Love extravagantly. Dream boldly. Create daily.” 

Jupilings: How do you dial down the negative thoughts & self-doubt- 

Milenna: It’s a constant struggle to balance everything that happens in my mind. But I think I usually sort it all out by painting. Negativity and positivity are only opposite sides of the coin. As well as self-doubt and confidence. I believe that self-doubt is essential for improvement. When I’m questioning myself if something is as good as I could make it, I will keep working on it until self-doubt is gone.

Julian Assange Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: How do you minimize distractions when you are working-

Milenna: I don’t think I manage distractions that well. I could be way more productive If I actually do away with it. I’ve gotten used to doing many things at the same time. Working on several projects at the same time. The distraction is also an opportunity, or maybe a window, to take a moment and then return to something I was very focused on. And sometimes, this little break could give me the answer that I need to finish a piece. So, I guess I embrace them.

Jupilings: How do you deal with criticism-

Milenna: I will only accept criticism from people I respect and have more knowledge than I do. Otherwise, I ignore them completely. Sometimes you need to protect yourself from opinions since every person has a different one, you have to believe in what you believe in. There are many reasons you do what you do and how you do it, that precisely is what makes you unique.

Malala YousafzaiArtwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: Advice for aspiring artists-

Milenna: If you want to be an artist, study to be one, like a doctor studies to be a doctor. Learn every technique, learn how to draw and produce as much as you can. Only the practice of your craft will allow you to discover your true gift and unique style. Also, be organized with your works, photograph everything, and have an online portfolio since the beginning. It’s important to network, to be part of a group of people who think alike and have the same goals that you do.

Most importantly, what you love. Find out what inspires you and create based on what you love. When you do that, you will want to do it all the time, and you will never feel like you’re working. Know that not everyone will like what you do, and you’ll get many ‘no’s,’ but keep going until you get the ‘yes.’

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupilings: What is the role of Art today-

Milenna: Art has many roles, in my opinion: To entertain, to express and provoke thinking and emotions, tell a story, shock, and sometimes to simply beautify the world. To me, it’s all of it.

Artwork by Milenna Saraiva
Artwork by Milenna Saraiva

Jupiligns: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard- 

Milenna: At Santa Monica College, my painting teacher once told me I needed to work harder if I wanted to be an artist and said that “talent isn’t enough.” When I was younger, I was reckless. I used to go out at night and was always come late to painting classes. After that day, something changed in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explore Your Ego – Positive Vibes Series

It would be helpful if every time you act upon your impulsive ego, a holographic screen appears in front of your eyes, which would shed light on “why” and outlines the motive! Or, perhaps, you go through an out of body experience to watch how you are entrapped in heedless and primitive impulses, which impel you to be helpless and act irrationally. Possibly, in the future, with the help of technology, you will be able to materialize such visual awareness. Till then, you might as well resort to certain practices that will push you to another level of existence, far beyond hopeless confusion.

First of all, let’s reflect on the sense of ego; whether delving into Eastern philosophy or psychoanalysis, both recognize that uncontrolled and impulsive ego will lead to suffering. 

Moving through different stages of ego to become the best version of yourself is not an easy path. The truth is that if you are lucky, life will sweep you through nasty havoc that will wound your self-identity and crush your image. A breakdown that can lead to a breakthrough by feeding the ideal self. Now, rising from the ashes is to take responsibility for your wellbeing. It starts with realizing that your thoughts are tainted by subjectivity and emotions since your mind has found security in the sense of belonging to the wrong structures, misinterpreted values, and egocentric pursuits.

While you are climbing up the spiral staircase of your spiritual evolution, I suggest you observe and question your motives, your triggers, contradictions, and practice the following transformational self-help:

  • Gain clarity by self-reflection and self-criticism – question your goal; if you feel uneasy about your reactions, cross-examine yourself to align your intent to your essence. Self-analysis is not about beating up oneself or agonizing but to understand the triggers, your role in the event, and blowing away the pollution so that the image of your intentions becomes sharp and transparent. The focus should be on you and not others.
  •  See yourself from another perspective – use abstract thinking to match your motives to your best possible self. That entails imagining your future “Self” in unpleasant circumstances only when channeling your energy to shield your best version. By setting unwavering rules to be of service to all, however, is possible and live as a human, your future “Self” releases toxic struggles and replace the void with contentment.
  • Question the expectations – step back and reassess your approach and your expectations and how they connect to the problem. By re-evaluating the expectations, you will recognize the difference whether they are conventional & reactionary or wise and tolerant.

Remember, you cannot fill the bowl with water if it is turned upside down. To be fully alive is to be well-disposed to “Self” and others. The key is to question your motives every time the destructive “Self”/ “ego” appears. Taking a volunteering leap to an inspired “Self” means using your knowledge, patiently, and for good. Have grit, as the journey is bumpy, and evidently, the spiral staircase will not get more comfortable. You will fall back a few steps, and you will be aware of your limitations. However, regardless of the hardships, this time, with conviction and a humbled “ego,” you know how to get up quickly and how to wipe up the dust. Finally, as you go further, you realize that gratitude and generosity are your mental tools to serve and use your power to benefit others so that you act like an intelligent being.

Featured image by Tom Roberts

Emotions Are Data, Use Them Wisely! Positive Vibes Series

Do you feel every emotion that slithers, left, and right in your brain’s hemispheres? Do you understand them? Do you even recognize them?
Every day, you go through different emotions; sometimes, you are mindful and, other times, impulsive. You express your feelings based on expectations, history, your yearning desires, anxieties, or virtues. However, the issue arises when you are oblivious or ignore the specific emotion; hence your response to remedy the unsettling disposition or the activity you engage in is polluted and possibly destructive.

Emotion is data that you should identify, interpret, and use as an asset. 

Being sensitive towards your emotional response does not always indicate that you process your feelings accurately, nor toxically reacting confirms your assumptions. However, if you take the time to probe into your subconscious, astonishingly, you can manage your reactions by sifting through your beliefs. Most people do not dare to take on a task as it will take them to a sad place where they come to face the undesired parts of their psyche. Neglected emotions or merely having difficulty to label them is dispiriting and harmful. Since ignored emotions amount to negative interpretations that reinforce distressful behaviour patterns. A chain reaction that can be set right by untangling the mess in our minds.

Art by Mikoo Raima

So how to unravel your emotions?

  • Acknowledge that emotions are part of life; they are part of being human
  • Emotions do not last forever
  • Emotions teach you different aspects of yourself and things
  • Learn to describe and label your emotions
  • Keep a diary of your thoughts

How to navigate your emotions?

Albert Ellis, a rational-emotive psychologist, believed that our unrealistic interpretation of events creates an irrational belief system that will encourage negative emotional responses. Once you verify your negative emotions through journalling, re-examine your assumptions:

  • Make a conscious decision to identify and evaluate your mental representation of the world around you.
  • Re-consider your information processing based on the possibility that your way of thinking might be faulty.
  • Write your assumptions with the aid of the ABC Technique of Irrational Beliefs.

Draw three columns: A – B – C

A – Activating event: In this column, record the situation that leads to dysfunctional thinking or reaction

B – Belief: In the second column, write the negative thoughts

C – Consequences: The third column describes the emotions and the negative thoughts prompted by (A)

For instance: (A) You have failed an exam (B) You must have good grades, or you are worthless (C) You are depressed.

Once you discern the irrational belief, challenge the negative thoughts by reframing them. In the above example, the absurd notion leading to self-contempt caused by not getting a good grade should be re-interpreted by adopting a positive attitude to manage the negative emotion sensibly. Your focus should be on finding solutions to improve your grades, for instance, tweak your study strategy, improve on your time management, and many more productive ideas so that you consciously erase mistaken assumptions and misconceptions about yourself.

Art by Mikko Raima

Occasionally, we settle with our habitual beliefs and negative biases. If you do not manage your unfounded assumptions, your well-being will go through disruption and not in the right way.
The key to processing your emotions requires honesty with yourself. Emotional transparency, whether through self-help or reaching out to a therapist, will reveal your patterns and tendencies. With careful self-examination, the clear-sighted premises will serve you to process your emotions effectively.

Art by Mikko Raima

Symphony of Life

Symphony, a vehicle of emotions, discussion & dialogue that moves you from uneasiness and darkness to passion and contentment. From turbulence to triumph the key is harmony.

The understanding, the friendship, the union, and the goodwill are part of life symphony. Examine your intentions, be clear, align your purpose to your goals, rehearse and let the rhythms of your desires score a standing ovation.

Jupilings 

 

Featured image: Julien tabet

Change Negative Thoughts Instantly!

“Our views of our body image – what’s on the outside – are directly affected by our emotions on the inside.”

Dr Alan Watkins

Are you feeling stressed out? Are you facing challenges? Are you having negative thoughts about how things are going? Do you have a poor body image that affects how you present yourself?

Next time you are riding on the negativity rollercoaster, notice the mindless chatter that is taking over your cognitive reasoning. Recognize that tension and anxiety are the sources that are stirring up the useless inner voice that signals destructive criticism. This negativity is unrealistic, and if it is not challenged, it will consume your health, your immune system and turn you into a self-absorbed toxic person who is unaware of the world around them. So be aware!

Introspection and shifting your mindset to a positive state can be achieved through myriads of ways. There are lots of self-help books, treatments, training, and the list goes on. However, it is possible to remedy the way we feel at any moment of the day! You can control the rush of negative thoughts and tensions in the heat of the moment by shifting your focus to your heart’s physiology.

Dr. Alan Watkins, a leadership expert, neuroscientist & CEO of Complete Coherence, explains that we can balance our emotions by controlling our breath. He further points out the connection between the optimum level of our performance and our physiology. Therefore, to reach our “A game,” we need to get a grip of our different psychological and physical layers:

Performance – To be at our best, we need to change our behavior.

Behaviour – To change our behavior, we have to change the way we think.

Thoughts – Our feelings influence our thoughts.

Feelings – Our feelings are the awareness of our emotions.

Emotions – Emotion is the energy in motion from all the streams of data,

Physiology – Streams of data produced by functions and mechanism within our body,

Therefore, in a stressful situation, practicing rhythmic and smooth breathing to regain a coherent heart rate pattern allows the flow of data in our body to function without a blockage. Due to our ancient survival instinct, our frontal lobe shuts off as the time intervals’ variation between the heartbeats increases. Once you master the smooth and rhythmic breathing, you have set the ground to gain control over the fabric of your mind. As a result, the mixed self-help efforts or developmental training exerted on those psychological layers will help you stay alert and energetic to give your best. Only with practice, in an anxious state, you can steer your heart rate variability to an ideal pace so that your brain regains its clarity. The emphasis should be to breathe in measured, regular, and smooth intervals to have a coherent heart rate pattern.

Now that you are aware of the connections and most importantly, you have the elixir of control, next time you are restless and on edge, you know precisely what to do: zoom out of the negative perception of your body or mind and zoom in to your heart and breathing rhythm.

For more watch:

Featured image courtesy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy Marvin

Tell Your Brain To Shut Up and Listen!

As promised, I embarked on the practice of mindfulness meditation to learn useful techniques on how to change our state of mind deliberately. The practice serves as a navigator through the ups and downs of life, transcending the fear and seeing things or the problem as they are. Meditation takes you to a place deep within yourself, a bridge to your inner wisdom that helps you stabilize distress—the optimal formula to nurture the best version of yourself.

At its core, the concept of mindful meditation is nothing more than being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. It is not always about sitting in the Burmese position (mind you, it does help) and chanting a mantra but to be present at the moment. As Jon Kabat-Zinn writes in “Catastrophe Living,” unless you change your way of looking at things, no type of meditation will be useful in the long run. He frames a set of 7 fundamental attitudes that will help with the practice of being present. Non-judgingpatiencebeginner’s mindtrustnon-strivingacceptance, and letting go are to be part of your frame of mind to channel your energies and reach an alpha state. I will dive deeper into each of these attitudes in my upcoming “Mind Series.” 

The practice needs commitment! In the beginning, it will be very hard to include the above attitudes in your thought process, but merely keeping them in mind and applying them in small increments in your day-to-day ways, from eating habits to rituals or working systems, will eventually be ingrained in your thinking.

  • A good place to start is to take notice of your daily habits. For instance, pay attention to what you are eating as if it is for the first time that you are seeing or tasting that food. You can try with just one fruit or any other produce that you like. This exercise involves minding one moment to another and can be extended to other tasks and routines. 
  • Intentionally, build up your efforts and set aside a time during the day to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing.
  • Taking notice of the breath is the anchor that shifts our battling mind and anxieties to a relaxing and calming stage. The turbulence is still there, but even if it’s for a few minutes, this exercise enables you to reconnect to your ability to stay calm.

 

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Photo courtesy of rafyA creative art designs
  • Diaphragmatic breathing – the idea is to intentionally contract the diaphragm muscle and relax your belly during the inhalation to rise and deflate on exhalation. Lie down on your back or stretch out on a recliner put one hand on your belly. Bring your attention to your hand and feel it move. Practice for 15 minutes every day. (“The power of Breathing, Jon Kabat-Zinn) 
  • The other way of practicing mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of your breath during the day.

 

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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com
  • Kindly observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment and turn your focus on your breath each time you start dwelling on them.
  • Note the persistent thoughts, detect the emotional threats of the self-centered sentiments, anger, hate, or different moods.
  • Recognize that what comes to your mind is only a thought. By redirecting your attention to your breath, you will detach any value to the lingering thought, and gradually, you will have the strength to intentionally let go of the negative emotions and calm your brain.
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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com

The whole process is not about pushing the unwanted emotions or thoughts away but cultivating the courage to see as they are. Meditation is about accepting the contents of your mind, regaining calm to reach the peaceful brain wave, and finding clarity.

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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com

Explore your rhythms and pulses, and in concert with your restyled thinking at the same time integrating gratitudecompassionkindnessforgivenessgenerosity, and tolerance, steadilyyou can lead a robust lifestyle.

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Art of Alex Gross

Jen Mann – Relationships & Emotions

Jen Mann is a Canadian artist who explores how relationships form and develop. She delves into “self “concept, the realization of being a separate entity and how our shared experiences whether in the form of harmony or conflict, condition our ways of life.

Fireworks by Jen Mann
Fireworks by Jen Mann

Her compositions manifest the prevalent social trends in digital narratives with incredible hues. The unnatural colours that embody her work relate to her storylines and formulate into strong emotions.

PLZ
PLZ ❤ Me – Jen MannJen Mann

She tackles the existential questions by taking a satirical, intellectual and honest approach to our conventional values.

Emoji - Jen Mann
Emoji – Jen Mann
Venus - Men are from Mars Women are from Venus
Venus – Men are from Mars Women are from Venus
Wet Dreams - Jen Mann
Wet Dreams – Jen Mann

The concept of real or constructed self identity is portrayed in her creations to make us aware of our cultural attitude towards individualism. She is her own muse and captures her identity in different conditions by being conscious of her interrelationships with self, others and her environment.

I don't feel blue, I feel delft blue - Jen Mann
I don’t feel blue, I feel delft blue – Jen Mann

 

Single Tear - Jen Mann
Single Tear – Jen Mann
The Facade - Jen Mann
The Facade – Jen Mann
The side I don't see - Jen Mann
The side I don’t see – Jen Mann

 

Jen Mann’s contact: http://www.jenmann.com/info