Irvine, California / United States
Art Mums United is beyond thrilled to introduce Daniela Perez-Lozada, who is a mother and visual artist behind the She-wolf brand. Daniela focuses on colors, natural elements and beauty that can be found everywhere around us. She is passionate about her art practice and involves her daughter in the creative process. Daniela believes that art is therapeutical as it helped her to overcome difficult moments in life.
Daniela, you are an emerging self-taught artist that is very passionate about expressing emotions and healing through art. You have experienced some rough moments in your life. Can you tell us a little more about yourself (brief bio/history/backstory/journey into art)?
I have always been the observant/shy kind of person. Somehow in the culture environment that I grew up in as a kid, I learned to submit and to stay quiet - to not disturb the peace and stir the waters. This built up a lot of anxiety and depression in me since I didn't have a voice and who I was trying to be, was somehow "wrong". I struggled with eating disorders, depression, anxiety and physical symptoms that ranged from migraines to paralyzed muscles.
Over the years, I have learned so much about myself! After much pain, failed relationships and spiritual, verbal and emotional abuse, I went into a deep search for answers to my broken self. In the last 10 years after immersing myself into books, podcasts, and studying, I discovered the term "highly sensitive person". When I read about this trait, I was so relieved to know that I wasn't the only one experiencing exhaustion from absorbing other people's feelings or needing more extra time alone. On top of that, I am extremely perceptive and bright lights physically hurt me.
In search of learning how to express all the beauty and anger and frustration and loneliness inside of me, I turned back to painting. Visual arts have always moved me. Since I was a little girl in Mexico City, I remember being mesmerized by its colors. Colors move me, and I feel alive, they turn my grey days into positive, hopeful ones. Just like walking barefoot on the green grass. They ground me.
And that's how it all basically started a few years ago; weekends of loneliness and broken dreams were suddenly transformed in hopeful colorful introspection. I realized that the time I spent painting not only I was expressing my clogged soul, but it was also keeping me present - in the moment - giving me physical and mental wellness. Nothing else that I do in my life gives me such a state of joy and peace into my weary mind.
Your grandfather and father both painted as a hobby, and you watched them create. You have a 9-year-old daughter. Do you include her in your creative process?
It sounds a bit contradictory - lol, but yes, I grew up with my father and grandfather painting. You would have thought that growing up being exposed to various kinds of arts and self-expression I would have been allowed and respected to express who I was ... but ... sadly it didn't happen, and I think that's where all the frustration and powerlessness came to sicken me.
I have a daughter, and I try to include her as much as I can. We read books about women artists, scientists and history makers. We paint together, we design our own Halloween costumes together and have held art classes for kids, and she has been my "assistant". I am very aware of her own likes and wants and my commitment is to let her be who she is. Even though I don't necessarily like it ... haha. Even when it's not easy, I am committed to teach, inspire and respect who she is and her ways of expressing it all the way! Especially in her dress code - haha since she was 3 years old she is very particular of what she wears, and I'm so glad she is able to voice them out!
Your art practice represents much more than a creative outlet for you. It is a healing journey from divorce, abusive relationships and depression. When did you realize that art was the perfect therapy for you?
In my search for finding comfort from pain, I would always turn to nature. The sun, the ocean, the green grass, the birds, animals. God was always present with me as I laid on the grass under the sunset. My anguished mind and body was and is ... looking for peace and comfort. Just as nature touches me, art moves me. Music, images, textures. It's almost like they wrap around me and cushion me from the stresses of life and my inner pain.
I remember exactly the weekend that I decided to go back to painting. It was like I needed a friend. Someone to vent and cry to - someone to dream with. I was all alone with long days with no friends, family or money.
I dug up my old paints, put on my headphones and decided to start something ... When I looked at the clock I realized that I painted all day and it felt like it was a minute! But the best part about it is that I forgot about my misery and my brokenness. I purposefully had a painting session the next two weekends after that, and that's when I knew that painting was my therapy. I remember distinctly saying to myself: "It's gonna be hard to find someone or something that makes me feel this happy and alive as painting does".
She-wolf brand was born because to you wolves represent strength. In addition, your daughter loved wolves since she was very little. What do you hope to pass on to other women who need to find their strength?
Wolves came into my life through my daughter. It's like God wanted to show me that SHE - my daughter - is a force to be reckoned with. She is powerful and strong and a leader. Something that I have always doubted in myself.
I have come to the realization that we have all it takes inside of us. SHE was born with it. Sometimes life and circumstances try to take our voice and power away, but the truth is that it lies within.
I want to encourage other women to take the time to know themselves. To embrace pain, not to run from it. To honor and respect and to be kind with their inner SHE-. It's not an easy path, but it's very rewarding and extremely healing. To be who you are meant to be is the most incredible gift we can give to ourselves and to our children. Be patient, always be kind to yourself, listen to your gut and follow your heart. SHE is waiting for you ...
What are the main features of your art? What do you paint and why do you paint it?
I think it's evident that I love colors, especially bright ones! I started painting birds because I have always loved their color patterns. I guess the Mexican influence in me is very strong. Because of my love of nature, I ended up painting flowers and tropical leaves. I live in Southern California, and I am surrounded by palm trees, birds of paradise and all kinds of beautiful flora. I also enjoy doing abstract pieces, where I let my instincts and emotion lead to color choices and patterns.
I was always terrified of doing portraits. I have been slowly conquering my fear by attempting them. Faces have so much emotion that I find it difficult to attempt to represent and express them in the right way. But I am very intrigued and will continue to push in my practice to become better. My daily life and experiences are a big part of my inspiration. I find that there is art everywhere you go, so I know that if I go to Wyoming, I will be painting Buffalos!
How did you feel about motherhood in the past, and how do you feel about it now?
Being a mother is such a humbling and life-changing process. I say that it is a process because it is constantly evolving.
In the past, my view of motherhood was very limited and full of false expectations. Just like women are misinterpreted in society, the same goes for motherhood. Somehow we are sold a package of a perfect family that is unattainable.
When my daughter was born, I not only struggled with depression, lack of sleep and support, but I was also struggling with the societal expectation of losing the baby weight, having a sparkling clean home, having makeup on and having my kid signed up for all these baby classes for their right development.
Now I know that motherhood requires presence more than anything. Involvement, more than the stress of running from one extracurricular activity to the other. Dance parties, movie nights, a conversation about the world and politics and why is it unfair that the girls' clothes and toys are pink if not all girls like ruffles and unicorns. Motherhood has smacked me in the face with the reality of my shortcomings alongside an opportunity to become better; not only for my own sake but for the next generation.
What is the message behind your art?
This is a big question, but honestly, I just want to inspire you to feel deeply, to see the beauty in the everyday. To dream, to hope ... but also to mourn or to rage if it is the occasion. To give yourself permission and inspiration to create and express yourself vulnerably even if you don't feel adequate or good enough.
What are your plans for the future (career, parenting etc.)?
My plan is to find a better work/life balance. More financial freedom that will allow me to do more of what lights up my soul. Including giving back to the community which I'm so passionate about. I'm very involved with an organization that helps orphans in Mexico and would love to merge my love for making art to this social cause. Right now, I'm working on starting an online shop and starting my art business officially.
I would love to connect and form a more solid relationship with other emerging artists as I feel like during these difficult times a positive creative community is very important.
As a mother, my plans are always to continue to grow as a person since that will allow me to lead and be an example to my daughter to become who SHE- is meant to be.
What advice do you have for fellow art mums?
Dream, take chances, invest and enjoy every step of the process. Art is so much more than technique and materials, immerse yourself in the magical power of what you can transmit to the world. Your voice is unique.