By Ernesto Saavedra
Fear. Probably the most frequent and unpleasant feeling one experiences throughout life. It can be inhibiting, keeping us from doing things because of what we think might happen (or not). So many thoughts and emotions run through your body it becomes overwhelming. Your heart seems to beat out of your chest. You get sweaty palms, et cetera. Ironically, it can also be a motivator, pushing us to break out of our comfort zones and overcome many perceived obstacles. For an artist, fear is as familiar as paint and a brush and the very act alone requires one to be fearless. For example, publicly displaying one’s art is like being naked in public, but it is you and that is all that matters in the end. With that, Raquel Gutierrez exemplifies the act of striving to be a fearless artist in a world so fearful of vulnerability.
“I grew up on the mean streets of Casa Blanca (Riverside County) then moved to Moreno Valley… I moved around a lot and worked a bunch of odd jobs to make rent and lived off of sopita de vaso from ages 17–21”, according to Raquel. Yearning for a change, Raquel moved to Fresno in 2007 at the age of 21. Her art career began at a young age. “Ever since I was a child I’d look for ways to keep myself occupied with what I had available. When my crayons would turn to nubs (from use) I’d melt them in the sun to make bigger crayons in my tin tea sets.” However, due to various circumstances, Raquel stopped painting for a while.
“I hadn’t finished a painting since my early 20s. I always had an interest in painting, but it wasn’t until last year (before my 30th birthday) that I was really inspired to paint again. One quote that really speaks to me is by Vincent Van Gogh, ‘The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting.’”
Raquel’s motivation comes from everyday experiences, a story, a song and or experiencing a different emotion. Her art manifests itself through various mediums and styles. “When I was younger, I focused on drawing with
charcoals and pens. I loved the raw, rough edge, almost angry look I could convey in my work. I’ve used oils too. I love the depth and vibrant colors of oils. But right now my favorite medium is acrylics and the next being printmaking. One of my favorites from my linocuts is my Frida Con Rosas prints.”
Remnants of Mexican folk art, gothic imagery and a flood of emotions can be seen in Raquel’s work. “Sometimes the emotions I am experiencing are very conflicted while painting and I try to express that in my work. I am still learning so much, so I rely on my intuition to lead my work. It is in a way, a necessary expression in order to understand and overcome pain, ecstasy, and love.” This expression can be tough to begin with but to share that with strangers publicly can be intimidating, but Raquel takes it as a growing experience. “A lot of anxiety going on but the response is priceless. To let someone view my work and hear people nail (or close to) what I was feeling or what thoughts were going through my head can be overwhelming.”
Her message to others is to practice and be prepared to put yourself out there, “I would say just practice as much as you possibly can. I started to carry a small sketchbook and charcoals with me so I can draw whenever I can. It’s scary to put yourself in a situation where you’re criticized, but the results can be great.”
To see more of Raquel’s work, follow her on Instagram @rockell126 or contact her at email@example.com.
Ernesto Saavedra is the editor of the Community Alliance. Contact him at ernesto. firstname.lastname@example.org.