Dreaming versus planning



Dream mode is a comfy, fun place to be. Nobody can criticize, shame, or tell you how impossible it is to achieve your dreams. Except you. While dream mode is extremely cozy and warm, it is an infinite loop where you dream, tell yourself how far-fetched your dreams are, and then you’re back in reality… sitting at the desk-job you hate. Or maybe you don’t hate it, but it’s not very interesting and it doesn’t bring you joy when you talk or think about it. Not to mention, this shame, criticism, discouragement self-talk is SO toxic! AND, it’s YOU who is providing all this ammo to not really go after something that makes you feel… wild and free!

This is the place where I was for a good chunk of time after grad school. I can’t tell you how much I hated my job. I was miserable and depressed because I knew it was a dead end, even with my fancy, new Masters degree. Eventually, I ended up quitting due to some big life changes and had some time to reflect.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of applying for a job on a new career path related to your degree. But I will tell you this: while unemployment sucks, it gives you time to do stuff like think and make. While I am appreciative of the time I had, I was sick of having great ideas   and plans (IMHO) swirling about in my head and none of them being my reality.

One day, I got fed up with my whiny self. So, I took my butt straight to the nearest coffeeshop, ordered an Earl Grey with steamed milk (cause coffee gives me migraines) and spent about three hours mapping out my goals. After mapping out my major goals, I made a sub-map as to how I can achieve my goals. After that, little by little, I started to see some victories. I was selected as a volunteer with a fantastic, non-profit. Shortly thereafter, I landed a job. Though not my dream job, it was with an organization that very closely aligns to my degree, which is what I wanted.

Currently, I feel like I am at a cross-roads again. I had and have a couple of opportunities to really grow as an artist, but again, the ideas are a-swirlin’ and screaming to be materialized on paper… and to be perfectly honest, I think I am back in dream mode.

I encourage you to set aside time to map out your wildest dreams on paper. Write down actionable steps that will lead you to your dreams. Make a weekly appointment with yourself to do a check-in with your map. Maybe you had an idea during the week that you need to figure out how it fits into your map, or maybe you can improve upon your ideas that you wrote during your first mind-mapping session.

These steps can help you get out of the infinite loop of toxic dream mode to creating a reality you desire.



A Conversation about Love Letters

Part of the deal to exhibit my work was that I had to have a “conversation” with the public. At the time I accepted, I didn’t think too much about it because the timing was months away and I had a lot of work to do. It didn’t actually dawn on me that my nerves were going crazy until moments before the Q&A. Of course internally I was screaming, “what the heck were you thinking, Laura?!! You’re socially awkward tendencies will shine through! You will be in front of living, breathing, PEOPLE!!!” Needless to say this was my very first time ever in life to discuss my artwork IN PUBLIC. I was jittery, my feet got stuck in the microphone cord, my voice decided it wanted to revisit puberty at that moment… mostly, I was a mess. But I got through the talk, felt good about it afterward (probably because I don’t remember much of what I said), and I was even quoted (what?!)!

The point is, this exhibit has pushed me out of my comfort zone in many different ways and I am so thankful for this opportunity.

Click here to see an awkward snippet of A Conversation with the Artist: Love Letters at the Corvallis Art Center.

Art is a gateway to other cultures. -Laura Rodriguez (that’s me!)



Photo by DLRfoto


Photo by DLRfoto

Virtual viewing of Love Letters

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Slide List: 

  1. The Brave Ones Journey, collage, hand embroidery, and gouache, 6″x8″
  2. She is a Beacon of Hope, hand embroidery and watercolor, 14″x21″
  3. The Courageous, hand embroidery, watercolor, and collage, 12″x18″
  4. Contemplation, hand embroidery, acrylic, and collage, 6″x8″
  5. The Struggle Between My Dreams and Reality, hand embroidery and collage, 22″x30″
  6. Pillars of Strength, hand embroidery, gouache, and collage, 9″x12″
  7. Peace, hand embroidery, 22″x30″
  8. In spite of the unknown, she is the reflection of strength, hand embroidery, watercolor, and graphite, 22″x30″

Love Letters – Press Release

A visual love letter is a visual expression of my compassion, hopes, and dreams, depicted through mixed media paintings, for refugees around the world. My work involves collage, watercolor, and hand embroidery. I combine embroidered elements taken from Islamic architecture with collaged imagery from current events, while using a slightly updated color palette to express my hopes and dreams for refugees everywhere. 

My connection to refugees began during my graduate studies. Throughout graduate school, I studied about many people’s movements that were started because they protested about their desires for certain freedoms or changes to their government structure. However, these movements were quickly quelled with violence and the threat of violence dealt by the government, leaving people feeling desperate and helpless. Consequently, these people had to escape their countries, their homes, and all they loved to take refuge elsewhere in order to live life without the fear of violent backlash. Those who were unable to leave because of their circumstances had to endure instability and oppression within their homeland. 

In this day and age of Islamophobia fueled by propaganda, I wanted to not only acknowledge refugees, but refugees who largely practice the Islamic faith to show how amazing their culture is, while at the same time humanizing their experience. 

Known for its seemingly infinite repetition of shapes, colors, and patterns symbolizing unity and love, I was awed by the beauty of Islamic architecture. Researching the history and culture of these wondrous mosques led me further down the path to learn about the history of Islam. What I discovered was even more fantastic than what I could have ever expected. At the fall of the Roman Empire, Islamic scholars were studying the teachings of great Western scholars. The Islamic people took these teachings and put them into use by performing the first ocular surgery and also building the first organized infirmary, what we have come to know today as hospitals, for example. In short, the Islamic culture continued the path of Western philosophical and scientific thought and advanced it prior to the Renaissance.

I believe that if we learn more about each other to gain a better understanding of one another, we will have less fear about other people’s beliefs and live in a more compassionate world.

Many thanks to the very talented DLR Foto for some of these images!





A Journey to Love Letters

Last August I was invited to exhibit at the Corvallis Art Center. At the time I received the invitation, I thought what better opportunity to gain confidence while at the same time learning more about, and refining my process. I began brainstorming ideas and started making pieces for the show. However, the more I explored my “why” and what I really wanted to express, the more I disliked my original idea and finally abandoned it.

Parallel to brainstorming, again, for the show, my Facebook feed had nothing but articles on the Syria crisis. I noticed that, really, none of my socially conscious friends were even acknowledging or talking about what was happening over there. It was devastating to read about how much violence and trauma these people were suffering and it began to weigh so heavily on my heart because nobody was talking about it or trying to do anything about it.

Finally, I tossed out my original idea, and I asked what resonated deeply within myself that I could no longer keep inside. *Poof* an idea popped in my head and I was off making. My exhibit entitled, Love Letters is my tribute to refugees all over the world and their undeniable strength they possess to forge a new path.

While I was sketching out ideas and putting things together, I found it difficult to make a show that expressed all my hope for them. Much of what I read in the news was conflicting with the imagery I wanted to put on paper. It was a tough balance to express the hope that resides in heart for them while acknowledging the violent realities they continue to live through. Not only that, but their humanity has been stripped away from them and are given many different labels that are… so disparaging and derogatory.

It’s my hope that with this exhibit I honor the people who seek sanctuary from violence by inspiring compassion in others.

In gratitude,



Getting Messy



Art work by Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd… isn’t she fabulous?! 

Last time I posted, I shared a podcast interview between The Jealous curator and Kiana Mosley and the importance of exploring to discover your style. This week I am sharing an interview between the creators of Get Messy: An Art Journal Challenge and art journalist, Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. The reason why this interview is pretty great (and how it ties into the last post) is because Oliver-Lloyd says that if you are a beginner in art journaling, don’t worry about your style because that will come with time… and practice, of course. This rings so incredibly true for any creative endeavor you choose. Most importantly, when you begin, you probably already have a style, but you may not see it. Well, she said something along those lines, but you will just have to listen in on the conversation to find out.


Click here for this rich and fun conversation… cheers!

Explore, explore, explore


Artwork by Kiana Mosley (the above work is filed under “Watercolor Botanicals” at kianamosley.com)

Ever wonder how the moments of breakthrough happen for artists who finally find their artistic voice? Me too. If I haven’t made it clear, I think about it ALL. THE. TIME. My head knows an artist just doesn’t wake up one morning and decides, hey, this is my style, I found it! My head knows it takes a lot of dedication, discipline, routine, and work to achieve one’s style. However, my heart secretly wants to believe that some magical revelation happens and KAPOW, the unique artistic voice and style arrives just like that. Perhaps the process is a mix of both. Seems like such was the case for Kiana Mosley. When I see a watercolor on Instagram or even in a store like West Elm, I know instantly if it was done by  the lovely Kiana Mosley. Her style is lyrical and vibrant and captures the essence of the botanicals she paints.

In a recent interview with The Jealous Curator, Mosley pinpoints the moment as to how and when she found her artistic voice. I found this episode of Art for Your Ear to be particularly helpful because in these instances of constant work and experimentation, your unique voice will shine through. Duh, right?! However, it is inspiring to hear these stories because it gives our minds permission to really open up to the process in order to bring out the essence of ourselves and express it through the work we make.

Have a listen and enjoy!