Artist Interview: Bonita Chica Arte

I first met Laura Ramirez in the late 90's.  We were both single moms with young daughters, living a crazy busy life in LA.  We immediately hit it off.  She was the kind of girlfriend every gal wants, with a wicked sense of humor, outgoing, a great story teller (especially over pitchers of margaritas!) and with the just the right amount of crazy all mixed in.

Over the years our lives took us a little further (in distance) from each other.  First to different cities, then counties and ultimately to different countries when I moved to Costa Rica in 2008.   After I moved, we didn't lose touch per se, but we definitely didn't have the opportunity for wine and cheese night, or long phone conversations, so we did what most long distance friends do, we checked in with each other via e-mail and did our best to keep up.  

A few years ago, Laura (who I had always known to be a corporate worker bee) started posting these amazing creations on her FB page.  She was making gorgeous Dia de Los Muertos paintings and mixed media pieces that really blew me away.  I didn't know she had an artsy-fartsy side to add to her arsenal of talents.  This made her an even more kick ass girl than I even knew!

I've watched her art grow and become more precise and more creative.  Her art is colorful, cultural, but also very playful - just like her.  Since I missed out on this transformation of my friend, I was curious to find out more about how she came to discover this new part of herself.  I shot her an e-mail and asked a few questions and learned a lot about her.  Just when you think you know someone.....

You only recently started feeding your inner artist.  Tell me a little bit about the beginning of Bonita Chica Arte.  What influenced you to start creating your Dia de Los Muertos creations?

Ever since I can remember, I loved art and drawing.  I remember being in elementary school and creating large landscape full city drawings.  As the years moved on, I became more social and did not find any pleasure in being indoors drawing.  Then work and responsibilities came into play as well.  No longer could I imagine or create anything.  However, a couple of years ago I started to attend Art and Craft Shows.  I wasn't consciously looking for art, but somehow something guided me to view the beauty of handmade crafts and art.  It took a few months of traveling and viewing these shows, where my imagination started to work and see.  It was as if the creative side never left my side, but somehow was dormant.  I had said for years, "I'm not creative, I used to be, but not anymore".  The waves of creativity started to come and it grew and grew, the more I viewed art the more I saw what I could do.  

A whole new sense was born once again, a new fresh look on everything around me.  Everything around me became alive and had a purpose.  I then made the move to actually buy a paint brush and paint.  So one day I'm sitting at my table, the thoughts, the imagination growing overflowing too quickly for me to put down on paper, to draw, to paint.  I had to get my thoughts together, I had to focus and have a direction.  I began to ask myself, who am I?  where do I come from? where will I be?  what do I want people to know?  what do I want people to see?  what moves me?  what hurts me?  who do I miss?  And that's when I thought of my Dad who had past in 2002.  Although it made me sad, he was such a happy man, such a fun life he lived.  I imagined him looking down at me and saying, "Gabby (my childhood name) you can do anything you set your mind to".  That's when I decided I want to pay homage to the dead, and what better way than Dia de Los Muertos which depicts the dead living, loving, happy, dancing as if they never left our side.  Not only was this the perfect theme, but it originates from my own Latino Culture.  So I was able to combine both my heritage and love.

How would you describe the pieces you make?

They all stand for love, life, happiness, and faith.  Dia De Los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico as a holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called honoring the deceased with their favorite food, drinks, and items.  Each piece is a celebration of a person or even an animal who has past, who is still living, laughing, and loving in the afterlife.  It's a representation, although they're gone, they're not far from us.  I try to incorporate nature as well, either trees, or butterflies within my paintings, as I believe we are all connected with nature and life.

What inspires you to start a new piece and what is the process from start to finish?

It's an interesting process, it's not visually inspired.  Each of my pieces start with a poem, I'm also a creative writer, which I haven't paid much attention to in a very long time.  However, for my pieces each one starts with me thinking of a sentence, then I finish the sentence with a poem, when I finish the poem I see the painting in my mind.  I write the poems behind each of my finished pieces.  So if anyone buys one, if they turn the painting, they will read what actually inspired the painting. 

The following is something I wrote before I did a painting.

We are all seeking answers, we strive to hear what we want,
we lust for answers,
when all we need is time,
time to live, time to breath, and time to believe. 
Stop searching, and begin your journey.

After I wrote this, I came up with the Fortune Teller painting.  It's a woman skeleton with long black hair who is at a table reading fortune teller cards. 

Are you always working on different pieces or do you go through creative spurts?

My creativity starts and it opens one door, then another and another and another, it's infinite.  I don't like working on different pieces, as each work I create is full of different thoughts and visions.  I like to give each piece it's time to come to life.

Have you encountered any obsticles in your creative process?

YES!  In Feb 2013, one of my dogs past away and ever since that date I haven't painted.  I can't say it's definitely the reason why I haven't painted.  The truth is, I don't know why I stopped all I know is after that day, I stopped. It's hard to explain, I have ideas and I want to paint, but I don't pick up a brush.  Right after my dog past, I wanted to pay homage to her, and started a painting [I'll email you a pic of the sketch].  I was emotionally drained after I sketched it, as it was a reminder of the pain I felt of losing her.  I didn't finish it, I haven't painted it.  Maybe part of my stand still is that I can't move forward until I finish her painting.  I'm not sure, however, a couple of weeks ago I made myself start a small painting.  I think it's been a long enough time to start painting again.  Although it feels good to have a brush in my hand, I can't help feeling guilty that I haven't finished her painting.

Is there anything that you want to make that you haven't made yet?

I would love to create a huge painting, a Dia de Los Muertos theme of past lives at a party laughing and dancing.

Where do you currently sell/display your work?

I currently display my Art on my Instagram page; bonitachica_arte.