So excited to share our first Come Together interview with you. This interview series will focus on local creatives, wellness experts and small business owners.
I truly believe we all have a special gift to share with the world. By sharing our stories we can inspire each other. I hope these interviews inspire you to dream bigger, follow your heart’s calling and shines a light on our amazing community. We are working on a podcast format but this first interview is too good to wait.
Come Together Interview Series- Artist Victoria White
How did you go from being a full time lawyer to being a full time artist?
I was a very successful lawyer in Silicon Valley and New Orleans. I got very sick and went through a lot of pain, fear and suffering. Something was not in alignment in my life.
I eventually got so sick I couldn't walk the two blocks to my office. I knew if I can’t even walk to my office I couldn’t do my job. It was very much a process of having a lot of faith. It was very scary. I resigned from my law practice. I knew I had to focus on healing myself. I asked myself what does that look like? I decided to move to the beach, do a lot of mediation, relaxation, walking my dog and a lot of self care. Part of that self care was painting.
I had always been an artist and decided to lean into that. In 2018 I set an intention in my journal. I decided I am going to a paint or create some thing every day. I would just do some creative act every day. It wasn’t always painting but I would create daily.
That habit of creating everyday eventually became my whole life. The more specific journey of getting to what I paint today starts with my love of Philosophy. I was a Philosophy major in college. Somebody told me to read Muhammad Ali book. I got really into it and I started reading more biographies. I thought maybe I should do some portraits. Portraits are really hard. I was trying to create portraits but was getting really frustrated.
One day I went to the Broad museum. I saw this huge landscape painting by Mark Tansey, He only used ultramarine, blue and white. I decided to paint a portrait in ultramarine, blue and white. I thought that would simplify the process just a little by taking the color spectrum out of it. I had taken a photo of a Malibu musician. He had a very interesting face. He was old, wrinkled and had glasses. I showed it to my friend and she loved it. She asked me to paint her three children.
I started getting in the swing of it and kept going from there. I painted John Prine as a gift for my friend's brother-in-law. This was early 2020, she brought him over to my house and nobody told him why he was there, it was a surprise. He saw the painting and his breath was taken away. He started sobbing and I thought this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life! If I can have this power to move people with this gift and it brings me joy, and it’s healing me, I knew this is what I should be doing. People are going to pay me for it and it's contributing to the world, so it began.
Was there ever a time when you thought this is too hard. Maybe I should turn back and go the safer career route?
That was thankfully never a temptation for me because physically it just wasn't an option for me. It got to the point in my mind where this was my only option. That's why I say god works in mysterious ways. I was very good at law and made good money, it would be easy for me to continue doing that if I was physically capable of it, but I was not.
Looking back before you went into law school do you think there were clues? Maybe you really shouldn’t go into law, or do you think it served a purpose and was meant to be for that time in your life?
It was a very important part of my path to becoming a successful artist. I learned a lot of entrepreneurial skills. As a lawyer I was essentially running my own business selling my services. In many ways that is what I'm doing as a painter. It was not time I wasted, it was part of a bigger plan.
Was it an easy evolution to go from painting for fun to charging for your pieces?
I think there’s a fine balance. Once you commoditize art it changes it. Art is a gift to us. If we practice we can develop a channel through which God speaks through our art. Which is essentially all we are is a channel. If we practice and apply discipline we can do that very clearly, and with excellence. The idea of charging anyone any money at first seemed very strange to me. A lot of the stuff I painted at first, I gave away. It was a slow progression but I knew I had to not under value myself and my contribution. These paintings took a lot of time and people really love them so I started becoming comfortable charging for my art.
What advice do you have for creatives that want to start charging for their art?
The most important advertisement you can get is someone believing in you and telling their friends about you. People that genuinely love you and want to tell their friends about you. Do really excellent work and have other people tell their friends about your excellent work. When I was starting out I gave pieces away and didn’t charge full price. I looked at this as an investment in my future.
Healing and wellness has been a big part of your artist journey. What wellness tools are an important part of your practice?
Mentally the most important thing I do every day is write in my journal. I set intentions and clear my focus. I figure out what is working in my life and what isn’t. I review the information daily. I transcribe all my inspiration and process my emotions.
As far as my physical health I am careful about what I put into my body. I practice Ashtanga yoga. I think Ashtanga yoga is an important tool in breaking through blocks that are based on fear. To become a clear channel to create we need to have clear energy (chakras). I have found that ashtanga yoga helped me let go of my fear. It has helped me realize fear is a construct of our mind. The things that we fear are usually more in our mind than in our reality. As Henry Ford said if you think you can or you think you can’t you are probably right. It taught me the only limitations on my capabilities are my own beliefs.
Has spirituality been part of your healing journey?
Yes! My art teacher in middle school what's a nun. She would make us meditate. She was a lovely lady. She taught us to focus on whatever God meant to us. Spirituality has always been a very important part of my life. When I got sick I needed to have faith in something and believe that it was all happening for some reason. I needed to know that everything was gonna be ok. God has proven over and over that it is going to be OK.
Do you have a favorite book you would recommend?
“The Road Less Traveled” By M Scott Peck
“The book of Joy” By Desmond Tutu/ Dalai Lama
“How to Love” Thich Nhat Hanh
Can you tell us more about Indivisible Arts and how you became involved?
I participated in Boards across Hermosa. I painted surfboards with Kelly Slater on them. I showed them to a friend and he said Boards across Hermosa is partnering with Indivisible arts. Indivisible Arts is a south bay non profit dedicated to cultivating creativity, consciousness, and connection through the arts. He said he is volunteering there and I should go with him. I was blown away by what they were teaching kids.
I remember the first class I came to, the founder Rafael was teaching a lesson on gratitude. He had the kids break their paper up into three columns. The first column you list things you're grateful for in your past, the middle column you list things you're grateful for right now. The last column you list things you're grateful for in the future. I couldn't believe he was teaching these concepts to kids. The most powerful tool is gratitude. I sure didn't learn these tools when I was a kid. The tools that were being taught at Indivisible arts. were all tools I believed in and used daily. I knew I wanted to be involved at Indivisible arts.
The classes at Indivisible arts are broken up in three parts. A 45 minute kid yoga class, 30 minute class teaching creative wisdom tools and an hour of creative time. Each child is paired with a volunteer and can do whatever they want in the creative lab. They can do sewing painting, photography, music, resin there's so much cool stuff they could do.
"When I was sick I was exploring all kinds of things. I wasn't sure I was going to be a painter. I was doing photography, sewing, playing the guitar and seeing what really lit me up, that's what the world needs. Everybody should be waking up and jumping out of bed because they're so lit up with how they are spending their time."
Check out Victoria's work at https://www.victoriawhitecreates.com/
You can bid on her stunning pieces in person at the fundraiser benefiting Indivisible Arts on March 18th grab your tickets at https://www.indivisiblearts.org/resin