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Name: jihada

Location: San Antonio, TX

Bio: jihada is a self-taught, mixed media artist and designer. She hails from Ocala, Florida but currently works and resides in San Antonio, Texas. Using a palette consisting primarily of black, white, and gold, she paints portraits, animals, and objects in a modern, figurative expressionist style. Over the years, jihada has collaborated locally with other creatives and participated in several community projects where her canvas paintings, shoe art, and alternative fashion designs have been showcased. Outside of her artistic endeavors, jihada is also a poet, and aspiring author.

Website: www.strollingcanvases.com 

Email: artistjihada@strollingcanvases.com

Social Media: IG: @artist _ jihada

Describe your experience as an artist.

Sheez. I need to think back on this one! I'm a "lifer", as I have loved and created art for as far back as I can remember. When it comes to painting, I'm still fairly new. I was always afraid of paint, because my art life consisted primarily of collages – they were my favorite to create. I first picked up a paint brush in 2015, and I haven't looked back. I have always been one with creating, and designing I never thought I'd actually do something with it- these past few years have been quite a surprise.

What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist? 

Prior to becoming an artist, I was interested in teaching- art swiftly took over! Once we, as in my husband and I, learned about baby number one, we made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I felt it was time for me to pursue something I could fit in with this new role, and family life. I wanted to make sure that during the SAHM life, I kept my own identity. I dibbled and dabbled in a little bit of everything. I participated in pageants, I studied and learned about jewelry making, I was a shoe artist as well! Always creating.

How do you balance being an artist and stay-at-home mom? How do you maintain your mental health, inspiration, and motivation to paint?

HA! Balance! I wish someone would teach me how to balance it! I'd say my life is more like a complicated dance to ear-splitting music that is being sung in a language I don't quite understand. I try to schedule things, but that fails more often than not. It can be fun though. I believe you have to be quite flexible when you're a parent and you're working- things randomly pop up- often. My youngest enjoys art too, so that helps- we (sometimes) work simultaneously and harmoniously. As far as maintaining mental health, unplugging from the internet and staying away from the monotony that is news is what's best for me. I also write. I'm a sensitive soul so things can easily become overwhelming.

Describe your biggest milestone achieved since pursing your art. 

I’d say my biggest milestone thus far is when I did shoe art for a local youth fashion show. 13 pairs. I learned quite a bit about time management, as the time I had to complete them was limited. This experience was around five years ago, but that moment in time really sticks out! It was at the beginning, so to speak, of my SAHM life and at an early point in my art journey. I’m a MAJOR introvert, so it was a big deal for me to put myself and my art out for others to see- I still cringe when I’m posting something new. Haha! My husband was and has remained a huge supporter in me pursuing my art goals so that helps, immensely. Wow. I’m still thinking about that time - it was insane. Another reason that point in time stands out because shortly after the show, we found out baby number two was on the way!

Have you ever had memorable moment with one of your customers/clients?

Actually, yes. This happened only a few days ago! I was asked to paint a Panther African Mask tee. That’s not the big deal part because well, the movie comes out next weekend (I CANNOT WAIT- I’m a movie geek and superhero fanatic)! Of course I said yes to that request. She then sent me a message, “shooting her shot” as she put it and stated, “...I have a small request that I want you to include since I admire your previous work. Can you PLEASE put a little bit of gold in there?...” Me = floored. And yes, I added the gold - I’m not heartless. That meant a GREAT DEAL more to me than she’ll ever know. She also inspired me to get back to creating more original work. Thank you, Danielle!

How does your personal style and identity translate into your artwork? What other forms of art do you do/participate in?

My personal style? I love black. LOL! When I paint it’s the color I usually use the most of and if I decide not to use it as my primary color, it must be present. It’s a powerful color, right along with gold which I also use in my work. I have this thing I do when I post my artwork, I put gold dust on my hands, and my fingers. I've been asked why the gold dust and my answer is because I am grateful. I am grateful for my gift and happy that I have learned to value it. The gold dusting of the hands for me, is symbolic. It's the outward expression of an inward belief. Generally, gold is seen as valuable. A pianist's hands are gold, a dancer's feet, a singer's voice, a creative's mind- all of these, are valuable. If I could sprinkle my memories with gold, I would. Gold to me, is a color of warmth, beauty, value, opulence, and even fond memories. Life too, is golden. I hope I didn't stray too off subject.

What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP who is also a mother interested in pursuing art?

DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Relax, go with the flow! If you don't meet the goals you've made for yourself, don't stress it! Do what you can. Try not to get caught up in the perfect lives in the window display of social media. Make sure you hold fast to YOUR identity! It's easy to get lost in the sauce and caught up in diaper changes, cooking, cleaning, mom groups and whatever else it is you think you need to be doing in order to be the "perfect mom". I don't think I quite answered that, but I'm passionate about what I said. Hopefully this answer will suffice. Haha!

Where do you see your art going in the next few years?

I'd like to get back into jewelry making! I have already started the process, but I'd like to stick with it and do what I was afraid to do the first time around. I've learned quite a bit since then! Jewelry making is one of the first things I studied when I began my adult art journey and for some reason I have returned to it; this should be fun!

What does being a "black girl who paints" mean to you?

This may be a bit cheesy, but being a "black girl who paints" is simply being myself. It's part of my identity and there isn't anything I can or wish to do about it.

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