The Romanians Abroad section has been created exactly for people like Ana! This is one of the top stories here, uncovering a successful painter who, 7 years ago, has managed to suppress all fears, frustrations and mixed feelings, parting from a corporate career and looking for her true meaning in life. Today, she holds many facets and an extensive life experience we could all benefit from!
Name: Ana Maria Fociuc / ANAPAZ – artist name
Abroad since: 1997
Living in: Switzerland - Aeschi bei Spiez & Zurich
Current occupation: Artist
TGR: Ana, I've always had this curiosity: how much time does it take for an artist like you to imagine, design, create and finalize one painting?
It is hard to say. It is different from one painting to another. Starting with the imagining, some ideas are coming very fast, clear, and are relatively easy to materialize in more or less one week. Others need much more time. I have an initial idea but after that I need to wait for some inspiration to be able to advance and finally finish it. This can take weeks. Also I am working in various layers, which sometimes need a few days to dry. I consider a painting finished when it is sold and leaving my place. On some paintings, even after 2 years, I suddenly have the urge to add some brushes here and there.
And I suppose you also need a certain natural environment, a specific state of mind...
Yes, you are right. I need space and time, sometimes combined with music. Space because I paint large canvases and time in order to connect with my self, to quiet all the thoughts I don’t need at that moment and to invite the imagination and creativity to pay me a visit. For my painting style, it is very helpful to travel, to visit old places and nature and carefully observing the environment.
To put it simply, creativity happens when my mind is unfocused, daydreaming or idle. If my mind is constantly processing information, I never get a chance to let my thoughts roam and my imagination drift.
I need to find ways to give my brain a break and for this, in my case, nature and silence work well. Inspiration is everywhere around us but we need to switch off all the other channels and observe.
I paint with my hands, but my feelings, emotions and my intuition are in charge; hand is just a tool. I never know how a paining is going to look like in the end. It is always a surprise to me. All I am doing is to stay as much as possible in a meditative, no-thought, neutral state of mind, and let the intuition do the work, pick the right color, move the canvas, stroke the brush in the right direction. It is all about a magic dance between how I feel in that moment and how much I can let myself go with the flow. It is the opposite of thinking and planning, a child-like state. I play and I discover a new universe, where neither time nor space exists.
I start with an idea; then the idea takes its own life. It’s more like I am a channel, helping deliver something, than creating. I have to be open and aware, and figure out what it wants to become. Anything can happen at any point.
Do you feel it's a gift you were born with, or just a sum of fortunate events?
My strong believe is that everybody could draw, paint, write, dance, etc. at some point in their lives. Because of the educational system and /or some kind of criticism, forgot or just stopped doing it. If somebody would have asked me 10 years ago if I have some talent, I would have said „NO”. But I do think creativity is a gift that everybody has, combined with a sum of fortunate events plus some amount of resilience and patience.
A gift that brings you great satisfaction, once you get to express it through your work...
Creativity is our birthright. It is not a special talent limited to famous artists, writers and musicians. We are all creative beings by default. Being human requires us to adapt to changing circumstances of our lives.
We are used to think of arts as a form of entertainment, and even as personal expression, but many of us have forgotten that the arts can also heal. In the distant past, the purpose of Greek drama was to produce an emotional catharsis.
Tibetan monks still use chanting, „singing bowls“ or bells as part of their prayers and healing, just like many other cultures that include drumming, song and dance as part of their rituals. The joy you feel when creating art can be healing in itself. It is easy to get „lost“ in your creativity, relieving stress and thereby eliminating the cause of dis-ease.
But I think the effects are even more profound. The body is made to heal itself, and it does this best when it is in a state of deep relaxation. Art and music can bring the body into its natural state of balance and harmony, so it can best do what it was meant to do. Many of us when creating, become so absorbed that we fall naturally into that „altered“ state. Scientific studies shown that art literally changes not only a person’s attitude, but their physiology.
Art and music affect a person’s brain wave pattern, along with the autonomic nervous system, hormonal balance, brain neurotransmitters, immune system and blood flow to all the organs. They change one’s perception of the world, including one’s emotional state and perception of pain.
You have not always enjoyed this state of mind, have you?
For many years, I did other types of jobs that didn’t have anything to do with art. At some point, I had a regular office job and eventually a bore out.
I saved myself quitting it and retreating into Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. A 2-year stay in an Ashram followed. This altered not just my worldview and my beliefs, but also influenced the way I express myself in art. There, in the Ashram, I started to explore the inner world, questioning everything I knew and started to try new things like singing, painting, dancing from the soul, like a child, without judging myself.
It is a long story to tell here, but in a few words, after I left the Ashram, the new “me” paid more attention to what is going on inside rather than outside. I started to remember and do what I enjoyed most in childhood, to be more curious and explore, without having any expectations regarding the results.
I used to stay in the studio all day. Actually, my life was my studio. After I decorated the entire house, I discovered that I can’t live without creating something.
I felt and still feel addicted to art in its many shapes or forms. Also, during many hours of painting, I observed a radical improving and developing in what I was doing. Nevertheless, only after I received invitations from galleries I started to take myself more seriously and accepted the „artist“ label.
Painting is just one side of your complex work. If I may, a big slice from a tasteful cake. What else do you do for a living?
Nice, I like your metaphor. It is, indeed, a cake with different flavors. I am an active person who gets bored very fast but who loves challenges and to try new things. This combination helps me a lot to explore new jobs and fields in life, including being an artist.
Besides painting, I also like to work with metal and wood. From copper, I am doing dream-catchers, or better said, energy balancers embellished with gemstones. From wood - I am doing lamps and I have some new ideas that are waiting to be materialized soon.
Also, I am painting hardcases for handpan instruments on commission. Actually I paint on different kind of supports like textile, walls and furniture.
Furthermore, I am offering workshops about how to reconnect with creativity and boost it. In these workshops, we discover our creative expression within, through simple, fun methods for awakening and uplifting our consciousness. In the sessions we use art as a meditative process for self-discovery and healing. These are simple methods that can be applied in every aspect of life. By becoming child-like, we activate our inner joy and we can see how to apply it in enriching our daily lives.
And if someone wants to have a creative vacation in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I am offering an artistic, intellectual, and emotional journey, as a substitute to the common beach holiday, to try something new. I am receiving people in my house and studio to teach them different kinds of painting techniques, designing and building their own wooden lamp, restoring and painting old furniture, jewelry-making techniques, or how to make their own copper dream catcher.
Which is the main message you wish to convey through your artwork?
I think we, and everything around us, even our intentions and thoughts, are energy that vibrates at different frequencies. Hence, I believe that my paintings have their own life and vibration that can be felt at the subconscious level. When we are purely attracted from our heart by a piece of art, we are captured by the vibration of the painting.
In my opinion, this vibration can empower us. I am trying to bring more color, warm and positivity in a society that sometimes is too square and grey. I encourage those who acquire one of my paintings to try to sense if they feel attracted by the painting, just as they are attracted to a human being.
Throughout my workshops and the vacation in my place, I am trying to reconnect people with their own, unique identity and talents. I think that the world today needs more than ever creative people connected with themselves, conscious about their unique talents. Because of globalization, access to higher education for more and more people and advances in robotics, what will set us apart are our unique gifts and how we apply them creatively in different environments.
Why Switzerland and not any other place on Earth?
Oh, this is a simple one Besides the fact that Switzerland has amazing landscapes and nature, I found love here. He’s also an artist, instruments builder – Soma Sounds Sculptures, and for the moment we decided to live in Switzerland.
What about the future? Sometimes in Romania maybe?
Not really. There are so many places on Earth that are waiting to be explored. We are living in an accelerated and a continuously globalized world, where everyday it gets easier and easier to travel, to move, to work and to live wherever we want. Also, I love to discover new cultures, different ways of thinking and living. I already lived in many countries in Europe but I feel that there is still so much more to explore. Besides, I think we perceive situations, places, people, in this case, countries according with our needs. I love Spain, because of its weather and the sea. If I was forced to settle in one place, I would choose the south of Spain.
What are your current feelings for your home country?
I have to say that even if I’m an artist I am also a pragmatic, practical and down to earth person. Regarding Romania like a country, an entity, I am not at all emotional. I am vegetarian, so I don’t miss the food, one of the aspects that many Romanians are missing. I lived in and traveled many countries and learnt that each country has pros and cons. NO country is better or worse then other. We have to learn to appreciate the diversity and the differences between cultures. I don’t believe and think in borders or labels. For me, Romania is just another region from Europe or world, with some beautiful landscapes, a bit more wild then other regions. It has beautiful, exceptional people but also a hard historical background. But is not the only country that has these characteristics. It's hard to generalize for me, I take each person separately and to label Romania as one entity is difficult when there are so many lives and situations within it.
How often do you travel to Romania?
It depends. I had times in my life when I couldn’t go for 5 years in a row. Sometimes I go once per year, normally around May or June. It’s the time when I most love Bucharest, when it is not too hot and all the nature is blooming, coming back to life.
What do you mostly miss about Romania?
Sometimes I miss a few friends that I still have and the family.
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
Many foreign friends asked me about the communist years, but I would normally try to make them aware about the history before and after the WW2. Also, I recommend them to visit the countryside. In some point in my life I worked as a bicycle tour guide and I cycled the countryside of Romania, which is really rich in flora and fauna in comparison with the rest of Europe. So, I advised them to visit Bucovina, Maramures, Transilvanya and Danube Delta.
Ana, for any burned-out 9-to-5er out there, please briefly explain your healing process and the steps you recommend to set them free.
Sincerely I think that the most important thing is to take a break from the regular routine of life. To go travel for a while, find a retreat center or just spend the weekend alone in the nature and to be curious. This helps to disconnect from your own little world and connect to a broader one. This can help to see new solutions. Reconnecting with what used to make us happy as a child or even teenager before we started to do things, because we thought we had to, because we have to pay expensive, sometimes unnecessary rents, cars, houses, clothes, etc.
In the same time, I am not sure if this is a universal recipe that works for everybody. That’s why, I think that each one of us has to find his or her own way that works for them. To become self responsible for one’s decisions and the consequences, without waiting for “a big daddy”, government, religion, society, etc. to give them a magical solution.
What I observed in my life and of others is that the solution is coming with a desire to change something in one’s own life, it is a kind of crisis that is pushing you to examine different ways of living. This can take diverse forms for everyone. For some people it is working a bit less, for others changing completely their job, starting a hobby, learning something new or traveling for a while to get some inspiration from other people or cultures. The ways to get to “freedom”, whatever that means for each of us, are so many as our imagination can create. Nowadays we have access to information more then ever, there are self-help books, courses, retreats, meditation, yoga, arts, etc. For me, the healing came through a bit of all of this and culminated through art, but maybe for somebody else it is enough to just scale down a bit, work a bit less, spend more time with the family etc.
Is there anything disappointing, maybe something you'd like to be different in your life?
Disappointment is something relative, depending a lot of the perception and interpretation of the events at a certain moment. I learnt some time ago that life is a process which is changing all the time. The only thing that is not changing is the constant change of life. Anything else, changes. Fortunately enough I am an extremely positive person that happens to like changes. Even when I am disappointed, often it just takes a few minutes until I realize that I had an expectation. Once I let go of the expectation, realizing that the only thing I can control is my perception, the disappointment disappears.
The Hindu and Buddhist philosophy helped me to change many believes that weren’t helpful for my emotional and mental wellbeing. If I want something to be different in my life, I know that I have the power to change my thoughts.
Which is your biggest dream?
Maybe this will sound a bit boring, but since I quit my job 7 years ago I have the same dream: to live simply, to not own things that prevent me from moving fast and easy, and the most important thing, to be able to do what I want, when I want and how I want. In other words, I want to be the only person that has control upon my life-time. That’s why, every time when I take a decision, I ask myself how much the decision is limiting my freedom. I don’t care anymore about outside rewards but focus on peace and calmness. The inner balance is my most important life-goal.
Well, Ana, I can only hope you keep that inner balance for the rest of your life! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story!
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