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Life & Work with Stu Rosen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stu Rosen.

Hi Stu, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
While I’ve always been an artist, I put my art on the back burner for most of my life. I channeled it into graphic design, web design, video production and have had a cartoon for 17 years, but “art-art”, as I called it, just wasn’t an option. For much of my life, I followed the “shoulda-coulda-woulda’s” of other people’s opinions.

I talked the good talk. I spoke a lot about kindness, and passion, and love. While I was very sincere to others, I was terribly unkind and unloving to myself. I wasn’t walking my own talk.

2018 was the year that changed that. It changed everything. It was a year of great loss. My house of cards was crumbling and I truly expected to lose everything. I mean EVERYTHING. And I was OK with that. You see, when you’re afraid to lose everything, you become paralyzed. Yet when you KNOW you’re going to lose everything, there’s a peace that comes with knowing you’re doing the right thing. I call it “sacred suffering” and the only way to describe it is landing on holy ground.

I counted my blessings. I hadn’t really lost everything. I still had my job, my home, and my son. It was enough. We were enough.

So in October 2018, I took a spiritual journey along the Santa Monica Mountains. I brought with me little tokens to symbolize and celebrate my loss; my cat’s collar, coins my mother gave me. They both went from cancer within months of each other. My quest was to stop along the trail, say my farewells, and toss each object over the side.

I also needed to say goodbye to me. Not in THAT sort of way, but goodbye to “Stuart” and hello to “Stu”. However melodramatic, I decided to put a drop of blood onto a heart-shaped pencil sharpener. As I tossed it away, everything went white. I couldn’t see anything for a moment. When my sight returned, everything seemed different. Lighter. So I continued on towards the top.

As I got close, I saw the “last hill”. It was steep, but the top was near. “Well, Mr. Rosen,” I asked, “What’s it going to be? You going to stop here and think you finished… or you going to take the last hill?”

I took the hill.

After a glorious moment of triumph, with 360 degree views, I worked my way back down that hill and sat beneath a tree to have lunch.

As part of the rebuilding of my life, I asked myself “what skills do I have that can bring me back up?” ART! Shouted to me, and here was my moment.

I took out my pad of paper, then took out my pencil… then I noticed it was too dull to draw with.

If only I had a pencil sharpener.

You know, like the one I threw away.

I hadn’t come this far to only come this far.

I took out a ballpoint pen. I told myself, “if you have a pen and you have paper, you have art. There are no excuses… and if the ink spills, you deal with it. Welcome to Life!”

And so I drew that hill. And for several days, I drew anything and everything. It didn’t matter. Just. Draw. Anything.

Now I love animals, the furrier the better. So one evening I drew a lone wolf. It’s how I felt, so it felt right. Yet, it also didn’t feel complete.

The next night I drew a chimpanese and her baby and felt something stir in my soul. Yes, one parent, one child. That was me and my son. Even though he was becoming a teenager, it reminded me of the early years of cuddling. Of safety, joy and love. This was it. I found my calling.

Being a ballpoint artist very quickly changed my life. Within one year, I was in a dozen art shows from Miami, Downtown LA and Beverly Hills. My work was in galleries in Washington State and Laguna Beach, CA.

I had a dozen more shows lined up when Covid hit. It’s been a “giant pause” since then, but shows are slowly coming back and I used the time to discover the world of CryptoArt. That has quickly become a new frontier for me, and I’ve joined a group called “Project Ark” that uses NFTs as a way to raise money for wildlife conservation. It’s so energizing.

The irony of the ark being the vessel for rebirth has not been lost on me. I’m looking forward to what’s on the next mountaintop.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Considering all that I went through, it seems like an easy ride. In reality, of course there’s been bumps along the way. It’s just been the kinds of struggles that come with starting from scratch. Having to get set up properly, building that strong foundation, getting yourself known. Each step takes huge amounts of effort. Every little thing is the tip of yet another iceberg.

You learn to stay calm and stay focused on the end result. I don’t call them “failures”, I call them “alternate routes for success”.

My first art show was in a gymnasium of a school. It was easy. I even got invited to go up to Ojai for another show in a few months.

As I was parking on a dirt road, I watched the other booths being set up and my naive little heart sank. “Are we supposed to have tents?” I asked my friend sitting next to me. “Tables too,” she replied. So rather than sink into despair, I simply asked the runners of the show for help (my alternate route for success) and they were gracious enough to loan me a tent and tables. I repaid their kindness by raffling off art that I drew during the show, and it ended up to be a wonderful experience.

Since then, there’s been bad storms, and broken elevators, and days with no sales… not to forget a pandemic that shut everything down.

So yeah, there’s been challenges, but those are just routes that aren’t going to take me where I want to go.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am now a “ballpoint pen artist”. I do that for several reasons. For one, it’s challenging. There’s no eraser, so I have to work with what I have. There was one piece that I absolutely couldn’t stand halfway through. I was ready to tear it up. Instead, I pushed through, reminded me to “just keep adding love”. It ended up to be one of my most favorite pieces.

Secondly, it’s fast. I’m very low-spectrum ADHD. All my life, I left my projects for something shinier. In fact, I had a box on my shelf titled “Dreams and Other Unfinished Business”. I didn’t want to keep adding to that box. I can start a drawing at 8 o’clock at night and by 10 pm, it’s scanned and available to the WORLD! Isn’t that just amazing???

Also, I didn’t want “unfinished” to be a blemish. I developed a style that tells a detailed story in the center and is left sketchy and unfinished at the edges. I do that to allow you, the viewer to finish the picture.

I’m turning “unfinished” into an art form.”

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
The best resource is Life itself. If we shut off all the bad news that swirls around us, we can really see just how magical the world is around us.

When I can’t get out to take my own pictures, I have friends who take amazing photos of wildlife. I also love browsing wildlife reference websites for inspiration (and I always buy my reference photos, especially from WildlifeReferencePhotos.com).

I also adore Instagram. So many different styles and amazing artists that not only show me art I’ve never even imagined before, they inspire me to become better at what I do.

As far as tools go, I just bought the ISKN Repaper tablet, that allows me to draw on paper yet digitize the whole process to convert it to stills and video. It’s an absolute gamechanger for me as I venture into the world of CryptoArt. Through all this, the greatest gift I’ve been given is “just being me”. Being able to use my abilities to explore the world in new ways, and share that with others, has been what I’ve been looking for my entire life. It’s nice to be here. 

Pricing:

  • Originals go for $350-$500
  • Pet Portraits start at $350
  • Canvases and other products can be found in the $30-50 on my site

Contact Info:

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