“It’s powerful when you realize you have the ability to get yourself out of a rut and into contentment through hardwork and dedication.”

Alyssa is a 24-year-old artist living in Austin, Texas. She loves to take singing lessons and learn about history in her free time. She is working toward a degree in Conservation Biology. Combining creativity and artistic skills to to send a strong positive message makes her powerful.

Alyssa, tell us about your background.

Where to begin? I’ll start with high school, since it was where I began taking multiple art classes; I think I was in five my senior year. I didn’t take any painting or drawing classes while I was in college though; I felt like I needed to get a degree in something that made decent money. I started college as a marketing major, which later switched to environmental science after I realized I was spending most of my free time watching documentaries about environmental issues. I knew I didn’t want to major in art of any sort. The pressure of having to create something to make money takes away the joy of it for me.

Over the past year and a half I decided to focus more on developing my art independently. I began teaching myself how to improve my drawing and painting skills by watching YouTube videos on different techniques, color theory, human anatomy, and so on.

Do you want art to be your career?

“Not as my career, no. I’d like to have a steady income from another source and have the freedom to create and sell what I want, when I want. It is important to me to finish a piece in a decent time frame, but I never want to rush because I’ll probably be dissatisfied with it if I do. It’s also important to me to get pieces I’m happy with out in the world. I know everyone won’t love, or even like, the art I create, but having a creative idea all of a sudden, drawing and painting it in my style, and working on it until I am satisfied enough to share it with others is one of the most satisfying things in the world to me! For my career, I want to be a conservation biologist because conservation is something I’m also passionate about. I want to help figure out why animals and plant species are going endangered or extinct and help boost their numbers.

Alyssa, why did you move to Austin?

“I grew up in a small town called Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley of New York. Rhinebeck has beautiful mountains, the Hudson River, and other quaint small towns surrounding it. It’s one of my favorite places on Earth. I can walk up the firetower in Rhinebecks Ferncliff Forest and be surrounded by trees and the river; it takes my breath away every time I go up there!

However, I decided to move to Austin about 4 years ago with my friend Cate from New York. Cate asked me to move with her, and I felt like it was some sort of sign. It was so out of left field to me; I’d never thought about moving to a southern state before. But I said yes; I was looking to change where I was living anyways, since I was going through a rough patch and it was hard for me to be in my hometown. Honestly, I didn’t visit Austin before I moved here. I trusted Cate’s judgement and I’m glad I did. I’ve met a lot of great people in Austin, and, although I miss the mountains and forests dearly, I like Austin’s chill vibe and how much fun stuff there is to do here. However, I am planning on moving back to New York soon. I recently got accepted to SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry College in Syracuse, NY, for a bachelors in Conservation Biology.

What does it mean to you to be powerful?

“It’s hard to choose one answer because there are so many ways to be powerful. For example, it’s powerful when you realize you have the ability to get yourself out of a rut and into contentedness through hardwork and dedication.

Before I moved to Austin, I was going through a bit of a rough patch. It was very empowering realizing I could work hard and save money to change where I was living in the pursuit of happiness again. Moving to Austin didn’t magically solve everything though. I realized I was constantly keeping myself busy with hobbies or work to distract myself from my problems. Most of the time I’d want to go on a hike or run in the woods to clear my mind, but Austin can be super hot and it can be a long drive to the woods. Since I missed being able to run through woodsy trails for miles, I began painting nature scenes and meditating daily to clear my mind. I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, and would reread passages daily to force myself into the present moment. After a few years of hard work I felt had accomplished my goal of getting myself into to a better state mentally. It was super empowering realizing I could make myself happy again.

It’s also powerful when you realize you can make small changes to your daily routine and educate others to do the same for a greater cause! I started an instagram called “@environmentaltipsss” where I post small steps people can do in their daily routines to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the hopes of improving the planet. I actually went vegan, which is a great way of reducing your carbon footprint.

How is your art empowering?

“Many of my pieces have a strong positive message. It can be exhausting trying to live up to all of society’s expectations. There is so much pressure for people to be pretty or handsome or strong or skinny or curvy or modest and so on. We should be embracing our differences and loving ourselves. I recently drew an illustration of three confident ladies showing off their hairy pits while their nipples are showing through their shirts. The piece is captioned “My Kind Of Pity Party!” and is a tribute to self love. I drew it when I stopped shaving my pits and stopped wearing bras after growing to be more comfortable in my own skin. Even sharing my art pieces with others is empowering. Painting and drawing has even empowered me! I don’t paint or draw to escape where I am or distract myself anymore, I paint and draw now because I enjoy every minute of it!

Do you have a product you love right now and makes you feel powerful?

“An item I love is black eyeliner, particularly Kat Von D’s “Tattoo Liner.” It stays on super well and is waterproof! Kat Von D is also an artist and her makeup products are all vegan, so I like supporting her business when I can. It’s funny because I’ve recently stopped wearing eyeliner as frequently because I want to run more and I don’t want to get all “made up” then have to redo it after taking a shower. However, I love wearing winged eyeliner. I don’t know why I love it so much, I guess I like that it gives me an edgier look and draws attention to my eyes. I feel beautiful without any makeup on too though! Deep down I think another reason I like doing my eyeliner so much is because it’s like a drawing challenge for me to see how precise and sharp I can get it. Some people say my eyeliner is my trademark. It’s fun for me!

See more of Alyssa’s art here: http://society6.com/cassarinoart