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A Story of Artistic & Personal Growth — via 4 Paintings

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Top Left: Upwards Through the Brambles. Top Right: Leap of Faith. Bottom Left: Light Warrior. Bottom Right: The Existential Journey of Self-Transformation. All by Tiffany Davis-Rustam.
Top Left: Upwards Through the Brambles. Top Right: Leap of Faith. Bottom Left: Light Warrior. Bottom Right: The Existential Journey of Self-Transformation. All by Tiffany Davis-Rustam.

I want to tell the story of a process of my personal and artistic evolution via these 4 original paintings of mine here!

These were all created over the span of the last 7 years since I started painting seriously, and you can easily see how the subjects and expressions of these artworks of mine have grown over the years, while telling a story of my growth in life! 💫🌈🎨

🌟 1— TOP LEFT:
The first painting is called Upwards through the Brambles, one of my earlier paintings when I started out with a much more abstract style, very inspired by early Abstract Expressionists Wassily Kandinsky & Franz Marc, with their joyful color use and intuitive understanding of how abstractions mirror the emotions in a dynamically expressive way. Obviously, Cubism was a big inspo too!

Also personally in my life at that time I had recently moved across the country (several times), and with continued spiritual development, was shifting my lifestyle and graphic design career big time, experiencing a lot of confusion and anger along the way. This piece is my closest expression of feeling so many challenging struggles arising repeatedly.

Yet even with this distress, I always envisioned a way out of it, and in this case it’s the idea of that you have to keep striving UP-wards towards the light, because that’s the only worthwhile goal.

Next is Leap of Faith” — a painting that was created as part of a creative exercise to express something I’m not ‘supposed to do,’ according to society’s beliefs at large. This process was inspired by The Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron. I did 4 other sketches, 1 other which became “Causing a Scene“, but this was the most powerful to me in several ways.

At that time was the scary idea to quit my job as a graphic designer and become a fine artist full-time, a goal which I’d then only just recently dared to dream of, and which would take years to fully achieve.

Artistically by this time I had a big shift, after I realized how I could convey my specific ideas more effectively if there were figures added in my artworks, and all the sudden more people were relating their own lives to them! That’s always been my goal, to inspire people deeply through my art.

Light Warrior visually represents me developing my own personal style further, drawing heavily on influences from futurists like Umberto Boccioni, but infusing it with a more visionary art quality.

This painting embodies the strong passion and determination to develop in the path of a spiritual warrior and transform one’s life with purpose. Here the figure gathers up strength and power to kick his way out of the metaphorical darkness into the light!

Also during this time I was learning better how to let go of my negative emotions and take in more positive inspiration, while spiritually asking for enhanced awareness and evolution by doing a lot of meditation, inner work and affirmations.

Now this last painting, one of my latest ones, The Existential Journey of Self-Transformation, may figuratively echo the scene from the earlier painting above, but as you can see it marks a jump in style that’s more conducive to telling a detailed story.

The entire process of this painting was guided by a short-term mentorship by the amazing visionary artist Michael Divine. Through his teaching, I was guided to explore ways that I could combine my abstract expressions with more figurative details and perspectives, which became a better vehicle to convey the representational ideas of transforming from my deepest pain to my highest joy.

When I started this piece I quit my full-time design job, after I began to experience extreme digestive illness, which continued and increased sharply for 3+ years. This special piece was created to tell the story of my healing, and before it had even begun, I knew the trajectory it must take — for me to heal myself through my own higher self, with an angel or two as an aide.

And you know what? Eventually it happened just that way! About 3 years later, after unturning every stone, I experienced a miraculous BELIEF healing miracle which took me 90% of the way to reclaimed health! I’m still working on the last little physical bit, but that faith healing took me such a long way, and it was such a dramatic shift for me.

Everything I’d studied about spiritual self-empowerment over the years proved itself to be true in just 1 day! We really can heal anything, even our body through the power of our beliefs and thoughts.

So, thanks for following my journey through art here! I aim to elevate the human condition by artistic expression, and hopefully relate to others undergoing similar experiences.

— Follow above text links to learn more about each artwork.
2 of 4 paintings available and prints for all artworks found in my Shop page, leading to Etsy shop.

The Existential Journey of Self-Transformation

The Existential Journey of Self-Transformation. Original oil painting on canvas, 30 x 40”, © 2017 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.
The Existential Journey of Self-Transformation. Original oil painting on canvas, 30 x 40”, © 2017 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.

This painting is a very special one to me, as it illustrates my own personal journey of health through spiritual transformation. I began it during the onset of my illness, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to finish it until years later, after I’d experienced my own miracle of healing, which I illustrate here.

The tiny black figure curled up in pain in the nautilus shell represents a sorrowful sick me. Then an angel emerges from the clouds, lovingly tossing my shell of self-pity down the waterfall. I emerge gingerly from the waterfall of change, stepping up into beliefs that reflect a more empowering attitude, as then my higher self sends me healing energy, leading to me finally stepping into my fully self-actualized power of joy and health! I hope this painting helps to inspire others, as the journey to true healing through the higher self is often similar. Believe that you can have the quality of life you desire with all your heart and that’s when miracles happen quickly!

Also, I’d like to include an accompanying poem I wrote about my journey here. Much of the verses describe what’s happening in the painting, but some of the elaborated parts hail from the many initial sketches I did in exploration of creating the painting. It’s sometimes heavy stuff, but it will help you to delve deeper into my story, and perhaps you see a part of yourself in there.

Painting prints available here in my Etsy shop.

My Journey Through Hell to Heaven
— Poem & Painting by Tiffany Davis-Rustam

Never did I start to see
the storm of my suffering crest the horizon
before it blew inside my door.
Oh so slowly as a snail crawls
from the secret garden of shadowy dreams,
did the hopeful stride fade from my steps,
and the agony within began its grave descent,
setting a trap to twist my beleaguered body from the center-out,
churning my insides from bright to grey.
The great graces of the days faded
as twilight deepened into an ocean of inky midnight.
Wave upon wave of nightmare nausea came crashing in,
spinning and spiraling me downhill into valleys so low,
crippling my queasy heart to depths where I no longer knew myself.
My body bubbled and bloated, burped and gurgled,
like dank poison in a witches cauldron.
I was rotting from the inside,
a spoiled carcass long gone,
SO long gone the grace of my smile,
the fleeted memory of levity,
as rivers of hot tears ran grooves down my face,
flooding my faith deep undersea, further every day, every year.
I pleaded, I wished, I whimpered in vain,
yet still the onslaught of battle raged on inside,
as quick daggers of pain stabbed my heart and gut without mercy.
Hopes of health withered to dust
as an invisible slavedriver
whipped my broken body with all it’s might.
I cowered into my shadowy circus cage,
but still the demonic locomotive kept raging full steam ahead,
determined to crush the remains of my soul,
as I shrunk small and curled up tightly in my shell.
I wept and I prayed,
I prayed and I wept,
yearning for brief rays of relief —
to be let free from this thorny dark pit.
I heard echoes of wise men pronounce it,
but I couldn’t begin to imagine
how I crafted my own dungeon cell.
— Just how does an innocent kitten
deserve to be tortured for her purity,
day by sorrowful day, until life is barely worth the breath?
How dark the night before the dawn
and how bright the angels appeared
to save me from such a wretched existence?
Out of the sky, the circle of light gathered
around my saddened shell of self…
The Red Eagle gazed into my eyes
and spoke straight to my wounded soul,
opening the shutters of gloom
and shining his magic
into the darkest shadowy depths.
Two beautiful devas held my hands,
and we sent my shell crashing down,
down a towering waterfall,
my self-piteous pain suspended in air,
rushing down from great heights of hell I fell.
Fell into deep crystal pools of peace,
water glistening with the shimmers of hope.
Slowly, unsurely at first,
I stepped gingerly out into the dazzling day,
buoyed by the whisperings of my angels.
I called upon the infinite nature
of my all-knowing higher self
to lift my weary body
and fill me with the long-last light of dawn,
to nourish my body with warm bread..
And do you know what happened???
From the depths of despair I arose,
stretched out my wings wide
and the battlefield cleared free at my command
—Because I SAID SO and I meant it!
Miracles of miracles,
my torment started disappearing
and under the eye of the beaming sun
my malaise began to evaporate,
and my smile returned once again.
And still the reality presses upon me to share
that perfection takes longer than a day and a night,
but now I know what to do,
the the besiegement settles in…
I’d discovered the secret of ages,
the key to all locked rusty doors:
To simply believe
that you can shape your own clay,
to trust in the light of grace,
that we are all divine sparks of godhead,
that this is YOUR dance,
and YOU are your savior.

Holding a Vision of Unity

Holding a Vision of Unity. Original acrylic painting on canvas, 18” x 18”, © 2015 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.
Holding a Vision of Unity. Original acrylic painting on canvas, 18” x 18”, © 2015 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.


I created this painting originally for my favorite non-profit art organization, The Peace Project, and their 2015 call for “Visions of Peace.”

My concept behind this painting of that peace is possible when we can hold a common vision of unity for all.

Conflict essentially arises from the notion that we are all separate beings, disconnected from each other. Compassionate spiritual teachings show us that we are all connected as one on the grand scale of life. If we could all lay down our fears and egoic strongholds, then perhaps we could see past our differences between one another, and come to embrace all of our fellow human race.

Once we see the value in each and every human, then ultimately the people controlling all the power, money and warfare would want everyone to have enough, so that we all can prosper together.

Putting aside ignorance and hate for one other, my vision here is that when we all join hands together, we can project enough light and wisdom to unify ourselves in a common vision of peace and prosperity for all.

Original painting and 11″ x 11″ prints on paper are available here on my Etsy page.

The Peace Project, started by The Whole 9 Gallery, raises funds by selling art, which is used for philanthropic acts in some of the most desperate places in the world, including giving crutches to amputees in Sierra Leone, and rebuilding houses after typhoon devastation on Bantayan Island in the Philippines.

I’m proud to donate the usage of this image to help others rebuild their lives. Wood prints of this painting and 120 other “Visions of Peace” are available from The Peace Project online shop, and will be on display at the upcoming “Love Wins, Peace Rises” show in Los Angeles this Saturday, November 21st. Their newest initiative is building a Peace Center in Sierra Leone.

The Dawning of Infinity

The Dawning of Infinity. Original oil painting on canvas, 20” x 24”, © 2013 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.

My own personal journey of spiritual discovery and growth feels like it’s been accelerating lately, and that’s inspired me to make paintings that reflect that inner excitement, such as this one, The Dawning of Infinity.

As a joyful dancer leaps through the air towards the sun, the peaceful energy she emits radiates out in pristine white orbs around her, intertwining into a nuanced infinity loop. The cubistic yellow sun rays beam intense divine light down through the complementary contrast of a thoughtful inky blue. Many gradual layers of white were applied to enhance the eminence of light, and the technique of finely-blended brushstrokes lends a quiet air of surreal ambience.

I hope to convey the outer and inner appearance of feeling the warmth of the sun upon one’s skin, while reveling in the realization of inner joys that uplift and inspire.

Here is the purchase link for the original and prints on Etsy.

How Nude of Me!


nude torso sketch on paper
nude torso sketch on paper, Tiffany Davis-Rustam

So the moment has finally come that I decided to paint my first nude! What took me so long?

Isn’t the female body so beauty-full? Here’s my first sketch for my new painting, studied from a photograph, with some artistic interpretation of course! In my opinion nude paintings have been done over and over in a realistic way, and it’s my aim to make it fresh in a new light. And no, it’s not my body, if you’re wondering!

nude torso sketch on canvas
nude torso sketch on canvas, Tiffany Davis-Rustam, 2011

And here’s the simplified drawing on canvas. I’d already worked out some value shading on the first paper sketch, so here the idea is just to get the shape down before I start painting.

I’ve started the painting process already, experimenting with an unexpectedly vivacious palette with hot pink, purples and green. You’ll just have to wait and see the end results…

I know I’ve posted a lot of in progress things lately; it’s because I don’t have the time to organize and post my already finished paintings, but there’ll be more soon, stay tuned!

Elemental Goddess Drawing

Goddess of Elements. Tiffany Davis-Rustam, colored pencil drawing, 2008.

Supernatural dancing goddesses with multiple arms and legs, and cave walls oozing of pulsing magma is the kind of fantasies that haunt my wildest imagination.

It’s funny, when I drew this I wasn’t even thinking of making anything pointedly unusual. Seemed just natural for me to embellish this spritely female fairy with a divine energy, and then to make some interesting bits of nothing interact with her.

All done in colored pencil. Thinking of making it into a painting soon… what do YOU think? Comments welcome.

Layers of Tranquil Desert

Horizon of Ages. Original oil painting on canvas, 24” x 30”, © 2011 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.
Horizon of Ages. Original oil painting on canvas, 24” x 30”, © 2011 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.

There’s something quietly mysterious about a desert landscape, isn’t there?

Desert views often make me view the land as ancient, and wondering about the eons gone by. That history is depicted here in rippling geological layers of earth strata, echoing different elusive mysteries into each successive layer, hiding beneath the horizon.

Original SOLD since this post. Prints Available on Etsy, Prints, cards available on Fine Art America.

Perseverance Through the Fire

Upwards Through The Brambles
Upwards Through The Brambles. 20" x 24", © 2011 Tiffany Davis-Rustam.

Do you ever feel like you often struggle through obstacles, only to be met by more of them?

When I sat down to make this painting, I was definitely feeling the suffering of many ordeals. Sometimes is seems like as soon as you make it past one hard challenge, another comes your way to test you some more. Well, I feel that if you stay strong, passionate and work hard towards making yourself and your life better, you can climb upwards through all those thornbushes that block your way, towards the light of a better reality.

Watch a video slideshow of Upwards Through the Brambles, showing my creation of this painting from start to finish.

Prints for sale on Etsy, original, prints and cards at Fine Art America.

The Original Fine Art Rebel

Kandinsky painting
Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with Red Spot, 1914.

Wassily Kandinsky was the original art rebel, making the first leap to complete abstraction. Can you believe this painting was made almost 100 years ago?

It was VERY revolutionary for him time, to say the least. He was belittled by most of the art world for quite a while, and they called his work childish nonsense. Only with time and perspective did they realize what a major evolutionary jump he made.

Although it was so long ago, when I look at Kandinsky’s paintings, they appear completely contemporary and of the moment to me, and a source of endless fascination. I feel I’m always learning a lot from his unique color and shape juxtapositions. And as the master himself said, the absence of subject instantly connects more with the heart than the mind, allowing more of a spiritual exploration.