Blessed. This is the one word that best describes how we felt having Monica Esgueva onboard this special edition. It’s always a blessing to discover rare gems who do not only have great talent but think outside the box and choose to not just stand out but stand right beyond the many pressures life may throw. Monica as a visionary writer and painter continues to carve a niche on the road less taken. She breathes compassion and uncommon wisdom as she continues to create Art with the primary purpose of shining a light in our world. Indeed, she remains a much needed treasure to a half awake world.
Join us on this special annual issue- The Revival!
As Monica Esgueva shares a truckload of inspiration about combining Art with purpose, compassion, empathy, kindness, impact and how her Art goes beyond the conventional.
Enjoy and Stay Inspired:
We believe that every artist has their ‘why.’ And sometimes this may be all that keeps us going when the journey gets rough in between. Can you please share some highlights of when, how and why you began this beautiful creative journey of yours?
I was born artistic. My early memories involve drawing and painting animals with remarkable accuracy. When I was at school, probably around the age of twelve, I had an art teacher that encouraged me to copy the masterpieces of Goya, El Greco and Van Gogh. He would get them framed and keep them for himself. My friends really opposed to that, saying: “What is going to happen when you become a famous artist? They will be worth a lot!” Ha ha ha.
My paintings were always shown at school festivals. For years, I taught myself to do famous people’s portraits, capturing their unique character through drawing as a regular practice. Painting was as necessary and natural for me as breathing. When I was still pretty young, I remember telling my parents that one day I would be exhibiting in galleries in Europe. Farfetched as it seemed, my parents always took me very seriously and believed in me.
Your works are exceptional, with each one carrying a message untold. We see you do not only shine a light. You are light personified. What will you consider most fulfilling thus far in your creative journey?
Being a vessel of a higher ground is the base of everything I do, whether it is creating artworks or writing books.
Creating for the sake of expressing your feelings, to have an artsy decoration or to condemn social issues are all respectable motivations, but those are not mine. I create to bring light to a world in dire straits and to expand that light. Since I was a teenager, I made the conscious choice of using my talents to serve my soul purpose. Money, popularity and status have always been secondary for me. They only matter to me when they can be used for a higher aim. Being aligned with these principles while creating excellent artworks is truly satisfying.
Can you remember the first painting you made and what inspired it?
No, I do not! It was when I was a child and unfortunately my parents did not keep my drawings.
We are grateful to have you onboard this most timely ISSUE themed: The Revival. At Hello ICON Magazine, we believe and agree nothing can substitute the place of God in the life of every human. Beyond religion. Beyond depression and even the happy times. Beyond failure and even success. There will always be that void until one finally connects, maintains and sustains a personal relationship with God. Can you please share some highlights of how you connected with God on a personal level for the first time? And how you have maintained that relationship overtime.
Our evolutionary agenda as humans must include a vision of our higher connections with spiritual reality. Mystic states reveal our unity with all beings, and this transcends conventional time and space. Behind the apparent separation, the web of life unites all beings. This should probably be the main component of any spiritual path. We are all One.
Compassion and wisdom are the two essential wings that help us fly towards enlightenment, and even more so at this particular time of transformation on Earth, towards Ascension. The development of these two elements is what took me to the Himalayas for years to study with Tibetan lamas. It continues to be my main aim in all areas of my life.
Jo Nketiah, an inspiring poet (and also one of our interviewees for this edition) made a remarkable statement about how God is not just taught, but discovered. Can you share any special tips that could help individuals better discover and connect with God?
Meditation is key. As a long term practitioner and a mindfulness teacher, I can tell you that without contemplation and silence we cannot really make any progress. If we let the ego freely do all its chatting, it takes over our life and wreaks havoc. Once we are able to get quiet inside, we can listen to the deeper voice and guidance of our higher self, our soul, our divine nature.
How was growing up like?
I was a joyful and spiritual kid. Being extremely sensitive and an empath, I had to go through a tough time while being bullied as a teenager, which forced me to develop my inner strength. Although very difficult at the time, thanks to that I was able to face many challenges and overcome them on my own.
What does Art mean to you?
Art is a natural expression of each artist’s idiosyncrasy. Our most meaningful creative work comes from deep inside, and it is an affirmation of Universal energy. Artists’ creativity is actually cosmic creativity manifesting through us. The difficulty for most artists is to get themselves out of the way and let spirit do its work. When art serves a greater purpose, it seeds the unconscious of both the artist and the viewer with a positive influence. Having the right motivation, art becomes a service to the divine by being an uplifting assistant to a suffering world.
As I already mentioned, not all artists consider that art can be a spiritual practice. But with the proper motivation and focus, it can be so.
You shared how you have practiced meditation for more than twenty years to achieve rich inspirational experiences and how this has a huge positive impact in your paintings. Can you share any quick tips on how creatives can maximize this practice to enhance creativity?
Meditate every day, take the routine of going within, and let the inner compass guide your creativity. Work through your issues, heal your wounds, bring your shadow to the light and if needed, get help from a therapist. And last but not least, turn your TV off.
You have no doubt a series of beautiful exposures, having lived in places like London, Paris, India, Tanzania and currently, Spain. Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?
Although I was born in a developed country, I always had a thirst to see the rest of the world, to explore, to venture into the unknown, to have an interesting life. I have visited 115 countries, many of which I had gone on my own. By being able to let go of my comforts and daring to go into the less well-trodden path, I have had so many adventures all over the world. I have slept in the house of a prostitute in Thailand in order to understand their predicament and write a book about it. Working as a volunteer in an orphanage in Tanzania taught me the value of life, seeing those children that had literally nothing and yet were full of joy. Spending time with a tribe in the jungle of The Philippines showed me how to appreciate everything we take for granted in the West. Living and studying Buddhism for months at a time at the valley of Kathmandu or at the feet of the Indian Himalayas forced me to become more resilient and adaptable. Traveling has helped me to be more compassionate and open-minded, qualities that I consider essential in art.
Creatives have been described as ones with the ability to feel things deeply. Living in a world full of so much chaos and uncertainties can no doubt be ‘a lot.’ In between all, we are grateful for creatives like you whose words shine a light in dark places (in the lives of people) Do you have quick tips for other creatives out there afraid to use their Art for just purposes. Perhaps unsure of what people may think. Or probably struggling with self doubt?
One has to become independent from other people’s opinion. Of course, this is impossible if what you aim for is popularity and the applause of the masses. In such a low vibrational society such as the current one, you and your work are not going to be appreciated by the majority, simply because people are very programmed. Most people do not have very lofty aspirations, and therefore, will not appreciate those that do.
Things will change in the future as humanity takes a big leap in consciousness. Until then, remain true to your divine essence and detach as much as you can from others’ approval.
Your work ‘Into The Light’ (like many others by you) has a quite beautiful and poetic title. Can you share more on the inspiration behind this title?
We all go through difficult times and challenges. However, knowing that there is always light at the end of the tunnel should encourage us to keep our hope and focus on what we can learn from every experience without falling into despondency.
We all have that unique story of finding a light at the end of various tunnels of our lives. Those moments when it feels like our backs are against the wall. But we believe one thing remains constant in the end- the undying and never failing love of God. What we like to describe as the one true source of strength, joy and fulfillment. Can you please share some glimpses of any moment like this for you? The challenge and how God came through for you.
Hahaha, I can assure I have had my share. At some point in my life, when I was an executive having a very comfortable material life in Paris, I decided to renounce absolutely everything and dedicate myself to what really fulfilled me: art and writing, and contributing to build a better world. It was easier said than done. I had to go back to living with my parents and it took me five years to be able to earn a living. I never doubted my choice, but there were moments when it all seemed an impossible mission. My faith and perseverance saw me through it, as well as focusing on developing internally.
Your work ‘Unconditional Love’ is a masterpiece. A powerful one at that. Indeed, you paint to express beyond words. Can you please share the inspiration behind this work?
Love is not just a feeling, nor an emotion to be twisted and misused when convenient. I wanted to portray what unconditional love is: the energy that holds universes together, that creates life, that will never cease to exist, that supports us through thick and thin. It is our essence and our true nature, even when we have forgotten it.
This is what I wanted to portray.
You effortlessly combine being a visionary artist, writer and speaker. We understand how balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. Please can you share a few tips on how you try to balance work time and rest time?
I have certainly gone through many stages, sometimes working far too much, since I love what I do. I am still in the process of learning to pace myself. My tendency is to finish everything before I allow myself to enjoy, so to speak. Thus, when I notice that I am going overboard, I remind myself that being is much more important than doing. If you do a lot but you are not in the right state of mind, very little is achieved.
My husband is a great help nowadays. He is much better at this, so he softly whispers: “I think you have done enough for today, honey”. He is always right!
If you could do a collab as a visionary painter or as a writer with any other artist, what art would that be?
Caspar David Friedrich has inspired me since childhood. And so did El Greco. Hilma af Klint created at the direction of a spiritual guide. I would have loved to connect with them. The other two names that come to mind are Alexandra David-Neel, an adventurer spiritual writer and singer that I have always felt attuned with. And Ken Wilber, whose ideas on transpersonal psychology and integral spirituality are ground-breaking.
Who are your ‘ICONS’ in the Creative Industry?
I think Alex Grey has done a lot in successfully explaining spirituality as the real mission of art in a contemporary manner, independent from any religion or belief.
Nicholas and Helena Roerich were great examples of wisdom and spiritual insight applied to painting and writing. Whatever they did and wherever they went, the Roerichs’ belief in the essential goodness of life and the spirituality of man was reinforced and shared. The pursuit of refinement and beauty was sacred for Nicholas. He believed that although earthly temples and artifacts may perish, the thought that brings them into is part of an eternal stream of consciousness. Helena was an amazing woman, an accomplished pianist, a prolific writer and an artist always creating for the good of people. She has had great influence on all those who strive for the implementation of humanistic ideals and improvement of life conditions.
What does success mean to you?
Being able to dedicate yourself to your calling and passion without having to worry about how to pay the bills.
Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallette, what would that be and why?
Golden! To me, it symbolizes the hallmark of beauty, kindness and light.
Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Monica Esgueva.
I incarnated out of compassion for human predicament and suffering, and I will do whatever it takes to help my brethren to liberate from it.
Massive Love Monica!
The ICONIC Team