At this point over 98 amazing women have gone through my Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program. I love them ALL so dearly and, like the proud creative mama that I am, want to show off their incredible wisdom, power and creative genius to the world. So I’ve created this series where once a month I will be showcasing them so that you can see what they’re up to and be inspired by their unique creative journeys.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative journey?
I am a highly-sensitive, empathetic, introvert who is also very much a Libra, so I have always been intrigued by and felt connected to nature, creativity and whimsy. But, for all of those same reasons I have also felt deeply traumatized, overwhelmed, and insecure about art and the vulnerability of creative expression.
I remember very clearly being 5 years old or so and while finger painting at school my teacher walked over to me, stopped my hands and said “you don’t know how to do this, lets have you play with something else.” She then walked me over to a different play area, and I don’ think I touched paint again until I took a class with Chris.
My entire life that is what went through my mind; “I don’t know how to do *fill in the blank with anything art related*, so I should do something else”.
I have always been a creator, but I only used mediums that felt safe; things like photography, coloring, and collage were ways that I could create that didn’t require the same level of personal exposure. I could take an incredible picture of a person or a landscape, and have it be beautiful and artistic, but it didn’t feel like something that I had “created”, I was simply capturing what already existed.
I very regularly told people that I am not an artist, and I really believed that to be true. In fact, being a “non-artist” was a pretty important aspect of how I identified myself.
In hindsight, learning from the intuitive painting process that aversion is still energy and should be given our attention, I was obviously just very deeply traumatized and repressed.
From the moment I took that first intuitive painting class, despite the anxiety that stuck around for quite some time, I felt like I found myself for the very first time. It was like I was reintroduced to this deep spiritual part of myself that I had unconsciously kept locked up to keep safe.
What initially drew you to the intuitive painting process?
My mom had taken a drop-in class with Chris and asked if I was interested in going with her. The idea of ANY type of art or painting class was so far outside of my comfort zone, but I said yes because I happened to be in a place in my life in which I was saying yes to terrifying things.
I was in a flow that I had never experienced before in my life and was connecting with spirit and self and my intuition in ways that I never had before, so the timing was very sweet and serendipitous.
The first time I stood in front of the paper and held the paintbrush in my hand, I almost had a full-blown anxiety attack. With Chris’ unwavering encouragement I was able to walk through the fear, doubt, and insecurity and I have been lovingly hooked ever since.
How has intuitive painting been a transformative influence in your art and your life?
This sounds a bit dramatic, but when I am telling people about intuitive painting I always say that this process has changed how I carry myself, and how I interact with the world, but it truly has.
The practice is so simple, you just put cheap paint on cheap paper and see what happens, but it’s a mindfulness practice, and the personal, visual aspect of it has shifted things in me that no other therapy or healing practice has been able to.
Because the truth is that the rules that I had created in my mind around what can and cannot happen when I am painting, what I am able to do, allowed to do, the limitations, the judgements, the value systems that get exposed during painting, are the same ones that show up in the rest of my life.
So, learning to trust the flow of the brush, to not only hear but value my intuition, to not fear the unknown or take things so seriously, to be open to things that might not make sense in the moment and allow things to happen regardless of how I feel about them, all of those lessons reverberate out into every single area of my life.
As living beings we are creations of art. So, naturally, we should be creating. Reconnecting with that understanding is one of the sweetest healing experiences I have ever had.
What inspired you to take the Wild Heart Expressive Arts teacher training program?
Chris embodies every single thing that I believe to be the Truths of this life and this world, in ways that I can’t actually put into words.
When I first began painting with Chris, the reason I was even open to checking out this process is because I was planning a soul-searching trip to the Motherland, where I was blessed to spend 4 months in west Africa and 2 months in east Africa. While I was abroad I felt like I found myself in ways that were deep and ancestral and spiritual, and I struggled with how deeply distant that all felt when I came back to what is supposed to be my home.
I have felt called to be of service to others, and be surrounded by pretty things my entire life, and I realized that the teacher training was the thing that I had been looking for since I’d returned to the States.
I tried to get the time off from work and was not able to, and was pretty devastated. About 4 months later I had a full-blown anxiety attack on my way to work, because of the state of the world and the level of aggression and violence happening against people of color right now, and I knew that I couldn’t keep waiting to dig even deeper into this process and begin sharing this work with others. So, Chris created a way for me to go through the training in a less conventional way that allowed me to begin immediately.
As a mixed-race black woman, I am very often the only person of color in the room when in wellness and healing spaces, and I want to use my ability to move through various communities to change that. When I am in the studio and with this painting community, there is no such thing as being too much of anything; too angry, too big, too goofy, too weird, too loud, too emotional, too black, too white, too anything.
I want to spend the rest of my life creating and sharing the safety and freedom of that experience with other people, especially women of color.
Now that you’re out there doing this work tell us about your experience as an intuitive painting teacher and facilitator? What do you absolutely love about teaching? What are some of your biggest challenges?
My first workshop is this week!
What I am most excited about is just sharing this process with other women, especially other black women and people who are often left out of wellness and healing practices. This process of reconnecting with self through art has been the greatest gift in my life, and I am just so grateful to get to share it with others. With so much violence and negativity happening in the world, having spaces to just exist with ourselves and be in community with others is more important than ever.
The biggest challenge so far is getting people to take the step to actually register for a workshop. When I talk to people about this process, there is this way that they light up with intrigue and yearning to experience what I am talking about, and it’s actually really sweet to see, but getting them to take the leap and sign-up is a little more challenging.
The marketing and business side of doing this work is my least favorite part of running a business, so finding and maintaining a balance of doing the stuff that isn’t as fun while making time for the parts that I do love is a challenge as well. But so far, it all feels worth it!
Tell us what happens at one of your classes, workshops or retreats?
Feeling safe and seen, and knowing that you aren’t the only one feeling any certain way is such an important part of healing, so I begin my workshops with some sharing and grounding activities to bring us all into the space together and create the feeling of community and compassion for one another.
Because I am just starting out and my client base is all people who are completely new to this process, my workshops are really grounded in the intuitive painting practice to ensure there is plenty of time for me to work with people while they are in the studio.
I am putting together some other workshops that are more themed that will incorporate other practices such as writing prompts, etc., but for now I am really centering on the painting process itself.
I also have a couple workshops for women of color specifically that I am putting together that I am incredibly excited about, and those will be rolling out in the beginning of the year. I am also designing a New Years Day workshop that will include intention setting and beginning the new year with positivity and creative expression!
What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating this expressive arts/intuitive painting path?
If you are contemplating this path, there is a reason for that. Be brave and give yourself this gift. There is no better investment than investing in your authentic self and what you value, and this process will uproot and replant you in the most beautiful, invaluable ways.
Regardless of whether or not you intend to begin your own practice, this work is life-changing and will positively influence whatever it is that you do, and who you are as a person.
And let’s be real, Chris is a conduit for bold authentic expression, spiritual bombshells, and powerful Truthful living, so just having the experience of being smothered by her love and the power and energy that comes from that is absolutely worth it.
They say that by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. I feel like this is the same thing; if you feel intrigued by or called towards this training, you are already creatively dehydrated and it’s time to take a drink!
I have been painting with Chris for 6 years and have been training with her since last year.
It has always been very important to me to use my privilege and access to various communities to share the gifts that I have been given, and to help encourage self-love and healing in others.
Ever since I was in elementary school I have always been the councilor in the group. Making sure that people feel seen and valued comes naturally, and is also really important to me.
In addition to leading intuitive painting workshops, I also sell hand-crafted items at local art fairs and festivals. I have been in 12-step recovery for the past 17 years and have been mentoring other women healing from addiction and self-defeating behaviors for much of that time.
Shortly after graduating from Mills College with a B.A in Ethnic Studies, I was blessed to spend four months in Ghana, West Africa working with infants and children, planting my feet in the earth there and soaking up the energy of the Motherland. Since returning from that trip I have felt even more deeply called to create the world that I want to live in, and I do that by supporting people who are in need of reconnecting with their authentic, creative selves.
Creative expression is how I connect with the Divine, and I believe that every single person was born to create!
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
– Harriet Tubman
This Is Not An Art Class: Reclaiming Your Intuitive Creative Self *4-Week Series*
Thursdays, October 3rd-24th, 6pm-9pm
Creative Juices Arts Studio, Oakland, CA
This is Not an Art Class: Black Women Reclaiming Your Intuitive Creative Selves
Saturday, November 9th, 10am-1pm
Creative Juices Arts Studio, Oakland, CA
Upcoming Vendor Events:
Oakland Pride Festival, September 8th 2019
Sacred Paintbrush Arts
Jack London Square Saturday Market, September 14th 2019
Sacred Paintbrush Arts