At this point over 95 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?
My childhood was spent living on a beautiful farm in the Uwharrie Mountain region of North Carolina producing my unique imagination by providing magical opportunities to create art using nature. I remember collecting rocks in mountain streams, saving beautiful feathers, flowers and leaves found on adventures, and using sticks to draw in the dirt.
During elementary school no art classes were offered; however, a fabulous middle school teacher gave permission for two friends and I to decorate her classroom bulletin boards every month after school. This teacher’s encouragement and positive comments from my peers planted the seed for a dream of studying visual arts after graduation.
Attaining this art dream wasn’t possible until later in life when my youngest son entered elementary school. At that time, I became a nontraditional 40 year old student enrolling in a private fine arts college through a unique weekend program. Posting my grades on our refrigerator alongside report cards of my sons taught them no matter the age… NEVER give up on their dreams! This unique college offered students January travel opportunities and with the support of my husband I spent a month exploring art museums in England, Scotland, Germany, and Belgium earning art history credits. After attending two years in the weekend program, I registered full time to take all art studio classes. My studio classes were AMAZING with the exception of the last one when a painting professor broke my painters heart … he didn’t appreciate having a nontraditional student in his class. It would be years before I painted again.
After graduation earning a BFA in art education and graphic design, I shared my passion for art by working in a traditional public middle school setting. My classroom was set up as workstations (drawing, fiber art, graphic design, art history, pottery, printmaking, and painting) where students would create projects and rotate to a new workstation each week. Summer breaks provided time to focus on my art, creating metal sculptures inspired by sculpture artist, David Smith, using found objects (old relics from the past on our farm) to weld numerous whimsical and kinetic sculptures which I sold at yearly studio tour. I loved the way their forms competed with nature’s organic lines. Due to an injury occurring at school which required several surgeries, it is not possible for me to continue welding, which makes me sad!
What initially drew you to the intuitive painting process?
My journey through life has not always been smooth sailing. In fact life threw obstacles in my path such as the death of beloved individuals, including two of my precious children and younger brother by suicide. I was devastated, and my outlook on life FOREVER changed! I’ve read that “Authentic life starts at the time of death – not our own death, but someone else’s”! I began an intense search for answers about what happens to us after death. I read books and joined online support groups for parents whose children have died. I now belonged to a club none of us wanted to be members of!
During my grief journey, I started painting again, leading me to broken hearts, angels and eventually I participated in a nearby painting retreat. After the retreat, the facilitator introduced her friend, Chris Zydel, to her followers on a Facebook group page. I absolutely believe the universe planned for our paths to cross. My heart was encouraging me to take part in one of her intuitive painting workshops; I didn’t realize it would be so soon. When she offered her first online Painting with Fire Intuitive Class, I registered as an early birthday present to myself. Participation in her five week program taught me to use my intuition in ways I didn’t realize was possible!
How has intuitive painting been a transformative influence in your art and your life?
This painting process helps me follow my emotions (energy in motion) by painting stories of my childhood and adulthood which has simply transformed my life!
• It continues to heal me… my soul is soaring.
• My inner critic is not in charge anymore.
• My unique imagination is alive and well.
• My intuitive spirit allows me to trust the brush.
• And, continually encourages me to love myself.
I’ve proven that I’m a strong survivor who believes that tragedy in life doesn’t define me. It has empowered me to find my authentic voice, encouraging me to speak my truth! I’ve been introduced to awesome archetypes through intuitive painting, such as the Magical Goddess who Speaks Her Truth and is a Bad Ass About It! She’s a nature lover (tree hugger) who paints and shares her story creating “Tree of Life” paintings with powerful tree trunks in the shape of beautiful female bodies and limbs stretching towards the sky radiating joy. My love of nature continually inspires me to slow down by living in the moment!
I’m really busy right now shining my light in the world as a compassionate teacher and facilitator. I’m extremely passionate about encouraging students at my studio to let go of their inner critic, to “BE HERE NOW” and, to ALWAYS be looking for magical adventures in this journey called life!
What inspired you to take the Wild Heart Expressive Arts teacher training program?
After participating in the online “Painting with Fire Intuitive Class” with Chris, I quickly became aware of how this type of painting could heal hearts and transform lives. I had retired from my visual arts teaching position at the middle school and wondered what was next for me. I remember reading about the teacher training program and at the end she asked “Are you ready to take this step towards creating your future as a teacher and leader using the power of art for healing and transformation?” I knew that art, and especially INTUITIVE PAINTING, was healing my heart, and I believed that teaching this to others in my community would change their life as well. I quickly registered without looking at the pertinent information such as cost, dates, etc. My intuition had proven over time that I could TRUST it to provide for me using its powerful manifestation process! I’ll ALWAYS be grateful for the universe providing me the opportunity to participate in the “Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program” with Chris as my compassionate leader and facilitator.
My family was supportive of my decision as I traveled to California during the next year spending four separate weeks with a group of women who became my soul sisters. We shared life challenges with each other during daily circle time in the SAFE SPACE Chris created for us. Finally realizing that “we were enough just as we are”… we were seen and heard for our amazing, creative, imaginative unique personalities. During our morning and afternoon Intuitive Painting sessions we learned to trust our brush, used our favorite colors, and used magical glitter paint to begin healing ourselves with compassion and love. We learned to follow the energy of our emotions which had been hidden and tucked away in our heart and soul. We were lovingly encouraged to “BE HERE NOW” during training and to remember this motto when setting up our own intuitive painting business.
Now that you’re out there doing this thing 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?
Before completing the program, Chris encouraged us to choose a business name. I chose Soulful heART Studio because I believed my expressive arts classes, workshops and retreats offered opportunities for women to take time out of their busy life for creative adventures. I believe TIME is LOVE and I think our hearts and souls are HAPPY when we gift ourselves TIME for creativity and self-LOVE! .
I’m extremely passionate about creating a safe healing SPACE for women to gather in circle at my Soulful heART Studio. This SPACE allows me to connect individuals in my community and surrounding areas who have experienced PAIN in their life such as devastating disease, the death of loved ones, physical or mental abuse, divorce or other stressful difficulties in life.
Participants feel my love and compassionate spirit quickly as they enter my workshops and retreats in the way I have everything set up creating beautiful, FABULOUS, creative SPACES where brave women can gather to open their hearts, share their stories and, HEAL themselves in the process! Weather permitting we gather outside in my gorgeous spiritual garden for our movement session, and among the lovely sounds of nature (singing birds, etc.) we sit in circle for a short meditation.
My first retreat was life changing for the seven who participated. Many had not painted since elementary school while some had tried the “wine and design” teacher led classes, however they were disappointed by the experience. They shared in circle how nervous they were about THIS intuitive painting process and “doing something out of their comfort zone”. I provided everyone a copy of my intuitive painting definition (below) to alleviate their initial fears.
• Expressive Arts Intuitive Painting process = LOVE
• Learning to follow the energy of your heart/soul = more LOVE
• Creating paintings by not listening to your inner critic or judging mind = JOY
• Choosing paint colors that speak to your soul = HAPPINESS
• Trusting the brush wherever it goes = LISTENING to your soul
• Lines, shapes and colors = FUN
• Not being attached to the outcome of your painting = FREEDOM
• Dipping a brush or fingers in paint and moving them around paper = more FREEDOM
• Following the energy of your emotions = HEALING
• NO painting experience NEEDED to paint in this way!
• There are NO mistakes in this type of painting!
• Creating EXPRESSIVE ARTS INTUITIVE PAINTINGS is life changing and transformative.
I love facilitating the intuitive painting sessions at my workshops and retreats providing SAFE and spacious containers for women to follow their energy through the painting process. To let them know that when they feel anger, sadness, fear, or frustration to the point of tears, I will be there for them through the entire process holding SPACE with compassionate loving kindness.
Reading testimonials after workshops and retreats always makes my heart and soul HAPPY and continues to encourage me in my belief that “ONE PERSON can indeed make a difference in the world.”
My challenge for 2019 is to continue my “Pay It Forward Program” at Soulful heART Studio. I believe in “live-love-local” and I’ve been pleased to share with women in my community how therapeutic the intuitive painting process can be through my “Pay It Forward Program”. My mission for this program is to sponsor intuitive painting classes for local senior citizens, and to sponsor classes for individuals who have experienced loss or pain. Click here for more information about my “Pay It Forward Program”
Tell us what happens at one of your Soulful heART classes, workshops, or retreats?
I’m passionate about creating unique, exciting, creative workshops and retreats that resonates within hearts and souls! My wish is for participants to express immediate joyful gratification from the time they walk into the SPACES I’ve created for them!
My preparations include setting up individual workstations for painting sessions and providing a fascinating array of supplies. I cater beautifully-prepared luscious meals and provide plenty of break opportunities. Participants can refuel their creativity by sitting in a swing or rocking chair and listening to sounds of nature while looking at gorgeous views of water, trees and garden.
I offer two fascinating natural venues perfect for intuitive painting. One is a 55 acre farm in Rolesville, North Carolina where I offer workshops in my gorgeous cottage studio with wrap-a-round porches overlooking my spiritual garden and views of water including a small lake surrounded by majestic trees with a wooden dock and paddle boat for water adventures. Several fountains are placed in the garden adding peaceful, soothing, tranquil sounds to hearts and souls frazzled by the often frantic pace of life. There are numerous walking trails. Golf carts are provided for those adventurous participants wanting to explore other areas of our farm. If weather is great, participants can enjoy a relaxing hayride to watch the sunset before sitting around a bonfire for closing circle.
My other venue is my cottage studio at Lake Gaston, Virginia. Here participants have plenty of opportunities during their five day retreat to experience being in a creative circle while painting, going for exciting boat rides, swimming, or just floating around in a wonderful relaxing lake atmosphere watching a vast array of wildlife such as bald eagles, cranes, or osprey. Both venues offer beautiful natural locations encouraging participants to get in touch with their intuition, gifting themselves TIME to slow down and to remember that LIFE is to be enjoyed.
What advice would you give to someone who is contemplating this expressive arts/intuitive painting path?
If you are an artist, creative coach, or counselor and are interested in sharing your love of creativity with women in your community by offering classes – workshops or retreats, I would highly recommend that you register for Chris Zydel’s year-long Expressive Arts Intuitive Painting Teacher Training Program. Your life will be forever changed as she teaches you how to facilitate the transformative healing power of intuitive painting!
Upcoming Event Information:
I have numerous Soulful heART events scheduled this year. My one day workshops are located on our beautiful 55 acre Young Farm… 507 East Young Street, NC 27571
Date: October 19th 10am – 5pm cost: $180.
My five day retreats are located at my lovely cottage at Lake Gaston, Virginia…
Date: July 17-21st cost: $600.
Both venues provide opportunities to gather in a wonderful sacred circle, focus on the beauty of nature, enjoy fabulous food and learn about the power and love of intuitive painting.