Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Too Arty? Seriously?



I was recently given notice that my Commercial Art Program for the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center would not be continued in the fall. The reason why was because admin felt that I taught "fine art" too much and was "too arty" and that my students were not going to gain a job from taking my class.

Perhaps I should have explained that this is the equivalent of telling an English or math teacher that they are "too English-y" or "too math-y" because they teach the fundamentals of their disciplines. There seems to be a confusion between learning basic visual skills and fine art. Just as a language arts student needs to learn things like grammar, sentence structure, writing and rewriting, so does an art student need to learn the basics of drawing, composition, color, light, shadow and anatomy. Creating work around these subjects does not mean that a student is creating "Fine Art" any more than it means that a student who is writing a paper is creating a novel. While it's possible for student work to approach and be at professional level work, there's a reason why they are studying it - to learn the process. This means making mistakes. Making work that looks ugly. That isn't professional. This means learning. There are no short cuts.

The average adult draws at about a third grade level. That's when most children stop doing art. The focus on standardized testing is pushing out arts education. Most of my students come to my class with that level of skill. The exceptions are usually self-taught through manga and/or have a family member or friend who is an artist who gave them some training. It's a daunting task to bring their skills up. I'm humbled and awed by how hard many of them will work when given the opportunity and the tools to gain skills. Does this mean that they are making professional work? No. Not yet. They are catching up on years of gap in their training. It's the equivalent of expecting a third grade reader to read at college level within 3 months. I can help a student bring their skills up dramatically in a short time, but hell... it's a steep learning curve!

Once the fundamentals have been mastered - then the sequence is to overlap into the digital media and marketing/entrepreneurship elements. If the fundamentals are skipped, then the work is not going to be of very good quality. Too often people who are not educated in the arts, think that doing graphic arts is "moving clip art around on the computer!" And that you can skip over those fundamentals and just do everything on the computer. Nicole Phillips of Betazed who also serves on the advisory board for Commercial Art says "If people have a job that involves simply moving clip art on the computer, then they do it themselves. They come to me when they want something cool. They come to me for my art skills." They come from Seattle to Port Angeles for the privilege of working with her. Her work is that good.

The computer is a useful and necessary tool for any creative professional, and can be used to create digital work, but understanding how to to use graphic software isn't a substitute to understanding the fundamentals of visual literacy. You can have the fanciest computer and software on the planet, but without those fundamentals, your work will still look like crap.

It's true that most artists don't follow clear career paths. Our careers are often a combination of income streams. We are not easy to be identified by most conventional surveys of employment statistics. I'm a good example - I teach Commercial Art, so I'm identified as an educator. I also have a part-time gig at Nash's creating chalkboard signage and the staff considers me to be their artist in residence. On my pay stub, it just looks like I work at a grocery store. I also sell reproductions of my work on cards, take commissions and sell original work. I'm a working artist, and an artist who teaches. This profile is true for many people in the arts.

The mantra of my program has always been "Art is a medium to learn business skills." Students learn not only how to paint and draw but also how to digitize and market their work. They learn how to work collaboratively and they also work with real clients.

Most of my former students have sold work. One recent grad who went on to Northwest College of Art and Design told me that this class prepared him for art college because it was more like a college class. Another has started her own business and her parent says that what she took from my class gave her the fundamentals for business when she might not have thought of doing so before.  A current student, Autumn Baker is exhibiting in a Port Townsend gallery and was awarded this year the first place for student art by Tidepools Magazine. Autumn says "Before this I never had a style, it was like everyone else's. I had no idea when I signed up it would've given me the opportunities I needed to be successful. My style has defined itself and created a more unique perspective; a perspective that defines me."

I don't expect all of my students to go into the arts field, and yet I do expect students to learn skills that can be applied to any field. Entrepreneurship. Collaboration. Public speaking. Creative expression. A former student, Lilly Eyl who serves on the Port Angeles School District says: "I would just say that being in Commercial Art and through doing business projects, I learned to have better communication skills and more confidence in public speaking. I wouldn't have had the confidence to apply for board rep if it wasn't for finding my voice in this class."

We are entrepreneurs - we create jobs and opportunities. It's a $730 billion dollar industry and accounts for 4.2 percent of America's GDP - more than transportation, tourism and agriculture.

Too Arty?

No such thing.




Monday, April 14, 2014

Invasion of the Boundary Snatchers

Wax Flower photo by M. Klein

It’s spring! It’s spring! It’s spring! Flowers poking up, trees budding, and on the Olympic Peninsula - the occasional sunny day! 

For horses, this means the most important thing of all: grass growing. Grass which is like “pot" for them - except that the drug and the munchies are combined into one powerful intoxicating brew. 


The Grass is Greener.... photo by M.Klein

While there ARE horses that are well-trained to not suddenly stop for any and every tempting bit of grass - that’s not our horses. Riding one of these beasts in spring can be an exercise in frustration when our horses do a nose dive and attempt to gobble up as much grass as possible before giving in to the pressure from the reins. It’s humiliating as joggers on the trail get to witness me trying to get a 2000lb horse’s head up off the grass. It’s comical to watch - and frustrating. 

Hawthorne at 3 months by Melissa Klein


It’s a boundary issue. It’s a respect issue. It’s a training issue. And because we’ve had April for 8 years, and Hawthorne from birth - there is no blaming the former owner for bad habits. So I’ve decided to take this seriously and instead of avoiding being on grass have started to train on a fresh field of grass. When he does a nose-dive - I call him on it and make things more challenging to get his mind off the grass; side passes, obstacles, changes of gait. If it doesn’t feel solid, I get off, and do some remedial ground work. It’s getting better - slowly.

How did this happen? I care about my horses and regularly train… I study training videos and ask questions.

Bad Dog Unleashed by Melissa Klein
It happened slowly and imperceptibly - I accepted bad behavior because I didn’t want to rock the boat. I let them get away with things because I had low energy and didn’t want to deal. Maybe I got lazy with training - showing up, but only doing what was easy. Sometimes I was choosing battles and deciding to let more minor things go and at the time, those were more minor. Sometimes I was distracted with all of the other things going on in my life.

Stop Acting Like Monkeys by Melissa Klein

This happens everywhere - in relationships with loved ones, in the classroom, with administrators…. I’ve also noticed a spike in behaviors with my high school students - who have their own version of spring fever. Do I want to fight every battle? And when do I need to crack down? Or if I do, will I lose all productivity in the classroom due to focusing on dealing with behavior issues?

In all fairness - it IS spring - we are all restless! Or does that sound like another excuse?

Here are some things that I’ve been thinking about how to handle this issue:

Another pic of Hawthorne sticking out his tongue! by M. Klein


Expect It
It’s a waste of time and energy to be outraged at people and animals for testing limits. In a  herd of horses, they are constantly challenging the pecking order. It’s how they figure out where they fit into the group - most importantly, to make sure that the leader is strong. A weak leader puts the herd in danger. 

For students, it’s an important part of how we all learn and grow. And while I don’t think we need to make every mistake (for example, illegal drugs - I don’t need to take them to know that it’s a bad idea, and never have), it’s in making mistakes that the most growth can occur.

Also, when you start to try and change boundary invasion, expect some push back for it. From the other side, try and see that it might be confusing or even angering to have someone call you on something that was previously thought to be OK.


Kahili Mountain Fog by Melissa Klein


Get really clear about what’s OK & NOT OK
I wasn’t clear with my training because sometimes I let those “nose dives” for grass go. Sure, we can take grass breaks, but NOT when we are in the middle of doing something with the training. It has to be intentional, and because it’s been earned. 

Now I have decided to not tolerate that behavior - and will call my horse on it consistently. It’s clear.

Same thing with my students - sometimes I’ve tolerated disrespect, but now need to let it be known that it’s never OK. And that they will held accountable.

Strong Woman by Melissa Klein


Be Ruthless
A couple of months ago I had a student who was becoming increasingly disruptive and disrespectful. I tried to talk to him about it several times, and called home. He kept escalating and became verbally abusive. Administrators became involved. 

I decided that he couldn’t be in my classroom anymore. It seemed harsh at the time, but I could honestly say that I had made several attempts to work with this student, and he wasn’t meeting me halfway. I couldn’t work with someone who was attacking me personally when I tried to confront him about his behavior.

Maybe the lesson that he needed to learn from me wasn’t art, but that if you can’t at least be civil then people won’t want to work with you. 

Forgive It
This might seem like a contradiction to the above, but it’s compatible - because boundary invasion is something that everyone does. Often unintentionally and unconsciously. 

There’s a great line in the Catholic version of the Lord’s prayer that says:

… and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us, 

Which is a good reminder that we are often on both sides of this issue.

(I’m not a part of any religious organization and choose to draw from many different spiritual practices.) 

Letting Go by Melissa Klein


Release It
I love this Polish saying: “Not my circus. Not my monkeys” which is about realizing which issues are ours and which are others'. I also like the phrase I came up when working on challenging paradigms: “I can’t control what others think, say or doo-doo!"

Take Responsibility
And the flip is “My circus. My monkeys.” I created the situation with the horses - and need to take responsibility for their behavior. Accepting bad behavior from others is not taking responsibility for my own boundaries and expectations in life. 

Setting boundaries is both about creating fences and bridges of communication.


What are your thoughts on boundaries? I would love to hear about it!

Best,

-Melissa

Bridge to the Ocean by Melissa Klein



Monday, March 10, 2014

It's All My Mom's Fault!


Many of you know that my mom taught me many things about watercolor and ink - but haven't had a chance to see her work. She is an amazing artist - and I'm so proud to be her daughter. Read below about our experiences collaborating on this talk.

You are invited!

-Melissa

Highbush Blueberry by Janet Klein
Brighamia insignis by Janet Klein



















Date:               Sunday March 9th, 2014
Contact:          Melissa Klein
                        360.809.0083
                        me.lissa@melissaklein.com

Re:                   It’s All My Mom’s Fault:
                        Our Creative Lives as Mother/Daughter Artists
Tuesday, March 18th     2-3pm
Free and open to the public

Join Melissa and Janet Klein, mother and daughter artists who share insights about art, creativity and the mother/daughter relationship. They will discuss secrets about both the differences and similarities in their creative approaches and offer tips to cultivate your inner creative self.

Melissa Klein is a Sequim-based artist and art teacher whose is concerned with mythology - invented and from traditional sources. As an artist, she works in a variety of mediums including a unique style of crackle-milk paint layered with mixed media that she created. Janet Klein illustrated plants from Panama to Hawaii and has taught botanical drawing in six institutions.
_____________________________________________________________________________

This has been such a joyful collaboration: we have laughed so hard that we cried! There were so many memories: from the pet brick to the imaginary friends, the toothbrush down the drain ‘by mistake,’ the flocked wallpaper…. And deeper things – how the shyness we shared as children led to vivid inner lives.

In the process of creating this talk, we have discovered so many elements we didn’t know about each other’s childhoods, creative process and the stories behind our works. Melissa shares, “You can know someone your whole life, and ‘think’ that you know her, and realize it’s just the tip of the iceberg. This collaboration has opened new avenues in our mother-daughter dialogue and has made us even closer.” 

Join us to explore ways to enhance your creativity and have a dialogue with your parent or family that is “outside the norm.”

Lost World by Melissa Klein

Lost World Towers by Melissa Klein

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Evolution Revolution

Scroll down for feature article


FIRST FRIDAY OPENING - MARCH 7TH WHIM GALLERY 
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND





I’m very pleased and happy to announce that I’m one of the featured artists at Whim Gallery this month. The opening is Friday March 7th from 6 to 8pm. 100 Winslow Way West, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. Come out for the Bainbridge First Friday Artwalk - it’s totally fab!

Here’s a picture of some of the fabulous pottery that they have on display… When I was dropping off my work, I had to keep telling myself “Back. Away. From the pottery!” Gorgeous stuff and very reasonable prices.













Click on link for map & directions
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Whim/@47.6251245,-122.5214529,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x54903eb7288f0fe3:0xe54fc22fb9d1ef81



Evolution Revolution
by Melissa Klein

Photo by Melissa Klein

Lately, it seems like so many of my friends, colleagues and students are having a hard time. Me too; the last few weeks have. kicked. my. ass. Both personally and professionally. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that January and February are still so…. dark or something deeper and also more global. The internet seems awash with speculation about how the world is shifting (duh) and how we are on the cusp of some new phase in our cosmic evolution. 

I think that one consequence of these shifts is that we are being forced to let go of things that we still want to cling onto… things that don’t work or are no longer relevant for our lives. 

Here is an example - when I came home, this was on the kitchen table:

Graphite iBook photo by Melissa Klein


My husband had dug out my old Graphite iBook from the closet. Its hard to believe that I wrote my Masters thesis on something that doesn't have as much power as the average smart phone. I bought it with the windfall from the sale of our grand piano, and even at the time it seemed a weird trade: a beautiful classical instrument for something that would so quickly become obsolete. No one in my family had played it in years, and it had a cracked sound board - an expensive professional repair we couldn’t afford. Still there was some ambivalence in letting this beautiful instrument that was a glorified dust catcher go.

The iBook helped me get my Masters. I enjoyed it every time I used it, but then it got slower… and slower… and the operating system wouldn’t work with most programs… and it was clearly time to get a new computer. 

But I hung onto this “just in case…” It’s obvious that it needs to be listed on eBay and/or Craigs List to be sold to a collector who will truly appreciate it or headed to the recycling program to be turned into something more useful.

"Captain’s World" - photo by Melissa Klein

Our dog, Captain has been struggling with an eye disorder these last several months that culminated in him having an operation to remove an eye. I initially felt really bad about it. To lose an eye is a horrible thing. And then I noticed that he had more energy and could now see better out of his remaining eye because it wasn’t being interfered with by the swelling in the bad eye. The lesson? Even something as precious as an eye can be a relief to let go of, if it isn’t working.
Evolutionary Tales by Melissa Klein 

Fossil records buried in the stone. Excavating our histories and how all species are entwined. There is a nod to how perhaps computers will become another phase in evolution.


I recently attended a lecture by the fabulous Ray Troll - he’s an artist who is an enthusiastic paleontologist. He talks shop with university museum paleontologists and is an enthusiastic promoter of little known extinct animals for example, a shark with with teeth that grow in a spiral - like a circular saw. The great thing about seeing all of these fossil remains and his recreations of the animals, was realizing how we are all sharing in evolution and what David Attenborough refers to as “the tapestry of life.” Evolution involves change and releasing of old forms so that new ones can arise.

My mom and I are working on a talk at the North West Center for Creative Aging this month - we excavated the old photo albums and it brought back many memories. We also laughed a lot about everything - and there lies the key - to let go with laughter. Here’s a totally goofy photo that was taken in Cape May of my family circa 1981? I have the parasol. We were all told not to smile so that it would be more like a real Victorian photograph - my dad just couldn’t help himself!


It’s March now, and I can see crocuses and snow drops and mini daffodils poking up. Clear the space so that the flowers can grow.


"Thank you Flowers" by Melissa Klein

Here’s to your highest evolution!


So - what do you need to let go of in order to evolve? Please post below...

Thanks for reading - and I hope to see you soon!

Best Wishes,

-Melissa


“Naissance" by Melissa Klein

 Right Brain Activities Solve Problems


A quick heads up - the Waterfront Park Community Center likes to have their registration for the classes at least five days in advance of the actual class. So - if you are considering taking either the ARTiculate class, now is the time to register.

I designed the classes so they can be taken either individually or as a series. For the greatest impact, it’s best to take them as a series, but if you can only make one - or simply want to try it out for one instead of making the commitment for the ‘whole enchilada’ that is OK.

I am also offering the opportunity that if you bring a friend, then the 2nd person gets half off - just mention it to the registrar on the phone and she will figure out the math.

Consider this - we are at the time of the year when many brilliant New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Reconnect to your creativity and put it at the heart of your day. Meet others who can support your growth. Learn new mindset tools and strategies for bringing your light into the world.

3 Easy Ways to Register
1. Online Register for classes with our WebTrac system, and submit credit card payment online. Registration is processed immediately, and you can print your confirmation form and receipt. For more info on online registration click here: http://www.biparks.org/programsandclasses/onlineregistration.htmlOnline registration is by far the best way of getting the classes you want! You will need your user name and password to register. If you can't remember them, call at least a day before registration begins! 842-2306 ext 118.

2. Drop Off Bring your completed registration form and payment to the Strawberry Hill Park District Office or the Aquatics Center. You will find a registration form in your printed brochure, or you can download a registration form here: http://www.biparks.org/programsandclasses/documents/winter/registration.pdf.

4. Phone In Give us a call at (206) 842-2306, ext 118. 

By the way - the Waterfront Park people are really wonderful and very friendly.

Best,
-Melissa

Click on map/link below for directions


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Are You an Explorer, Artist, Judge or Warrior?

For free downloads go to: www.melissaklein.com
Art Lab Info:
http://kleinart.blogspot.com/2014/01/art-lab-live-your-artistic-dream-invest.html

ARTiculate Your Story Info:
http://kleinart.blogspot.com/2014/01/articulate-your-story-your-story-is.html


Happy Sunday Everyone!

A quick heads up - the Waterfront Park Community Center likes to have their registration for the classes at least five days in advance of the actual class. So - if you are considering taking either the Art Lab or the ARTiculate class, now is the time to register. 


I designed the classes so they can be taken either individually or as a series. For the greatest impact, it’s best to take them as a series, but if you can only make one - or simply want to try it out for one instead of making the commitment for the ‘whole enchilada’ that is OK.

I am also offering the opportunity that if you bring a friend, then the 2nd person gets half off - just mention it to the registrar on the phone and she will figure out the math.

Consider this - we are at the time of the year when many brilliant New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Reconnect to your creativity and put it at the heart of your day. Meet others who can support your growth. Learn new mindset tools and strategies for bringing your light into the world.

3 Easy Ways to Register

1. Online Register for classes with our WebTrac system, and submit credit card payment online. Registration is processed immediately, and you can print your confirmation form and receipt. For more info on online registration click here: http://www.biparks.org/programsandclasses/onlineregistration.htmlOnline registration is by far the best way of getting the classes you want! You will need your user name and password to register. If you can't remember them, call at least a day before registration begins! 842-2306 ext 118.


2. Drop Off Bring your completed registration form and payment to the Strawberry Hill Park District Office or the Aquatics Center. You will find a registration form in your printed brochure, or you can download a registration form here: http://www.biparks.org/programsandclasses/documents/winter/registration.pdf.


3. Phone In Give us a call at (206) 842-2306, ext 118.  mention the 2 for the price of 1 and a half deal.

By the way - the Waterfront Park people are really wonderful and very friendly.

Best,

-Melissa



Diving into the Mist by Melissa Klein 5”x7” framed $125


Are You an Explorer, Artist, Judge or Warrior?
by Melissa Klein

There were some strong responses to my last article about “Who are YOU to judge?” - and it was great to have the discussion. The comments by Sue Bielka were so insightful that I asked to incorporate her words into this article.  

One of the most helpful frameworks that I’ve come across to understand creativity is by Roger von Oech in the book “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants” http://www.amazon.com/Kick-Seat-Pants-Explorer-Creative/dp/0060960248/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391923086&sr=8-1&keywords=a+kick+in+the+seat+of+the+pants

He defines the creative process as four basic modes: Explorer, Artist, Judge and Warrior. 


EXPLORER
Defining ideas, brainstorming and just generally gathering information.

ARTIST
Taking information and creating, arranging - playing with the material. In the groove of making the project happen.

JUDGE
When you step back and evaluate - Is this working? Do I need to change this? Scrap that? Add something?

WARRIOR
Taking your work out into the world - a show, submit it for a portfolio review, post it on Facebook…

"Oh Dang! Here come those twits Snow White and Rapunzel - it's all hair and boys, boys and hair…. Someday I will have to kill them." 
by Melissa Klein 5”x7” framed $125

Shifting between Roles
While this is roughly the chronological order of the creative process - in any project it’s typical to shift between these roles.

Especially between the Artist and Judge. Based on what your inner judge says, you would go back to re-creating and reforming the piece as an Artist. After you present your ideas to the world - let’s say Facebook, someone makes a helpful suggestion which you decide to incorporate into the work. Back to the drawing board. Or perhaps you realize you need more information to finish the work; put on the explorer hat again.

Nude by Melissa Klein

Pitfalls
The main challenge is understanding when you need those roles most without letting them interfere with each other. When starting a project, many creative people go into the “Judge Mode” and skip the Explorer and the Artist. One assignment in my Commercial Art class is to draw a self-portrait. One of my new students got set up with a mirror and sat there stuck…. There were a few lines on his paper, but it was otherwise blank. I went over to him and he gave me a list of all the things that he does wrong when he draws a self-portrait - it doesn’t turn out symmetrical, his jawline is off etc… HIs judge stepped in and was really beating him up about things that he hadn’t done. He wasn’t trying to get out of the assignment; he really wanted to do a great job on it. He wasn’t lazy. I told him to kill his judge (and that they always come back like zombies.) He did, and did some beautiful work that really, really looked like him. I’m so proud of him. Tomorrow, he will probably have to kill that Judge again.

Another one of my students, who does some incredible work - has a hard time finishing projects. Right before the deadline of a show, is when she goes into her Explorer mode - she looks up cool ideas on the internet, and decides that she wants to do those projects in addition to what she already has going, but “Don’t worry! I will get it all done in time!” Uh….. not without a lot of stress and late nights, and not to it’s best quality.


TIPS

Explorer - Mostly for the beginning and sometimes the middle of a project if it’s clear that more information is needed

Pitfalls: Getting sucked into the "bright, shiny object" syndrome - particularly when a project is nearing completion.

Artist - The heart of the project - give this one the most time and the most free rein. Double the time that you think it will take for this one.

Pitfalls: Other roles interfering with the Artist - particularly the Judge. Keep that space sacred for the Artist.

Judge - Kill your judge if he/she comes in too early in the project - and like zombies and vampires, they come back from the dead. Or if that’s too much, reschedule your judge - tell them to come back when the project is at a later stage. The judge is not a bad thing - I really value being able to take a critical eye to my work - but not as I’m trying to create.

Pitfalls: Not listening to the judge when you need to, that nagging question of “Gee, the anatomy of the hand looks awkward… but it’s OK! (when it really does need to be fixed). Or I really should re-write that passage or get rid of it, but…. I won’t!"
A Ninja & His Posse by Melissa Klein 6”x6” framed $125

Warrior - Many artists who struggle to bring their work out into the world need to meet their inner warrior. It’s not that you need to go to war with the world over your work, it’s that you need to be able to take both rejection and appreciation. It’s the public face. It’s the scary phone call, the post, the email, the application. 

Have a mental posse. Mentally take your friends, dogs, horses, cats with you as your companions if that helps. Suit up - put on your armor of things you feel good about. 

Think about someone you admire who was able to put themselves out there - my father was an extrovert (I’m more introverted) and enjoyed promoting his cause for Gardens and Arboretums - below is a photo taken for the Philadelphia Inquirer by Nick Kelsh where he had to climb a tree 40 feet off the ground. I remind myself that he’s in me - I can find that side.

Pitfalls: avoidance tactics and procrastination. Accept that not everyone will love what you do - but there are many who will. They deserve to see your work.

Bill Klein - Photo by Nick Kelsh & article “I was thinking about Leprechauns” 
http://howtophotographyourlife.com/what-was-i-thinking/i-was-thinking-about-elves/ And check out Nick's website it's a wealth of information about photography http://howtophotographyourlife.com/nicks-tips/about-nick-kelsh-2/

Right Brain/Left Brain Evidence & Inspiration

Here’s a really beautiful story that Sue Bielka shared about her creative process - and what it feels like to really engage the Artist who resides mostly in the Right Brain:

As a current transition coach, once career artist, this is near and dear to my heart. There is a lovely book called My Stroke of Insight, by Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor that explores what it’s like in the right-brained world. If you haven't heard of her, check out her Ted talk http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html as well. She is a brain specialist who experienced a ruptured aneurysm in the left hemisphere of her brain, in the language center. For a number of years she lived in the right side of her brain while the left repaired itself. The critic was gone. Yay! She said she lived in this beautiful world of pure creation. On the outside, it looked as if nothing of the old Jill existed, but on the inside she was learning about the intricate workings of the brain. Fascinating.

I too had a brain aneurysm when I was 18 and experienced some of what she talked about, although mine was in the back of my head so I didn't lose my speech center. Back then, I didn't know what was happening to me, but some 30 years later, after hearing her words, I was able to relax into what I'd experienced. I decided to play around with my right brain to see if I could consciously open myself to that bliss. I wanted to find a way to get back to that feeling of pure creation.

I was painting the basement of the Children's Museum in their old location. We (my assistant and I) were painting a coral reef and all the sea life on the walls. I was going to paint a sea turtle in a certain spot. I had my reference pictures and my paint and brushes ready then I allowed myself to go into that relaxed, non-judgmental space and just played with light, color and shape. I allowed myself not to worry about painting a perfect turtle. I knew I could always paint it out if my experiment didn't work. I slid so far into my right brain that I couldn't speak later when I was spoken to. (I'd always judged that before too!) When I looked back at what I'd painted on the wall, there was a gorgeous sea turtle there. I hadn't consciously painted it from my will but instead I let it paint me! I was shocked. I'd been in total bliss and there was the result.

I certainly think there is a time and a place for judging in the world of art, but I think we need to spend more time in the early years of schooling on pure creation. So much of our schooling is placed in competition and achievement. The thing is, we live in a very masculine world that is competition based. My work is about bringing forth in women more feminine energy in order to balance the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many women have a knee jerk reaction to surrendering their competitive spirits because they're afraid they'll lose something in the process. My work is about showing them that they gain something far more valuable.

Her website is: www.suebielka-personalcoach.com

So - what role do you most identify with? What role do you struggle with? Please post below!

Thanks for reading - and I hope to see you this next weekend.

Best Wishes,

-Melissa