Story as featured in the Number 62 issue of The Country Web magazine.
Can you share a little of your interesting career journey so far.
Like many others my career journey hasn’t taken a straight path. It’s more like a curly, tangled piece of string that I am slowly unraveling as I find my way forward.
My first exhibition was at the age of 16 in California. My high school principal bought my first painting for $100, which felt like a million to me at the time! That bit of encouragement from someone who knew and appreciated art, as well as the introduction to the old masters through books and my art teacher, gave me a great desire to paint and express myself.
The school careers counsellors steered me away from art and into pharmacy, which I found boring and painful. I only lasted a year before I changed my college major to communications.
Believing it wasn’t possible to make a living as an artist, I didn’t pursue my passion when I was younger, but I did take as many elective art classes as I could and funded my college tuition through part-time jobs painting signs, creating promotional materials and as a Clinique consultant.
After graduating, I married and moved to outback Australia with my husband to develop a cotton property an hour west of Moree, NSW. I was suddenly in a foreign country, very ill-prepared to handle the tough years of isolation and extremes of drought and flood and so many other issues one faces on an outback property.
Luckily, I had a sister-in-law who also loved painting and we began encouraging each other to paint whenever possible while raising our young families. It was a freedom to explore and express all the emotions and feelings I had going on inside and I appreciated getting back to my creative side–it made me feel happy, centered and strong.
Painting always brings me back to my true self. If I am traveling and teaching and I have not had enough of my own painting time I get a bit cranky, so it’s best when I plan my schedule to include this time alone creating.
How do you use creativity to drive personal transformations?
In the painting workshops I host around the world I often encounter people who have lived a successfully active work and family life and are starting to think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Many are at a transitional stage and open to trying something new or different. Some have never painted before and some have dabbled a bit in their free time but need some solid guidance and support to continue.
It is very important for people to trust me before I can help them achieve their personal breakthroughs and transformations. I must be honest and share my journey with them, as well as demonstrate how to take something that seems very complicated and difficult and break it down into manageable steps.
Seeing this done and learning the techniques and processes necessary to design and compose a painting gives them the confidence they need to express themselves. I help them to really see in a way they are not used to, by observing with intention, to see with artist’s eyes. This opens up so many wonderful possibilities, sparking their creative mind and providing a richer existence.
I help people gain access to a part of themselves that has been dormant for many years, often since they were children, in a way that is engaging and asks them to suspend judgment.
Why is creativity in business important?
In all areas of life you must evolve and adapt to changing environments and conditions. Painting is about problem solving and finding interesting and different ways to bring resolution to the subject you are tackling.
I tell my students that if you become too precious about one thing in your painting, the rest of it will suffer. I feel it is important to constantly be working on a painting as a whole, always keeping an eye on the big picture whilst managing the area you are working on at present.
Just like managing a business, there are a lot of balls you’re juggling and if you lose concentration you will have a big mess to clean up!
For me it boils down to problem solving and time management; always keeping a clear picture in your mind of what you are trying to achieve but allowing enough flexibility to adapt and change as you are in the flow.
What are your top tips for exploring creativity?
Don’t put limits on yourself before you have started to even explore the creative options. We are capable of much more than we think and sometimes we choose not to try because it is too scary or we are afraid of looking bad.
Focus on taking steps each day towards your goal and get help when you think
you need it.
Don’t let others’ negative comments cloud your vision but do take care to problem solve and anticipate possible issues.
Have a strong curiosity level and a will to learn and grow. Don’t worry about competing with others, just try to better your own efforts.
This story originally appeared in Women in Focus–a Commbank community supporting women in business and community.