Everything I Know About Transformation I Learned By Making Art: Guest Post by Chris Zydel

June 16th, 2011

"If I keep painting in this way I'm not going to have to change my life. Right?" Anonymous student in one of my Wild Heart Painting classes

When I volunteered to write a guest blog post for Creative Every Day and Leah told me that the theme was Metamorphosis the first thing that came to mind was a period in my early 40's when everything in my life changed. In a huge amazing way. And I think that the change was largely facilitated by the fact that I was deeply engaged in an intensive art practice that involved intuitive painting.

I did not grow up thinking of myself as an artist. And in fact I didn't even start painting until I was close to 40 years old. My first introduction to painting was through intuitive painting classes that were being offered in the city of San Francisco.  At the time when I was first taking these classes I was also in graduate school, getting a masters degree in clinical psychology, so the painting was a much needed respite from papers and deadlines, evaluations and the stress of having to accomplish something.

And the painting also took me outside of my head. I wasn't thinking while I was painting. I was just lost in a world of color and imagery and the sensuality of brush on paper.

At first, painting was simply recreation, a practice to keep myself somewhat sane while I made my way through graduate school. But as time went on I started having some pretty wild experiences with the creative process. I would paint and paint, sometimes for hours and days on end and when I would finally leave the studio I would find myself in a distinctly altered state.

Colors would be more vibrant and intense, things were infused with a sparkling, pulsating energy. The world and myself in it just seemed more vital and on fire. At times I felt like I was on some very cool and trippy mind expanding drugs.

Painting using this method, which meant learning not to listen to the inner critic and expressing myself with total abandon, was transforming my experience of myself on the inside. I was feeling different. Seeing things in a whole new way. I was in a profound process of inner metamorphosis but at first I didn't realize how far reaching this transformation was. And how radically it was going to impact my external life.

Before too long my life outside of the studio also started to change. As I listened to and trusted my intuition through the process of painting I started listening to and trusting myself in other ways. I seemed to know more clearly how to proceed with my life. As I took more risks in my painting I was willing to take more risks in my "real" life.

For example, I was involved with a man who was unable to make a commitment to me and all of a sudden I had the guts to leave the relationship. I had completed my graduate school program and was expected to embark on a grueling internship path that would lead to professional licensure, but I no longer had the heart for it, so I walked away.

I had faced the void so very many times in my painting, not knowing where the next stroke would lead me, but always trusting that something would happen if I just listened for the next instruction. And here I was, living in the same way that I had been painting.

It was scary and intense, but also so very alive. And it did work. Instead of getting a license to practice psychotherapy I started my Creative Juices Arts business where i began helping people to open up and live from their own creative source. i was alone for a while, but then I met the man who is now my husband ( and of course, an artist), and it is 16 years later and we are still  incredibly happy together.

As I trusted more and more in my own creative energy, the energy to actually create my own life, things just fell into place. My journey during this period was not without fear or sadness or stress, but underneath whatever sense of difficulty I might be experiencing was always a layer of trust. There was something that I was tapped into that was guiding me and it was the same energy that guided me while I was painting.

I had learned so much from standing in front of that easel about being present and not judging. About following my own individual energy and about following my heart. I learned that going into what seemed like dark places always led to some sort of transformation and I learned about the value of surrender to an energy greater than myself.

It was a very powerful yet humbling period in my life and it really DID change everything.

Chris Zydel, MA founder of Creative Juices Arts  has over 32 years of experience as a compassionate and soulful creativity guide. Through her Painting From The Wild Heart classes, workshops and training programs she has devoted herself to providing the support, guidance and inspiration that allows her many students to connect with the sacred force of creativity that lives inside of us all. For more information please visit her website at http://www.creativejuicesarts.com

8 Responses

Chris, Inspiring and true – Art Changes Life again and again :)
Love the story of how it happened for you, Cat

“I learned that going into what seemed like dark places always led to some sort of transformation”

So true, Chris! I call it Emotional Alchemy :)

Love this: “I learned that going into what seemed like dark places always led to some sort of transformation and I learned about the value of surrender to an energy greater than myself. ”

And loved reading your story, Chris! Makes me think of the saying: “How we do anything is how we do everything”. Thanks for sharing this post full of hope and inner-trust!

Chris, wow. Just reading this was a very powerful and humbling experience. I don’t know why exactly, but for some reason it’s a huge relief to know that you, someone I admire so much for your unabashed creative glee, didn’t always think of yourself as creative. I had no idea. And I’m just so completely inspired. Thank you.

You can revise a painting and the painting can revise you!

-What a great story Chris about using your natural talents in one area and how it helps in other parts of your life too.

Thanks for sharing this!

I am so inspired by this. For some reason, it is giving me hope for my relationship with trust. It occurs to me that I do have a layer of trust deep down. It’s just that it’s covered over by worry and anxiety and that’s why I think I don’t trust or can’t give up control in certain areas of life. Somehow, it feels more hopeful to know that I just need to learn to access it – not to create it from scratch.

Chris, thank you for this! For some reason I just love knowing that it’s never too late… that you did not even really start painting to almost 40… and wow! Wow. Just thank you. xo

Chris – you are one huge inspirational force! Thanks for sharing your wisdom & creative spirit with this post – it has really helped remind me to listen for and trust that inner guide and open myself up to that fabulous spirit that is greater than myself. In fact, you’ve offered me a few timely reminders with this post.
Thank you
Kat X

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