I had the pleasure of meeting and painting with Kristen Heinlein in my Portland studio late last year during a Bloom True Level Two Workshop. I’m happy to share her honest story about following her heart, taking her own advice and embracing her own unique style of creating…
I have always had an urgency to create and an imagination that worked much faster than my hands.
My favorite thing about being a K-8 Art Teacher is that I get to dip my toes into a little bit of everything and graze the surface of one hundred different mini projects throughout the day. Running from student to student in my art classroom has always felt satisfying and I loved pushing my students to CREATE EVERYDAY.
At some point along the way, however, I noticed that I stopped following my own advice.
Like so many others, I stumbled upon Flora’s book at Michael’s. I felt immediately connected- was this book written just for me?- and the rest was a flurry — 4 canvases, 3 sets of golden liquid acrylics, 2 months, and 1 ruined carpet later, I found myself unfurled in Flora’s philosophy.
Through her January 2013 Bloom True E-Course, I gained the confidence to share my work with others. I learned new mark-making techniques, created some paintings I felt proud of, and realized that there IS a place for an artist like me in the art world.
But it wasn’t until a few months ago at the November 2014, Portland Bloom True Level Two Workshop that…
I truly gained the confidence to start letting go.
I spent a year and a half creating artwork in every spare moment I could.
My role shifted from teacher during the day to student at night. I was pouring over the artwork of various artists I loved (Flora included) and pulled out certain imagery that I liked.
My artwork was bright, colorful, and interesting to me…but a large part of me worried that it wasn’t truly mine. Can I claim ownership for artwork that looks like it could be someone else’s?
Self doubt lurked in the shadows, but I forced myself to keep creating.
The Portland Bloom True workshop forced me to tuck away my folder of references and create from a more internal place.
I erased the preconceived floor plans for my paintings from my mind and lingered in the dark abyss of uncertainty. For the first time, I felt like I was truly being brave.
One of the neatest things happened early on in the workshop. Flora created a new type of mark using her sponge brush- a pinecone shape! She called us over to explain and demonstrate her personal discovery.
Then Flora said something that really stuck with me:
“If you haven’t made a new discovery in your painting yet, it’s quite possible that you haven’t finished.”
Flora’s excitement about creating a new type of mark was contagious, and I spent the rest of the day dragging various tools in different ways. I realized something right then and there: it is far more satisfying to invent your own marks than borrow them from other artists.
From that point on, I felt a true sense of ownership fill my being as I created artwork.
I feel as though Bloom True has given me the courage and inspiration cross over to the other side.
Thanks you Kristen for sharing your honest journey with us here.
The conversation around “borrowing” imagery and making paintings that are uniquely and distinctly your own is such an important one to address. In fact, I believe so deeply in addressing this conversation, that I’m plotting a brand new E-Course that will be all about this very topic! Stay tuned for that…
In the meantime, just remember that personal styles develops over time and through many many hours of work and personal exploration. That said, the most important way to develop a style all your own is to show up, do the work and continue to gather inspiration from many many sources. This will not happen overnight, but it’s also such a rewarding part of any creative journey.
Imagine where you will be 100 paintings from now!
With love and encouragement,