I am a painter based in Portland, Oregon and I lead art retreats in the wilderness. I firmly believe in the healing power of art and I paint and teach workshops that explore the intersection of art, nature, and healing. I share my art and stories online, mainly on Instagram but also on Youtube and Facebook. Several times a year, I lead art retreats on the Oregon coast and in the Opal Creek Wilderness, encouraging her students to get their hands into the creative process and connect with nature. It is my dream to lead these wilderness painting retreats in ancient forests around the world. My most exciting new thing is my online painting course, “Wild Wonder” which is designed to be a wilderness painting retreat that you can do from anywhere in the world. I am told that I bring a lot of energy and a love of art-making to my workshops, and that students feel encouraged and at ease.
The Longer Story:
I earned my BFA in fine art & studied pre-medical sciences at the University of Oregon (BFA Final Exhibition – Photos). After my BFA in 2007, I spent a year living and working to facilitate the art workshop and artist residency programs at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the rural and wild Oregon coast. The Sitka Center is a magical place. My time at the Sitka Center was very formative (I was able to be a part of over a hundred different art workshops in a single Summer) and it is where I learned to teach my workshops. I have stayed involved with the Sitka Center ever since, and I now teach sold-out workshops there every Summer and it’s a total joy.
I grew up playing in the woods of Eugene, Oregon, USA. Somehow, I was allowed to spend entire days exploring the woods by myself – I just had to be home by dark. I have distinct memories of gathering pollen to make my own paint from the hundreds of wild fawn lilies that bloomed in abundance in the forests where we lived. I would go from flower to flower, gathering the bright orange pollen like some wild child bee. Who knew I would grow up to be a painter who teaches people to look deeply into flowers?!
In my teens and twenties, I was fortunate to spend time in Bali, Thailand, Mexico and Guatemala. In Bali, I was awed by the Balinese Hindu daily rituals of hand-making sacred art offerings, and was especially enamored with Batik, which heavily influenced my early work. The generous use of vibrant colors in Mexican and Central American cultures I visited penetrated me to the core, and emboldened me to celebrate color in my work.
I’ve been an artist as long as I can remember yet the role of healer has also been a tremendously influential one in my life. My mom Nancy is a healer and I grew up watching her create work as a healing artist so it came naturally to me. Plus the social justice work I was doing all the time. Being a healer just made sense to me in a world that often appeared to be hurting so much. So I studied pre-med, but I wanted some tangible skills. There was an immersive apprenticeship program in wildcrafting, botany and herbal medicine in my town so I moved mountains to be able to do it. And then cancer happened, at the same time. So I was going for chemo on Mondays, and hiking in the wilderness with my botany & herbalism class on Fridays. I let the wild plants heal me, and I got to know them during that time so they became like trusted friends.The cancer patient experience motivated me to later pursue work as a patient advocate, rehabilitation aide, and Spanish medical interpreter. And then I went to massage school. I opened a private practice as a massage therapist with my own thriving little clinic in Portland, Oregon. I practiced massage for five years while I built the foundation of my art career. I used half of my massage clinic as a painting studio and it was a wonderful way to support myself as a self-employed artist. I finally closed my massage practice in June, 2016 to pursue art full time.
The intention of my decade of work in healing has always been to nurture, comfort and inspire, and my art springs from the same place in my heart. Practicing massage and making art both bring me into a state of flow that I feel is sacred. It has become beautifully clear to me that healing and creating are the sister purposes and passions in my life. I envision my paintings as little care packages of joy and healing for people.
Every time I touch brush to canvas, a million things inside me beg to be let out, so here I am, answering that call. My goal is to make as much art as I can, because every day that I get to paint is a great day. I plan to continue teaching my wilderness art workshops around the world, and I’m so excited that my online course ‘Wild Wonder’ is available as a way to share this work with those of you who live farther away.
Besides painting, my hobbies are hiking, cooking, riding my bicycle, and hugging every dog that I see. For real. I am happily married to my mischievous and delightful husband Peter and we live in Portland, Oregon.
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