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Painting from the Wild Heart Workshop Example
Chris Zydel Interview : Page 5 of 5

Creative Juices Arts goddess Chris Zydel

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Q: What do you suggest to all those readers out there who are creatively cast adrift, lost, or just in search of their true passion?

A: A good place to start is to pay attention to what makes you happy. What are you naturally drawn to, what gives you pleasure, what makes your heart sing? However, if you are feeling lost and adrift and disconnected from your true passion it is likely that the inner demons of fear and shame have got you in their grip, effectively obscuring your clear vision of your heart, so you need to approach this question through the back door. What are you forbidden to want? What do you consider completely impossible, what's the thing that you tell yourself you could never do or be? What do you envy in other people? What is it that always seems to be just out of your reach? What scares the bejesus out of you? What are you ashamed of wanting? Pay attention to your daydreams. What do you find your self fantasizing about? Who do you admire? Who do you want to be like when you grow up? What is the thing that you could be or do that would make your family really uncomfortable?

It's also OK to get help. Sometimes a friend, spouse, family member, therapist, coach or a good astrologer can give you valuable insight. This thing that we find so elusive can often be glaringly obvious to those around us, so don't be afraid to ask. And be open to what you hear. If you categorically reject what someone is telling you, if you have a vehement negative reaction to the insight or suggestion, if you find your self groaning and saying things like "Oh, no. Anything but that!", congratulations! You have just hit pay dirt!!

And finally, pray. Spend some quiet time asking spirit for guidance and the courage to accept the answers you are given.

Q: What scares you?

A: Trying to organize my files! But seriously... writing my book scares me, developing my teacher training scares me, putting myself out there around my work scares me, doing this interview scares me. Every time I challenge myself to grow creatively I am scared, which means that I am pretty much scared all the time! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Being on that creative edge is what allows me to feel a continual, daily sense of meaning, aliveness and joy…and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I love this quote from Georgia O'Keeffe "I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

Q: What did you dream about last Tuesday?

A: I have a recurring nightmare that I schedule a workshop and when I open the door to let in the participants, I am faced with HORDES of people. So many that I can't keep track of them all. They come in and just start are wandering all over the place, I don't know any of their names and everything is just chaos. Maybe it was because I knew that I had this interview coming up, but that's what I dreamed about last Tuesday!

Q: How does the lunar cycle effect the artist's cycle of creativity?

A: The only thing that I've noticed is that if I have a retreat during a full moon more of my participants are likely to stay up all night painting.

Q: What was your favorite toy when you were seven years old?

A: I'm sorry! Menopause seems to have wiped that slate clean. I have very little memory of those early years, and frankly, of what I did yesterday. My students are always asking me if I ever get tired of dealing with the same issues and blocks that come up for people in their creative process. What I tell them is that I have been blessed with a tremendous reservoir of patience, but it is also true that since I have no memory everything is always a new experience. And being seven? I do remember something to do with kitties.

Q: What is the best advice you ever received?

A: I think the best advice I have ever received can be summed up by this quote from actress Ruth Gordon: "Never give up, and never, under any circumstances, no matter what, ever face the facts." I see people get themselves into trouble around their creativity when they don't realize how much blood, sweat and tears it takes to manifest a creative vision and they give up too soon. All creative endeavors, whether it's writing a song or putting on a Wild Heart Painting workshop, encounter obstacles and difficulties somewhere along the way. At some point the voice of fear will come in and try to tell you that whatever you are trying to accomplish is impossible or not worth it. Don't ever believe it! Your job as the steward of your creative gifts is to hang in there, persevere, and never stop having faith in yourself. Surround yourself with people who love and support you and your gifts unconditionally!!

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: I tend to worry the most about logistical type things. Did the paint I shipped arrive on time? Will I be able to make the lighting work in a new studio space ? Is the studio going to be big enough? Did my cardboard get trashed in the last huge rainstorm? My husband jokes with me that all my worrying does serve a very useful purpose because nothing that I worry about EVER REALLY HAPPENS! It's sort of an insurance policy. But, seriously, even though I have put together over 50 retreats at this point ( I started running workshops in 1982), I STILL get performance anxiety before every one. I think it's an unavoidable aspect of the creative process. Each retreat I have ever offered has gone fabulously well, and everyone always loves them and I am usually high for weeks afterwards, I am still facing the unknown with every workshop and putting myself on the line creatively — and that's always scary. It actually made me feel much better and less like I was totally nuts when I learned that the famous singer Barbara Streisand used to throw up before each of her concert performances!

Q: What is your deepest, sweetest, most ridiculous dream?

A: My impossible dream is having my own expressive arts retreat center. Well, if I just go for broke, what I REALLY want are two expressive arts centers. Right now, my studio in Oakland is located in a charming old Victorian house. In many ways, it's great, but it is a rental — so I can't always do exactly what I want with it. I would love to own a loft or studio in Oakland or Berkeley.

I also want to have an actual retreat center devoted to the expressive arts out in the country somewhere, maybe in the Sierras or in the Napa Valley or Sonoma County. I want a place that has a big barn that I can convert into a 1,000 square foot painting studio built to my own specifications, a large room with a great sound system for movement exercises, yoga and dance, and a group room that can comfortably seat 20-30 people. I'd want to have some charming and cozy cottages where people can stay, a main house with a great kitchen... and somebody else to run the day-to-day operations of the place!

Chris Zydel, MA founder of Creative Juices Arts and Painting From The Wild Heart has been leading groups her whole life (she is the eldest of eight children) and has been facilitating creativity workshops ever since she was eleven years old when she would organize the neighborhood kids and put on skits, plays and musical events! She has had no formal training as an artist but has led a wildly creative life and has never once regretted choices made by following her heart and her muse. She has a background in counseling, hypnotherapy and bodywork and a current private practice as a creativity coach and an Evolutionary Astrologer. She also runs women's groups, teaches weekly intuitive painting classes, facilitates expressive arts retreats in some of the most beautiful places on the planet, is writing a book, creating an expressive arts teacher training program and... takes a nap just about every afternoon! And she is thrilled to be having this opportunity to share some of her experiences as a creative professional with Creativity Portal readers.

To contact Chris Zydel and Creative Juices Arts, please visit her website —

© 2008 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »