CG | Episode 030 - Willow Wolfe - Artist & Founder of Callia Brushes - Awakening the Artist Within

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Willow Wolfe started off painting little wooden bowls with her grandmother and by 19 was teaching art in her own studio in Winnipeg, Canada. Today she is an award winning art teacher, the author of a library of internationally available books and the designer of best-selling paint brush lines. She joins us to talk about reprogramming our ideas around "I can" and "I can't", how creating art can connect us with the people we love, how to recognize and decipher the hidden messages in life's "no's" and the massively important secret about the learning process that she has discovered in over 20 years of teaching. 



Willow Wolfe started off painting little wooden bowls with her grandmother and by 19 was teaching art in her own studio in Winnipeg, Canada. 

Today she is an award winning art teacher, the author of a library of internationally available books and the designer of best-selling brush lines for over twenty years. Her approachable style and step-by-step painting methods have taken her to events, seminars and engagements across the globe. She is widely recognized for challenging and modernizing today’s world of art supplies and education.  

At one point in this episode Willows shares a sweet story about how a thoughtful gift from her college boyfriend changed the entire trajectory of her life - And in fact was the seed for what would become one of the most important lessons underpinning all of her teachings. 

Homework this week is about Awakening the Artist Within  -  an important part of the process of coming into contact with this wordless, wise creative part of ourselves involves loosening the grip that our conditioning and experiences have had on us. 

We all have developed protective beliefs which over time, become parts of ourselves that can seem very real - like they are the real us. These parts have kept us safe, helped us navigate difficulties, chaos and even trauma in our lives. But they are not our true essence, they are survival mechanisms based in fear and ultimately are holding us back. 

We can begin to unwind ourselves from being led by these fear parts by looking gently at the conditioning itself. I have created a handful of journal exercises for you that will help you start to put some distance between you and these beliefs  - to observe them better, and to begin to notice and identify more with your boundless, infinite creative self which is how you will set yourself free creatively. 


- How we live with and perpetuate our own programming of the idea “I can’t” 

-The importance of navigating the liminal space between “I can’t” and “I can”  changing our own stories of what is possible for ourselves. She gives us her insights as a creative teacher of over 20 years for how to navigate that liminal space between i can’t and i can.. As we work to change our own inner narrative

-Resiliency and its role in our lives as artists

-How choosing to be you is something only you can do, and how it is the only thing you came here to do

-How art can connect us to the people we love

-How even people who are supported from a very young age to pursue being an artist, we can STILL found ourselves paralyzed by limiting beliefs and the simple thing we must do to bust through this. 

-How a thoughtful gift from her college boyfriend changed the trajectory of her whole life

-Learning a new thing often feels impossible, but if you look closely, it can often be broken down is a series of achievable steps. 

-Learning how to honour and get comfortable hearing no when it comes to your creative offerings, and how to see these moments as detours taking you somewhere even better 

-Learning the important messages no’s can carry into our lives and how to look for their hidden meanings

Have you listened to the previous episode with Kim Krans


Willow Wolfe 0:00
if you deviate from certain pathways sometimes and then you come back and I think understanding that it's not a straight, it's not a straight journey is really important and I think sometimes we think it should be and we need to probably all kind of go you know what it's okay to veer off and then return or try again try something new and I think there's resilience in that

Kate Shepherd 0:32
Hello, my love's Did you do the homework at the end of the Erin Oostra episode a couple of weeks ago? by the way, wasn't that a really lovely conversation? If you haven't listened to that episode, go back and make sure you stick around to the end for the homework. It was a really lovely little exercise with watercolors. And it's a great excuse to treat yourself to a little set if you don't have one. And this is not just for painterly people I talk all the time about I feel like everybody should have a little set of watercolors. And if you want to know why I tell people that go to Instagram at Kate Shepherd creative. And check out one of the reels that's pinned to the top of my profile there, because I explained to you why. It's a very small exercise, but it can be powerful for helping you uncover secrets that are hiding right in plain sight in your life. Before I introduce you to today's guest, Willow Wolfe, I want to make sure you know about how to support the show. If you feel inspired and are in a position to make even a small contribution to the show, it will really help me keep things going over here. I'm just kind of a one, one girl band over here. And I really do rely on support from people like you to help me keep the creative genius studio going, you can go to Genius podcast to find out more. And I wanted to share with you a message that came in from a listener last week named Linda by the sea. This came in the form of a review. And she said I love this podcast so much and put a big happy face. While awaiting my retirement and 46 weeks, I'm listening to the creative genius podcast. It helps me get hope. Get a vision of my time, I will soon have to create from my heart to be free from the outside noise and to be in my little joyful painting bubble. Thanks for creating this wonderful podcast. Kate, I enjoy listening to all the guests on your show. I'm slowly budding and getting ready to be in full bloom soon. Linda, I'm so excited for you. 46 weeks will go by before you know it. And I'm so happy to be a part of your journey as you go from bad to blossom and emerge into more of what you're always meant to be. And please keep me posted on your journey. I truly love hearing from all of you. If you're listening to this and thinking, Oh, maybe I could leave a little review. I had a couple of aha moments listening to this show, please do it. i They mean everything to me. And they're also a really great way of helping other people discover the show. So you can do that right at Apple podcasts. At the very bottom of the show. Just leave some stars and a review. And I want to make sure you know about our private Facebook group. It's called the creative genius family. It's just started recently and it's small and intimate and warm and welcoming and an absolutely safe space to share all about your creative struggles and triumphs. You know somebody like Linda who's going through this big transition might want to join and share what's going on and actually have back and forth feedback with other listeners and other people who are in similar situations facing similar struggles and excitements and ups and downs. It's a great place for support and inspiration. I want you to know that you're welcome there. And you can find out how to do that on Kate Shepherd just by searching family when you get there and what an absolutely lovely treat Today's guest is Willow wolf started off painting little wooden bowls with her grandmother and by 19 was teaching art in her own studio in Winnipeg. Today. She is an award winning art teacher, the author of a library of internationally available books and the designer of best selling brush lines for over 20 years. Her approachable style and step by step painting methods have taken her to events, seminars and engagements across the globe. She is widely recognized for challenging, and modernizing today's world of art supplies and education. And let me tell you, her paint brushes are sublime. And I love how thoughtfully and intentionally and affordably they are created and we'll hear more about all of that in the show when we get into the conversation with her. At one point in this episode Willow shares a really sweet story about how a thoughtful gift from her college boyfriend changed the entire trajectory of her life. And in fact was the seed for what would become one of the most important lessons underpinning all of her teachings. We talk about the importance of navigating that liminal space between I can't and I can and changing our store Race for what is possible for ourselves. And I'm really excited about the homework that I put together for you today. It centers around what is required for awakening the artist within, you know, anytime we want to access a deeper, wiser part of ourselves. Part of that is loosening the grip that all of our conditioning has around us that's holding us back. So I have this handful of journal exercises for you, that will help you start to put some distance between you and the beliefs that may have been running your life up to now. I think this is a really powerful one, make sure you have your journal with you, and give yourself the gift of answering these questions and prompts. But when I started doing these questions for myself, I had some major epiphanies and led to some really incredible transformations. For me just with these answering these simple questions. I'm delighted to introduce you to the generous, thoughtful, talented and kind, Willow Woolf. For our listeners who don't know you yet, you are an incredible artist yourself. You're an art teacher, you've written loads and loads and loads of books about art instruction. And you found it a really, really great paintbrush company. It's like clearly your whole life. Did you note when you were a little kid? Did you? Did you always know like, what's your first memory of knowing that you had the bug,

Willow Wolfe 6:17
I was encouraged to be creative, you know, right from an early age. And I think around the age of 11, my grandmother and I went to she was probably my best friend went to a Louis I think it was called Louis Kraft. I remember Lewis cram your your Yeah. And there was the little bottle paints and these tiny little wooden bowls. And she said, You know, I've always dreamed of painting. And I said, I love painting. And we sat there together for hours painting these one inch wide, I still have one left bowls. And I remember my father saying, Oh, my goodness, that's, you know, that's so unique and so different. And I said, What and I remember the wording, it makes me feel close to grandma, that connection, that ability to connect with individuals over something that felt pure, and just, you know, allowing us to get that kind of feeling out into the world. And over these tiny $1 bowls, I started painting bowl after bowl after bowl. And by the age of I think 13 I was running little mini stores on the corner selling art or selling art to my father over and over and over again. I mean, I was well encouraged to explore creativity. And then, you know, around the age of 1516, I felt, and it's that thing that you kind of mentioned, I began to adopt limiting beliefs. And I thought, you know, oh, you can't be an artist unless you're this oh, you know, to be an artist, you'll never make enough money to survive. So this can't be a career in opposition to my father who kept saying ignore all of those things, find the right path, do the right thing. And in opposition to my mother, who was like, you've got to keep going with this. I thought no, I better get quote unquote, a real job. And I adopted young some of those limiting beliefs. And it actually took me I would say, from the age of, you know, 1516 on through my first few years of university to, to combat it to say no, wait a minute, why? Why do I have to follow this prescribed path? You know, why? Why is this career path or this thought process? Why am I internally judging it? So it was really me who was judging it and kind of me who was adopting those limiting beliefs. And by the age of 19, I sort of thought, no, forget it, I think I can do this. And I love this. And I love what it does for myself and my family and the people around me. So I think I was teaching by 19 art in a studio in Winnipeg, and just thought, this is what I'm going to do. And this is my dream.

Kate Shepherd 8:25
Well, I think that's so fascinating, because I often have a story that I didn't have words of love and art whispered into me like you can do it. And so it took me longer to get there. That's my story, right that I tell myself, but I think you're not the first person who I've heard. No, no, it was whispered into me that I can do it. And that, you know, I had all that support. And I still like and I feel like that just goes to show how pervasive culturally these ideas are that we have to undo. And even when you're in a home with people who are pouring love over you and doing the art with you and saying no, ignore the noise. It can still be really hard to do that. Do you remember what? What it was that? That? Was there a moment when you just were like No, actually,

Willow Wolfe 9:06
yeah, I think there was a few I was in criminology and university doing art with youth quite a bit. It was a very hard path. And I'm an emotional person. I wasn't 100% sure that criminology was the right choice. Even though I loved helping people. I loved working with people, I just hadn't quite figured out how I would work with people or how I would be involved in some sort of service to others. I hadn't quite gotten there yet. And I had an amazing partner at the time who gave me a book, it was a book on how to paint flowers. And he wrote right in the inscription of the book, it's time for you to choose to be you. And I read it over and over again. And I thought, oh, you know what? Yeah. And he and he was a great guiding influence. And within six months, I don't necessarily think I mean, I think there were other ways I could have formed this path. But I you know, I left university and I, you know, literally opened an art store, I think within a year and a half to two years and was teaching painting and I think my philosophy at the time was I'm going to give it a go and find out where it fits in my life, but I had no idea where it would go at that time I just started doing and I think there's the Act of, we get really afraid before we start doing. And then when we start doing, we take those little steps forward. And it's the action that makes all the difference. Do I say to people to be creative, you need to open a fine art store? No, you just need to put something on paper or make a collage or knit anything that's going to create or build or make or make something you feel good about.

Kate Shepherd 10:28
It seems like that person who gave you that gift of it's time for you to be you. There's a reciprocity I see now in your work, it's almost like your there's so much of that in, you know, your teaching and what you're offering. And, you know, you're I think on your website, it says awaken the artist, is that the complete awaken the artist. Yeah. Does that, that feel true to that feel like he gave you that and now you kind of want to pay that forward. And not just maybe him but also grandma and dad and mom, like at home, I

Willow Wolfe 10:55
think, you know, sometimes I think if you're paying attention around you, there'll be 1000 moments like that. But it really is where we choose to focus our our attention, you pick out the moments that resonate with you in that time period. And I think sometimes we look for the answer that we want. And that was really what I wanted people around me to say it was enough with all the other stuff right now you need to sort of start living your dreams. But there was a long path from that moment, with 1000 more moments in between that, you know, we sold the store, we started writing books, and I say we as in myself, and at that time, we had a team of artists working with us at the store. So there was a Million Moments in addition to two side jobs. So it wasn't you know, a glamorous I opened the store and they all just flooded in tar. Yeah. No, there's no easy answer. It was a whole lot of of hard work. But if it's creative, hard work, and it feels true to who you are. And you find that path. I think the hard work feels good. And you know, you're going in the right direction. There's many, many ways to make a career in creativity. I think everyone has to find their niche in that. And it doesn't always have to be a career creativity is a really personalized experience and how it fits in your life awakening that artists within was important to me, I watch when I teach and teachings my first and greatest love. I watched this unbelievable awareness awakening of just wow, I've dreamed of this my whole life. Everyone's told me, you know, or I've told myself, I can't do it. But I actually can and so that that moment for me is I get chills every time I see it. I love it. It makes me cry all the time. Because I just feel like this is an incredibly powerful awareness that we are capable of anything right? And so to me, the art is really an unbelievable vehicle for that.

Kate Shepherd 12:31
What do you think is the biggest obstacle or the biggest sort of thing that we tell ourselves that stops us from just spontaneously being free and being creative from the get go? The big one that you see people say,

Willow Wolfe 12:41
I'm not, I'll use the words I'm not, I'm not this, I'm not that there's a lot of labeling that we do in ourselves. There's a lot of and I still see myself at times go, oh, I don't know how to do this. I'm not this. And so I have to catch myself and say, maybe not in a second. But I can learn how to use Excel, because I haven't, because I need it for something. I mean, and I find Excel creative. I mean, I'm busy making colorful blocks all over the place. So I think it's that statement in our head, I can't or I'm not is a narrative that I think we all want to work towards flipping or tweaking to say, you know, maybe I'll try or I'm going to give it a go. And I still have to do it with myself. I'm not I said to myself a couple months ago, I'm not a gardener. Well, I know, you know, I've got a garden, it's a mess, but it's a garden. And I love it. And I love the mess of it. And I love the you know the fact that flowers don't match and and I look outside every morning and it's something different. So maybe I wasn't something before but I am today. And I think we have to get a little bit closer to that awareness that who we are in this moment is always evolving and always becoming something else

Kate Shepherd 13:44
when somebody is in that moment of the threshold into the into the new world of the thing that they want to do or be or become there. There can be like this knee jerk reaction to say I can't I can't I started recently doing these cold plunges in the ocean. Because apparently is really good for you and all these things that it does for your cardiovascular system and all that stuff metabolism. And it does feel amazing. But the very first day that I went to do it, it was in February in the Pacific Ocean, it was cold was really cold. It was cold just to be in the air. Nevermind put myself in the water. And I walked in up to my, whatever this pace is between your ankle and your knee like I got about that deep. And the very first thing I said was I can't and I ran out back onto the rocks. And I was like, Wow, that's fascinating. I am programmed to say I can't I am programmed. I've done it to myself no it's no one's telling me I can't do it. There's nobody like there's tons people doing it. But I and so for me that doing those cold plunges and I kept going I kept going back and now I'm up to my neck for about four and a half minutes and it feels amazing and I can I can but there is that moment and I invite people to come with me all the time to do the cold plunges because it isn't me isn't even just something as innocent as that which is very non threatening. It's not like you have to become an artist and let go of your old identity. And like that isn't that but there's so much I can't. And so for the person who's like, who wants to cross that threshold? What is a gentle way as a teacher that you help them? face that fear? And take that step? Because it isn't just do it? Like, of course it is. Just do it. I mean, I know the answer is you just have to do it. But as a teacher, what have you learned are some really great ways to help people navigate that liminal space in between, I can't, and I can't, I

Willow Wolfe 15:30
think first of all, the factory near an ocean makes me very envious. I wish we'd come visit. And I will dive in love it out there. I think one of the key things is to understand that anything that we learn is a process. It's a series of of achievable steps. So often when I think we look at something, we go, I'm at point A, I have to get all the way over there. 100 steps down the road. And we forget that in the middle spaces, there's all this awareness and learning and new things that are actually really fun and exciting. If we accept the fact that we're not going to get from point A to B in two seconds or less, there's going to be this in between phase, let's accept the fact that I'm not going to necessarily know how to paint a burden, five minutes, I'm gonna have to learn how to paint an eye, and then a beak, and then some feathers. And then I'm going to put it all together and make something beautiful. And I think it's that process of awareness and education. And everything that we learn is a step by step process. You when you paint an eye, there's three steps to painting an eye. And by the way, if you miss a step, or you paint an eye, and it's a square instead of an oval, then we can teach you and you can teach yourself how to fix it. So it's now an oval. So everything is fixable, nothing needs to be perfect. It's this idea of perfection that we've convinced ourselves that perfection is a good thing. It's it's not we have this vision of what perfection is supposed to look like. Whereas art is all about messy palettes and color everywhere. And as we learn, I think it's about the process, accepting the fact that there is a process and that through that process, we're going to gain the confidence we need to feel better and better every single time with that end result that we're trying to achieve.

Kate Shepherd 17:06
And I have to tell myself that all the time with this podcast, because I mean, I'm an artist, I'm a jeweler, I'm an introverted extrovert, whatever that means. I love people, but I really like to be alone. And I'm kind of shy. So having these conversate I mean, it's such a weird thing, right? Like we've never met before. And all of a sudden, we're having like this deep and meaningful conversation, like there's a, there's a jump that you have to take as a person to kind of like have that skill set. And every day, I tell myself, well, every time I push myself to do this, I'll I'll be a little bit better at it. And I'll learn something a little bit more about it. And if I had just waited until I was like the best interviewer in the world, I never would have started these conversations. And this is just, I mean, this project has brought me so much joy, I had this, these words come to me the other day, you can't be the thing you want to be without being the thing. So go go build the thing, like just go be the thing. And you could suck at it. It's okay. Like even if you totally bomb like, you know, a painting or the eye or the interview, or whatever it is you're working on. Like, you can't you can't get to this. Yeah, you have to you have to mess up and you have to be okay. I love that you talk about accepting, like, this is where we are at in the journey. And when you look at the bigger picture, you can see that that's part of most people's journeys, right? Like there's parts where you fail in these parts, right? Yeah, why paint brushes? How did that they're beautiful. So this girl at the at the paint store was like you have to try Oh, I'm they know me. They walk in, they're like, Okay, it's here. Let's store all the expensive stuff and all the great stuff and all the new things. And so she she pulled me over to your brushes, which are beautiful. And of course I bought them I bought three different sets of them and brought them home. And like what's the story there

Willow Wolfe 18:40
years and years ago, when we started the store manufacturer came along and said, We'd love for you to write a book on painting and my first book, beautiful birds, I'd never written a book, I had no idea. I just love to teach. And I taught you know, in person all the time and not knowing what the result would be of a book, it hit my goals that hit larger chain stores. So all of a sudden, I was very fortunate to get phone calls to fly somewhere to teach a seminar. And eventually I sold the store where and I went sort of travel teaching and I think I was only about 2021 This people would say, you know, I have this brush, but it's not holding up. What do I do with this? I have this but it's not working for this purpose. You know, why didn't this clean out properly. And I thought why I need to understand the tools better. I need to educate myself on the paint, the brushes, the surfaces. And I went on this journey of sort of exploration. And I was very fortunate at the time to begin working with a brush manufacturer who said as an artist who teaches we want your help to help us design new shapes and sizes to help us test brushes. And so I began this this formative relationship at the beginning it began with input and testing and and then I made a brush set with my name on it and I thought well this is interesting. And then I began working with another manufacturer and started launching and designing entire brush lines. So that aspect of creativity and I'll go back to kind of how I got to Cali our new brush line now. To me brushes is creativity so to be able to understand what hearable blend makes a brush perform with watercolor versus what hair blend with acrylic. How do you taper the end of a brush so that the paint flows properly? How do you make a synthetic work like a real natural hair so we can stop using, you know, animals in our brush products, which Kelly has zero animal byproducts. So for me, there was a few things I was really passionate about. And the other thing I was passionate about was how do we make an affordable brush that's great quality that meets the needs of all kinds of artists. So I think I spent 20 years working for others. And then in 2019, I decided it was time to make my own brush line. So kelia, which means beautiful was something that been in my mind for 25 years. And really, the premise was, it doesn't need to be complicated. It needs to be a great brush that new artists can afford so that they have quality materials. And it needs to be a brush that educates meaning. Our belief was we need to freely share how to use brushes, how the techniques were, how do you shade highlight dry brush? And so the philosophy wasn't just brushes it was? How do we take a you know, a brush company and make it an educational company? So that we're introducing artists to new things all the time. And people ask me all the time, how are you so passionate about paint brushes, and I think because it's a vehicle to creativity, and watching what artists will follow me and say, you know, check out this video on YouTube that I did with this brush, and I'll go Oh, my goodness, I never thought of using it that way. So you know, they're teaching me how to make new brushes and how to how to do new things with brushes. So it morphed from that, you know, starting phase of just having the ability to have input, to have it be my own company was really, really important because I wanted to have the ability to say, you know, we're going to keep the price low, we're going to you know, and by low, I don't mean you know, super low, but keep it affordable, and still make it a great brush and make sure that we're always manufacturing at the highest possible quality, and not sacrificing that quality was really, really important.

Kate Shepherd 21:52
I love that you've been able to create that. And I love I was reading that you're a single mom. Yes, with lots of support. I love that you've got this massive vision. Like it isn't just you know what you said about paint brushes. It's also about empowering and awakening, the artist teaching and your vision is so big. Has that. How has that been for you? Is that been a tricky thing to manage? To hold to? Yes, yeah, times I

Willow Wolfe 22:14
think sometimes my I'm one of those people who who sees the the stars and thinks they're right there and I can just touch it. And so some ways, that's fantastic. Because I'm I'm fearless in some ways, terribly shy, in some ways, couldn't even be on video camera before last summer and then thought if I'm going to reach 1000s of students during COVID, I'm going to have to start filming classes online, I'm going to have to dip my toe in the water and not worry about whether my hair is done properly. Or if my makeups on right. So there's that whole component of shooting for the stars, but also recognizing that you can only do so many things at once well, so you're gonna have to make those choices and being a single mom, nya as my daughter's name. She was at trade shows with me from birth on literally she was in board meetings, executive board meetings, throwing Cheerios at people in suits, and me saying listen, you know, wherever I go, she goes, you know, and by the age of 1516, she was kind of like, I don't know that I want to go to all the trade shows I want to stay home. And so we modified our lives. And I said we travel less, we stay home more, you know. So I think being a single mom had its will say this creativity allowed me the opportunity to find pathways to involve her in pieces of my life that were really unique and beautiful going to Rome with her to look at the way art restoration is done with paint brushes going to the Louvre to study how paint brushes are used to fix up canvases that are four or 500 years old. So you look at the journey that she shared. And then as she's growing older, she's you know, found her own journeys and she's very creative and very brilliant and assertive and thoughtful. So it's a unique little person that grew up around so many creative aspects. It'll be interesting to see where she goes and how she uses that in her life.

Kate Shepherd 23:56
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Willow Wolfe 25:02
Oh, so many things. I think my path has been very windy, and you deviate from certain pathways sometimes and then you come back. And I think understanding that it's not a straight, it's not a straight journey is really important. And I think sometimes we think it should be and we need to probably all kind of go, you know what it's okay to veer off and, and return or try again, try something new. And I think there's resilience in that. I think as a, as a creative in career, there are some unique challenges where you, you have to be able to take the word know, quite frequently. And I mean that in writing a book and presenting it and someone saying, No, we're not publishing it right now designing something that a company doesn't like, and them saying, No, we don't like that right. Now, there's a certain element of finding out why the know is there, and then deciding how we want to treat that. And it doesn't mean that we have to barrel forward and do it anyway. I think what it means is that we may deviate into something else that may lead us in a different direction. Or we may say, I don't like that. No, I don't accept the No. How do I? How do I change the no to a yes. So there's, there's as a career, there was some early rejections that were very hard at first, and then the, the awareness and I think the awakening of that means I need to learn something different, or do something differently or find a new path. So I think there's resilience in that. Can you

Kate Shepherd 26:23
think of one of those one of those rejections, or one of those things that didn't work out, that ended up being a massive blessing in the end, now that you look back lots,

Willow Wolfe 26:32
almost all of us so you know, what I to be resilient, one has to understand that the original path we had, if that path gets gets altered, then I get to pick a new path. And that new path is the right path. At that time, there are so many knows that became incredible blessings. You know, one of the first brush lines I designed was a very firm No, it was a artists won't like this, this won't resonate, this won't, you know, this won't work this way. And then when I went to, you know, a different company and said, What do you think? And they said, Wow, this is great. And it was probably one of the one of the better endeavors I've ever had. So I think it's about reframing our expectations and sort of saying to ourselves, those challenges that have come my way have become incredible opportunities for change and growth, but sometimes they're hard. So I think sometimes we we don't give ourselves I don't maybe I can't speak for others, I don't give myself enough time to take the know and and kind of go yeah, that that hurt a little bit. That was difficult. Because when you're creating something, whether it's a design or it's a brush, as creatives, there's a piece of ourselves that's in it. And so I think to recognize that in a career path, that piece of ourselves will resonate differently with different people.

Kate Shepherd 27:40
Absolutely. Yeah, it made me want to know what your creative practices like these days, like, what is yours talking about making time for looking at the Nope, I know that I was thinking, Oh, do you have time for you know, the yes, do have a daily routine for creating yourself these days? Do you have sketchbook practice or

Willow Wolfe 27:57
no, and I would like to find a new one. So this is gonna sound so much happened at once in the last two years. So when we launched the brush line, and then when I say we will a wolf has a team now we were really fortunate I have Darren who's my life partner, who's also does the graphic design and the business development. And then I have Christine who is literally packing brush orders right now. And then I have nya who's doing some social media. So we're really kind of growing. And so when the brush line launched, we anticipated that it would be very small, and it would take me 10 years to get anywhere and and I was fine with that. And I was gonna you know, paint and do all these quiet things. And then all of a sudden, it exploded and what we what we kind of what was wow, we didn't necessarily reach out to retailers. And we were very fortunate that some would call us and say, Hey, we heard about this little line and what's going on Willow and we would, you know, we would have these calls. And I would say you know if it's not the right time for you, that's okay. They go no, no, you know, it's the right time. And I go wow, so we just really felt really grateful and fortunate to have such good relationships with retailers and artists and and people and we did not anticipate the growth that we've had. It's been very unexpected. So there was that in business, I say, because I do some business mentorship, you want to try not to grow too fast, make sure you you know, have these nice even steps and go incrementally. Well, we kind of went from midline to just go go go for about the last year and a half. And then last year, we launched online classes which then exploded further and so we kind of I lost the creative time, which I think happens to many of us you know at different times in our lives, where we sit back and go okay, wait a minute, when I'm creating Am I creating something that I love? Am I mixing color I love and for example I was teaching a color mixing class the other day and the students said Well, you told us to mix this color but I don't like it I said Well then let's mix a color you do like let's let's find a color you like you want to love what you're doing you want to love the process. So when I find myself deviating from that from from that purity of just painting something I want to paint because I want to paint it I start to carve out time which I've started To do lately, to be alone, to be honest, for me, it's that I seem extroverted, I'm not always extroverted, I like my time alone, I like to go to the lake and look at the water for two hours having coffee and doing nothing. So now recognizing that we've been on this exceptionally fast trajectory, and I need to slow some things down. Just as an example, I head to the lake on Friday morning, and I'm staying out there for a week, three days of it are our time where I have slotted nothing in, I'm going to take some paint brushes, and I've got surfaces out there and I don't even know what I'm going to paint. I just feel like in my head right now something saying to me, you need a black background with crisp white flowers and something fresh and a Midnight Garden. And I don't even know where it's going. I'm just going, You know what, I need to just let that process happen and kind of leave some of the the administrative stuff we've been we've been working on so much to the side a little bit. I think it's common for myself to lose my way and creativity and have to kind of go, how do I? How do I make sure that I'm finding the right space for that time? That's so important.

Kate Shepherd 31:04
It makes me think of somebody told me or I read somewhere about how like a flight, let's say you're flying from Toronto to New York, or LA or whatever. The plane doesn't just go in a straight line it goes and then it kind of veers off. And then the the pilots job really isn't flying its course correction all the time. Like, okay, come back here. Let's go here that it's all about that. Like, that's all they're doing. Really. Yeah. And when you were saying that I was thinking like, I think we can be really hard on ourselves. When we allow ourselves, I realized that I launched this podcast, like I had this epiphany. It was like this giant download from I don't even know where that I had to do this show. And I was like, what? Oh, what? So like, kind of, you know, holding on to that and then making it happen. And in doing that, and then eight or 10 Months went by, and I realized I hadn't been doing my own art. And the whole show was about like inspiring others and connecting people with this thing. And I was like, oh, and I know what that was like for me when I when I had that. Because it's like a remembering, right? Like it was kind of like waking up what what was that like for you? What do you what is that experience like for you? And you when you catch yourself? Like what are the steps? What are the signs that you are,

Willow Wolfe 32:05
it's a full mind, my mind's too full to think clearly. And I'll see it and I'll go, it feels my mind feels cluttered. It feels like there's a lack of clarity. And it feels like I'm having a difficult time making clear decisions. So I'll recognize sort of a, I'll call it a little bit of a frenzied state. And I'll say to myself, Okay, I need to slow that down a little bit, and leave some open space for the creativity that I need to come back in. When I feel that sense of cluttered. It's not a real word, I'm sure a cluttered Ness will call it, I sort of backtrack and say I need to declutter, and I need to give myself the room to be creative and to try some new things or to do nothing. And that's the thing, I think, great things come from nothing. So sometimes that two hours of the lake of staring at the water, drinking coffee, after that I'm calmer and the rest of the world can kind of sink itself back in and feel rejuvenated and exciting. So open space is critical for me and leaving room on my plate that's not completely full, so that there's room for good things to step in there that I may not even have anticipated is is a critical part of of my process,

Kate Shepherd 33:08
as you're saying that I was like, Oh, she was glitching. That's what we're doing. Like I talked about it as a humanity. But then I'm like, oh, that's what I'm doing in my life when I let the rational mind takeover and kind of run the show and be kind of you know, in the driver's seat, right? Like if I let that go on for too long. I personally glitch so the lake and the quiet space and the listening to that calling like that painting, I can't wait to see it. I'm gonna follow along and see what you do. Because it's calling you like, I can see it calling you from here as you as you're speaking

Willow Wolfe 33:36
it does it does it begins to form in a certain way. And then it changes and then and then you know, it comes out on paper, I never have a full idea of what something will look like till I'm in the middle of it. And then it still changes. There's days when I paint a bluebird, and somehow it's pink when I'm done. And I just kind of go Oh, yeah. And, and I sometimes get questions. What kind of bird is that? And I go, I don't know, it's just a pink bird. You know? So. So I think that, that openness and that that and yeah, you know glitching I think it's interesting because I said to Darren I think this was about January I would say I glitched I was way overwhelmed. I was doing too many things. I wasn't quite focused on the things that make me feel fulfilled. And I offloaded and sort of said You know, we're gonna delegate this here, we're gonna move this over, I'm gonna do a little bit less here and open some space and and let let sort of some creativity seep back in.

Kate Shepherd 34:22
I've loved this conversation with you. I feel like we're, we've just gotten into this beautiful world of like mindedness and understanding. One of the things that I asked everybody to share at the end of our conversation is the billboard. It's a billboard question. And it's, if you had a billboard that you knew that all everybody in the world who had this longing to be more connected to creativity, or maybe even was glitching and didn't know it, but they, they, they were kind of stuck in that place, but they were going to see your billboard, they're going to see your message. What would you what would you put on that message for them?

Willow Wolfe 34:56
There's no one answer. What's a really strange thing about the way My brain works as I'm sure that billboard would change 10 times in a 10 day period, I would say awaken, awaken the artists, for me stands out as. And when I say artists, that does not mean paint to paper necessarily, it means whatever you do that makes you feel creative. So I think awakening the artists just beginning to start to just begin. But I think that statement would change for me, depending on on any given week. And I really do think that, that it's important for all of us to start small steps and start doing something. And I'll give an example, I just started learning how to cook. I'm obsessed with the colors in roasted vegetables lately. I'm obsessed with the fact that beets make red juice that I think Oh, my goodness, I wonder if people use this to paint with 100 years ago, and then I start Googling it. And I was intimidated by cooking because I never learned how when I was young, so I think we just have to begin somewhere and then let it go where it goes from there.

Kate Shepherd 35:49
I love the variety of answers that that come from your years is not an uncommon reaction to that question. A lot of times people are like, Oh, God, there's so many things I would put on that because there isn't just one answer. But I love that you kind of in a roundabout way said the thing that that person back in university said to you, which is it's time for you to just start being you. And I feel like that's that's kind of what you're saying, right is that it's time to just start and just take the actions? It's a trick question, because there isn't really like one thing that's going to, you know, but for you, that seems to be something that really resonated and worked and has been a, you know, an important rallying cry for you throughout your life and has really helped you a lot. Yeah, I

Willow Wolfe 36:25
would say so. And I think we have to come back to that and sort of go what is me today, and I'm gonna get back to that and keep right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Cuz

Kate Shepherd 36:32
that changes to every time, right? Like, Yeah, where's the best place for people to find you online so that they can see your work and the brushes that we're talking about? They're amazing for everybody listening, honest to goodness, go find them in the nearest store to you that carries them and give them a try. They are amazing. I really do love them.

Willow Wolfe 36:47
Thank you. So yeah, yeah, that's Thank you. And yeah, you can just AP visit, my website will a There's brushes and and the paints that we love and stencils and surfaces and new classes coming out almost every single month that we just love to do. So thank you. And thank you so much for having me on here. I'm sharing, sharing, I think the message is just amazing, and incredible and beautiful. And I want all of us to sort of look at when we're glitching and go, How do I not glitch right.

Kate Shepherd 37:16
Yeah, I'm like, I've learned so much from this conversation to just like I and that because the thing is we know all these things, right? I mean, I think when we hear something and we go like, ah, and it feels like this light bulb moment. It's not because it's a new thing. Usually, it's because it's something that we already know that we're being reminded by the right by the end. So I've learned so much from you in this conversation. So thank you for that you. And

Willow Wolfe 37:37
I think this being a vehicle for just us to share and the world gets really distracting. So being able to sort of share the the ideas and remind ourselves and even just talking about it, I go oh, yeah, that's why I love what I do so much. And, you know, sometimes we get so busy and we're, you know, we're on Facebook, or we're doing something else. And we forget why you know why we love what we do and why we should try new things. And I think it's important to kind of keep reminding ourselves to, to just keep keep doing new stuff. And yeah, be creative.

Kate Shepherd 38:05
Thank you for reminding me about those things. Thank you. I loved that conversation with you. That was so cool. It is such an awkward thing like to just kind of go into it with somebody that you don't know before. But what I've just found is everybody is a friend like yes, everybody is a friend. And I can get really nervous. I've interviewed some Did you ever listen to the bigger tinius? No, they're a big Canadian band. They were like, huge over the last kind of mostly 15 years ago or so. But they're just a big part of my life. And I had an opportunity to interview one of the band members. And I was like, Oh my God, and she lives in Vancouver and but we ended up like becoming friends who's over here for dinner last week. And like, like, I played their music at my wedding. And like just reminds me we can get really sort of Starry Eyed about, you know, people who have this big channel of creativity coming through them and know they're different than us. And actually, we're all just friends. We're all just trying to wrangle this crazy energy and make it work and live our lives. And yeah, be a good human. Yeah.

Willow Wolfe 38:59
And I think we were all looking for that connection and that belonging and I think if we don't share these conversations, I think these conversations help us remember, you know, when I come to when I come to your neck of the woods, I hope to be able to say to you can can we go you know, in the ocean and the freezing cold and you can show me how to do this. I mean, I would love to try that I've never done it, I think it would be beautiful. So I one of the reasons I love this career so much is the friends throughout the world. You know that I've met the friends I hear from I went to Florida the other day with my daughter a couple weeks ago and I called up some students I have and said we're in Florida and you know, you connect I just love the connection and the sharing and the ability to be vulnerable without judgment, I think is is critical, right? Just just to care about each other's lives and processes and where we're at today and help make it better for everyone.

Kate Shepherd 39:46
Right? And art gives us such an amazing vehicle to have that it's almost like I remember before I had kids, I had a dog and I go the dog beach and that as a new newcomer to the city. That was a blessing to be able to have something to talk about and share meaning of how to make, you know, I made tons of friends at the dog beach that I, you know, some of them I still know today from years ago, because you have this shared thing. And it's like somebody you can talk and I feel like art is so like that too. Oh, have loved this conversation. Same Thank you. I really love willows, energy and approach to everything I really felt when she said that she's somebody who looks up and sees the stars and feels like they're right there. And why can't I reach them that resonated for me, I feel like there's so much about creativity that comes in the form of these visions. And we have this idea of what we want to create. And it feels so possible in that moment. And then when we get onto the ground, and try to actually bring that into life, it although all the challenges present themselves to us. And I think that actually is the dance. I think that is the beauty. I think that is the journey, that creativity intentionally takes us on. If you take one thing from this episode today, I hope it's this, it's time for you to choose to be you. It's time for you to do the thing you came here to do to give your gifts and to receive fully the gifts that you are also being offered. Sometimes there is so much build up of conditioning, it's like this crud in our psyches. And we need a little help to slough it off so that this radiant knowing creative version of ourselves can step forward and shine and take over the driver's seat of our lives and lead us on the adventure and the journey that we were born to do. To do this, we do have to begin to identify a little less, with the smaller conditioned parts of ourselves, the parts of us that have a story about what creativity is about what our limitations are with it about limitations of who we think we are the parts that protect us and keep us small and stop us from taking risks, so that we can allow this more raw, pure, true nature or creativity to kind of settle into the seat of our being and start to run the show. So I've created this journal exercise to help you identify a little less with the small protective parts inside of you, and a little more with your boundless, infinite creative self. So I want you to get your journal ready, make yourself a nice cup of tea. Give yourself 30 minutes today to do this, really give yourself time to sink into these questions. I would recommend writing down the questions all first in a kind of cluster in your journal, and then go back and rewrite each question out as you're answering them. So the first question is, how do I access the friendly, benevolent nature of creativity in my daily life? What are the things I'm currently doing that connect me with creativity? And the second question I want you to write down is, what are my unconscious beliefs about creativity? What do I think creativity is? Who do I think it's for? How do I think it works? What are all my like, really prod around in there and find out? What are all the things you're holding and the stories you're holding? And how you define it would be a great way? To start with this question. How do I define creativity? Who do I think it's for? The next question is, What did my heart and gut already know about creativity? You know, before I start thinking all the thoughts and going into the bow of the rational mind, what is my heart and God already know to be true about creativity? What do I most need for creativity to bring me right now? Am I willing to receive and what am I specifically willing to receive? And then going back to the question about what your beliefs are around creativity, start to take apart what parts of these beliefs about creativity are dated, toxic are simply ones I don't want to hold on to anymore? And once you've identified those, the final question for this exercise is to write down what are the beliefs about creativity that would serve you better if you could just choose beliefs like menu items? What beliefs would you choose to believe about creativity, what's going to serve your emergence even more? Let me know how you do with this exercise. Feel like it can bring so much light to this amazing unfurling that you're in. Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter. I pick a random person from my email list once every month and send them an original piece of my artwork. It's one of my favorite things to do. It takes a lot to put together the show. Please consider supporting me to do it. You can visit Genius podcast to find out more and please keep my jewelry or paintings and especially gratitude birds which keeps selling out in mind. Next time you're looking for a treat for yourself. or for a loved one. You can find everything I've mentioned on Kate Shepherd Thank you for being here, for opening your heart and for listening. My wish and intention for the show is that it reach into your heart and stir the beautiful thing that lives in there. May you find and unleash your creative genius

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