Art Studio Fosters Judgment-Free Self-Expression
Jan 30, 2015 11:51AM
● By Sheila Julson
While growing up in Tucson, Arizona, artist and life coach Cecelia Blenker, founder of True Creative You Art Studio and Life Coaching, in Waukesha, was inspired by the desert landscape. She spent much time outdoors and always loved to draw, paint and create; her mother encouraged her artistic pursuits, enrolling Blenker in craft classes and art-themed summer camps.
Blenker was also active in caring for the family’s horses and briefly stepped away from art during high school to focus on showing her thoroughbred, Lad. She resumed her artistic interest while attending the University of Arizona, where she met her husband, Joel, a Waukesha native, during her freshman year.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art and art education in 1999, Blenker taught elementary school art in Arizona but enjoyed creating her own paintings in her leisure time. Influenced by artists such as Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe, Blenker found the creative process soothing for the soul.
In 2006, she and Joel moved to Wisconsin. Blenker taught art for the Lake Geneva School District and later earned a master’s degree in education from Carroll University. Honoring her muse, she took a studio inside The Springs: Gallery/Studios, an artists’ coop in Waukesha, where she continued painting. She also enrolled in workshops led by inspirational painter Flora Bowley, who Blenker credits with shaping her current style of painting.
However, it was a workshop in Tucson on process painting, an artistic form that focuses on the experience of painting rather than the final product, that propelled Blenker toward following her true dreams. “I knew I had to do something more with my art and follow my heart and my creativity,” she relates. “I loved teaching, but it just wasn’t fulfilling anymore. I needed to make a change.”
With a vision of enhancing lives and inspiring imagination through art, Blenker returned to school once again; this time, to pursue a master’s degree in counseling through Concordia University. In 2012, she combined her education, experience and passion for art and opened True Creative You, inside The Springs. “It’s scary starting your own business, but I felt that I needed to follow my intuition,” she affirms. “I finally said yes to what I wanted to do, and my husband was supportive.”
True Creative You offers private lessons and a variety of creative classes for kids, teens and adults. Art journaling classes encourage students to create a visual journal of painting, collage, mixed media and writing to express thoughts and feelings. Blenker also hosts art-themed birthday parties, where she provides a painting project and attendees can bring cake, food and other celebratory elements.
Blenker strives for an atmosphere where people feel safe and can express themselves and grow creatively. “I’m non-judgmental,” she assures. “I’m very open and flexible and encourage everyone to explore their own way to do a project.” She’s creating online art journaling courses and continues to grow her studio classes, focusing on painting, process painting and art journaling.
In 2013, Blenker became a certified life and spiritual coach through World Coaching Institute and a certified transformation meditation teacher through Transformation Meditation Institute. “My goal was to combine art and life coaching,” she explains. “I’ve now created individual classes that combine the lessons and exercises of life coaching with artistic expression. I think it creates a powerful way to look at life and make changes.”
Blenker and the other artists that comprise The Springs are active in the community and promote the ways in which art can be therapeutic. They participate in Waukesha Art Crawls, held five times yearly, including the next one on March 7. In addition, Blenker led a holiday-themed painting class at Waukesha Public Library through the Art for the Holidays program.
Blenker calls her art, created with acrylic paints, intuitive expressionism. “I create layers purely from intuition in all colors and shapes, whatever comes to me. I just let it come out onto the canvas. It’s a very freeing process. Then I’ll let it sit for a while and look for inspiration from nature, such as butterflies or flowers. I choose my images and paint those on top of my painted canvas.” She sells art at her studio and through her shop on Etsy.com, an online marketplace for independent artists and crafters.
She likes to read, spend time with her Jack Russell terrier mix, do yoga and cook. “But I like to spend time outside,” she says. “I love nature and animals, and those things always come up in my paintings.”
True Creative You Art Studio is located at 521 Wisconsin Ave., in Waukesha. For more information, call 262-955-0638 or visit TrueCreativeYou.com.