We had the good fortune of connecting with Helen Bradley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Helen, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I knew it was time for me to leave a 20-year administration job. And if you know me… I am not a desk gal at all. Before that job in administration, I was a Kindergarten Teacher which I loved… A teacher of early education. On the floor most of the time… exploring and creating a place for these children to express freely and grow into the strength of who they were. I had a strong niggle on many levels, that it was time to leave administration. What I did not know, is what was next, except, what I did know is it dealt with creativity. I actually said a prayer every day “Dear God, given my gifts, talents, skills, experience, education, desires… what would you have me do? “ I also took a class called “Artist Way” designed around the book “Artist Way” written by the masterful Julia Cameron. I can actually say doing this class, and the exercises assisted in stepping into my life’s work. Two of the creative practices in this book are “Morning Pages” and “Artist Dates”. Morning pages is 3 handwritten pages of free form writing to get the gunk out of your consciousness. No spelling or grammar corrections needed. It’s purpose is to free the consciousness of cobwebs, etc…. to allow more creative flow. Artist Dates are a date with yourself to nurture your inner artist. Simple steps like going to an Art Store, the beach, whatever is nurturing to the inner self and something the promoted curiosity and wellbeing, etc. And Artist Dates are designed to be done alone. During this time, I had been following a woman who was an Expressive Art therapist. This work sounded interesting to me, and I wanted to find out more about it. I set up an interview at her studio and, as soon as I walked in, I felt I had found my calling. All the bells and tingles were going off inside. She took me through an Expressive Art process and every cell in my body knew… I could do this, I have the skills, education, experience, and talent…. It felt like an incredible fit. I registered for her training program that included creating, promoting and facilitating your own Expressive Art Class…. And that’s where the story started. It has been 12 years ago since that time and I have been facilitating and coaching individuals in their Creative Expression ever since. I call my studio “Playful Art Studio”. Playful is in the name as I strongly believe that adults have learn to be way to serious and Creativity starts with PLAY. Pablo Picasso says it well, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up” I have also been devoted to creating my own art professionally, and spending time nurturing my own Inner artist. I believe that Creative Expression and ART serves both a gathering of community and serves the world. I honestly believe that if everyone devoted the time to have some form of Creative Expression/Art that goes past the thinking mind, and allow ourselves it to Express fully (without hurting ourselves and others) we would have more peace and contentment on the planet. When you take the time to close your eyes with a brush full of paint in your hand or if you allow yourself to dance with no form, just with the simple idea of allowing flow to be expressed without thinking. I have noticed that we as individuals are so used to producing, thinking, achieving, and judging. I have seen time-and-time-again many transformations happen in my studio with the process of Expressive Art that takes my breath away. I honestly say so many times…“How did that level of Creativity Happen” There is intimacy, honesty, vulnerability, Art (Visual, physical movement, Sound and Verbal) that happens within a session or a group. And the sharing between the client or individuals in the groups becomes so intimate. Basically, the most important ingredient that I have found thru intention is to create a space place for each individual. A place to be heard, nurtured and seen. It does not matter if you believe you are Creative or an Artist. I hold the intention that each of us are our own unique Artist. And my goal is to provide a place to allow the thinking mind to take a rest. I usually will start folks with their eyes closed and have them get in touch with body sensations, sounds and movements and bring that thru the body on to the canvas or whatever Art we are creating with their eyes closed. In this process the individual gets to listen to the Art from its own voice and ask “How can I serve you?”. When Art making is complete, they then get to interview the Art and hear what it has to say. “What is its story?”. Just with holding the safe place for this…. The Magic of Creativity takes place. It is palpable.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Both with the Art that I create and the workshops I facilitate and clients I serve…. I would say the main ingredients are Curiosity and Service. I am a soul centered, and a vessel of creative curiosity with a bit of wild-at-heart. I believe Art is everywhere and Everything is Art.. and strongly believe that everyone is an Artist in their own unique way. One of my true callings in life is to assist others in opening up their own unique Creative Expression. And this is done through allowing yourself to be curious, play and explore…. l dive into my own Art-making with a bucket load of curiosity and the unknowing of what will happen… Play, get messy… (REAL MESSY) and allow the Art to tell me what is next. Sometimes the gestation and completion of a piece may take hours, weeks, months and even years as they all have their own timing and story Always curious and excited to try new styles and techniques, I am a forever student of learning new fun ways to create. Art materials is like walking into the best toy store around. It is my JAM… I love to find and discover new ways to make marks and interesting designs to add to my paintings with some obscure item… a branch, leaf, earplugs, some carved vegetables, even an ear of corn.. the list goes on Color is my love language. All Colors… from a Rich Vibrant to a soft matte palette. All Colors are equal in my paintings… Although colors and images of the Southwest tend to show up more often than not. Turquoise, Teal, browns and Rust colors find their way into most pieces of Art. I was born in the Southwest… El Paso, Texas Art and creative expression are a way I often work out challenges in day-to-day life. It is truly a therapeutic practice. I believe art can be a prayer and many times my paintings/drawings have answers to prayers. Something happens when I go into my artmaking with the intention of a prayer and curiosity. One of the favorite workshops I offer is called “Paint Your Prayers” One of the biggest challenges I find in my own creative process, and with clients, is dealing with the “beloved” inner critic, who’s purpose is to seemingly protect us from looking like a fool when we are adventuring into a new or uncomfortable creative action. In my studio we often embrace this part of our ego, because, I have learned that if you resist, yell, fight, or tell this critical voice to get lost … it won’t.. it will even get louder… and louder.. One of the workshops I offer is “Creativity UnLeashed. In one of the sessions, I have participants bring in a character/cartoon picture of their inner critic that depicts its voice and appearance. I have clients introduce their Inner critic by name and the sound of its critical voice. We then make ART with the inner critic…. And really find out what its story is…. Once you get clear of this part of our ego, you can often start having a dialogue when it shows up. For example, “Hi Charles.. Thank you for your input and caring, and right now I am serving this painting, you can take a break and I will talk with you later.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The Beach, An Art Studio. I don’t really have that many favorite places. Except an Art Supply store like Blick or Graphaid or Nova Color. Or any other Creative Artist Date in our lovely city that they are interested and curious about. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
John-Roger and John Morton- my Spiritual Teachers https://www.msia.org/ Ron and Mary Hulnick – University of Santa Monica https://www.universityofsantamonica.edu/ Robert Holden https://www.robertholden.com/ Carolyn Fryer Jones & Michelle Bauman. https://www.carolynfreyerjones.com/ The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. https://juliacameronlive.com/ Flora Bowley – https://florabowley.com/ Pamela Underwood – http://www.pamelaunderwood.com/ Many of my artist friends & clients and believing mirrors – Lisa Grech http://www.lisagrech.com/, Melody Barooni, Kristy Villa, Jon Bauer https://jonfbauer.wixsite.com/mysite, Daniel Bonney, Don Langworthy, Alanna Chee, Michelle Cowan http://www.singforyourspirit.com/SIng_for_your_spirit/Home.html, Lisa Bay Santiago, Katy Mullally, John Hruby https://www.johnjhruby.com/ and many many more. My Loving and Supportive husband – Allan Bradley
Website: Playfulartstudio.com, helenbradleyart.com