I am beyond honoured to share this, last of the Path of the heart interviews with you. It should come as no surprise to you that I see Stephanie Rayan as a role model, for I have shared her work many times. She is a holistic artist who takes a mind, body and soul approach to creating art. She lives in Pennsylvania, USA with her dog Luna, where they are currently recovering from what she describes as – a bit of a stressful year. She claims to be no stranger to hard times, insisting that it were the challenges in life that lead her to her purpose of being an artist and teacher.
I am a fan of both her art and her approach to it since I came across her Skillshare class nearly two years ago when I began toying with the idea of watercolour. It was the first time I heard an artist talk about honouring the spiritual and the sacred in the process of creating. Given my own humble approach which reflected it, I fell in love with that concept instantly and continued to follow her on Instagram where she shares all about it. Her Skillshare session begins with a soul-warming meditation, need I say more? And the flowers I painted there were enough enticement for me to decide that this is the path I wish to follow. For those of you who bought my Nurture cards set – the flowers and leaves on those complimentary sheets -she taught me how to paint them.
In this conversation, Stephanie shares about what it was that led her to pursue her creative path and why she felt she had to do it. Even when it meant working and commuting during the days, and painting during the nights while overcoming health challenges, her determination to walk the path of the heart was enough to grow from. Her story is a shining star for those who, like me might feel like they are late to a party or lacking skills, or that their idea is ˝too out there˝ to work. It only takes you to believe in it.
In her own words…
My journey started many years ago. I was thirty and sick from undiagnosed Lyme disease and trying to find my way through. Every day was a struggle. I went back to college for art and design when I was 31. At that time I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. My brain fog and fatigue weighed on me terribly, but I kept going. I really had no idea where I would end up, I just trusted that everything would work out. I eventually found great jobs that propelled me forward, but they had long commutes and I was exhausted all of the time. During that time, I started dreaming of the kind of life I wanted to support my health and my creative dreams. A life that would lift me up emotionally and support me financially. During those hard days of working and commuting, I began working at night to start my own business. I learned how to paint with watercolours and developed my style of painting which has evolved as I have evolved. Every day I took a step forward, I stretched, I felt my way through and I listened to my heart and intuition. I also took risks. I put my dreams first and I was persistent. I also had my doubts and was so scared, but I pushed away my fears and kept going.
One small, sweet, step at a time, I built my life. I created a supportive environment for my health, art and business.
Today, my art and life continue to grow and move forward, forever entwined with each other. They breathe together in a symbiotic relationship that is vital to creating art that expresses my soul. Art without the soul of the artist is void of truth.
Every day I took a step forward, I stretched, I felt my way through and I listened to my heart and intuition. I also took risks. I put my dreams first and I was persistent.
Through this time of evolution, I saw the whisper of a vision. It wasn’t clear, but the knowing in my heart was. It was time for me to take another big leap and incorporate my spirituality into my work. It has always been there, behind the scenes, but I didn’t talk about it specifically. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, I just knew it would work itself out. Everything happens as it’s supposed to and in its own time. Once I started talking about the concepts that I feel so passionately about, it all started to flow with ease.
The healing power of art
As my vision became clearer, the idea of Make Art a Sacred Practice began to emerge. My purpose with art is to have it resonate with the viewer and form a connection. This resonance is healing. A healing exchange of magic and light. This is energy work.
I have always believed in the healing power of art, but I wanted to take it a step further with my spiritual art practice. The thought of energy work and art together excited me. It’s about deepening your art practice with ritual. It’s about connecting more fully with the process of art making and how that process can bring more of your soul into your art. It is building self-care and self-love into your daily art practice by freeing you of judgement, perfectionism and fear. It is art as a spiritual practice.
I have always thought of ritual as a spiritual thing, which it is, but it’s so much more than that. I have found that rituals can serve in many ways. They can bring magic into your everyday life, promote a conscious and intentional way of living, help you to remove or alter patterns that aren’t serving your highest good and it can raise your vibration and connect you to the sacred.
As I’ve experimented with ritual, it has helped me to get grounded and move through my life easier. It has made the mundane magical. Patterns have shifted and my energy is lighter. My favourite part of this has been the rituals and sacred practices that I have developed around creating art. Little, meaningful rituals to connect me to the process of creating and to deepen my art experience. Clearing my brushes on obsidian, charging my water with my singing bowl, and infusing art with reiki energy are examples of how I am connecting more with the process. These are all ways to Make Art a Sacred Practice. Teaching was my next step. Just like my art had to resonate with how deeply I feel, my classes had to help others to make the same connection with themselves. My intuitive painting classes encourage you to let go of your need to control the outcome and trust that by surrendering to the process, you can paint beautiful expressions of your soul. I also incorporate spiritual creative tools to enhance the experience. Crystals, essential oils, singing bowls, and meditation help to align and lift your energy to a place where you feel peaceful and creativity flows. I continue to develop this practice and sacred space of connection, community, harmony and the soul.
I’ve come a long way since those early days of illness and struggle. I continue to have challenges but my life now supports the ebb and flow of my energy. There is space to breathe, there are ease and supportive practices to keep me balanced. And so my story continues, you never really arrive anywhere, you keep travelling the journey, working the path.