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Art, dreams and the inner critic

Ever since I can remember I have loved to paint. It is my meditation to see colors merge on paper or trickle down the canvas. I have gotten to know how colors and brushes, pencil and paper, glitter and glue can help through difficult periods and have a healing effect on the soul.
The inner critic
As a teenager and child I was always creating something- drawing, painting or writing poems. I had all kinds of little journals where I would write and draw. Whenever I went on a trip, I always took watercolors and paper with me. As I got older I started painting with oil on canvas and I sometimes sold my works and many people liked them. Ever since I was a child, I had always wanted to be an artist. When I was old enough, I applied to art school but didn't get in, which was very disappointing for a young woman. I always planned to try again, maybe even abroad.
But life had other plans for me. I met my husband early on and started my own family. My attention naturally went to the children, and those were wonderful years. Dreams of art school on foreign soil were set aside for a university education in social work, buying an apartment, and everything that comes with family life with small children. But in retrospect, I also began to listen more and more to this voice inside me that said somewhere deep in the depths of my mind " who are you thinking you can paint?" "....or " what do you think you know? ” ... “ this is not good enough and you do not have what it takes”. I did go to art classes regularly, but I was terribly bored with learning to draw and paint in the right proportions. It felt like I was pretending to like it, as if I should enjoy it because I wanted to be an artist. I also grew tired of painting comissions and trying to create what I thought people would like. That inner voice, which I now simply call the inner critic, kept getting louder and louder. 
I gradually stopped painting and began to focus on other things. I was always creating something with my hands, whether it was handicrafts or making jewelry. I finished my studies in social work and focused on my academic work in that field, which was very rewarding and taught me a lot. Working with people and helping them create a new life story is also very creative. I also studied family therapy and took various courses related to therapeutic work. Still, I often felt like something was missing, a part of me I couldn't quite identify. Part of me I had forgotten.

Life has a way of shaking us up and reminding us of who we are. It wakes us up and makes us reconsider where we are in life. For me, that wake-up call came when my sisters, who were also my closest friends, became seriously ill with only a year apart. My oldest sister died in 2017, only 45 years old. Our middle sister battled her illness for seven years before passing away in the spring of 2021, just before she would have turned 47. During these years, as illness and death loomed over our family, I had to do everything in my power to believe in life again. I had to reassess my faith and find a new sense of purpose. I needed additional tools to help me navigate through this challenging time.

With the brush in the hair
One day, shortly after both my sisters had been diagnosed with cancer, I found myself tidying up a room that was originally meant to be my art studio when we first built our house. The unfortunate reality was that I hadn't painted in it for ages, and it had become more of a storage space. However, something called out to me, drawing me into that room. Among the clutter, I stumbled upon old folders filled with my drawings – sketches of all sorts. Among them were ones I had long forgotten, where I simply let my hand move freely, creating on scraps of paper. It was then that I rediscovered the therapeutic joy of sitting with colors and paper, painting based purely on intuition. There was no pressure to impress others or meet any standards of 'good enough.' I realized how much I had missed creating in this uninhibited manner, a feeling I had completely forgotten. It's rather amusing to mention that I stumbled upon an old diary during this time as well. It belonged to the 'young me,' filled with entries from years ago. In one poignant sentence, I had expressed, 'If I can't paint, I can't breathe.' The exclamation marks emphasized the intensity of that sentiment—'Can't breathe!!!!
Can't breathe!!!!! There is nothing else! It struck me as rather amusing to come across this statement in my old diary. It was a welcoming reminder of the intense passion I once held for creating. I had completely forgotten about the younger version of myself who constantly carried paints and papers in her bag, with a brush tucked in her hair, exuding the essence of creativity. She was the girl who dreamt of sitting in foreign art gardens, capturing life with her brush strokes. How could I have forgotten her? In that moment, something dormant inside me stirred awake, and I was determined not to let it go away again.
Painting for the heart and soul
Luckily, I picked up the brush again. This time completely on my terms. I was filled with such enthusiasm again. I started painting like the wind, like when I was a child and a teenager. I stocked up on little sketchbooks and pens, allowing myself the freedom to create. I began painting intuitively, focusing on the process rather than the outcome, and only capturing what resonated with me rather than seeking approval from others. It became a soulful endeavor, a means to heal and fortify myself. Transitioning from oil to acrylic allowed me to work much faster, layering colors and revisiting images repeatedly just for the joy of painting. I embraced the spontaneity of covering canvases with bold colors, painting with the uninhibited spirit of a child. Through this process, I rediscovered not only the lost joy of painting but also its profound healing power. I can't imagine how I would have navigated through that period of illness, fear, loss and grief without the therapeutic tool of painting and drawing.
Being able to express my emotions through colors, words, and brushstrokes proved to be a lifeline, ultimately saving me.
On my artistic journey, I also delved into the realm of intentional creativity, a concept I discovered through studying with Shilo Sophia. In 2016, I graduated as a teacher in Intentional Creativity (IC). Through IC, I learned to deepen my connection with myself, set meaningful goals, and use painting as a tool for creating happiness, stress relief, and mental clarity. Throughout the training, I made peace with my inner critic, granting myself newfound freedom. Though the critic still lingers, I've learned to quiet its voice when it becomes too overwhelming. Today, I see it more as a well-meaning friend, albeit a bit overbearing at times, rather than the harsh adversary it once was. Additionally, I pursued yoga teacher training during this period, nurturing my spirit and soul in a similarly healing manner. The synergy of yoga, painting, and a keen interest in integrating them with therapeutic practices has been a recurring theme in my thoughts, ultimately leading to me founding my small business Sálarlist (Kristín´s Soulful art).
Everyone can paint!
For a while, I held the limiting belief that painting was a gift reserved for the "talented". Today, I firmly believe that creativity resides within each of us. I've encountered numerous individuals with stories similar to mine—those who abandoned painting due to childhood messages about lacking 'talent.' Many are drawn to the idea of working with colors but are hindered by their inner critic, convinced they lack sufficient skill. These are people yearning to create for the pure joy of it.

This realization inspired the creation of Kristín's Soulful Art. It's my aspiration to integrate this passion into my work as a therapist, guiding individuals to unlock their creativity, deepen their self-awareness, and navigate their inner critic. My aim is to help individuals unearth and nurture their dreams, enrich their souls, and tap into their inner power and resilience.

Through Kristín's Soulful Art, I teach individuals to use soulful art as a mindfulness tool, fostering a regular practice of creativity to sustain the vital spark of life that is creativity. My teaching incorporates intuitive painting, Intentional Creativity, stress management, creative self care also using my insights gleaned from academic studies, professional experience, and personal journey.

Creating can bring immeasurable joy, peace of mind, and fulfillment. I take great pleasure in guiding individuals into the enchanting realm of creativity, helping them reconnect to their inner wisdom and intuition.

If you're ready to reignite your creative flame, I invite you to join me. You don't need anything except the newfound spark within you to pick up the paintbrush again!

With love
Kristin Berta
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