In Focus: Shirley Witholt
Shirley Witholt’s story of becoming an artist is re-told every day by new members who join her virtual Intuitive Painting classes at Wellspring. It’s a story of undiscovered abilities, a willingness to let go, and a healthy dose of magic.
Talking with her is a meditative experience… and her stream-of-consciousness is truly poetic. “Art is like life…all we know is this moment,” she explains. “It’s an organic unfolding, with no expectations or judgements. It happens in layers. Every life experience has its own beauty, that’s the first layer. There are always subsequent layers that can change its depth and meaning. We have to trust in something bigger, more mysterious and more loving than we have known … and be brave enough to either add more layers…or appreciate things as they are, without thinking they are accidents or mistakes.”
Like Shirley’s own path of self-discovery, many people who join her class are not aware of their artistic talent. What she encourages in all of them is a true leap of faith. “In my life there was very little room for an artistic spirit to thrive”, she says. “I was a teacher. Elementary, junior high, and high school, but the subjects I taught only rarely required me to be artistically creative. Once I retired, I took quite a few classes but I still wasn’t convinced of my ability. I thought ‘I’m just playing around here … I’m not a real artist.’ But then I discovered intuitive painting and something shifted in a major way for me. I asked my husband to change one of the rooms in our home into an art studio… and after that, the creative juices started to flow.” She explains it in a literal way. “I think that you have to consciously make space for the miraculous, …and rest there until it finds you.”
She believes that something miraculous drew her to Wellspring as well. “When I look back now, I can see how all of the dots connected. I was driving by Wellspring one day and spontaneously dropped in and asked to volunteer.” As far as she’s concerned, “All of us are guided on our path through life if we just get out of our heads and into the flow.”
For those who are not sure about whether her class would suit them, she sums it up perfectly…”How can there be a wrong way to play with beauty?”
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