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Inner Healing Through Art • by Crystal Marie Neubauer

Crystal Marie NeubauerRick Warren writes, when you share your strengths you create competition. When you share your weaknesses you create community. Now I have to admit, it wasn't in reading Rick's latest book on finding purpose for my life that I came across these words; rather, it was my husband reading them to me from somebody’s Facebook status, but the quickening in my heart when I heard them made me realize it was something God was affirming in me.

Recently a group of fellow artist-women-friends and I have been dialoguing about our dreams of developing a series of workshops and retreats where women can go deeper in their creative lives, a place where they will be supported, encouraged, and strengthened in their identity and worth as a woman and come away with the tools they need to begin to trust the voice they hear inside to guide them. A place that feels more like a community of friends who have gathered for a weekend of fun and fellowship than just a series of art-project oriented workshops.

A Heavenly Language
Art can be used to channel and express feelings in ways that words alone may fail to do. The process of learning to listen to myself as I create is one that has been evolving over several years of working through very personal and painful past issues. Working in total silence, the process is meditative and worshipful. The abstract nature of each collage becomes an unspoken heavenly language, a prayer, or an offering. I e learned to tune into my thoughts, to be present in the moment, and to allow the stories of my life or issues of the day to be brought out visually, often subconsciously, until there is a spark of recognition or an ha moment when the art begins to speak to me. Oftentimes there are overwhelming emotions tied to these stories, so I turn to a breathing technique I learned a few years ago from a very wise counselor. As I breathe through the emotions and identify them, they are released they no longer control me.

This process of using art as a tool in healing from the past and uncovering my true identity has been such an integral part of changing my life that I e begun to share it with other women, uncertain of how they would respond or receive it knowing they were expecting to simply learn how to create a specific project. But each time I've included something as simple as the breathing technique I find at least one woman who writes to say it was the most important thing she learned that day.

Sharing What I’ve Learned
As the dialogue with my artist-women-friends begins to solidify into a clearer vision of a deeper more meaningful art retreat experience, and dates and locations begin to be penciled in on our calendars, I've wrestled with letting go of my desire to teach at some of the larger more well-established venues. But then an email shows up in my inbox telling me of how the breathing technique I shared became a lifeline during a family crisis and I know in my heart this is the direction I was intended to go. This July I will have my first formal opportunity during a two-hour breakout session at a venue I am teaching at called EncaustiCamp, to share what I have learned along the way using collage as a catalyst to uncover the true self in conjunction with simple tools like the breathing technique. Encaustic Art will be the main focus of this retreat, but the atmosphere will be safe, cozy, intimate, and restorative. This is where art becomes more then just a pretty picture; this is where it becomes a seed through which inner healing can flow.

To learn more about Crystal Marie Neubauer, visit


Usually, in my studio the music is going. Often loud with a variety of styles. Quiet - scares me. To slow down long enough to hear myself think, to listen, to feel things that I have kept at bay. After you have shared many times about creating in quiet...I have found myself doing this. Many times it is when I can't seem to stay focused or my creative path is unclear. That is when I turn off the music and realize that quiet is what I needed all along. Is it still scary for me? Yes, at times I feel my shield starting to come off and begin to feel. This is usually when I have created my best pieces. When the process has been the most meaningful. I admit that I still feel I have a long ways to go to realize the meaning and truth in my work. That takes time and action. I have learned from you, my artist friend, that silence will get me there. That there is more to this than the end product. Relationships brought together by our love for art, our love for creativity and our love for sharing are priceless. It takes a lot to share oneself. I am very thankful that you and so many others open up and give, sharing in community.

what a lovely, thoughtful post...we are so blessed to get to wade into your depths for just a moment. i love the way you talk about the meditative, worshipful experience of your artmaking process. i want to hear more, want to be a fly on your wall and watch you at work! encausticamp sounds like just the thing! what a wonderful time it will be...:)

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