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From a very young age, I had this inexplicable urge to say something, to share with others, to explore life deeply, and to express myself artistically. I've been a musician, writer and poet. But most of my adult life -- like many others - I've allowed my responsibilities to become more significant and more deserving of my attention. Careers, financial survival, relationships, and as time went by, simply fear - fear of mediocrity, fear of being authentic, fear of change and the unknown - these all contributed to me abandoning for years, what I now know as a core, essential element of my being. I know that I'm not unique in this regard.

I now believe that as human beings we are all artists, creating vivid lives full of texture and content, whether we are aware of this creative process or not. We need to explore, to be stimulated - for no other reason than the sheer joy of it -- in order to be whole. Maybe this comes out through the traditional arts or maybe it's expressed through other means. But I do think that there's a little kid inside every one of us who wants to crayon and climb rocks; who wants to lie on their back in the wet grass and gaze up at the clouds. This kid remembers what it was like before they were taught to censor themselves -- and they need to feel that way again.


In 1998, I cracked open a fortune cookie that read, "There is yet time enough for you to take a different path". I was struck with anxiety, and suddenly became conscious of an uneasiness that had been growing for years. I knew that change was imminent. That fortune was taped to my computer and read several times a day as I experienced the illness and subsequent death of my father, the ending of a long-term relationship, an injury resulting in chronic pain, and a stressful business transition. In 2000, no longer able to ignore this inner prompting, I took the leap of faith, resigned my lucrative, safe job -- and for some reason unknown to me, began to paint. My prior experience with this medium was limited to finger-painting when I was 3 years old.

Since that time, I've won an emerging artist contest sponsored by the local paper and galleries, which culminated in a solo show. Several of my paintings are now in private collections throughout the country. I have clear goals and direction for both my art, and the art of living. Painting has taught me to be brave; it's taught me how to trust the process of life.

Being creative takes courage. It's not about talent. Anyone can be taught to draw, paint, dance, and write. It's about giving your self permission to feel. It's about the willingness to be authentic and truly who you are. This growth process contributes to a compassionate, enlightened society. A healthy culture recognizes the importance of self-expression, and is commited to supporting its arts.

Copyright 2007 - Karen A. Leeds, All Rights Reserved