Value of Silence- Summer Art Camp reflections.

Silence gives answers ~ Rumi Reflecting on my 5th annual summer art camp where I had the joy of spending a creative week with a group of young art students.  I am thankful for their young energy.   They are PRESENT, … Continue reading

Wow! She went brave!

“Trust that little voice in your head that says “Wouldn’t it be interesting if…” And then do it.” ~Duane Michals


The idea of having an outdoor Art show in Calgary, AB, Canada seems crazy.  However, the seed was planted 2 years ago and the possibilities of having a show in this space did not go away.  It was the magic of the garden and the joy and kindness of Mary, the host and owner of a historical home that made it feel like my next best step.


Almost exactly 1 year ago, I was brave enough to follow up on an offer of a lifetime.  Mary began to show up to a few of my art events and it was a sign to not hesitate and “Ask for what you want!”  To my amazement, Mary agreed and she also noted, “What took you so long?”…

Almost exactly a year ago we set a date for the art show, Jun 17/17.
I began to paint and pray to mother nature to please cooperate with the weather.
The weekend before it poured rain all day, the weekend after we had our usual Calgary June storm.  The day of the event the sun came out and answered my prayers, a perfect day for a garden party.

DSC_5365HOPE 6X6 Oil on Canvas

Once the date was set, I began to paint with focus and a goal.  To keep myself grounded I decided to paint a bird a day, as a meditative practice.  HOPE was my first bird.  She made me happy.  I continued on and eventually had a little cheering squad to accompany me in my studio.


The accumulation of these new friends, gave me not only great joy but required me to ask for help to do the finishing if I was to meet my deadline.  Thank you to my wonderful student Cindy, we got them show ready.  Even Mr. Attitude was impressed!

MR. ATTITUDE 6×6 Oil on Canvas


Varnishing, finishing and wiring is a full time job in itself.  Many of the birds were named after artists, musicians and others that walk a creative path.



With the help of a great team of creative friends and family….The birds found their perfect spot in the garden of this historical home.
In 1946, the Allied Arts Council leased this home from the City for use as a Cultural Centre.  It was a place that many artists came together to study, create and exhibit art.
Since 1978, the Coste House has been a private residence.


Thanks to gracious hosts, Mary and Bob,  who opened there amazing home so community could gather to enjoy a day of music, art and friends.

Lemonade was served by my art students and with the assistance of my tribe of volunteers, some lucky art pieces found their forever home.

Every event is a stepping stone to the next interesting adventure.  Thank you to my book editor Elissa who shared my next dream with the guests.  Sales from this show will help to fund the upcoming book I have written and illustrated.


Coming soon…“Adventures of Wilde- A Sense of Wonder.”  

The best part was after the show, when I met with another artist friend who told me her 9 year old niece was inspired to have her own art show.
That made all my dreams come true!

Hoping to inspire you all to have a brave moment and follow that little voice …





Independent Spirit- Summer Art Camp 2016

“We teach what we most need to learn” ~ Richard BachIMG_4809

The purpose of my art camp is for the students to feel what it is like to be an artist for a week. Similar to an artist that goes plein-air painting(painting in the open air) , one must have a basic plan and then be prepared to go with the flow. …

Despite a full week of rain… the camp was a success.

There was community, smiles and fun had by all. We did yoga, meditated, painted, explored different mediums, got a little dirty, hula hooped and played tag. Learned to thread a needle and make a stitch. Even climbed a few trees.


Basic plan:

  •  SHOW UP– Be prepared. – Remember your sketchbook and lunch.
  •  FEEL INSPIRED– Set up, get grounded, paint and adapt.Due to rainfall, our physical yoga practice was 80% rained out, so we did other forms of yoga- mandalas, yoga-nidra, silent meditative walk and sketching.


    Learn from the masters. Canadian artists-Group of Seven and Janet Mitchell.

    Learn from local living artists. Thank you to the guest artists who shared their love of art and creative skills during the week. Nothing like hands on experience to gain a greater appreciation of the mastery they have achieved in their work.

    Lenny Lane-Printmaker, Linocut prints

Susan Fae Haglund, Fiber artist,- Fabric Bird Sculptures

Shauna Mireault, Dotty Mandala Rocks


  • WORK HARD– Hours of creating was accomplished.
  •  MEET A DEADLINE– Art show on final day.

They worked hard towards the final art show. Each student was allowed to choose their final acrylic painting project based on what inspired them.  We stuck to the basic plan and adapted when necessary.

My Aha teaching/learning moment happened while I was doing a demonstration for my 8-year-old student.

After watching me for a few minutes, she questioned me as I held her brush in my hand.
“Isn’t this my painting?” She asked.
“Absolutely!” I replied.  I was busted, caught in the act of creating my students work.
A clear reminder…Hands off teacher! Children have the amazing ability to know what they want and they generally go for it.

I smiled as I watched her confidently finish her painting while her little hips swayed to the music. She was in the flow…. this is where the magic happens!



The “Independent Spirit of the Artist” is the quality that shines the most.

This quality needs to be polished and protected. It is what makes us all unique. It is what makes art exciting and original. When I see them dancing, smiling and generally proud! I am again reminded that art is about the individual joy of the creator. The beauty is the result that can be shared and felt by others.

Whether you witness the experience first hand or walk in a museum to look at art. There is a sense of wonder. Where it came from? How was it created? What was the inspiration? Who was the artist?

I was honored to spend a week with these 9 artists, independent spirits, young minds and future leaders.

Michelle Austen

Summer Art Camp 2016

In Creative Spirit,


“ What I learned- you have to remove the inhibition.   Children don’t have inhibitions. Anything goes when they’re drawing or painting. Then, there comes a period, when they start tightening up, when they want to do things as they see them. It’s very hard to knock down those barriers.’ ~Janet Mitchell

Energy Exchange

DSC_9336.jpgLet’s Stretch our limits 16×40 Oil

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”~Buddha

If you have been practicing yoga at Moksha Yoga Calgary North, you may have noticed the changing art on the walls. I am the Artist and also a fellow yogini. Since the studio opened I have been doing an energy exchange- art for yoga.  The perfect trade!

My love of art and yoga has always had a way of overlapping in my life. I knew from the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training that even though both activities are very different, they have many similar philosophies.

Coming from a fitness background… somewhere along the line I decided that teaching yoga would be more sustainable to teach while I continued to pursue my art career.  I thought I would not be so tired.  WOW- I was in for a rude awakening.   I had only a few downward dogs under my belt and barely knew what a sun salutation was…let alone teach it to someone else. My poor teacher, he had his work cut out for him and truth be known, so did I!

I remember very clearly that exact moment in time, sitting on my mat, writing in my journal…it was my big “AHA” moment.  I realized why I was in the training. It was not about the perfect downward dog.  It was not to save the world, heal others, share my dimming light…it was to save me, heal me and make my light shine brighter.

In my heart, I felt like I was home.…The practice has a perfect way of meeting us where we are at…

A year later, I finished my training and that day I began my practice. I practiced everyday for 40 days. It changed my world. I surrounded myself in community and was blessed to have many great teachers. There was never a day that I did not walk out of a yoga class feeling lighter and more whole. Over 10 years later, many trainings and a lifelong commitment, I still feel the same way.

I admit that many times I fall off the train. But just like falling out of a tree pose, or being too busy to paint, I remember why I made the commitment and that I can make the choice to step back on the train at any time.

I began my yoga practice with intention to help others.   I now realize that finding the practice of yoga was a gift to me.   The gift of community, with the bonus of keeping my body strong, my breath flowing and my mind clear.   The beauty is, with the clarity and strength I gained from the practice, I can help other by sharing what I have learned.

Whether I am doing a headstand or holding a brush at my easel, I am very aware that both are rare opportunities to really be awake.  Present moment awareness – was the common feeling for me.  The feeling I wish to share.

“Yoga is the art work of awareness on the canvas of body, mind, and soul.” ― Amit Ray

Present moment awareness-I know this feeling intimately. It happens when I paint well, listen intently and practice with grace.  To me… ‘Waking up’ means being present enough to feel, be authentic and to gain the capacity of responding rather than reacting.

It is what I love and why I have made both painting and yoga a consistent practice in my life. It is where I get to feel most alive.  My career as an artist is growing and these days I spend my days painting, teaching art and sharing my yoga practice in my art camps and retreats.

I am honored and grateful to share my art in such a sacred beautiful space where it can be seen and felt.  It is the perfect energy exchange.



 “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”~Walt Disney