We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michelle, why did you pursue a creative career?

Throughout my life, I’ve identified as an artist even as other labels felt too limiting. In general, categories are too confining. Not so with “creative” ; anything is possible!

It became a mission in life for finding a way to blend work with what I love. Art represents the beauty, creativity, expression, exploration, and most importantly, it helps me piece together that which cannot be spoken or related in any other ways. And looking back, even when there were times when sitting down to work on personal art was sparse and felt like a luxury, creativity was a guiding present force in the processing of information, and how I chose to act in the world. It can inform our ideas and actions, even in regular activities such as everyday cooking, for instance. Often, the thoughts of “why are things done this way?” and “how can I see this differently?” led the way.

My latest chapter has been to delve fully into my own art, though my devotion to art has a time line, which includes: beginning with childhood, where the world of my imagination helped me sort and make sense of my surroundings; working with young children and families in community organizations to foster creative expression; and later, pursuit of art therapy education with the aim of art-based healing with clients.

Whenever life brings challenges or change, I find myself coming back to the question of how art and creativity will fit into the new phase, because it is the essence rather than the option.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

Making art is my soul’s expression. When I spend time in my studio, I enter sacred space to explore, to create, to feel incredibly alive and free.

My interactions with the world usually find their way into my creative realm. Nature, travel, emotions, memories, and even the questions I consider, all of these dwell in the studio.

Though my work has morphed into a more realistic form, qualities of abstract expressionism might be my best description of it. Yet it also has an ephemeral quality to it, possibly? Or maybe that is something I just feel within.

I’ve noticed the most productive studio time comes about when I am in a bubble, thriving, in a relaxing, flowing space of music, light, and in connection, to that creative opening. It feels like a vortex, where everything is one, and time or life’s realities just aren’t relevant.

I remember bringing family members and friends to my first art exhibit in college. Unfortunately, my extremely abstract large acrylic work of that period was hard to understand or appreciate for some, and they had critical statements to share from their very logical and practical viewpoints.

I mention this to share that there was a time, in the early 90’s, in the Midwest, when I felt quite misunderstood and unappreciated as an artist. It became a struggle to find a balance, as a young married mother, and wife to see where art fit with the pressing needs of family life in a conservative setting.

Fortunately, the support of really kind, like-minded individuals helped me stay focused on being a thinking creative in that setting.

That’s how I was able to infuse novelty and expressive thought into everyday life and sustain my dreams.

Eventually, my struggles in this area of practicality vs. living a fresh, inventive existence led me first to making art again in watercolor form, (which I could easily and affordably do with limiting space, time, resources), secondly, to finding a fulfilling outlet to teach children about art in community settings, next I realized the connection between art and overall learning, then art and healing, with the final connection being mindfulness as an essential ingredient to piecing it all together.

Because of a job opportunity, our family ended up leaving our Midwest roots for the West, settling in Colorado. It was quite a setting, with immense natural beauty, isolation, and more of a rural lifestyle than we were accustomed to. Immersion in this intense beauty combined with the need to find our own way as a family and for each individual, brought about intense thought , exploration, and eventually change.

Feeling as though I had more questions than answers about life and the direction I wanted to go compelled me to pursue Jungian dream analysis under the direction of Cindy Smock. It was in this amazing group that I realized I had a journey ahead of me: to pursue a master’s degree in counseling and art therapy. This goal was in line with my value of helping others, with the aim to access their well-being and expression through art, (and other modalities including talk therapy and sandtray exploration.)

The work that I was able to eventually do was one of the great satisfactions of my life so far. The education and intense self-work experiences I received at Southwestern College are priceless, and I have continued my soul-inspired life that was nurtured there.

Currently I have an Etsy shop called Dancing Lotus Artistry, where I offer my art work in the form of greeting cards, though there are exciting developments to come! 2022 will see the expansion of art offerings, to include prints and larger canvas pieces. In the spirit of my appreciation of art and healing, I am also thrilled to be directing my skills into offering coaching sessions combining and support of clients’ life quests.

Lessons learned:
1. Follow your intuition and don’t let others dismiss your internal wisdom or dreams.
2. Being called different, weird or anything outside the norm can be a huge compliment and should never dissuade you from continuing on your path.
3. Mindfulness is a tool that can calm anxieties, clear the static, and connect you with your own vibrant expression in life, whatever that might be.
4. Kindness to self, others, and for the world will reap rewards that are priceless. Always be kind; it is a superpower.
5. Part of my self-care is balance and everyday goals: Examples of my current standards include daily nutrition (smoothies, hydration, lots of vegetables); exercise including walks, running, tabata, and yoga; meditation (Primordial Sound meditation is my favorite); studio time (show up daily to explore the sparks and where they lead); rest, and learning new things (currently I’m learning to speak Portuguese, and reading lots of new books!)

My brand is about expression, beauty and savoring life experiences. I hope to connect with those who appreciate the wonders of the natural world. Fellow travelers of the magical journey on this earth.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Most interesting sight seeing with visitors to Grand Junction:

If coffee and a breakfast treat is called for any of the days’ plans, a trip to a fun coffee shop like Copeka Coffee or Main Street Bagels would be a positive start.

Some of the incredible day trips I would want to include, would be some hiking and scenic views of the Grand Mesa; walking around Palisade, taking in the art shops, lunch at Palisade Cafe 2.0.; maybe a stop to see the alpacas and the fiber tour offered at Suncrest Orchard Alpaca farm.

No trip to Palisade is complete without a trip to a winery, and our go-to stop is often at the Maison Le Belle Vie courtyard, for a charcuterie board paired with a sumptuous glass of full-bodied red or one of their flight samples. The orchard setting is enchanting there!

Right downtown, we have several gems to check out. Starting with breakfast at Cafe Sol or Dream Cafe; perusing shops and the cool art sculptures along the way.

Wouldn’t want to miss the one-of-a-kind bountiful offerings of Willow Creek Herbs & Teas; great fashions at Zephyr’s; historical grandeur of the gorgeous Avalon Theater; a sweet treat at famous Enstrom’s, best known for their speciality toffee; lunch at Taco Party, with their innovative, deliciously fresh daily offerings, or Las Maria’s, where the easy-going vibe and outstanding Mexican food make it a local favorite.

If we were downtown longer, it would be fun to polish up the axe throwing skills at Kodiaxe, and take in a meal at our favorite restaurant, 626 on Rood.

Another unforgettable day in our valley would include taking in the breathtaking wonder of nature found in the Colorado National Monument, including time to explore trails, mesmerizing views of the 31 miles drive, and a stop at the visitor’s center.

Afterwards, heading off to nearby Fruita would provide time for a treat or lunch at several restaurants like Hot Tomato, Dragon Treasure Chinese Restaurant, or Pablo’s Pizza. On the way home, a sampling of the diverse wines offered at Two Rivers Winery would round out the day perfectly. Snacks and favorite wines to bring home are plentifully available for purchase.

If walking and immersion in natural surroundings without a full-on hike is called for, there are several ways to do so. Trails abound in Grand Junction and surroundings. Some great ones include the Snook’s Bottoms Trail, the River Front Trail, Los Colonias Trail, Canyon Park Trail, and Kindred Reserve Trail. These offer a nice range of scenery options, and are located in varying parts of town.

While out by the Los Colonias area, it would be sweet to check out the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, as well.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I would like to give a shoutout to my soulmate, Rick Nelson! He has always been an incredible support- not only in believing in my dreams becoming reality, but as an amazing husband, parent, community member, and overall human being.

As an insurance agent, he helps people everyday, with unwavering dedication, always there to sit down with a cup of coffee, and a caring demeanor.

You can find him at the Rick Nelson American Family Insurance Agency in Grand Junction.

One of the coolest things about Rick, is the fun and loving spirit he shares. We have been fortunate to explore many places together, near and far. Our travels have been a great source of inspiration for creative sparks.

Website: https://www.dancinglotusartistry.com

Instagram: @dancinglotusartistry

Facebook: Dancing Lotus Artistry page

Image Credits
Savannah Nelson

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