Today I’m happy to introduce you all to my ‘art teacher’ and friend Natalie Lynch. I started attending Art Mentoring classes with Natalie at her ‘Studio Yellow’ in April 2021. I’ve done seven of the eight of her Art Mentoring modules and will be completing the eighth this coming February. I’ve also attended a Block Printing Workshop which you can see the outcome of in my Art Chat #8 post, and I’m a member of ‘Club Yellow’. If you click on the Club Yellow link, you’ll see that it’s similar to a social club with like-minded people. I’ve met some wonderful ladies and enjoy our meet ups very much!
Natalie has been instrumental in helping to awaken my creative side. What she offers at Studio Yellow is unique in my opinion. I hadn’t done an art class since I was in Year 8 at high school! She’s introduced me to many different art mediums and techniques that I’d never known of before and I’ve learnt about so many different art supplies/products that I was oblivious to. Her passion and enthusiasm for art is wonderful to be around, and it rubs off on you! She encourages all her students and provides positive and constructive feedback on our work that helps us to believe in ourselves. Not only this, but once you know her story, you’ll understand what she has overcome which makes her resilience and achievements all that more impressive. She is an inspiration to me, and to many others.
Another great thing about attending art classes with Natalie is you get to meet Billy! Billy is her black Cavoodle and he is very popular with students! You can see Billy pictured with Natalie above.
Natalie was a Secondary school art teacher, who also taught Art to primary-aged children in an independent Private school before she opened Studio Yellow around 6 years ago. She has a Diploma of Teaching (Secondary Art), a Bachelor of Education, and a Diploma in Art Therapy. Her story is not my story to tell so I will let her tell it below via a series of questions I’ve asked her.
I will include links at the end of this post where you can connect with Natalie, but for now I hope you enjoy getting to know Natalie and Studio Yellow.
Can you tell readers, in as many or few words as you like, what happened in your life that inspired you to leave your teaching position and start your new business ‘Studio Yellow’?
I started Studio Yellow a few years after my husband passed away.
When he lost his battle with depression, after 27 years together, my whole world was turned upside-down and I was left heartbroken. I found the only way to cope with this kind of grief was to start learning as much as I could about Depression, to develop a broader knowledge of mental illness and all its complexities. I also started to fill the darkest hours by making art. I quickly realised making art, while grieving, was very different from before.
As I experienced the therapeutic benefits, I also found myself wondering if my husband might have lived longer if he had pursued a more creative life.
He also loved art and was accepted into Seven Hills Art College (now a campus of Southbank Institute of Technology) when he graduated from Secondary school. Unfortunately, his parents strongly advised him to choose a different path so that he could earn money straight away. He choose a cadetship and studied at QUT to become a Civil Design Draftsman. Life got busy but he always talked about doing art ‘one day’.
As I moved through my grief, I decided I needed to share what I had learned, to see if I could help others discover the power of art to heal and improve their outlook on life. After completing further studies in Art Therapy, I took a leap of faith and created a place where I could teach classes that combined a unique mix of art skills, and mindset techniques for adults.
What is your mission for Studio Yellow and do you feel like you’re achieving it?
I am passionate about helping adults embrace their innate creativity, by either learning art for the first time or re-igniting an existing interest. I show my clients how to use art as a hobby, to nurture their mental health. With my extensive professional experience, and my life experience (as a wife, mother of two, and widow), I know how to help people relax as I break down the art processes into simple, easy-to-follow steps. I also know how to cater to all learning styles and abilities. Whether you’re lonely, bored, depressed, anxious, traumatised, or just looking for a safe place to start, my Art classes are all about taking gentle steps toward living again, instead of just surviving. Many clients have said they can’t thank me enough for how much I (and the classes) have helped them.
What inspired the yellow pineapple theme for your business?
Do you know how hard it is to decide on a business name? I came up with many possibilities only to find they had already been taken. Everything arty (that I liked) was already ‘googlable’…is that a word?? I wanted to use the word ‘studio’ so with the help of my daughter the name Studio Yellow was born. Why yellow? To me, Yellow was the best colour because it represents happiness, sunshine, and hope. Why pineapples? Pineapples are yellow, healthy, fun to draw, sweet to eat, and very Queensland. The pineapple is also a symbol of hospitality, prosperity, celebration and friendship! After the logo was created (by my clever daughter) I was amazed at how many pineapples, other than the actual fruit, there are in this world. Now that I’m tuned into them, I see pineapples everywhere. Many of the pineapples in my studio have been gifts.
Can you give readers a wrap up of the variety of class and workshop options that Studio Yellow has to offer?
I offer in-person weekly classes as part of my Art Mentoring Program. Every week I teach ways to express yourself within the pages of an art journal. All the skills taught are transferable and could be used for larger art projects. I also run 3 and 4-hour workshops on weekends that focus on one topic, such as Block Printing, Acrylic Painting on canvas, making Artist Books, hand-building Clay techniques etc. My Splat ‘n’ Chat sessions are also very popular. These sessions cater to those who want to schedule ‘art time’, to work on their own art projects in my studio, away from the distraction of life. They enjoy the company of like-minded people and I’m on hand to offer support if required.
What would be your description of ‘art therapy’ and the benefits of it?
All art-making is therapeutic so the benefits are limitless. A traditional Art Therapist can help people achieve insight into a wide range of issues using art materials as a tool. Art therapy is also VERY different from Art classes taught in schools that are all about following the curriculum and learning how to express your ideas to please a real or imagined ‘audience’. My Art therapy classes don’t focus on discovering issues or having your work judged as ‘good or bad’ by others. Instead, I share art processes that anyone can dabble in, to make the whole experience relaxing and enjoyable. Learning art for the therapeutic benefits is about learning to enjoy the moment (mindfulness) and your individuality (expressing your unique thoughts, ideas, and experiences, your way). When you know where to start, art is a great outlet that helps you switch off from the mind clutter (negative thoughts and worries), and feel a deep sense of achievement. Art also helps you to develop your awareness of the visual world and the beauty that exists everywhere you look. There are art teachers out there who only want their students to make beautiful art so they get frustrated with beginners and even resort to ‘fixing up’ sections of their work for them. That’s not me. Art is only therapeutic when you are willing to experiment and even make bad art sometimes. When you remove the pressure of making art to please others you will find your inner child and the world becomes a place full of wonder and inspiration. The magic happens when you focus on the process, and you’re aware of how you feel while you are using art materials in creative ways.
What would you say to someone who says they don’t have a creative bone in their body?
I would say, you need to watch a group of small children for a while. Ask any early years educator. All children respond naturally to the Arts. But for those people who feel that they missed out on the ‘art gene’, it’s more likely they missed out on the opportunity to live a creative life. I was brought up in a family of musicians and my father was always making things out of wood in his workshop. When I was not interested in spending my spare time reading, I was encouraged to draw. I also had excellent Art teachers at High School and relatives who were visual artists…so creativity was a normal part of my life and I had opportunities. If you want to have a debate over Nature vs Nurture, I’d say ‘Nurture’ wins! I believe anyone/everyone is an artist. If you nurture your mindset and allow yourself to explore ALL of the various forms of art (collage, printmaking, inks, sculpture, etc) you’ll probably be surprised in a good way! “I can’t draw/sing/dance” does not equal “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
What is your favourite thing about having your own business and what is the hardest thing about having your own business?
After so many years when every day of the year was scheduled, I love the freedom I have now. I followed rosters and timetables, rules and guidelines, curriculums and budget restraints for almost 30 years. Now I teach what I believe to be important and set my own work hours. I do not miss formally assessing the work my students do. I love that adult students can adapt and change anything I suggest without consequence because there is no set of criteria to adhere to. The hardest part is making myself take time off. I have so much I still want to achieve before I retire (when I will really focus on making more of my own art). Another hard part of being the founder of Studio Yellow is the constant reminder that the concept for this business and my ability to offer the services I have, only come about because of the loss of a wonderful and loving man. It feels wrong to say “I love my life and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved” when I also wish the father of my two children was still alive. He would be turning 60 this year, in July 2023.
I know you have a new element to Studio Yellow in the works. Would you like to tell readers a bit about what you’re working on?
Soon I will be launching a new program for people in the early stages of grief. ‘Art Waves’ will only be offered online, so it can be accessed wherever and whenever overwhelm takes over. Through my association with First Light, I am very aware that many people live in areas where art classes for adults don’t exist so they can’t physically attend a class even if they felt strong enough to get out of the house. While I think in-person classes are the best, grief comes in waves, at any time of the day or night. I want to have an online option for people who are grieving regardless of their other circumstances. Getting the content online is a daunting process, but again, I’m taking baby steps so it will happen this year!
Thanks so much Natalie for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing your story and thoughts with us all. I feel certain that your husband would be so proud of what you’ve achieved! I’m excited for you with the upcoming launch of ‘Art Waves’. I think it’s a fabulous idea and will be appreciated by many!
If you’d like to know more about Studio Yellow or would like to connect with Natalie, here’s where you can find her:
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Denyse Whelan’s ‘Wednesday’s Words and Pics‘