I have never met Beth Blair in person - but I feel as if I know her soul. We connected through my good friend, Woodie Anderson, a Winston-Salem-based artist. It reinforced my belief that we are led to some people for a special purpose. Throughout my life, I’ve encountered people - even if just for a moment - who nourished me in a way that I needed at that time. Sometimes, I’ve never met the person, but spoke by phone with them. I may never see or speak to them again, but our conversation or interaction in that moment that we shared, will resurface time and again. Their words or perspective continue to give me nourishment.
I like what Beth has to say about living a life that is mindful and with awareness. Her perspective on art and its connection to healing is also one that resonates with me. I especially like the connection between physical and mental healing and the idea that there is art in both. And that art doesn’t have to look like a painting. It can be movement. It can be a relationship.
Beth is a licensed massage therapist and somatic coach, some call it intuitive life coaching. Clients find her through referral and word of mouth, social media, or through her website SeamlesslivingNC.com. SEAMLESS is an acronym for Somatic, Energy Awareness, Meaningful (or Mindful) Living, Engaging Senses & Spirit. You can also find her on social media - FB: @SeamlesslivingNC & IG: @Seamless_creativity.
Our conversation about art and healing is below.
TF: Why do you dedicate yourself to the work of healing others?
BB: I don’t heal anyone. I help others heal themselves. Massage therapy, energy work, movement, and coaching are all conversations of healing. The client takes an active role in their personal healing journey. I feel art is a conversation of healing as well.
I dedicate myself to this work, because it is natural to me. It is a calling and I have a way of helping others on their personal healing journey. I pride myself on my honest approach to the healing arts. If I can help, I will. If I cannot, I will tell the client and help them find the right course of treatment or the right therapist.
TF: So healing is both physical, as well as emotional/mental/spiritual?
BB: The process of healing is very personal. Some come seeking relief physically, others come for emotional or spiritual support. Some find new understanding that the healing process is a blending of all three. And maybe, they find a new self-awareness. It is not mine to dictate an individual’s process for healing. I can offer my personal experience, my intuition and I can hold space for them.
TF: Is there art and creativity in fostering relationships and connecting people?
BB: Absolutely! There is the art of conversation, of being present to another person and on connecting. Creativity is energy. Relationships take energy. It is a way of being with another person and no two relationships are the same or have the same energy. Both fostering relationships and connecting with people takes time, understanding, patience and vulnerability. It also has a dash of chemistry and empathy. It is art.
TF: How is movement both creative and healing?
BB: Simple physics states, “a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest.” Movement is healing. The type of movement can define its creativity. Dance is creative and walking can be too. What is the purpose of movement? Some (movement) is just to get you from point A to point B. Other movement, like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga or fitness exercise have specific moves for healing, strength, balance, flexibility. I would say those are healing. Spontaneous Qi Gong is a creative way of moving for healing. It follows the energy flow and blocks in the body. When we listen to our bodies, movement can have multiple purposes, even communication.
TF: Is healing an inside/out process?
BB: Healing is an inside job. The healing itself is what we see from the outside/in. Think about relieving stress, it starts with thoughts and breath. When stressed our mind is busy with the million things that have to get done and most likely we are holding our breath. While the air in breathing comes from the outside, breathing starts in the brain and then muscles that draw the breath in. Once we settle the mind and relax a little, the results can be seen on our faces or in the manner in which we get things done. Healing takes time. We have to do the internal work spiritual or emotional to help address the physical pain. Healing has to start inside and work its way out.
TF: You describe yourself as a self-discovered -- not self-taught -- artist. What is the difference?
BB: I say self-discovered because I haven’t taken any specific art training, other than required art classes in school. I don’t Google for art techniques or grab ideas from Pinterest. I started painting as a personal practice. I wasn’t sure of the “hows” or “rules.” I just started - finding or discovering my way of creating. Truthfully, I don’t want to know the art rules, it would change my outcome. By my nature, generally, I am a rule follower. If I knew the art rules, they would bias my work. Plus, this is the only place in my life that I allow myself to be totally free, without planning or controlling. I have learned that if I try to control the outcome of my art, I am not happy with the results.
TF: What is your medium?
BB: I use acrylic paint on paper, canvas or recycled things like windows and shutters. I have painted tables. I also do wall murals.
TF: What is your inspiration?
BB: My process is a meditative, contemplative approach about a topic or feeling. It is a process of pulling paint off the canvas or paper once applied that created the blending and image. Sometimes it is one word, sometimes several. It may be cliché to say that life is my inspiration, but it is. I take inspiration for what I read and study, my relationships, my challenges, and nature. Really, everything is inspiration. What shows up on the canvas is what joins me in the studio at the time.
TF: What challenges you when you're creating art?
BB: My biggest challenge is getting out of my thinking mind, to the place of not thinking. It is a busy place, the mind. It has a bunch of judgment about outcomes and questions of, “is it good enough?” Creating art is something I practice. Remembering that is a challenge at times.
Another challenge is time. I have a busy work life with seeing clients, teaching Tai Chi two days a week and working part-time at a local gallery. I try to give myself time at the start of the day in the studio. This way, I don’t have to compete with other things in my life and I can nurture my creative side. This is a personal healing practice. It is time just for me. I can tend to put others first, which is challenging too.
TF: What brings you joy and motivates you to keep creating?
BB: First thought here is that I don’t know. I guess, having my hands in the paint. Most times when I paint, I use my hands. It must be my massage therapy and bodywork training that has me “hand-on” or hands-in-the-paint. I love that feeling.
What motivates me is that I can process thoughts without words through my art. I think I have a lot to still say in this manner of conversation.
TF: Have you always been artistic?
BB: No, I don’t think I’ve always been artistic. I have always been creative…in my thinking, problem-solving, conversations and even humor. I am not a recipe follower in the kitchen, other than baking. I think that is an art form itself. I’m no Julia Child or Barefoot Contessa, but I do make some tasty things, without recipes.
TF: Have you always considered art to be a form of healing?
BB: I have always appreciated art and how it has made me feel. Whether creating art or viewing it, art connects to the subconscious. I don’t know that I defined art as healing as an “always.” I do know that it has been instrumental in my personal healing journey. My clients say my treatment room is calming. Guests in my home frequently comment on how my house makes them feel and my art is all over my house. Art enhances our environments. I do visit galleries, museums and art events. It is for personal enjoyment and could even be considered self-care. It de-stresses me, brings joy and inspires conversations.
TF: Is your own art a way to express yourself and an act of healing?
BB: Yes...art is expressive. It is a language in and of itself. There are things from my life that talking doesn’t solve, fix or erase. Art can express it and healing it without retelling the stories verbally. I think this has profound healing and can speak to others is a way words or even movement cannot.
TF: How do you explain the art process internally and externally?
BB: It is my internalized feelings and thoughts that bring life to my canvas. It could be a response to things I see on the outside that inspire me. It could be a conversation that brings things to think about and then process on the canvas. It can be the internal struggle from trauma, anxiety or other things that are stirring that come out too. Once created, art continues the process as the work is appreciated from the outside view and then feelings, reflections, curiosities are stirred on the inside.
More about Beth's work:
There is a small gallery on her website. She also has an art exhibit June 22- August 22, 2019 at Footnote Coffee & Cocktails, in Winston-Salem, NC. There will be a “Meet the Artist" event on July 16th.
Additionally, she will show 25 pieces on display in the main hall and waiting room of the emergency department at Novant Forsyth Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, from August 1-October 31, 2019.