Making Space to Create

Mine is a custom-built studio in the daylight basement of my home. Designed and built by my husband who is also an artist, it is where I spend most of my time when I am not teaching art to children and people with disabilities. Before that, it was our guest bedroom. Before that, it was in a corner of our apartment’s master bedroom—a desk, a chair, a lamp, and a 3-drawer cabinet (I don’t know HOW I managed to create what I did in that space!). Whether yours is a spare room, in your garage, in a shared space with other artists, or your kitchen table…it doesn’t really matter where you create—it matters that you make space TO create. I truly believe the world would be a better place if everyone made space in their lives to create. We know that art can soothe and alleviate stress (which is why the adult coloring book craze was a success), and it can also open new areas of discovery, give a sense of accomplishment, and yes, make the world a more beautiful place. And, as one study found, creating art rewards your brain.

We here at Your Creative Connection have made providing welcoming spaces for women to create our mission. Something special happens when a group of women get together to create, either independently, or in collaboration. The laughter, the creative sparks, and the camaraderie are infectious. This is what we strive to present, to mixed media artists as well as those who are simply curious about a project or technique they’ve seen and wish to try.

Our Arts in the Parks series continues in February with: Notan: The Japanese Art of Light and Dark. Our creative space will be the Halifax Community Center in Raleigh, on Saturday the 16th. We hope you’ll join us to explore this elegant, and intriguing design method. Seats are limited, and registration is open now. Click here to reserve your seat, and to learn about the other creative events in the series: Art in the Parks

I hope you will make space in your life to create—the world and your brain will thank you for it!

Until next time,



New Year, New Creative Opportunities

The advent of a New Year brings with it hopes, dreams, and plans to live a better life. If your plans for 2019 include the desire for more creativity in your world, we humbly suggest that we have wonderful ways for you do so, in the company of others who desire the same. Our Art in the Parks series of creative experiences offers everyone—not only those who call themselves artists—the opportunity to immerse themselves in a variety of creative pursuits. If you’ve been wishing there was a way to try out a technique without the expense of purchasing all of the supplies and equipment, we’ve solved that for you. If you’ve been wanting to explore new ways to express yourself, we’ll provide that, too. If you’ve been thinking of venturing into a new area of endeavor, and have always fancied yourself a creative soul, then our Art in the Parks series could be exactly what you’ve been searching for! We have assembled projects and techniques which we hope will pique your interest and get your creative juices flowing. But, if you need help in the creative juice area, we, or your fellow creative explorers will gladly assist—it’s all about making creative connections (that is our name, after all!). Take a look at what we have to offer for your creative enjoyment over the coming months here in Raleigh, NC.
All events run from 1pm to 4pm, tickets are $50 each, all supplies, light refreshments, and surprises included:

Saturday February 16th: Notan: The Japanese Art of Light and Dark
Halifax Community Center
Notan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark elements as they are placed next to the other in the composition of art and imagery. Explore this simple yet visually stunning artform with us and discover its secrets (it’s not nearly as mind-bending as it looks!).

Saturday, March 23rd: Make Your Mark: Ready, Get Set, Stamp!
Sertoma Art Center
Making your work uniquely yours can be a challenge, and it’s often difficult to find the perfect image to make a project truly sing. Why not create your own? Join us to experience the “Zen of carving”, and try your hand at other methods of stamp-making using a variety of materials, many of which you may already have on hand.

Saturday, April 27th: Folded Book Magic: From Flat to Fabulous
Hill Street Community Center

Whether you like to write poetry, compile lists, sketch on the go, or have a beautiful place to store your photos, this even is for you! We will construct a lovely concertina book with customized covers that will be a perfect reflection of you and your creative voice. You will leave with a completed book and all of the know-how needed to build your own library of folded tomes.

Are your creative wheels turning? Do you see projects which speak to your creative soul? Great! Spaces are limited, so be sure to register early. And, because more is truly merrier, grab a friend, or your whole group; we’d love for you all to join us!

Register for January-February here.

Register for March-April here.

See you there, and Happy New Year!

Thankful Thursday -- New Experiences & The Creative Joy of Children

The first weekend in September, I participated as a Make and Take Artist at the 2018 African American Cultural Festival in downtown Raleigh, NC.  It was my first appearance as a provider, having only attended in years past as an observer of the incredible array of art and activities that the festival offers.

It was a unique experience.  My favorite part was that I spent the weekend working with the younger set.  I was visited by some amazing little people, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing their take on the project that I offered.   In keeping with the spirit of the event, I attempted to provide historical and cultural information to support the activity of making colorful, embellished collars like those created and worn by the Massai Tribe of central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.  I did not manage to get photos of all of my visitors, but am so pleased to have at least a portion of the happy faces recorded for posterity.  There is something about time spent with children that recharges your creativity in a whole new way.

Until next time,


Thankful Thursday - Nourishing the Creative Soul


We artists can often be a solitary group; many of us work alone in our studios, at kitchen tables, or in our garages, without much human contact while we create.  Sometimes, conversation with another person is rare, especially for those who live and create alone.  I'm thankful that my husband is also a creative soul, and we regularly discuss my work, our display, what show is next on the calendar, etc.  I'm also thankful that I have a community of creative people with whom I can share my thoughts, plans, frustrations, failures and successes, both virtually (the Facebook group "Sh*t Overheard at Art Festivals" is a fantastic space to vent and commiserate about the absurdity of what we artists who do outdoor festival go through), and in person.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of indulging in three days of conversations with fellow artists as we participated in the 9th annual African American Cultural Festival here in Raleigh.  Although we create art in different media, we share the joys and trials of the creative process.  It was so rewarding and eye-opening to hear about how another artist crawls out of a creative slump, or renews her resolve to present work which touches her soul ( knowing that whether it sells isn't the driving force behind the creation of it), or how another artist interacts with his collectors to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.  I loved the give and take, the laughter, the "I go through that, too" moments, and the camaraderie. The weekend nourished my creative soul.  And oh yes, there was wine!  

Nourishing your creative soul is one of our goals for the Your Creative Connection retreat at Haw River NEXT MONTH (can you believe it's actually fewer than 40 days away?)  We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, our Creative Explorers, as we spend 4 idyllic days in a most beautiful and inspiring wooded setting.  If you've been thinking of joining us, now's the time to take that leap, and register--there are limited spaces still available.  We promise you an experience like no other, and conversations with artists galore!  If you have questions, pop over to our Retreat FAQ page, or drop me a note in the comment section below.  We're looking forward to having you with us.
Until next time,





Thankful Thursday - Rediscovering Your Creative Groove

Rediscovering your creative groove is sometimes a lengthy, laborious process.  Sometimes, it takes quite awhile for the almost-atrophied creative muscles to reinvigorate themselves.  Often for me, the process involves as much mental as physical work to make it happen, and even then, it can be slow going.  

This was where I found myself recently, due to a long period of time where I had neither the time nor the inclination to create my own work.  I know myself well enough to know that I can't force creativity (disastrous attempts at projects are a testament to that!), but I also knew I needed to get back into the creative flow.  I'd been thinking about the idea that I'd like to work more in layers of color and texture and meaning, and while searching for something else, I found some 6"x6" deep cradled wood panels tucked away in my supply closet.  Ok, so I now had a substrate. 

But how to start was the question.  
You Tube videos were the answer.

I spent hours browsing through various mixed media technique videos, from the sublime to the kind of ridiculous, learning about new-to-me products (I'm loving the Lindy's Gang 'Magicals'), and new ways to use old favorites (hey, isn't that what we'll be doing in October with our Creative Explorers?!).  Armed with this new and refreshed information about molding paste, stencils, inkjet transfers, the aforementioned Magicals, and my old standbys of acrylic paints, PearlEx powders, my hand cut stamps, leather, polymer elements, feathers and matte medium, the ideas started to bubble up, and voilà-- I was energized!

The result is my "Dreams of Africa" series of panels as you'll see below.  Each contains images or symbols which resonate with me of the people, land, adornment, and music of the continent.   These panels will debut at next weekend's African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County; one of my favorite shows of the year. 

Creative groove rediscovered?  Check!

Wishing you new discoveries and a boost to your own creative groove,

Until next time,



From left:  Dreams of Africa:  "Djembe", "Himba", "Baobab", "Tribal Home", "River Goddess," and "Shekere". ©2018 Kindred Spirit Studios | Michelle Davis Petelinz

From left:  Dreams of Africa:  "Djembe", "Himba", "Baobab", "Tribal Home", "River Goddess," and "Shekere". ©2018 Kindred Spirit Studios | Michelle Davis Petelinz

Thankful Thursday - Creating Bridges

"True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they their invite students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own."  ~Nikos Kazantzakis

This quote resonates with me, and reflects many of my experiences as a teacher.  As I've written about before, I present art classes to children and to adults with disabilities.  I do consider myself a bridge, showing my students the way to explore new things, or to use familiar things in new ways.  I encourage them to make their own creative choices, which often lead to wonderful discoveries and exclamations of "I didn't know I could do that!"  One recent example:

Note the red paper "blood drips".  The artist explained that they came from the T-Rex having eaten a Stegosaurus.  This detail was added once the artist saw how "cool" the mouth and teeth were.

Note the red paper "blood drips".  The artist explained that they came from the T-Rex having eaten a Stegosaurus.  This detail was added once the artist saw how "cool" the mouth and teeth were.

On the first day of art camp, a 6-year old drew his ideas for a dinosaur to be created out of a wine bottle.  The drawing included a wide mouth with many jagged teeth, a scaly body, and beady eyes.  Of course, being 6, he knew everything there was to know about the T-Rex (which I did know too at one point, when my son was that age), but thought he "couldn't make it look like what I drew."  I assured him we could get close.  He was doubtful, but eager to try.  Unfortunately, the original drawing was discarded, but here is the result of several hours of foiling, taping, tissue papering, marking with pen, and hot gluing.  When he presented his creation to the class, he proudly said:  "I didn't think I could make it, but I DID," which was music to my ears. 

Penny, Jeanne, and I will be the bridges our Creative Explorers will use to explore and express their individual artful voices during our unique mixed media experience.  And while we can't promise you'll be making wine bottle dinosaurs, because we are creative women, we know there will be much sharing of talents, techniques, and expertise among us all (developing even more bridges--how wonderful!) 
Time is running out, so if you've been thinking of joining us, but haven't registered yet, now's the time.  

Wishing you an astoundingly artful day. 

Until next time,



Thankful Thursday -- The Power of Community

One of my favorite things about living a creative life is the incredible people that I encounter along the way.  The creative community at large is rife with interesting folks, and in the subsets of individual disciplines we are afforded the opportunity to learn from one another on an entirely different level.  Whether in the role of teacher or student, new knowledge and connections (just can't seem to escape that notion, can we?) are ours for the asking...


In my most recent workshop, I had the pleasure of teaching a few folks that I had never worked with before.  This added an additional layer of discovery to the day, as we shared our passions (two of my students were fellow devotees of the fountain pen) both shared and uniquely our own.  So, in tandem with my gratitude for the power of community, I am also immensely thankful for the ongoing sense of discovery that comes with it.  Whether that means the discovery of something altogether new to me, or learning more about something that I already love -- there are gifts to be had from the coming together that we never encounter when we are on our own.

From the name of this endeavor to the logo that represents us, Your Creative Connection is dedicated to the expansion of creativity in community.  As our behind the scenes preparations build in intensity, we are likewise feeling the building excitement as we cruise on toward October.  It's not too late to join us!  What are you waiting for?  Register today, and join our circle of creative women!  New discoveries, adventures, and friendships await.  We'll see you soon!

WOW Wednesday -- Did You Know...

…art strengthens problem-solving and critical thinking skills?

We think it is beyond wonderful that doing something we already enjoy is actually beneficial to our aging minds.  In addition to beautiful scenery and amazing people, Your Creative Connection is good for your brain!  What more reason do you need to join us in October (11-15, 2018)?

colorful gears.png

Imagine:  4 days in the idyllic setting of Haw River State Park and it’s protected, old-growth forests; all of your meals attended to by the chefs, including a freshly baked treat every afternoon; and the creative merriment of 3 Days, 3 Artists, 1 Surface, and a Show! – all of which is designed to send you home inspired to carry your new enthusiasm for creating into the Holiday season and beyond. 

Your space in the circle is waiting – there are new friends to make, new skills to learn, and the strengthening of your mind at hand!  Your deposit secures your spot for an art retreat experience like none other.  We can hardly wait to share this incredible, creative experience with you!  Register today, it’s not too late to take advantage of our flexible payment options.


Thankful Thursday - Your Perfect Place to Create

"What's your vision of the ideal artist's studio?
What would your perfect place to be creative look like?
What would you include if you could have anything you wanted?
What would you definitely leave out?" 

Some ideal artist's studios...what's yours?  

Some ideal artist's studios...what's yours?  

These were questions I posed 11 years ago, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.  I've answered them for myself and my own work...what's your perfect place?  

I am fortunate in that I have a dedicated studio in which to create my mixed media work.  In fact, we purchased our home 11 years ago in large part because of the unfinished daylight basement which became our studios.  My husband and I designed the space, and he built our custom side-by-side studio and storage spaces.  We work differently, and we loved being able to design the spaces to fit each style.  My side has wrap around counter space, wall shelves filled with bins of supplies, plus my drawing table, chair, computer desk, space for two file bureaus, a cabinet for paint, and a comfortable 'guest' chair.  His has lots of floor space for his huge, standing easel, a drawing table, a standing work table, and his paints and brushes arranged on the walls and shelves.  Because it's at ground level, it's filled with light, and you may recall that I've described the wildlife show that goes on outside our windows here.  

studio shot.jpg

I'm so thankful that I have this space.  It nurtures me and provides a place for exploration and discovery; it's my perfect place.  Like many artists, I have created in much smaller, more cramped conditions--so I am thankful for the freedom to stretch out, to leave work on the table to come back to at a later time, and to hang work in progress to assess and refine.    

Your Creative Connection will provide a beautiful place for our Creative Explorers to find the freedom to express themselves during our unique mixed media experience in October.  Our Studio Sessions at the Haw River State Park facility will be held in a room with a wall of windows looking out over the beautiful, tree-filled park.  And while I'm sure everyone will be riveted to the instruction taking place and the work on their tables, I'm also sure there'll be much gazing out the window onto the glorious show of Nature!  Won't you join us and be inspired by all that we have to offer?  It's not too late.  Register today.

Until next time,



Thankful Thursday - Pets, Poetry, and Human Kindness

For as long as I can recall, there has been a dog in my life…  As a child, we often had more than one.  During my late teens and early 20s, I was often the “god mother” of a friend or family member’s dog(s) when I was not able to have my own.  There has been the odd cat (or three), a handful of gold fish/betas, and the errant rodent (hamster, gerbil, etc.) over the years; my heart has always gravitated toward the canine, though…  Last week was a particularly difficult one, as I said good by to my latest canine campanion – the lovely Wito left this world on 6/12/18.  She adopted us over 11 years ago, and it seems a great deal more still in this place since she took her leave.

RIP Lady Wito Marie Arrowood -- You were dearly loved and will be sorely missed

RIP Lady Wito Marie Arrowood -- You were dearly loved and will be sorely missed

Grief has an inimitable way of staunching the flow of creativity.  It mutes the stimulation of the larger world – blocking things, as though in a cocoon – sounds are muffled, colors dimmed, and joys diminished.  I find that turning to the creative works of others is both comforting and inspiring at such times.  A long-time admirer of the poet Mary Oliver, I immediately recalled this gem in the days that followed Wito’s last.

As grateful as I am for the privilege of having had this dearest of dogs in my life for over a decade, and for the means with which I have found solace in her absence, I am fully amazed and so mightily thankful for the kindness of my various circles of humans.  My spirits have been repeatedly lifted in the past week by words of comfort from friends far and near.  I have said often that I am so, so very lucky.

A sentiment to treasure from a precious friend (the art and words of  Brian Andreas ):  comfort and inspiration, hand in hand.

A sentiment to treasure from a precious friend (the art and words of Brian Andreas):  comfort and inspiration, hand in hand.

It seems that Life holds no shortage of reminders of this fact.

…and that only gives me all the more for which to be thankful!

Until next time,
 ~ PLA