Welcome to Speak With Your Craft, a (semi-)regular feature that profiles the many creative individuals in my life and my attempt to shed light on what inspires them. I also want to expose readers to crafts, talents, and skills that may be slightly offbeat or unusual. Today's profile: the magical Kaitlin Clark! I first met Kaitlin a few years ago as one of the few vegans I then knew in my life. We soon bonded over plant-based eating and in the flower field, cutting dahlias and zinnias, and making bouquets during our time at Riverbank Farm. My interest in herbalism, natural medicine, and the healing properties of food is largely because of Kaitlin's influence. (Fun fact: She also got me hooked on a delicious homemade treat that she calls Brain Balls. After you giggle, you should realize they are tasty snacks filled with brain-nourishing foods, like pumpkin and hemp seeds, nut butters, coconut, a little cacao, and other magical ingredients. #hippietreat). She's an artistic soul who has a number of creative gifts to offer and is able to do so through her business, Integrative Healing Arts. Read more below to learn about her multi-faceted, healing, intuitive and expressive work and creative process:
When did you first realize that you like to create?
Since childhood I have been involved in artistic/creative processes. Growing up in the woods had a great influence on what I create and inspirations. I remember trying to make paint from berries and spending the majority of my childhood in trees. I moved to Philadelphia when I was 18 to attend art school (UArts) and resided there for 5 years. This also rounded out my experience, going from the country to living in the city as an artist surrounded by other artists was life changing. Philly is a creative mecca!
Who or what have influenced your style? What inspires you?
My dad has been a big inspiration as a super creative person. He always has some handcrafted creative project going on, and still does! My mom is also a great inspiration as a super motivated woman who runs her own business as well. With both parents as entrepreneurs, I look up to them with gratitude and see the dedication and passion that's put into their life's work.
I am also inspired by other artists, visionaries, their process, ideas and aspirations. Some of my closest friends are visual artists, creators, musicians and involved in the healing arts. I love seeing and being inspired by what people are creating and offering around me. Children and their amazing capacity of creativity is also an awesome influence.
Day to day, I am moved by nature and life experience. I love observing life around me, how it moves, ebbs and flows. I feel like its a beautiful mirror that continuously teaches and reminds me of the path I am on (that we are all on), and how to move with the flow of life with grace and ease. These observations and experiences are in essence the basis of everything I create and teach.
The products I create are often inspired by the season and rhythms in nature. The ingredients connect with the elements (sunshine, woodlands, etc.) as do the topics of my workshops, classes and events. I pay homage to photography (my first artistic love) for honing this skill, as this is where I initially embodied the focus and ability to be present and observe with an artistic sense. The very nature of photography means "to paint with light" and to exercise the skill of observation while intuitively choosing fractions in time that make a moment tangible. It became a therapeutic process like a visual diary or visual poetry.
More recently, I have been fostering my love for working in clay and have been greatly enjoying the time in the pottery studio. Throwing on the wheel is a meditative process for me and I have been infusing the process with Reiki as I create as well. It's like magic!
Describe your process. Do you map things out? Just go for it? How do your execute your ideas?
It depends on what I am creating. Usually with photography and clay, I am spontaneous or inspired by something I felt or a dream/vision and I go from there. I might sketch ideas or research or sometimes it comes though as an urge to create. Usually the end product does not match the vision, but that is what I love about the creative process. It takes on a life of its own!
With the wellness products, I create blends inspired by nature and this process embodies a great deal of intuition as well, but I also follow closely to ratios for blending so they are safe. It's a great mix of using both the left and right sides of my brain.
In Dance and Creative Movement music is the initial inspiration and i go from there. Those classes my vision is to share the love of movement and its all about feeling good and moving energy! Working the emotions through the body as a vessel of expression. Especially with the 3-year olds.
Day to day, I am pretty rhythmic in my flow, and I try to begin and end the day in positive thinking and gratitude. I follow the teachings of Abraham Hicks and my process has been greatly enhanced from this. I try to listen to at least one discussion every morning. This sets my sails for the day. I also practice daily meditation through both rhythmic movement and stillness.
Some of my best ideas have come from running, immersed in a warm bath or driving. Other times I will be looking at the sky or hiking through the woods and ideas will flow in that way too! I think its all about being relaxed in order to allow the creative flow to come through. I try have a journal with me (or I send myself a lot of messages) because ideas and inspirations come at any time!
What’s one of your favorite projects?
I really love all the processes, especially creating the essential oil/flower essence body products. It's a form of intuitive alchemy to me. I love going through my essential oils and flower essences and feeling what will work together. Blends are usually inspired by people in my life or an experience that can use support. I put a lot of loving intention that is focused on the mind, body, spirit and emotions into each bottle. The process is healing in itself too, since I become so relaxed and blissed out from the ingredients.
I also love offering Reiki Energy Healing. It's been a process that I feel so blessed to offer.
You have your hand many creative ventures, including herbalism, nutrition, wellness, dance/movement, photography. Does one area influence another? Is there a common thread or many threads?
That's a great question! About 10 years ago, when I was in school for a masters degree program, Integrative Health and Healing, I learned and experienced that as humans we are so complex and amazing in our capacities to heal ourselves and be well. The mind, body, spirit and emotions are such integral parts of our system and the offerings touch upon each as a whole. In the teachings and in my personal experience, wellness is an on-going process, it requires upkeep, maintenance and our dedication. Each modality taps into the many layers that we are composed of. Whether it's needing assistance to know where to begin with changes in nutrition and exercise, enjoying the relaxation and calming effects of creating art or nurturing our bodies with wellness, they are like pieces to a puzzle. The offerings that have helped me throughout my journey is what I love to share with others.
What level of artistic fame would you like - based on a very scientific scale of, like, "Hotline Bling" fame at the top to I’d-like-to-pay-the-bills fame? Somewhere in between, both? Does it matter?
Ha! I would love to keep the momentum building and continue to expand. Maybe get a little vacation time in there, too! My daughter is a huge inspiration for this adventure and balancing time between work, self-care and providing lots of time with her, has been a great lesson!
What’s the latest magical things in the works? As in, is there some project or creation on the horizon that you’ve been wanting to tackle?
Latest magical works include Pottery (soon to be up on the IntegrativeArts Etsy page) and more Energy Sprays and Roll-ons, Body oils, etc. I am also completing a certification as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. I have also recently been asked by two local non-profits to teach art/wellness classes. Very excited for what's ahead!
What is the best piece of advice/quote/image you’ve received about creating or, conversely, what would you recommend to other crafters and artists?
"Keep your head up!" -my dad. Focus on your vision, passion and solutions. Bumps and hurdles are fine, they are actually helping pave the pathway as they bring more clarity to the vision. If you're in a funk, move the energy, go general and do something that makes you feel good. Sometimes focusing too hard can create resistance, so it's good to ease up, step aside and allow the flow. I come from a background of athletes and artists, so the blend of these has been a great asset! I am a runner who loves hills - the challenge of going up them! That just about sums me up.
Bonus: What song are you currently hooked on?
Currently inspired by artist, Bonobo - especially when I am creating. Music is a huge influence on my process, rhythm and flow.
Have an idea for Speak With Your Craft? Know some interesting makers, crafters, cooks, bakers, food growers, woodworkers, herbalists, photographers, writers, actors, musicians, painters, fiber artists, and creative forces in your life? I have friends lined up in the near future, but I'm open to suggestions! Leave a comment or contact me: speakwithyourfood [at] gmail [dot] com. Remember, makers or creators need not fit into a neat box to be featured. So, here’s to more creating, crafting, listening, learning, and collaborating!