Q&A with Intentional Creativity Teacher, Yvonne Evans
Q: What is your Origin Story with Intentional Creativity – How did you find out about it and when did you first start?
A: On Mother’s Day, about seven or eight years ago, my daughter, who was in high school at the time, wanted to take me to a Whole Earth festival held at the University of California at Davis. She knew I like holistic, organic, and natural products and food. While at the festival I came across a vendor who was selling prints and cards and I was drawn by the vibrant colors and beauty of the female subjects. I inquired of the vendor about her style and I believed she had a flyer about a class. She told me about Shiloh Sophia and I went online to find out more about this person and her classes. That was my introduction to Intentional Creativity.
Since finding out about various classes offered, I took a couple of the free classes. I wanted to take more in depth classes but it was cost and time prohibitive, as I was preparing to put my daughter through college and my job was extremely stressful at the time. Fast forward to 2019 where I was asked to contribute ideas for an art component of a county mental health grant for Black women. I knew I wanted to take Shiloh Sophia’s teacher training Color of Woman to help women in my community, so I included a portion of the teacher training class fee into the grant. Currently I’m finishing up the Color of Woman program, from which I’ve gained so much knowledge on the benefits of Intentional Creativity, and plus I’m enjoying what I’m creating. The activities I learned are ideal for mental health wellness workshops.
Q: How long have you been teaching? What was your previous connection to art?
A: I was a high school mathematics teacher for about five years and I worked with an after school program as a program coordinator. As of November 2021 I retired from 20 years as an Education Programs Consultant with the California Department of Education. I’ve always loved art and creating. I created cartoon characters as a child, was taught how to crochet and do embroidery by my grandmother, learned how to sew from my mother and taught myself how to macrame, make beaded jewelry and paint. I’ve always loved color, texture and design.
Q: How do you express and offer Intentional Creativity specific to your cultural context (either with personal paintings and or offerings to beloveds)?
A: I tend to bring an ethnic perspective representative of who I am. My paintings tend to have “black” features, highlighting the beauty of wide noses, full lips, and textured hair. Through my offerings to my beloveds I enjoy telling a story through songs. No, I don’t sing or play an instrument! But I take the lyrics of a song and create an art exploration and healing journey.
About a year before taking the Intentional Creativity courses, I did an activity called Joy and Pain, from the song by Frankie Beverly and MAZE. Just prior to participating in the Color of Woman course I conducted a workshop series called Art for the Weary Soul, based on the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. In that song are some very visual lyrics. It was also a journey of giving honor to our ancestors who crossed through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. While in the Color of Woman class I had the opportunity of sharing the creation of Soul Affirmation Cards virtual, which was a big hit, and conducting a workshop on creating Oracle cards were highlights for me. I believe my beloveds really enjoyed these activities.
Yvonne in the midst of teaching her Intentional Creativity Workshop
Q: Tell us about your recent experience hosting an IC Workshop – how did it feel to step into this work and share it with your Beloveds? What did you notice they received from the experience?
A: The 13-step process was the requirement that I feared the most in my Color of Woman Teacher Training. The fear was imposter syndrome and I didn’t think I would be good enough to teach this method. Initially I thought about doing the activity in a friend’s backyard during the summer with a couple of friends, but the moment never seemed to be right. I anguished over the cost of getting supplies, such as easels, brushes, and canvases. It would have been much simpler to conduct this activity with friends and check the box, task completed. During the first part of August 2021, I got COVID, and fortunately I was working remotely at home, but I felt extremely weak to the point I didn’t want to even pick up a paint brush. I was blessed that I didn’t have to go to the hospital, andI was able to nurse myself back to health.
During this time I was beginning to get my paperwork together to retire from 20 years of civil service and my job was becoming intense. So to say the least, my plate was full and in the back of my mind there was still the voice of being an imposter in the area of being a potential Intentional Creativity Coach especially since I began to neglect my IC assignments and practice (imposter syndrome: “refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be”). But I had to get this 13-step process completed no matter what. I resorted to using the resources that I had available to me, the grant from the California Black Women’s Health Project, Boxables Catering, 1913 Event Venue, and most importantly my sista’ friends.
When I finally set a date for the workshop, the commitment was made and it was time to do the work. I knew that I wanted to create a one day experience that included lunch. I know my audience could only handle a day, especially since the workshop was on the heels of the “Thanksgiving”(Indigenous People’s day) weekend. A friend of mine owned a multi-functioning venue which was perfect for the workshop. Although I could have had more people, I limited the event to 16 people maximum due to health and safety. So there was plenty of room for social distancing and masks were required. I had another friend who is a caterer and event planner who not only supplied the food but also the painting palettes, water containers and 6ft. tables. The venue supplied the easels and I had funds from the California Black Women’s Health Project’s grant to purchase canvases, brushes, paints, food, venue space, an assistant, and videographer/photographer.
Although it had been a while since I did any presentations in person, it felt good knowing that I was leading the beloveds on a journey. The group thoroughly enjoyed the experience. One of the beloveds brought her sister and 91 year old mother. They had a table to themselves where they could assist their mother. But mom was having a good time doing her thing.
“As we go through life transitions it is important to not only think strategically (left-brain) but we need to think creatively (right-brain). I used this concept and developed the workshop entitled “Creative Discovery While In Transition”. I wanted to share this particular concept with my beloveds because it was beneficial for me and wanted them to also experience the benefits of this class.”
Q: What inspired you to create this experience and how did you bring it into form? What is the ‘story’ of how this came to be?
A: Since I was in the process of retiring and I was also considering leaving my husband, I realized I was going through some major life transitions. And as I spoke with various friends and family members I realized we are all going through some type of life transition. Upon just finishing the Visionary painting assignment I was intrigued with the process of utilizing the left and right brain concepts. I was studying and applying these concepts when I was teaching youth in the ‘90s. As we go through life transitions it is important to not only think strategically (left-brain) but we need to think creatively (right-brain). I used this concept and developed the workshop entitled “Creative Discovery While In Transition”. I wanted to share this particular concept with my beloveds because it was beneficial for me and wanted them to also experience the benefits of this class.
Q: What was the transformation that your Beloveds experienced from the workshop?
A: My beloveds learned that they are creative, whether they have art skills or not. I’d like to share a comment from one of the participants.
“I loved this class! The process was scary at first from writing my intentions on a white canvas, to choosing my first 3 colors to paint. I loved the feeling of the deep long strokes of the paint brush hitting the canvas, and seeing the creativity of my thoughts when adding symbols with white paint. I pushed beyond my inner critique that was trying to be perfect and was confident enough to ask for help. Yvonne was patient and kind giving me feedback to improve the shapes on my face painting yet empowered me to maintain my individuality.
I felt scared and relieved at the thought of covering my entire painting with a magenta, brown or blue lacquer color, but I was so excited to see the blue color I chose enhanced my painting. What appeared to be scary was actually liberating! I loved the process of writing my intention with a black permanent marker, then going over the paint to highlight my colors. I loved the timeframe of dedicating a whole day to myself to be creative. I loved meeting other beautiful African American women and I loved the laughter of everyone’s creativity. This experience was therapeutic and pushed me beyond my fears. I look forward to taking other classes facilitated by Yvonne in the near future.” -DT
Q: What did you learn from this experience as an Intentional Creativity Teacher, that you will take with you into the next workshop, or in your personal journey?
A: I absolutely loved presenting the Intentional Creativity 13-step process even though I was fearful of teaching this process. I learned that I am an effective presenter even though I may not have the most refined art skills. I just had to do it afraid and realize that I am enough at that moment for that purpose. I am excited about doing more workshops and making this a part of my business, DRY Bones Consulting, LLC.
It was helpful having money available to spend and not have to depend on a particular number of participants. I had a great venue, caterer, and a fantastic group of participants. But in the future I will need to learn about how to market my business to ensure I receive the number of participants to be able to, at the very least, cover costs. However I desire to be successful in all my workshops, not just monetarily, but also by the positive response of the Beloveds. I will need to learn how to do the 13-step process virtually or create pre-recorded classes. One of the things that helped me was creating the presentation cards. I used leftover paper that I had already painted from another Soul Affirmation or Oracle card activity and wrote the steps and any other notes I needed and put it on a binder ring.
I see the value of making this a two day process. The latter steps (8-11) kind of merged into each other. Which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I started racing against the clock. Timing the workshop for the first go round was challenging. Now that I’ve done it I have a better idea of timing. But I’m sure each workshop will be different. I was concerned I would have too much time because I don’t tend to talk and go into detail. But I kept hearing in the back of my mind to make the workshop my own.
So, I am celebrating that I did it! I even have people who want to continue to follow me.
Yvonne and her workshop participants in their process!
Q: Do you have any advice for other Intentional Creativity teachers or those hosting creative workshops?
A: My advice is the following:
- Don’t hesitate to use your notes. Creating the presentation cards was helpful for me and it looks creative.
- Don’t think you have to be a proficient artist (As defined by societal norms)
- Don’t wait until everything is perfect (because it will never be perfect). Take the leap and do it afraid. Remember you know the process, but your participants don’t know what to expect.
- If you are working with more than 8 people you may want to have an assistant to help with minor details to ensure the Beloveds are taken care of.
- Discover community organizations that could benefit from your services. There are many programs around mental health/wellness due to the pandemic and various women’s programs. Also reach out to organizations/communities that represent your passion, ethnicity, religion, culture, age group, etc. Find your tribe, they will support you.
- Be yourself.
- Believe in yourself.
- You are enough at this moment.
- Have fun!
Q: Do you have any current special offerings or other projects that you would like to make readers aware of?
A: I will be conducting a virtual IC event called “A House of Love” which is based on House of the Heart (Color of Woman) painting process, through my business DRY Bones Consulting, LLC.
The event is scheduled for February 13, 2021, 1-3 pm Pacific Time. Registration information (in process) will be available at the website drybonesconsulting.life.
To learn more about the work of the California Black Woman’s Health Project click on the link below.
Thank you Yvonne, for sharing your story and inspiration with us!