Amidst the bounty of art galleries along Laguna Beach’s Coast Highway, tucked in the back corner of the Laguna Art Gallery Contemporary, resides an inviting studio space where self expression meets self exploration.
A blank canvas, propped up on an easel, along with a blank journal to pen inner thoughts, headphones for an audio meditation, and a selection of paints and brushes await.
Mantras like “This Moment is More Precious Than You Think” and “Inhale Confidence, Exhale Doubt” are prominently displayed. Rather than the smell of fresh paint, akin to most art studios, expect the aroma of lavender, or the scent of your chosen aromatic oil, wafting throughout the space.
Painting Your Soul, offers a unique opportunity that redefines our connection to art.
Founded by Karen Hanlon Grove, this masterpiece experience is not your typical art class. It is the opportunity to rediscover yourself and pour your soul into your art. When life dealt Karen a personal blow, that is exactly what she did.
“For 22 years I lived what I thought was a dream life. I was married to my high school sweetheart, a prominent doctor, proudly raising two amazing children. I had a beautiful home and was strongly ingrained in my community. Then it all ended and my world changed,” shares Karen, who turned to painting as a healing mechanism. “My marriage fell apart and my privileged life became emotionally difficult. I had nowhere to turn except inward to my spiritual core, a place I reached with the help of painting. Art paved the way for the most important voyage of my life.”
For Karen, it was not about the finished artwork but about the process of creating that helped her get through her darkest time. “All my emotions came flooding to the surface with each stroke of the brush. Through streaks of color I gained insight, processed my emotions, and was able to move on.”
Now Karen is ready to guide others to an elevated state of self-awareness through her painting sessions.
These sessions, typically private but also offered as small group workshops, entail a multi-sensory approach. Music plays softly in the background and the scent of your chosen aroma permeates. A cup of calming herbal tea is presented. Karen will ask clients to write exactly what they are feeling at the moment in their journal and to select a card with an inspirational quote. A guided meditation gets clients to decompress and engage in the present. Paint colors are selected and squeezed onto the palette. In this unique environment, you are primed to paint.
The idea is to paint freely, allowing your intuition to guide you. You paint what you feel and continue painting until you are ready to stop. The artist connects with the finished product on an emotional level. The process of creating is soothing and healing, according to Karen, who knows first hand, and has witnessed the effects of her painting sessions on hundreds of clients.
Before opening her studio, she workshopped her vision at rehab centers, battered women’s shelters, hospitals, and other facilities throughout the country. Participants found the process transformative, inspirational and healing.
Karen proudly displays a packet of testimonials, with insights such as, “Sometimes you need to stop, stop and enjoy life,” and “This allowed me to look at my soul and discover it is beautiful.” These outcomes reinforced Karen’s conviction that her painting sessions were special and helped crystalize her plan to create Painting Your Soul.
“People hold on too much and worry about making mistakes,” observes Karen. “But when you allow yourself to immerse in the moment, you open up the gateway to your inner feelings. You are never more connected than when you allow yourself to be still. That is why I start with the meditation.”
The stillness embodies a blank canvas within. And when this inner blank canvas is met with the blank canvas in front of you, anything is possible.
The canvas is meant to represent your life. The painting is your journey. And the finished artwork will always be what you need to see and will lead to continual insights and self-awareness.
Painting Your Soul
305 N. Coast Highway,