Creative Awakening in Bali

Jun 17, 2013 | Life in Progress

Awaken has been my second word while here in #bali. #allow was my first. Have so loved painting and learning from my dear friend @florabowley. So glad I followed the sudden urge to come all of this way.

In Bali there was personal transformation in the form of allowing and awakening and new discoveries. But there was also a creative expansion that I experienced while painting alongside Flora’s guidance for five days. 
Sometimes I feel a certain kind of pressure to creatively stay within the realm that has become the Kelly Rae Roberts brand. There is a funny thing that happens as a commercial artist. You want to keep producing the work that you’re not only passionate about – the work that sells and reaches your audience – but you also want to branch out, evolve, and grow creatively, which sometimes means creating work outside of the commercially branded box that you’ve created. It’s a tricky thing, and if you’re not careful, it can lead to a certain kind of creative stifling, a certain kind of rut.
Of course, I can do both! I can create and evolve my commercial work, which really is my heart and soul, but I can also create work that doesn’t necessarily need to land inside the Kelly Rae Roberts branded box. Or perhaps the two can blend. 
I don’t really  know. 
I just know that I’ve needed to create in a place where I wasn’t “Kelly Rae Roberts” and where I had the freedom to step out of the box and create work that wasn’t for the KRR brand. Bali proved to be that place. I am crazy grateful. And I definitely feel inspired to keep evolving creatively inside my own process now that I’m home. 
Let me share the Bali painting workshop scene with you!
Friends, this is what #bliss looks like: Balinese flower in hair, bathing suit + tunic, painting apron, canvas, Balinese banana pancakes, pure pineapple juice, and a painting palette with an unexpected heart. Hello #renewal. My word for this trip is #allo
Friends, we painted outside every single day from 8ish to noonish. Heaven. Here I am inside of what BLISS looks like: Balinese flower in hair, bathing suit + tunic, painting apron, canvas, Balinese banana pancakes, pure pineapple juice, and a painting palette with an unexpected heart. Hello renewal!

Flora is an excellent teacher. We watched her demos and then she sent us out into our gorgeous surroundings to paint it up. 
Can you spy the black paint that exploded during the flight? #bali #sogladitwasinaplasticbag
For the first two days I was totally in a groove of making marks on the canvas, all pretty unconscious. Flora calls these marks “opportunities” for shapes/icons/life later on in the painting process. This was hugely valuable to me and it gave purpose to all of the unconscious mark-making I was doing. And it made it super fun to just put layer upon layer upon layer of backgrounds while worrying about what it would “become” later. 
On the third day I had the above canvas with lots and lots of layers, but I had reached my edge. I was grumpy, uninspired and had no idea what to do with it. We all have these moments, in painting and in life, when we’ve taken something as far as we can go and then we reach a standstill. In this instance, I let myself acknowledge all that I was feeling both to myself and to my sweet new roomie friend who was painting next to me (Hi Lynx!). Lynx gave me permission to start inserting myself into this painting. Use your collage papers! Paint a girl! Combine what’s comfortable with what’s not comfortable! 
And so I began to do just that. First, I added some blocks of colors that were calling me all over the canvas. Then, I loosely painted a girl form. I could feel myself transitioning through that edge and over into a place of flow and ease. 
Once I began to collage in some of my beloved papers, something clicked and the painting began to emerge. RELIEF. There’s nothing as satisfying as pushing through a new edge. Reminds me of this post I wrote way back when. New shapes emerged for me (flower-ish shapes), new colors, new girl – all inspired by my workshop with Flora and Bali too. This painting feels like me, but an expanded version. She is a sweet reminder to me of awakening, allowing, expanding, and staying true.  
Can you believe this scene? It was incredibly hot in Bali so we’d take a dip, then paint some more. Take a dip, paint some more. I can hardly believe it myself.

It feels like a returning, an awakening, this being here. Best experience ever. Everyday it's hot tea, painting, swimming, clean eating, journaling, and returning to my voice. I feel alive and well. #grateful #bali

My next painting was another practice in allowing, in taking risks, in doing something comfortable with something uncomfortable and new. The result is a painting that I love and that feels like an expanded version of me. Another edge passed.

Of course it’s not all about painting. I went to Bali for a painting retreat, but as with any meaningful experience, it’s never just about the obvious. In this case, the exercise of painting in Bali was a portal into a whole myriad of things that came up for me. It was about facing a fear that I was somehow losing my creative voice to a beloved brand that I cherished and created. It was about allowing myself to be who I was when I wasn’t “Kelly Rae Roberts” or a mom or a wife or a business owner. What would shine through, what would present itself on the canvas and in my heart when I wasn’t any of those things? Who would emerge and be rediscovered? How would I face the inevitable fears that came with leaving my family behind for a week, traveling across the world, and allowing myself to learn from someone else? Who would I be there? How would I tend to her, nourish her, and allow her to emerge once I got home?

So, in some ways, the paintings were just the icing on the cake of all that I was learning. The universe must have really wanted me to get this lesson because guess what? I traveled all that way to make paintings only to accidentally leave my paintings behind in Bali! Now if that’s not a message, I’m not sure what is.


Thank you, dear Flora. You are a gifted teacher and I’m so lucky (in a million life changing ways) you said yes! And thank you Bali, for being the place where I felt more peaceful than perhaps ever before. You are here with me, peace-filled in my everyday life.

Sending wishes to each of you that you push your edges and come through to the other side with more clarity and peace.

Kelly Rae
PS: you can read all the Bali posts here.
PPS: If you can, don’t miss one of Flora’s workshops and/or her book.

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (11 comments)
  1. Leslie van der Heide

    Love your story and pictures. I have a question. How did you manage to get your canvasses back on the plane?
    They look large in size. Thank you,

  2. Aja

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience and inspiring.

  3. Judy Wise

    I love the questions you're asking. It must be difficult. You are doing all of it as well as anyone could. Sending love. xoxo

  4. Jill M Hodgson

    Really interesting post, I appreciate your honesty about the double edged sword of creating such a successful brand. The advice to mix something comfortable in with the uncomfortable was brilliant. In the Bloom True course I did there were some people who instinctively did that and produced lovely work. I will try that myself this time! Good luck with your creative journey as you move forward 🙂

  5. Kori Vincent

    I am in total love with the image of all your painting supplies set up under a tree beside a pool!!! That would be paradise for me. I am a big fan of yours and Flora. Thanks so much for this post.

  6. Shawn Petite

    Thank you for sharing your journey… yourself… it encourages me as I evolve, change and grow, your story is so important for so many, thanks again!

  7. lauradodson

    This is such an inspiring, lovely, heartfelt post…beautiful surroundings–people/environment, great lessons, and holy crap the paintings…still in bali? are they coming home?

    C'est la vie? Maybe? I think I would have had a heart attack.

  8. sasha

    Wow, my first comment ! 🙂 3-4 years ago when I started to be part of your life, as a spectator there was not a comment feature. 😛

    My first words to you are: you're so beautiful and inspiring inside and out.

  9. Jessica Koppe

    Kelly, this is beautiful to watch and read.

    I suppose the brand thing to be difficult, but either way you *are* the brand so you decide what's in there and what's not. 🙂

    As artist we change constantly, and we should be proud of that! I think it's a good way to welcome change in private, and then bring it out to the people when I am ready.

    – Keep stretching! I enjoy watching it!

  10. catina jane

    yes! love this muchly and so relate my dear .

  11. Pippin

    Fantastic post! I took Flora's class in my home state Colorado, and it really opened huge creative doors. I did have moments of utter frustration while painting in her class, but I worked through it, and was pleased with the results. It was the first time in my painting career that I forced myself to work through the frustration. Wow what a transformation, to come out the other side shining. Usually I just quit or start over. I have Flora's handout form her class hanging in my studio and I refer it constantly. Hopefully she passed that out to your class. Highly useful. Happy creating.


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I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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