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Carrie Schmitt

Published:

 

I began painting in 2009 when I was bedridden after developing a life-threatening allergy to the sun and heat. I was unable to walk without reacting to my own body heat, and going outside was out of the question. I was experiencing intense grief, mourning the loss of the life I had known.

One day I heard a voice within say, “Now that your life is over, you might as well do what you want and paint.” Thankfully, I listened. I began painting in bed. The creative process comforted me in a way that no person could. I felt its loving presence every time I painted.

This creative force held me through the darkest time of my life. It never judged nor criticized me as I painted. It was a beloved witness that carried me through the painful transition from my old life to my new calling as an artist.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this unique experience shaped my creative process because I bypassed many of the negative emotions people have when creating, such as doubt, fear and frustration. I only felt intense love and overwhelming gratitude for creativity, which had saved me in my darkest time.

This was the beginning of the greatest love affair of my life, my love for what I now refer to as the Creative Spirit. I feel and co-create with this force every time I paint. Our relationship is based on trust, respect, adoration, devotion and, most importantly, unconditional love. 

She Became a Rose

Can you imagine a rose trying to be anything other than itself?
And the unbearable suffering that would unfold if it did?

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough,” said George Washington Carver, the man who invented over 300 uses for peanuts. My love is all that I can offer my creativity, and it does reveal its secrets to me. I listen to my art and let it guide the process. After thousands of paintings, this act of faith has never let me down. On the contrary, it has given me the greatest bliss, wonder, joy and ecstasy. 

I apply the golden rule to my art. I treat my art the way I want to be treated while I am trying to become something — with kindness, compassion, respect and patience. My paintings are never planned. Each one emerges on its own without my forcing or rushing the process. This is how something more beautiful than I could ever imagine unfolds. 

 

 

I’ve learned that I am co-creating with a force much more powerful than myself. I am not in control of what unfolds on the canvas. If I overstep my role and try to control everything, this can lead to resistance and struggle in the process.

I rely on accidents and surprises to carry my work, such as colors that blend haphazardly and drips made from a soaked brush or spray bottle. My white paint jar has many colors blended into it. I call it “Neapolitan Surprise” because I never know what shade of white my brush will find when it is dipped into the jar. I welcome these moments that allow me to surrender and let go. For me, this is the path to exploration, discovery and childlike joy.

I enjoy the watery elements of acrylic inks and high-flow acrylics. I like to drip and spray the inks and let them flow and mix naturally. After the inks dry, I find a composition within the chaos in front of me. When I practice this in my art, it reminds me that I can apply this approach to my life. Everything is just raw material for me to mold into form.

When I was teaching my online class how to paint hummingbirds, I began to see hummingbirds everywhere. One day, I looked at a used palette hanging on my wall and noticed a hummingbird design in the dry paint. I grabbed the palette and began to paint. Sure enough, a hummingbird and flowers emerged. They had been hiding in plain sight all along. 

This is the playful spirit of creativity that I love. This led to a series of “palette hummingbird” paintings. Creative Spirit is always giving me gifts if I keep my eyes and heart open to what is possible. 

I often tell my students: “When you stand back and look at your painting, don’t judge it. Listen to it.” This changes everything. It allows us to be in a relationship with the piece. I am convinced that we do not have to create alone. Our art is trying to help us if we learn to listen and respect its messages.

The question is not, “Am I creative?” The question is, “Am I going to use my creativity in a way that expands or diminishes my life and the lives of those around me?”

 

 

Unbroken Wholeness

How amazing it is to let life be.
There is such softness in surrender.

I enjoy taking time with my creative process rather than racing to finish. I try to work in the opposite direction and actively try NOT to finish the piece. I want to give my art time to become, to have experiences, to create a fascinating and surprising story, to allow moments to be breathed into it so that it has a chance to come alive in its fullest expression.

This process sounds simple, and in some ways, it is. However, it does require us to bring certain qualities to the canvas, such as faith, trust, acceptance, resilience, persistence and the ability to surrender and release our own agenda or expectations.

This can be challenging to do and takes practice. When we practice these qualities with our art, we are more easily able to access them in our lives. This is how art transforms us. This is the power and the gift of the creative process. And this is why I think it deserves our utmost respect and love.

The final birth of the painting is ultimately the death of the process, and I want the process to live for as long as possible to create all that longs to be birthed. To me, the act of rushing can feel disrespectful to the creative process that wants to play and discover with us. The process is a sacred time to connect with the Creative Spirit and the many gifts it offers us, including the gift of our own transformation and perpetual becoming. I create vibrant and colorful art because I believe that beauty is my most effective medicine. It helps me to not succumb to the sadness from the physical limitations I have due to my debilitating sun and heat allergy. If I do not actively create joy in my life daily, I know that I will be swept away by the negative aspects of my condition.

Creativity is more than just paint on canvas. To fully submerge oneself in creativity is a way of being in the world. It is turning one’s attention toward beauty, joy, devotion, curiosity and wonder. 

I share my art process, lessons and philosophy with others in my online membership class, Flower Painting Club. We’ve created a supportive and inspiring community of creative women to explore our shared love for making art and living a creative life together. 

I’ve also turned my home into an artist bed and breakfast for guests to stay and have time to devote to their creativity. I offer workshops and retreats here as well. The retreats are a time to make art, share stories and be inspired by one another. This practice feels ancient and more necessary than ever for the wellness of our minds, bodies and spirits. 

Creativity is an act of reciprocity. As I create the painting, the painting is creating me. When I love and respect the creative process, I am also loving and respecting myself. The way we treat our art and ourselves in the process shapes who we become. 

Isn’t it just incredible to imagine that what we create is creating us?

Creativity does not remind us of our humanity. It reminds us of our divinity.

 

She Became Herself

Tend to your life as though it is the most divine garden. Because it is. And you are. Now go! The world is waiting for your essential bloom.

Because of this, my art has expanded beyond the traditional canvas and spilled into other areas of my life as well. Whether in my artwork, clothing or surroundings, joy and beauty have become essential tools for my survival.

This is one reason I painted my car, Poppy. My home looks like a child was left unattended with paint and markers because my walls, tables, chairs and doors are covered with painted flowers. I’ve also painted on yoga mats, shoes, jean jackets, umbrellas and just about any surface you can imagine.

 

 

In addition to my paintings, I create books to share my love for creativity with others. The Story of Every Flower is a large coffee-table book that celebrates my 10-year journey as an artist with artwork and writing. A Flower in Her Heart: The True Story of an Artist Who Bloomed is a picture book that shares my story with young readers.

When an opportunity comes along,  I have the habit of saying yes before I feel ready. Often, I make a commitment and then figure out how to make it happen.

This has served me well on my path as an artist and put me in some uncomfortable positions outside my comfort zone. I appreciate these “growth moments” because I know I’ll learn something new. 

When Toms shoes asked me to paint shoes at one of their events several years ago, I said yes even though I had never painted shoes and didn’t know anything about how to do this.

I was a bit nervous each time a customer approached me with their newly purchased shoes. What if I couldn’t paint what they requested? What if I messed up, and they didn’t want the shoes any more? 

I mentioned my nerves to the artist sitting next to me. Her response was, “This is nothing. We paint permanently on people’s bodies for a living.” It turns out all the other artists were professional tattoo artists by trade, which explained their nonchalant attitude and lack of perspiration.

Somehow, I got through the evening, and nobody demanded a refund on their shoes after I painted them. After this experience, going back to painting on canvas in my studio was a relief!

The Toms staff told me that you do not need to seal the acrylic paint on their shoes with anything because acrylic is a plastic and is by nature already sealed, which I found helpful to know. I’ve painted many pairs for myself and have worn them for years without any chipping or flaking. 

I’ve also painted jean jackets, aprons, pants, tea towels, yoga mats and more. I’ve tried different types of fabric paints, but I prefer to use Golden acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium made by Liquitex.

I like to use the same paints I use in my art on canvas because I am familiar with them. I also save money by not having to buy additional supplies. I use my regular studio paint brushes to apply the paint. I also enjoy using acrylic paint pens, which make excellent tools for creating lines and details. My favorite brand is Posca.

 

Process for Creating

 

 

When I am covering the entire surface of the shoe, I paint without a plan or vision of what I want the design to be. I trust the process as it unfolds no matter what happens. I don’t worry about layering the paint because I love texture, even on shoes.

I just keep piling paint on top of paint until the design emerges. Layering is a technique many artists use to create depth, dimension and complexity. I use it as often as possible in all my work. This is a stress-free method for me because I know that if I “mess up,” I can paint over it and try again.

When I want to only add a simple design to part of the shoe, I tend to have a vision in my mind before I begin. I do stay open to possibilities because sometimes the paintings take a new direction as I work.

Toms shoes are made of canvas material and make an excellent painting surface. Cowgirl boots and rain boots offer a larger space to work with, which makes a bold fashion statement. You can paint on canvas, leather, mesh, vinyl, rubber, plastic and more, but some of these do require special paints for optimal and lasting results.

There are specialty paints available to paint on leather and vinyl, which adhere to these surfaces better than regular acrylics. I’ve also experimented using my regular acrylic paints on rain boots and have tried two different products to seal them — Modge Podge to seal the paint and an acrylic finisher product by Angelus. So far, both sealants have protected the paint from peeling or washing off.

In addition to painting original art on shoes, I also license my art for Birkenstocks with Michael Grey Sandal Factory. He collaborates with artists to create unique sandals that he stitches together by hand — a true work of art! Collaborating and supporting other artisans is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job, and I seek these partnerships whenever possible.

There are also companies that print custom shoes with your artwork. The company I used once is no longer in business, but the shoes I ordered are comfortable and stylish. If you choose to do this, I recommend getting one sample first before a large order just to make sure everything is printed correctly and you like the quality and fit. Some of these companies have print-on-demand options so you don’t need to order in bulk, which is a great option if you have budget or storage limitations.

When I wear painted clothing or accessories, I notice that I feel more joyful, playful and creative. I’ve found that the way I adorn myself is another way to honor and express the Creative Spirit that dwells within me. It is a form of play we never have to give up, and play is essential to creativity!

What we wear and what we surround ourselves with impacts our mood. What brings you joy? Have you ever wanted to paint any non-traditional surfaces, such as your shoes or clothing? What’s holding you back? Life’s too short not to paint or wear one-of-a-kind footwear. After all, as Giuseppe Zanotti says, “Never underestimate the power of a shoe.”

 

 

I began painting in 2009 when I was bedridden after developing a life-threatening allergy to the sun and heat. I was unable to walk without reacting to my own body heat, and going outside was out of the question. I was experiencing intense grief, mourning the loss of the life I had known.

One day I heard a voice within say, “Now that your life is over, you might as well do what you want and paint.” Thankfully, I listened. I began painting in bed. The creative process comforted me in a way that no person could. I felt its loving presence every time I painted.

This creative force held me through the darkest time of my life. It never judged nor criticized me as I painted. It was a beloved witness that carried me through the painful transition from my old life to my new calling as an artist.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this unique experience shaped my creative process because I bypassed many of the negative emotions people have when creating, such as doubt, fear and frustration. I only felt intense love and overwhelming gratitude for creativity, which had saved me in my darkest time.

This was the beginning of the greatest love affair of my life, my love for what I now refer to as the Creative Spirit. I feel and co-create with this force every time I paint. Our relationship is based on trust, respect, adoration, devotion and, most importantly, unconditional love. 

She Became a Rose

Can you imagine a rose trying to be anything other than itself?
And the unbearable suffering that would unfold if it did?

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough,” said George Washington Carver, the man who invented over 300 uses for peanuts. My love is all that I can offer my creativity, and it does reveal its secrets to me. I listen to my art and let it guide the process. After thousands of paintings, this act of faith has never let me down. On the contrary, it has given me the greatest bliss, wonder, joy and ecstasy. 

I apply the golden rule to my art. I treat my art the way I want to be treated while I am trying to become something — with kindness, compassion, respect and patience. My paintings are never planned. Each one emerges on its own without my forcing or rushing the process. This is how something more beautiful than I could ever imagine unfolds. 

 

 

I’ve learned that I am co-creating with a force much more powerful than myself. I am not in control of what unfolds on the canvas. If I overstep my role and try to control everything, this can lead to resistance and struggle in the process.

I rely on accidents and surprises to carry my work, such as colors that blend haphazardly and drips made from a soaked brush or spray bottle. My white paint jar has many colors blended into it. I call it “Neapolitan Surprise” because I never know what shade of white my brush will find when it is dipped into the jar. I welcome these moments that allow me to surrender and let go. For me, this is the path to exploration, discovery and childlike joy.

I enjoy the watery elements of acrylic inks and high-flow acrylics. I like to drip and spray the inks and let them flow and mix naturally. After the inks dry, I find a composition within the chaos in front of me. When I practice this in my art, it reminds me that I can apply this approach to my life. Everything is just raw material for me to mold into form.

When I was teaching my online class how to paint hummingbirds, I began to see hummingbirds everywhere. One day, I looked at a used palette hanging on my wall and noticed a hummingbird design in the dry paint. I grabbed the palette and began to paint. Sure enough, a hummingbird and flowers emerged. They had been hiding in plain sight all along. 

This is the playful spirit of creativity that I love. This led to a series of “palette hummingbird” paintings. Creative Spirit is always giving me gifts if I keep my eyes and heart open to what is possible. 

I often tell my students: “When you stand back and look at your painting, don’t judge it. Listen to it.” This changes everything. It allows us to be in a relationship with the piece. I am convinced that we do not have to create alone. Our art is trying to help us if we learn to listen and respect its messages.

The question is not, “Am I creative?” The question is, “Am I going to use my creativity in a way that expands or diminishes my life and the lives of those around me?”

 

 

Unbroken Wholeness

How amazing it is to let life be.
There is such softness in surrender.

I enjoy taking time with my creative process rather than racing to finish. I try to work in the opposite direction and actively try NOT to finish the piece. I want to give my art time to become, to have experiences, to create a fascinating and surprising story, to allow moments to be breathed into it so that it has a chance to come alive in its fullest expression.

This process sounds simple, and in some ways, it is. However, it does require us to bring certain qualities to the canvas, such as faith, trust, acceptance, resilience, persistence and the ability to surrender and release our own agenda or expectations.

This can be challenging to do and takes practice. When we practice these qualities with our art, we are more easily able to access them in our lives. This is how art transforms us. This is the power and the gift of the creative process. And this is why I think it deserves our utmost respect and love.

The final birth of the painting is ultimately the death of the process, and I want the process to live for as long as possible to create all that longs to be birthed. To me, the act of rushing can feel disrespectful to the creative process that wants to play and discover with us. The process is a sacred time to connect with the Creative Spirit and the many gifts it offers us, including the gift of our own transformation and perpetual becoming. I create vibrant and colorful art because I believe that beauty is my most effective medicine. It helps me to not succumb to the sadness from the physical limitations I have due to my debilitating sun and heat allergy. If I do not actively create joy in my life daily, I know that I will be swept away by the negative aspects of my condition.

Creativity is more than just paint on canvas. To fully submerge oneself in creativity is a way of being in the world. It is turning one’s attention toward beauty, joy, devotion, curiosity and wonder. 

I share my art process, lessons and philosophy with others in my online membership class, Flower Painting Club. We’ve created a supportive and inspiring community of creative women to explore our shared love for making art and living a creative life together. 

I’ve also turned my home into an artist bed and breakfast for guests to stay and have time to devote to their creativity. I offer workshops and retreats here as well. The retreats are a time to make art, share stories and be inspired by one another. This practice feels ancient and more necessary than ever for the wellness of our minds, bodies and spirits. 

Creativity is an act of reciprocity. As I create the painting, the painting is creating me. When I love and respect the creative process, I am also loving and respecting myself. The way we treat our art and ourselves in the process shapes who we become. 

Isn’t it just incredible to imagine that what we create is creating us?

Creativity does not remind us of our humanity. It reminds us of our divinity.

 

She Became Herself

Tend to your life as though it is the most divine garden. Because it is. And you are. Now go! The world is waiting for your essential bloom.

Because of this, my art has expanded beyond the traditional canvas and spilled into other areas of my life as well. Whether in my artwork, clothing or surroundings, joy and beauty have become essential tools for my survival.

This is one reason I painted my car, Poppy. My home looks like a child was left unattended with paint and markers because my walls, tables, chairs and doors are covered with painted flowers. I’ve also painted on yoga mats, shoes, jean jackets, umbrellas and just about any surface you can imagine.

 

 

In addition to my paintings, I create books to share my love for creativity with others. The Story of Every Flower is a large coffee-table book that celebrates my 10-year journey as an artist with artwork and writing. A Flower in Her Heart: The True Story of an Artist Who Bloomed is a picture book that shares my story with young readers.

When an opportunity comes along,  I have the habit of saying yes before I feel ready. Often, I make a commitment and then figure out how to make it happen.

This has served me well on my path as an artist and put me in some uncomfortable positions outside my comfort zone. I appreciate these “growth moments” because I know I’ll learn something new. 

When Toms shoes asked me to paint shoes at one of their events several years ago, I said yes even though I had never painted shoes and didn’t know anything about how to do this.

I was a bit nervous each time a customer approached me with their newly purchased shoes. What if I couldn’t paint what they requested? What if I messed up, and they didn’t want the shoes any more? 

I mentioned my nerves to the artist sitting next to me. Her response was, “This is nothing. We paint permanently on people’s bodies for a living.” It turns out all the other artists were professional tattoo artists by trade, which explained their nonchalant attitude and lack of perspiration.

Somehow, I got through the evening, and nobody demanded a refund on their shoes after I painted them. After this experience, going back to painting on canvas in my studio was a relief!

The Toms staff told me that you do not need to seal the acrylic paint on their shoes with anything because acrylic is a plastic and is by nature already sealed, which I found helpful to know. I’ve painted many pairs for myself and have worn them for years without any chipping or flaking. 

I’ve also painted jean jackets, aprons, pants, tea towels, yoga mats and more. I’ve tried different types of fabric paints, but I prefer to use Golden acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium made by Liquitex.

I like to use the same paints I use in my art on canvas because I am familiar with them. I also save money by not having to buy additional supplies. I use my regular studio paint brushes to apply the paint. I also enjoy using acrylic paint pens, which make excellent tools for creating lines and details. My favorite brand is Posca.

 

Process for Creating

 

 

When I am covering the entire surface of the shoe, I paint without a plan or vision of what I want the design to be. I trust the process as it unfolds no matter what happens. I don’t worry about layering the paint because I love texture, even on shoes.

I just keep piling paint on top of paint until the design emerges. Layering is a technique many artists use to create depth, dimension and complexity. I use it as often as possible in all my work. This is a stress-free method for me because I know that if I “mess up,” I can paint over it and try again.

When I want to only add a simple design to part of the shoe, I tend to have a vision in my mind before I begin. I do stay open to possibilities because sometimes the paintings take a new direction as I work.

Toms shoes are made of canvas material and make an excellent painting surface. Cowgirl boots and rain boots offer a larger space to work with, which makes a bold fashion statement. You can paint on canvas, leather, mesh, vinyl, rubber, plastic and more, but some of these do require special paints for optimal and lasting results.

There are specialty paints available to paint on leather and vinyl, which adhere to these surfaces better than regular acrylics. I’ve also experimented using my regular acrylic paints on rain boots and have tried two different products to seal them — Modge Podge to seal the paint and an acrylic finisher product by Angelus. So far, both sealants have protected the paint from peeling or washing off.

In addition to painting original art on shoes, I also license my art for Birkenstocks with Michael Grey Sandal Factory. He collaborates with artists to create unique sandals that he stitches together by hand — a true work of art! Collaborating and supporting other artisans is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job, and I seek these partnerships whenever possible.

There are also companies that print custom shoes with your artwork. The company I used once is no longer in business, but the shoes I ordered are comfortable and stylish. If you choose to do this, I recommend getting one sample first before a large order just to make sure everything is printed correctly and you like the quality and fit. Some of these companies have print-on-demand options so you don’t need to order in bulk, which is a great option if you have budget or storage limitations.

When I wear painted clothing or accessories, I notice that I feel more joyful, playful and creative. I’ve found that the way I adorn myself is another way to honor and express the Creative Spirit that dwells within me. It is a form of play we never have to give up, and play is essential to creativity!

What we wear and what we surround ourselves with impacts our mood. What brings you joy? Have you ever wanted to paint any non-traditional surfaces, such as your shoes or clothing? What’s holding you back? Life’s too short not to paint or wear one-of-a-kind footwear. After all, as Giuseppe Zanotti says, “Never underestimate the power of a shoe.”

 

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