Featured Artist of the Month-Carla Sonheim

“Start with just one line…”

That’s something we can apply to most aspects of life. Taking one step, then another and another towards our desires and dreams. It’s been proven, doing small actions consistently produces positive results.

Carla SonheimCarla Sonheim, is a painter, illustrator and Founder of The Art of Silliness. She’s author of Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, a bestselling book, having sold over 45,000 copies! Her unique creature illustrations draw you in with their sense of playful ease and personality. They pique your curiosity to investigate further.

Last November, I had a delightful phone call with Carla. (I’m hoping we’ll speak again this year when I start podcasting, so you can enjoy her live!) It was our first time chatting. Her energy and infectious laughter reflect the same joyful ease in her caricatures. 

A history major from UCSB, Carla initially considered a degree in Art, but didn’t have the confidence to move in that direction. Around age 30, Carla took her first drawing course — “life drawing” – noting this experience taught her a lot about shadows and shading. However, in the beginning she approached this first class similarly to how kids learn to talk; by watching others, with intuitive natural and repetitive steps. 

She taught kids for a time, which she loved. When she began teaching adults, she quickly witnessed a pattern of people blocked by fear of failure. She was deeply struck by this and about 15 years ago, after teaching a small class of beginning artists, Carla realized her mission was to support people with breaking through blocks. Her mission continues to empower people today, through her delightful variety of online classes. 

Carla Sonheim self-study classesIn fact, it was Carla who helped me break-through my fear and limiting beliefs about working in Watercolor. At some point in my life, an art teacher told me you had to have years of experience as an artist before working in Watercolor, at which point I began to fear it. Fast forward decades later to the painting below, which I created using Carla’s free Abstracted Flowers instructions. This simple experience helped resolve my fear, with a new found love for something I feared–not to mention missed out on. Thank you, Carla!!!

watercolor flower abstract

During our lengthy phone call, we covered a lot of ground. It was truly an honor to connect with such a kindred spirit. I felt as if we’d known each other for years. 

I asked about how she supports people with extreme fear for drawing, and her answer was simple yet profound, she said,  ”I have them draw a face with their NON-dominant hand, which at first seems completely intimidating. But students quickly relax, look, and begin putting down one line after another.” So, not only does she help people overcome fear of drawing, she teaches the power of  TRUSTING in ourselves, without concern of outcomes. There’s so much we can achieve from this beyond art, and apply to other aspects of our lives. Carla’s mission is truly a gift with lasting enrichment.

Here’s some tips from Carla about drawing:

  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Start with a pen (no eraser)
  • Use your non-dominant hand
  • Draw a portrait or object
  • Slow down, look and “receive the information flowing through your hand.”
  • Have FUN!

There’s a lot to explore on Carla’s website. Please stop over and say hello to her here, enjoy her tutorials and courses. Leave a comment below if you have something to share about art or fear or what you experienced from working with Carla. I’d love to hear from you.

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  1. Work-at-Home Tuesday | - 01/14/2014

    […] I wanted to thank Teresa Capaldo for featuring me on her blog this week: http://teresacapaldo.com/2014/01/12/featured-artist-of-the-month-carla-sonheim/. Thanks, […]

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