Getting Down to Earth: Making Magic with Glenda Goodrich
Updated: Jan 18
I started creeping on Glenda's social media after I saw a post about her class on the art of Kitntsugi, the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with golden lacquer.
"What a wonderful, symbolic practice," I thought.
"What a beautiful way to bring extra meaning to a piece."
If you read my post on Sacred Objects and Art Magick, you may know that I'm a sucker for art-making with personal meaning.
Shortly after, I noticed that she was offering a mixed media shine-making class.
"But I love making shrines!"
And then a "soul collage" class where students create personal oracle decks.
"Gahh! I just made my own oracle deck!"
And I knew I had to get in touch with this magical woman.
Turns out Glenda the Good Witch-erm Goodrich, is a pro when it comes to making art magick and bringing layers of personal meaning to artwork.
A painter, a collage artist, and mixed media maverick, Glenda, or GG, has made it her mission to help others discover their authentic inner creative selves.
In fact, Glenda Goodrich, as she describes on her website, is an "art doula," and is happiest when she's helping others to birth their own creative work.
With a profession like that, I knew I had to learn more. How does one get into "art midwifery?" How do you talk to other people about creating art as a spiritual practice? What is your making-space like?
She was so nice as to answer some my questions...
First can you tell us about your artistic background?
"I was very interested in art as a child," GG asserts. The daughter of a painter, she was introduced the the art scene in San Francisco at an early age, frequently attending art exhibitions with her family.
"I spent hours designing my Barbie outfits and doll houses, also drawing and coloring." After a poor experience during art class in school, and the business of life as she grew older, art got put on the back burner for a while.
"In my young adult life I was busy raising children and attending college, so I did not pursue any art practices, but art wove into my life anyway through home decorating, stitchery and sewing. I loved design: composition, color, and balance."
She returned to art later, after a successful corporate career. "It felt like something was missing," she says. And so she signed up for a class at the local art center. And another. And then another. She started working with artists who inspired her to create in paint, collage, and ceramics.
"I am an artist who loves diversity. I'll try almost anything."
By 2008, GG began helping others get in touch with their own creativity. "I found that I was exceptionally good at teaching and creating a safe and joyful environment for creative expression."
She started by offering classes in SoulCollage®, an artistic deep-dive in which creators discover authentic parts of themselves through the creation of collaged cards. These classes soon grew into other offerings: painting, monotype printing, mixed media, shrine building, origami temple building, Sumi ink, eco-dying and Kintsugi breaking and mending ceremonies.
So how does one go from rediscovering their own love of art, to helping others express their own creativity? How did you become an "art doula?"
"I didn't intentionally set out to teach art," GG insists. "I trusted myself and followed where I was being led by The Muse." At first, she admits that she didn't feel knowledgeable enough to teach.
"It was SoulCollage® that got me into teaching. It's a very rich and rewarding experience of using imagery to connect with one's internal landscape, aka the Soul."
The people she worked with in these classes found them so rewarding that it gave GG the encouragement to try branching out with her teaching.
"As I taught and witnessed the process, I realized that we all have an artist within us just waiting to be birthed... encouraged... pushed out. And with a bit of midwifery I could create a safe place for new and experienced artists to go further with their creative potential."
"I didn't intentionally set out to teach art. I trusted myself and followed where I was being led by The Muse. Not having an art degree, I never felt good enough or knowledgeable enough to teach."
The title, "art doula" came from conversations GG had with her family and friends. Mothers-to-be engage the assistance of birthing doulas. Grieving relatives of the deceased look to death doulas.
"I loved that word "doula." It percolated in my subconscious and boom! It came to me that I was an "art doula." It's the same process: focus, encouragement, deep breathing, pushing through!"
When you're not teaching, how do you approach your own artistic practice?
"My art is definitely a spiritual practice. The more I can get my ego out of the way, the more my creativity blossoms in new and unexpected ways. Once I let go of even thinking about whether someone else might like a piece [...] enough to buy it, my art took on new meaning."
Ooh, yes. The questioning. The self-doubt. The inner critic. We can relate.
GG goes all-in when it comes to using her art practice for introspection. She says that spending time alone in nature helps her to connect with her true self, and practices solitary vision questing as a means for gaining revelatory insight.
"In our left-brain dominated world we need to devote our time and attention to processes that helps us survive and thrive and stay connected to nature, to our Mother Earth."
"I have surrendered into accepting my personal style -- representational and often with spiritual and ancestral themes -- and I'm (almost!) over trying to be something I'm not. Now, I create for the joy of it. "
What blocks your creativity? How do you stay inspired?
"I know that my ego blocks my creativity." That devious inner critic again. But for GG, it's more about process than the final product, as she often tells her students. "You can add on, take off, paint over as much as you like until you say: okay, it's finished! I gesso over work all the time."
She insists that the most important thing is to show up in the studio and start. "I spend an hour or two down in my studio first thing in the morning. It's my peak creative time. [...] Some days I feel like in the flow of a creative energy that sweeps me along. Other days the flow just isn't there, but at least I showed up. 80% of success in life is just showing up, right?"
GG continually finds inspiration in other artists, as well as out in Nature, which she says is a critical part of her artistic life. "Nature offers us inspiration on a silver platter if you just pay attention to what's around you. "
Tell us about your creative space! What's your studio like?
"My basement studio is the best place in my house!"
And it's a veritable Cave of Wonders, if the photos are anything to go by. Previously just a dark and cobwebby place, GG has upgraded the lighting installed shelving, and created dedicated teaching and workshop areas in what used to be an ordinary basement. A riot of color and assemblage, her "Down to Earth Studio," as she's named it, has become a creative sanctuary.
"There are two counters and tons of shelves where I have carefully organized my paint, pens, collage materials, handmade papers, and other flotsam and jetsom for shrine assemblage and creativity -- rubber stamps, eco-dying materials and on and on. People love to come back into that room and look for materials for their art projects." When she was able to hold in-person classes, GG says the studio could accommodate up to 10 students at a time.
"It's a fabulous place."
And chock-full, if I do say so...
Her love for sharing and inspiring others to create shines through in how GG talks about her work.
"I believe that art is beauty made manifest. Love bubbles from my heart, finds its way up through my imagination, and comes out my hands."
"What I'm about is making more beauty in the world. I am flooding the world with my own expressions of the hundreds of ways I kneel and kiss the ground. [...] I do this through creative expression of all types. I believe that art is beauty made manifest. Love bubbles from my heart, finds its way up through my imagination, and comes out my hands."
Many thanks to GG for allowing us to be nosy, and sharing her art journey. While her in-person classes for 2020 are currently suspended, you can learn more about her offerings, including class descriptions and retreat events at www.glendagoodrich.com
Or creep on her on Instagram, like I do.