Close Up with Artist and Teacher Wanda Grein

Fantasia Inca

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

Hi Everyone. My name is Wanda Grein and I am an Art Consultant in my own business. My background is teaching, 35 years and counting! I teach three days per week in my Art Studio where I conduct art classes for 87 students ranging in ages from 5 to 75 years of age. I teach all of the arts not just painting!

I also do contract work for various schools across Sydney and the Illawarra where community art projects are required. Behind the work scene I am also an artist where I paint commissions for various groups, and I am just starting to become a bit ‘famous’! I will be showing my artwork in my own very first Art Exhibition in August this year. What a wonderful opportunity this is for me.

I also read Tarot cards and participate in various Psychic Festivals such as the Mind Body Spirit Festival.When I have time I also teach the Art of Tarot on the weekends.

I am a mother who enjoys family life, spending time with my very cute granddaughter, and watching my adult children become wonderful awesome people.  I am so lucky to have a husband who is supportive of my work both as an artist and businesswoman.

Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?

I have always loved ART. As a child I was always drawing, colouring, painting! Art is in my nature! It is who I am! I am an intuitive artist, so anything inspirational on a spiritual level is inspiring.
I am inspired by the fact that ART is an invisible doorway for those who seek healing, stillness and personal self-expression. I see myself as a conduit through the art forms for those who seek to know their true selves, and gain an understanding of self through their own ART making. This is what inspires me.

Where do you get your inspiration from when you design/paint?

There are so many things that inspire me to paint or sculpt. I like to paint spiritual images, and what helps me is the ability to use my imagination to capture an idea and express it in many meaningful different ways. My artwork reflects my inner desire to see a peace filled world of an interfaith perspective. Before I paint, I have a general idea/ plan about what Id like to paint, and then when I am in the process of painting more ideas about colours and images to include come through. I surprise myself how a painting turns out. Last year the monks at the Buddhist Temple where so impressed with my interpretation of Buddha, that they have commissioned me to paint images for the Buddhist University! This is very exciting for me, and especially so that I am Christian not Buddhist. You may ask me why I paint Buddha, and the answer is I love the energy of painting Buddha. It gives me great satisfaction.
Easter Tree 2
My grand daughter and myself called’ Easter Tree

I follow my intuition all the time even when I am consulting for big Art projects. I listen to the clients about what they would like to see on the walls or gardens, and I ask them questions about what they would like to include in the artwork. Images and styles will come flooding through my mind and the I see the whole design! I quickly draw it so I do not forget.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

Over the years I know past clients and bosses have stated this about me and my work: Inspirational, motivating, enthusiastic, open, accepting, free spirit.

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

My very first job was working in a Delicatessen when I was 13 years old. I used to mop the floors.I thought one day I am going to sell the lovely cold meats and cheeses that was my goal! The first item I sold was a kilo of pork sausages!

Silent Buddha

By the time I was 16 years old, I was running the business while the boss went on holidays! I became a teacher and moved into the ARTS very soon after. I also have a Masters Degree in Applied Sciences and I studied Art Therapy. As an educator I saw the importance of the Arts as a vital component to children’s development. They lead happier lives and there is depth and tenderness in their character because they have been taught through the ARTS (including dance drama & music) to express themselves without fear. They gain confidence in how to relate to others, and understand themselves better. When I left full time teaching, I worked as an Art Specialist running Arts workshops for Teachers/Artistic Retreats/Spirituality Days for Staff Development days for various schools and Various Hopsital staffs. I have worked part time as a Visual Arts sessional lecturer/tutor at various Universities, and along with a colleague, I co-authored some Arts oriented Educational curriculum documents. I am involved annually in the judging and coordination of specific Children’s art exhibitions, and I have organised several other exhibitions for schools and small community groups.

Describe a typical day in your studio space?

My day begins with me making my very famous Balinese Ginger tea, which I steep to infuse the flavours of the ginger, mint and lime. My adult clients just love it! This is for morning tea.

art studio space
art studio space

Then I go down stairs to the Studio to do some clearing of the creative space. This includes always having fresh flowers next to a beautiful statue of Buddha, and burning incense. I check that all equipment is prepared on the tables, steam clean the floor, and have the artworks ready in the studio on easels. Finally, I set an intention for a perfect day. I light scented candles around the studio space, and turn on the CD player with some calming music. The adult students arrive around 10am, and I will be on my feet until 1pm After they have left, I prepare for the afternoon class at 3:30pm.This will include cleaning brushes, emptying dirty water bucket, sweeping floor, and the washing up from morning tea. I eat my lunch, and then if I do not have any business to attend to, I will spend a few hours ( if I am lucky) painting for my exhibition. At 3pm I make cordial and prepare afternoon tea for my younger students as some of them come to art class straight from school and they need a carb hit! At 4:45pm my husband comes down with ice creams for the kids. This is their time to stop painting, and have an artistic conversation with each other about their artworks. I finish at around 6pm and I have tidied the studio space ready for the next day!

As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?

My biggest frustration at the moment is finding the time to paint for myself. I need to restructure a discipline where my painting time is important. I am learning this skill, and I realise I need to be dedicated to it. As an artist, I also need to spend quiet time away from the studio, to defrag if you like, to renew my energies.

Simply Buddha-S
Simply Buddha

Tell us about how you prioritise your work.

As a businesswoman of an Art Studio, and art consultant I am constantly prioritising my work. I am learning to network with other business people to see how they organise their books, finances, organise their mail outs and so on. One thing I do, as a number one rule is that every call I get to the Art Studio is a potential client. I always return calls and emails. My business acumen is a ‘a work in progress’.

Can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?

I connect with people in different ways and I find people come to art classes for so many different reasons. I find that some of my adult students are stuck in thinking that their artwork must be ‘perfect’. I find the idea of ‘perfect’ interferes with creativity. So I suggest to them to explore and play with the paint! That changes everything!

I start where the client wants to start.

Everyone is on his or her own individual program.

I keep my clients informed about the Art Studio and events via a printed newsletter and emails.
I keep in contact with other artists through other art exhibitions. I am just getting to know some of the artists in the Illawarra.
St Francis Xavier Mosaic 16th Aug 2011
St Francis Xavier Mosaic

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

To me the most important advice I would give someone who wants to follow his or her passions is to ‘just do it’. There is no time than the ‘present moment’. We live in a world of financial security and there is fear of ‘not having enough’. I have been there, watching my pennies as a single mum. But I always got by. Always

In 2008 after a health scare ( what was Spirit trying to tell me???) I stopped working full time to follow my dream of having my own art studio and teaching Art how I wanted to. We moved from Sydney to Kiama, and thought we’ll give it one year to see how it all goes, and we have not ever looked back. It was meant to be! We are certainly not rich financially but we are rich with where we live in beautiful Kiama, I love living by the sea. I have a gorgeous Art Studio. My art students are just wonderful, and I feel we are truly blessed. So Why wait? What are you waiting for?

What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?

It has always been my dream to have my own Art studio, tick! My next dream is to open a retail art supply shop so my students and other artists can have easy access to supplies. I am slowly working towards this.
 My ultimate dream would be to teach art to communities in  third world countries. That would be a gift!
Universal buddha
Universal buddha

What is your proudest moment so far?

I have had so many proud moments in my life. But my proudest moment was when in 2004 I conducted a State wide Children’s Peacelink Project, where 33,000 children stopped at 12 noon with their teachers, and meditated and prayed for World Peace for 10 minutes. I was very kindly acknowledged by Mr Nelson Mandela (Via Email from South Africa) and his Holiness the Dalai Lama (through his contact in Canberra) who both endorsed and supported the project! Mr James Twyman (World Peace Troubadour, musician and author of book ‘Emissary of Light’), the Director of Catholic Schools Brother Kelvin, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Pell, also endorsed the project. It was a fabulous!

Who do you most want to meet and why?

I would love to shake hands with Mr Nelson Mandela. For me he epitomises ‘Peace’. He is a living example of the ‘Buddha’ in us all who we can aspire to be. I have met the Dalai Lama, and that was wonderful to be in his space even if it was for a few minutes.

What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?

Wow!  this is a powerful question. My greatest lesson in my life was learning to TRUST myself at every level of my being.
Quan Yin
Quan Yin- Goddess of Mercy

What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?

I tend to read a few books at the same time. I am reading a book on Buddhist teachings  called “ Being Good: Buddhist Ethics for Everyday Life” by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. Venerable Maio Yong at the Buddhist Temple in Berkeley, NSW, kindly gave this book to me.
I am also reading ‘The Magician’s Way’ by William Whitecloud. This is a great book about personal transformation, and recognising the master within. Finally I am reading ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ by Timothy Ferris, a very informative approach to retirement and living your dream!
A book that I would recommend for a great read is a book called ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma, a fiction story about following your dreams and finding your destiny

Where do we find you and your products?

You will find me at ‘The Art Studio @ Kiama’ is in Coachwood Street Kiama. The studio is open Tuesdays through to Thursdays, and on some specific Saturday’s where I run art courses for small groups.
  • Adult classes are in the mornings from 10am to 12:30pm.
  • Children and teenage art classes run from 3:30pm to 5:30pm.
  • Three hour art classes and small group Saturday Art classes are available upon request.

HWY st Chris MosaicMosaics- St Francis, St Chris

I work in Sydney Monday and Fridays as a Mosaic Artist creating mosaics for schools and community spaces.
My artwork exhibition of Buddhist Art will be shown in August 2013 at the Nantien Buddhist Temple in Berkeley. Check the Nan tien Temple Website for further information about this Exhibition. My current artwork ‘ Simply Buddha’ is on Exhibition as of the 29thMarch through to 10th May for the Buddha’s Birthday Education Project.
I am planning to get a web designer to help me create an awesome website that I can manage myself. Any advise here would be greatly appreciated.

Do you have a Special offer for  ArtSHINE  community?

My special offer to the Art SHINE Community would be the following.
If you are visiting Kiama, you are welcome to come to the Studio and enjoy the first Art lesson for half price.
That’s a savings of $ 12.50. Alternatively, you can have one 30-minute Tarot Reading for $30, a savings of $20.
Finally if the ArtSHINE community that would like artistic consultation for a mural or mosaic, meditation garden or indoor painting, I offer the first artistic consultation half price. That’s a savings of $250.
Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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