Studio Inspiration from “The Artist’s Journey” by Nancy Hillis

Inspiration from the new book “The Artist’s Journey” by Nancy Hillis continues to move me to the studio each day.  See Nancy’s new book on Amazon HERE.


Paintings by J. Kirstein

“I have always felt as though I come from some place very far away, and the only way I am able to sustain myself on this planet is through creating through painting and writing.” J. Kirstein

“The big idea is to work with the elegant solution of simplicity and constraint. Within a constraint you have an infinity of possibilities to explore.” Nancy Hillis in “The Artist’s Journey.”

“The Dark Night of the Soul happens over and over for every artist. The transformation of creating your deepest work lives at the edge of your struggle.” Nancy Hillis from “The Artist’s Journey.”

Examples, Stories and Insight

Book Review for

“The Artist’s Journey” by Nancy Hillis 01.27.19

Book Review By Janis Kirstein

In “The Artist’s Journey,” author Nancy Hillis has woven for us an intricate, structurally sound and radically uplifting tapestry of inspiration and guidance, not only for today’s creative artist, but for all seekers of truth who want to live, thrive and come alive and aware in the 21st Century.

Her magic carpet of structural threads stems from and  includes her personal and direct knowledge and experience of 20 plus years as a Stanford trained existential psychiatrist. Combine this with her well of seemingly limitless understanding of the workings of the subconscious mind and explorations of the self.  

Watch how she weaves her epistle with a myriad of powerful gossamer threads highlighting and illustrating her eloquently stated concepts and revelations. As you move through “The Artist’s  Journey,” compendia of cultural knowledge and illustrative stories range from Biblical to Medieval to Modern Day writings and literature providing direct illustrations of her key concepts.

Also included with this book are links to Nancy’s “Studio Journey” lessons and exercises for painters at any level, from beginners to age old painting aficionados.  

And finally, the ubiquitous warp and woof of her grand tapestry is undergirded and revealed by Nancy’s extensive background and real life experience as an abstract painter.  Her direct art journey  provides for all of her readers a sure footed guidance and understanding of how to incorporate all of the revelations of her magical tapestry into the unique life of each and every reader. She engages us with her truth, examples, stories and insight, whisking us away on a magic carpet of joy in the journey through enlightenment.

Facing into your fears, learning to trust yourself and embracing the abandoned self are the basic gold nuggets and key steps to take on the Artist’s Journey. Nancy explores and  explains these monumental tasks of the Artist, complete with a weaving of stories from multiple cultures and times.

Trusting yourself is the holy grail of creating, she says. She  gives the example of Jacob wrestling with the Angel by the Jabbok River in the Bible. She uses this story to illustrate the truth that to express yourself in art, you first have to master yourself.

Face into your fears, she says. She illustrates the exploration of the artist’s reliance in their own life struggles to enable creativity of inner voice and vision to emerge. She illustrates this importance of struggle as necessity with the story of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”  She shows us how this story reflects a journey into the subconscious mind and the paradox of finding strength and transformation even as you experience powerlessness.

She reminds us with an example from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Women Who Run With the Wolves” that dying is as essential as birth in the creative process. Facing the dark night of the soul is essential.

Accept the parts of yourself that you have rejected and abandoned, she says. “Invite them back because they have something to teach you,” she says, encouraging us to employ talking to ourselves as a process to turn around Solomon’s Paradox,  the age old observation that some are much better at giving advice to others than to themselves. The way you talk to yourself can help release emotional blockage by allowing insight to uncover and allow epiphany through  inner dialogue.

Concrete maps and details for proceeding in the Artist’s Journey are the basis of this book, combined with enlightening advice and engaging stories from a myriad of  times and cultures. As a professional artist for over 35 years, I will use “The Artist’s Journey” as requisite curriculum for the next 50 years of my creative life. “The Artist’s Journey” by Nancy Hillis is the new Required Reading and Bible of Creating for all Artists and Seekers of Truth in the 21st Century.

Painting by Nancy Hillis

Get your “The Artist’s Journey” by Nancy Hillis HERE.

Teri Dryden: Collages to Die For


For years in Louisville, I saw the collages of Teri Dryden, and was riveted by her uncanny ability to place together every piece of torn paper to create a perfectly unified field of incongruent, yet visually connected torn scraps. Her collages vibrate with decisively placed color and shape. Symphonies of seemingly random, yet innately balanced pieces of torn edges, rough contrasting pigments and typography sing a hallelujah chorus of undeniable strength and boldness.


Janis Kirstein




“i plunge into each piece of work as if it were an adventure into the unknown. with no specific outcome in mind, i respond to the changes in the picture as i explore and interact with materials by layering paint and paper, scratching, sanding and marking, creating open spaces, altering and adjusting,” Teri says.




“i move between intuition and logic; chaos and order. being aware and open, taking risks with the materials, as well as the struggle itself allows me to be in the moment to reflect and interpret a history that evolves on the canvas before my eyes.








Teri Dryden’s unorthodox path to becoming an artist began with immersion in an ancient art form in which she, herself was the medium. A theatre major at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, she excelled in physical expression and comedy. At the urging of an instructor, she auditioned and won a coveted spot as one of the few female clowns in the Ringling Brothers’ Barnum and Bailey Circus. For two unforgettable years, she performed in every state in the U.S. in one of the most colorful and visually stimulating environments imaginable.



She then moved to Los Angeles and became an award-winning stage actress, but left the stage when her first child was born. After making beautiful fiber art for several years, Teri decided to take an art class, and discovered a latent talent and passion for painting and drawing. During a remarkably short and prolific period, she won several awards and sold dozens of paintings and drawings to rapt fans who recognized her unique sense of composition and color in dramatic florals and still-lives. She feels she has found her true aesthetic after discovering the fascinating world of mixed media and collage.



She is a member of the collage artists of America, National Collage Society and Women Painters West. Her work is included in many private and public collections and has been exhibited in numerous solo, group and juried exhibitions across the country.