Artist Spotlight :: Melanie Rivers


Welcome! Every Tuesday and Thursday Tonia Jenny, the 21 SECRETS Creative Director & Course Manager, interviews one of the talented teachers in our 21 SECRETS program for an Artist Spotlight.

To never miss an interview be sure to sign up for blog notifications located at the bottom of this page and CLICK HERE to check out past interviews. Enjoy!

Hello Beautiful Dreamer!

Are you excited about the beautiful faces you’ve painted so far? There are so many ways to create a face and an expression, aren’t there? 21 SECRETS Face Time and its twenty-one instructors prove as much!

Well, today, the Spotlight is on Melanie Rivers, whose Face-Time lesson is called Her Really Big Adventure and is a wonderful dive into the union of art and storytelling. I love the story Melanie shares below about how her form of artistic expression has taken different outlets over the years, and also the ways she looks forward to her path continuing to unfold. Enjoy learning more about this Expressive-Arts artist.

How have your creative pursuits morphed or changed over the years?

When I was a youth I was painfully shy and not comfortable using my voice. Contemporary dance was my form of expression. As I moved into a career, I slowly moved away from dance and lost my creative outlet. I discovered mixed-media art seven years ago and have not looked back. I engage in art making of some kind every day. It grounds me and is a form of expression for me. It took me a while to feel comfortable to share my work publicly. I love to be inspired by other artists and to connect through the creative process, so now I share my work frequently. I’m currently studying Expressive Arts Therapy and opening up to my creativity through poetry, movement, sound, writing and visual arts.

Is there an element of your process that you’re especially passionate about?

I believe strongly in building a self-compassionate art practice. This means focusing on being kind to myself as I create art. Often I feel like ‘I am not getting it right’, or feel like I am ‘unskilled’ or I compare my work to others. When this happens, I notice and breathe and remind myself of my intentions for creating that day. Each day may be different. I may be creating to learn, build my skill, express an emotion, or to feel grounded and peaceful. It is the process of creating that is more important to me than the product. So, I remind myself of that, which means I am more likely to show up to the canvas or my art journal the next day and the day after that.

Name a time when the art you were creating inspired another area of your life.

I have a life size painting I created in my Expressive Arts Therapy training that is hanging in my studio/office. It is called “Trust the Shimmered Path.” It reminds me that I deserve joy, to trust my creativity, and that my path is unfolding as I walk it. There are constant forks in the road where I am making decisions and the artwork reminds me to make decisions related to my vision and not related to my fears.

What is the one thing you hope we remember from your workshop?

My workshop includes allowing a story to emerge and be expressed through writing and painting. I hope people will remember to not worry about writing a ‘good’ story, but to just allow the story to unfold without judgment and without much planning. There are many surprises and messages that may emerge through this process. Our imagination holds so many possibilities that we aren’t always conscious of. So, have fun, don’t think too much, and enjoy!

Where will you be and what will you be doing five years from now?

I love teaching art and engaging people in creativity. I am newly running my own business and feeling very empowered in this venture. In five years, I will be teaching a range of online art courses, facilitating retreats at beautiful locations around the world, writing a book, and working as an Expressive Arts Therapy practitioner and instructor. Wow. That felt good to say. It is so important to dream, but to also create a plan and prioritize along the way. Dreams + Plan + Action= a joyful and energized life. I’d love to check in on this interview in five years to see what has been realized!

Thank you, Melanie, for reminding me that I need not worry about telling a “good” story through my art; that through self-compassion, I can remember all parts of my story are inherently good as they are.

I’m sure something here has inspired you to embrace your own story and for more ways to add faces to your artwork, check out the rest of 21 SECRETS Face Time!

💜 Tonia

About Melanie

I am an Indigenous mixed-media artist who teaches online art classes to women around the world. I help women build a joyful and self-compassionate art practice.

Creating art brings me into the present moment, into stillness. In this space, I am not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. In stillness, I find myself. I find peace, clarity and connection with my real emotions.

I am from the Squamish First Nation in Vancouver, Canada. I live in my community with my wonderful husband of eighteen years (and our sweet cat) and I draw from my traditional ancestry and teachings in my art practice.

In my art, I depict the strength, realness and vulnerability of women. Art has many medicines to share with us—stillness, joy, connection—and by building a self-compassionate art practice, we can experience these medicines on a regular basis.


Melanie teaches Her Really Big Adventure in 21 SECRETS Face Time

Through playful, free-flow writing, I will lead you through telling a story about a young girl who goes on a really, big adventure. This story will be written on the under layer and only pieces of it will show through on the final journal page. We will then cover over her story with collage, paint and texture, adding history to the piece. Next, I will lead you through painting and shading her face, bringing her alive, and transporting parts of her story to the top layer.


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