Tag: Art Workshop

Gratitude Bowl-Making Workshop

“For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” -Brother David Steindl-Rast

Gratitude Bowls

Gratitude is more that just a thought or a feeling. It is a consistent practice of recognizing moments, people, and things that you are thankful for. This past weekend, I led a Gratitude Bowl-making workshop to a group of 39 creative individuals at The Namaste Center, in Flat Rock. I am so proud of the bowls everybody made, and hope that this process strengthens their gratitude practices. Today, I am grateful for this life and this work of spreading the message that art can be used for wellness and healing.


“Much of what makes humans anxious or depressed originates from the way we think about the things happening around us. We tend to assume that our thoughts are always true, which affects the way we feel, and therefore the way we behave. Soon, we’re trapped in a negativity cycle, spiraling towards deeper and deeper anxiety and sadness. Practicing gratitude is not about denying reality, or only thinking happy thoughts, as most critics claim. It’s a way to create some space between our automatic thoughts and our feelings. It helps us pause long enough to notice how we have been thinking about our lives, and it provides an opportunity to get out of our heads and take a slightly different perspective.”


For more behind the meaning behind the bowl and instructions on making your own, check out my feature in this month’s WNC Woman Magazine.


Kara Ashley-Gilmore believes in the use of art for wellness and healing. She is a licensed counselor, art therapist, and mixed-media artist at Mountain Creative Arts Counseling in Hendersonville. She provides individual counseling and facilitates a weekly anxiety support group for individuals who feel crushed by the weight of their worries, dread their next panic attack, and live with over-active inner critics. Learn more about her work at

Anxiety is a Trickster

Adventures in String Art

Anxiety trickster

Other than a fantastic lunch with a new friend, yesterday was a mostly crappy day filled with many things not panning out the way they were supposed to, feeling like I’ve been spinning my wheels and accomplishing nothing, and a lingering cough that–despite a trip to the doctor and multiple natural and very unnatural medications–seems to only be intensifying.

I signed up to take a string art workshop in the afternoon, and it felt like the universe was conspiring against me getting there. Old me would have taken the multiple missed/wrong turns (traffic circles are the worst!), emergency stop for gas, and sloooowww moving interstate traffic as a sign that I shouldn’t go, that there​ was a reason all of this was happening, it’s completely unacceptable and unprofessional to show up late, and I should retreat back to the safety of home because, obviously, SOMETHING bad would happen if I continued on this path.

Anxiety is a Trickster

Anxiety is the greatest trickster and will make you believe that everything is out to destroy you. Years of practice with talking back to this inner catastrophizer and wannabe psychic helped me get to the place where I could use tools to calm my mind and my shaky hands, and get my head out of the scenes of destruction that were playing on repeat in my head, and back in 4:15pm on Friday, March 24th.

The truth is, had I taken the time to check in with myself before I left, I would have noticed the building anxiety, done something about it, gotten gas earlier in the day, and I probably wouldn’t have made so many wrong turns along the way. Anxiety breeds behaviors that cause more anxiety. It’s a cycle, that only the person caught in it can stop, and it begins with pausing long enough to notice how you’re​ feeling.

…Anyways, I made it to the workshop. I was late. No one cared. And if they did, they were gracious enough not to say anything. I made this string art for my son. He loved it, and it’s safe to assume Yoki likes it too.

Happy New Year and Winter Preview

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. As I’ve spent the last two years building this business, there hasn’t been much time to really slow down and relax. Even on vacations and days off, I would find myself browsing the internet for articles to share with you on my Facebook page, or planning workshops, or coming up with activities to do with the seniors at Spring Arbor.

During the week before Christmas, up until the week after New Year, I gave myself a true break where I rarely touched my phone or computer. I did the minimum amount needed to keep things in flow and gave my mind a break from all the planning and hustling that I had grown used to. And you know what happened after this period of hibernation and rest?

Vision. Clarity. Focus. Connection to Family. Acceptance. Joy.

I found myself ready to tackle projects that I had been avoiding, like the living room remodel that has now entered it’s third year of stagnation, birthing different groups that have been on the back burner, taking a hard look at this business’s finances, and clearing out all the clutter that was distracting me from having the white space in my life that I needed to maintain the gains in rest and rejuvenation that I had achieved (like, turning off most of my phone notifications, unsubscribing from all the various email lists, and tossing out clutter).

So, that’s where I am. I’ve made a few changes to the workshop offerings and getting rid of things that just weren’t working or were not providing the energy for growth. My goal is to offer opportunities for you to develop your creativity and to remove as many obstacles as possible. This means providing a rich environment  where you are free to explore and play with every supply available for your use. As a result, the times, length, and prices or workshops are no longer static–and in some cases, the price has increased–but they are still affordable, and you will still receive the same value and “Art Spa” experience that you have grown accustomed to.

Oh! I really wanted to share this with you. It’s a blog post by Kelly Rae Roberts, a social worker turned professional artist, and one of my favorite humans. In this blog post, she writes about coming back to our own brilliance and protecting our time to allow space for our intuition to come forth. Oddly enough, I only read this last week, but what a dear reminder that I’m on the right path.

I’ve posted a flyer with all the groups and workshops above. You can find detailed descriptions on my website, and can register via the new MCAC store (no more PayPal!). Would you be so kind as to help spread the word?

With love, gratitude and appreciation for your support,

Art Journaling for Insight


Smith & Sons

This won’t be your typical art journaling class. This is for the seekers. The ones who are on a journey of listening to their gut, trusting their intuition, and honoring the path that is unfolding before them.

You will be guided in using writing, painting, and collage to find the answers to questions pressing on your heart. Come prepared to make a beautiful mess and leave with a greater knowing of your truth.

Saturday, August 20th
All supplies included. No art experience required.

Should and Must: Week 4

“It’s Not Enough to Reach the Treasure, One Must Bring it Back.”

-To act is to modify the shape of the world.- -Jean-Paul Sarte


We concluded our book club this week by discussing ways we can bring our “treasures” back. Our work isn’t over until we share our gifts with others. We learned that there’s a ripple effect that happens when we follow our passions; choosing Must doesn’t only affect us, it affects everyone around us. We have to keep choosing must day after day, because Should is easy, but it’s not satisfying. To conclude the series, we created collages about our personal journeys to Must.

I can’t state enough how much I love this book. Thank you, Elle Luna, for choosing Must and putting this work into the world.


Sign up for the newsletter to stay posted about the dates and book title for the spring Book Club.


Should and Must: Week 1

“If you Want to Know Must, Get to Know Should”

The Creative’s Book Club provides a safe, supportive environment for people who want to dig deeper than reading alone will allow. This Winter, we’re reading Elle Luna’s “The Crossroads of Should and Must.” I LOVE this book. It’s an easy read and full of insightful stories, illustrations, and quotes. The book club meets Wednesdays at 10:30, until 2/4/16.


We had a great first meeting of the Creatives Book Club this week. We explored the difference between Should and Must, and learned a bit about the origin of should: parents, partners, friends, advertising, etc…

The quote in the picture really stood out. How can we escape from prison if we don’t even know that we are in prison?

What is your prison? A relationship? Your current job? The city you live in?

What are your “Shoulds”? Where did they come from? And do you want to keep holding on to them?

Up next week: “The Path to Must is a Path we Create”

Visual Journaling at The Shift Studio


We had a wonderful “playshop” on Tuesday at The Shift Studio. We began by setting an intention for the session and asking a question that we wanted our journals to respond to.


We started with large sheets of brown kraft paper, which we filled with color, texture, collage, text, and images corresponding to our questions.


We tore our kraft paper down to size, and bound them together to create a unique visual journal. We spent some time with our journals, writing and processing any answers we received. We then wrote a letter to ourselves to help us remember any insights that came to us during the session.


I’m so proud of my students! Thank you all for your trust and vulnerability as you shared about your experiences today.

Here’s what some students had to say after the workshop:

  • “Thank you for a super workshop.  I had a wonderful time, feel great about taking the next step and excited about the possibilities that are opening up.”
  • “The tone you set was so conducive to safety and exploring and enjoying.”
  • “Your instruction and pacing for the activity were just right, gave precisely the guidance I needed.”
  • “I so enjoyed the Journaling class yesterday and Kara was fantastic. So easy to be with, listen to and she is caring and knows her work. I found I could do something for me and enjoy the quiet atmosphere as well. Thank you for providing this opportunity.”
  • “I appreciate the masterful job you did with planning and preparation.  The whole workshop gave such a sense of being carefully designed and thoughtfully set up — with delightful materials:  art supplies bountiful but not overwhelming, decorated and encouraging individual packets of goodies…  It seems you thought of everything, right down to that tiny envelope for our message to ourself.  It was all so inviting and pleasing.”