By Delia Engstrom
Kathy Strauss encourages everyone to summon their inner artist inside the pages of her newly-released book, “Coloring Your Spirit.”
An adult coloring book, its untouched pages beckon for embellishment. So, grab your colored pencils, uncap those markers or borrow some crayons from the kids! But this is not your typical coloring book – this one seeks to inspire from cover to cover with meditative prompts accompanying the energetic designs. Inside her book, Strauss reassures those who haven’t opened a coloring book in years, “Our world is in a constant state of creation, and we are responsible for the world we create.”
Strauss herself has been in a constant state of creation for a long time. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in advertising and marketing, she worked as a senior designer and publications coordinator for World Bank. Twenty years later, Strauss left that position but continued to work inside the Beltway as an art director for various organizations.
Although her 9-5 had her fully ensconced in artistic endeavors, it wasn’t enough for her creative spirit. In 1999, while still working full-time, Kathy and her husband GC Schow formed Imagewerks, an art and photography studio based in Woodbridge. Their award-winning company specializes in corporate, event, and family photography; as well as photo restoration and digital mixed media art.
Kathy considers herself a visual storyteller who loves capturing and sharing the right-brain view of the world. “I love sharing my passion!” she declares.
That artistic passion continued to grow when she left corporate America in 2007 and focused on Imagewerks full-time. For many, there are only 24 hours in a day and most aren’t spent creating or nurturing one’s self. But, for the ever-vibrant Strauss, she carves time for artistic expression out of almost every minute of the day.
“There’s a term ‘Shpilkes’- it’s Yiddish and it means ‘ants in the pants’. That’s me!” exclaims Strauss. “I’ve done needlepoint, knitting, jewelry-making,” she remembers, before continuing “and even finished hooking an Oriental rug that my mother had started long ago.”
In order to both focus all of that energy, yet further explore her creative limits, Kathy embarked on the journey of becoming a certified Creatively Fit™ coach. Under the leadership of head coach Whitney Freya (a motivational speaker, author and creative entrepreneur) participants use art, imagination and meditation to tap into the possibilities for personal growth. Upon her certification in 2011, Strauss joined over 200 other Creatively Fit ™ coaches worldwide who aim to inspire others.
Her own inspiration for “Coloring Your Spirit” came years ago during a meeting. “I’ve always doodled. I’m better at listening with a pen and pencil doodling than I am taking notes,” Kathy comments. “During one such meeting someone looked at my doodle and said ‘That would be a fun page to color’ and I agreed.”
Most of the doodles were created as Kathy sat in front of the television, seemingly relaxing but channeling those ants in her pants right through her fingertips and onto the page. The result is a collection of designs accompanied by prompts, or meditations like the ones Kathy became familiar with while under the guidance of Freya, to encourage creativity.
“Coloring Your Spirit” consists of eighteen different designs to keep your inner artist engaged, such as “Circling” which consists of intersecting circles of various sizes persuading one to “Connect the dots encircling your dreams. What sparkle do you have? What sparkle do you see?..”
“I’m not a writer, but during my certification as a coach we did a lot of journaling, so when I hear words in my head I just go with the flow. Sort of like how writers may wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, it’s like there’s a train coming and you have to catch it.”
And even though she doesn’t consider herself a writer, this artist, photographer, and creative coach can now add “published author” to her lengthy resume. She reflects on her accomplishment stating “It proves your authority to have something published.”
The same strength and spirit that led her to pursue publication also drives her to serve her community. Fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an art teacher, she can be found in her “free” time teaching others to embrace right-brain thinking. Her creative workshops such as “Paint Your Pet” and “Your Artist Within” are wildly popular. “Wine, Nibbles & Scribbles” is a three-hour long painting class with sips and snacks that is billed as a “cause related creativity FUNdraiser”, where funds are raised for various local non-profits. Strauss also serves as President of the Arches Gallery at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, where she exhibits her work as well.
Sharing her love of creating has come naturally to Strauss over the years and she encourages everyone to add a little color to their life. “We are the artists of our lives…together each of our thoughts, words, and actions create a world that is better, colorful, and more beautiful each and every day.”
To give the gift of creativity to yourself, a coworker, friend, or loved one this holiday season please visit blurb.com/b/8256921-coloring-your-spirit to order your copy of “Coloring Your Spirit”. To learn more about Kathy and her creative quests you can find her at imagewerks.net or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.