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  • Writer's pictureSusie Zol

Be Ready to Learn Something New!

Hello You!

As you know, my love affair with painting goes back over 10 years and I enjoy continuing to evolve as an artist. My loose, energetic brushstrokes have developed into a recognizable style and that allows me to try different color combinations and compositions.

This past weekend I took my creative process a step further and tried a new-to-me medium; clay! I signed up for a workshop at the California Center for Creative Renewal in Encinitas, CA. It was an all day workshop titled "Challenging the Inner Critic" and was presented by Cheryl Tall. The creatives who'd signed up for this thoughtful workshop gathered for the day in the gorgeous garden and studio spaces at the center and spent time meeting and sharing with each other.

The workshop began and within moments we were all rolling, swatting and smashing our clay into thin slabs. We placed them over wads of taped newspaper and began creating face masks. I found clay to be a wonderfully forgiving medium. Don't like that eyebrow?, scrape it off and try another! My table-mates were a delightful mix of beginner and beyond-beginner along with a healthy dose of humor and lightheartedness. The sunny sky, darting hummingbirds and slight breezes made it an easy morning of creative fun.

Here is my first mask taking shape: (in the first picture, on the clay slab is a eucalyptus seed from the ground. I was able to use it as a mark-making tool and I was inspired by the shape.)

The indented lines helped with facial proportions and slowly but surely my inner critic began to emerge. Lunchtime brought a welcome break from the creative process and looking at that face!

After lunch I began another face and went through the same process. Are you wondering how I chose what face I would make? I didn't! I kept my same intuitive style and let my hands work with the clay, feeling my way through each facial feature, eyes, nose, mouth, ears and cheeks. What emerged was already in me.

And now I will tell you the story I wrote of the old man and the baby.

I have inside me an old man for an inner critic.

He is critical and judging of everyone around him and I take it very personally.

If I could do great things then someday he could approve.

If I could do great things correctly, then someday he could love me.

If I could do great things, correctly all the time, then someday I could love me.

I walked the labyrinth with my inner critic, waiting for approval and love.

I stopped mid-stride near the center, unseen forces were holding me back.

Who is here? I wondered. What is happening?

In my way stood the women of my birth family, my mom, my aunt, my grandmothers.

All passed on but returning here for me.

"You were chosen dear one." they sang to me.

"You would be strong enough." their voices coming together in harmony.

"You will start again and break the cycle."

The baby is me and my children.

We are new and we are old.

We are approval and love, for others and for ourselves.

My challenge is not to bring down the critic, to make him understand.

My challenge is to raise myself up, be strong, be free

and be love.

My inner critic in profile against the blue sky looks like a mountain I want to conquer!

In gratitude,



Jan 19

This blog brought tears to my eyes. I love your work and your writing. I so resonate with everything you've written here. Thank you for sharing ! xoxoxo Pat

Susie Zol
Susie Zol
Jan 20
Replying to

Thank you Pat! I find that expressing how I truly feel in writing gives me an opportunity to look at things from different perspectives. I’m glad it resonated with you. Susie


Jan 15

I always find your creative work inspiring! Your paintings and their titles always awaken something in me. And now your sharing of your vulnerability! Beautiful! I love how the inner critic silhouette looks like a mountain! ❤️Carole

Susie Zol
Susie Zol
Jan 20
Replying to

Thanks Carole! Yes, the vulnerability button definitely gets pushed but oh so worth it. Susie

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