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Meet Nikki Nienhuis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Nienhuis.

Nikki, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It’s been almost two years since I quit my corporate career in national sales. I grew up (born and raised here in CO) wanting to be an artist. I wanted to live in a ski town, own a gallery that showed everyone’s art and paint all day while people came in to visit. I guess that’s still a dream but I’m taking it one step at a time. When I was in high school, my dad discouraged me from pursuing art as a career. Years later, during a painting class at the art students league, I was so overcome with emotion that I called my dad and said, “this is it, this is where I’m supposed to be”. And since then, I’ve been painting solid. It took me several more years to quit my job. But after a few successful art shows, I realized my passion had a purpose and could potentially be a second career. After much contemplation, I wrote my husband a long letter and left it for him to find while I was away on a work trip. We both knew that our family would be much better off if one of us was home more and could also follow a dream. We were also raising our daughter and she deserved a more settled household to grow up in.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s not easy to leave a great career behind. I had worked my entire adult life and the prior 14 years were in a very progressive position that led to some serious golden handcuffs. But the risk was so worth the ability to focus on family and my own art practice. At first, I set some big lofty goals for my art business. I thought that since I was an executive sales gal, I could sell anything, even my own art. I found out that everything changes when art becomes your business after it was once your personal healing practice. The past 18 months have taught me to get over my own self and drop the need to make money as a goal… Art for me is a process of meditation, the healing of old wounds and the expression of current emotions.

I’ve met some goals- I’m in two galleries and I’ve found a large supportive artist community. I’ve had solo shows and I’ve connected with collectors. I’ve also spent countless more hours with our daughter over the summer and after school. The sacrifice is big but the rewards are bigger. I’m thankful to my husband for his support and encouragement. And, my dad is sooo super proud of me. His advice was good- my career and those golden handcuffs have offered a solid foundation to build this new path for us to follow. In the words of Paulo Coelho, “When you want something, the whole universe conspires to make it happen”. I had been meditating and asking for this change for years and one day, my boss said something to me that made me snap. The next thing I knew, I was giving notice – and it was ok! We were ready.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I’m an intuitive painter. I can paint what I see representationally but I just don’t enjoy it as much. So, I paint from my intuition. You know, that place deep in our gut that causes us to pause and turn to look and suddenly we see something majestic that we may have just walked past? Or it’s that voice we hear in our head that says, call so and so and you do and then you find out that she really needed to talk to you? I paint using those feelings. I rarely have a plan for a painting. I start with some reading or meditation, then I write notes or look back at old notes and I pull phrases out that resonate.

I write on the canvas or board and I draw stories using symbols. Then I start laying down paint. I am really drawn to starting with a red or orange underpainting. Then the first layers are put down, covered by many other layers. I keep going until I love it or I ruin it. But nothing is really ruined, it just becomes another lower layer. I’ve been told I’m sort of a reiki artist, I use my hands and I bless my materials. I smudge and I sing. I love to be messy and get into the painting as much as possible. I believe then that the piece has a beautiful vibrational quality that came from my intention and love.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Being brave and vulnerable. I show up and I serve. I believe we need a community. We cannot go on alone. I’ve volunteered for several things that have led to awesome connections and opportunities. Also, we must know ourselves, know what works for us and what doesn’t. Don’t give up who you really are- being you is what we all need. I’m just trying to be the best me I can and to do that, I need to paint.

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