Discovering Creativity

It all started two years ago with a simple paint night.  A friend’s boyfriend organized a surprise party for her birthday.  Now being a person that is not much for socializing and especially not on a weeknight, this was a big deal.   I was tired after spending the day on calls and in meetings and really wanted to just go home after work.  But alas, this was a young woman that I had been mentoring on project management and it was an opportunity to meet her parents from out of town.

I got to the event in time to get the details of what the night had in store.  The guest of honor was not there yet so we waited patiently for her arrival.  I met her parents and did my normal observation of those around me.  You might say I am a classic introvert.  When faced with a crowd I am happiest quietly listening and observing others.

When the big arrival was about to occur we snuck into a back room.  We waited as she entered with her boyfriend and then came out as a group, with her parents leading the way.  The smile on her face when she saw me was priceless.

Like I said, me, introvert, work all day, out on a weeknight, never happens, especially when there is a large group of strangers involved.

After the big surprise, we all took our places at our easels and put on our smocks to cover up our clothes in case of paint mishaps.  At first, it felt odd to even attempt to paint.  I had done work with clay and sketched in my younger years but it had been a while since I had done either and painting was definitely not my “thing”. We followed the instructions given by the instructor who assured us that we would not ruin our paintings.  There was music playing and one of the guests offered to sing.  His voice was amazing.  He was there with his significant other.  He sang into her eyes and it felt as if every note began deep within his heart and permeated her soul.

After we were all complete it was time for cake and to wander around the room to see everyone’s creations.  It was amazing how different each painting was.  We had all been instructed by the same person, all had the same tools yet not one painting was exactly the same.  Some were more colorful, some substituted a palm tree instead of the instructed tree, some did an image that was nothing like the one that the instructor had guided us through.  The guest of honor laughed when she showed me hers as she had “messed-up” her tree so she decided to put an arm with it holding a drink and a little smiley face on its trunk.  “Might as well have fun if it’s not going to turn out” was all she said.

It was that night that I realized many things.

  1. We are all unique and have unique ways of looking at life.
  2. Some will follow the instructions and some will not, and sometimes in the not following, the most beautifully unique things are created.
  3. Spending time doing something creative can allow us to discover hidden talents in ourselves and others.
  4. Even when we “mess-up” we can still have fun.
  5. Even when you are tired, and would prefer just going home for the night, sometimes doing something new will open a world you never knew was possible.

Since then I have painted over 500 paintings.  I start most every day painting in the early hours of the morning.  It frees my mind of the clutter that language sometimes causes.  I find that my observation skills are much more in tune with seeing what is actually in front of me.

I now pay more attention to patterns that surround me like the limbs of a tree that are similar to the veins in our body and both are a roadway for precious liquid that gives us life.

In my corporate life, I often wondered why this type of activity is not more prominent.  In my opinion, going for that after-hours drinks or out to lunch is great for talking but don’t you think we talk enough?  Sharing a mutual experience with others and seeing the differences on the canvas can bring a team even closer.  You never know, you might find a hidden talent you never knew you had and open up a beautiful world you never knew existed.


Raissa Urdiales
Raissa Urdiales
Raissa lived most of her life along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. She currently lives in the quiet city of Tega Cay, South Carolina, just across the border from the very active art community of Charlotte, North Carolina. Raissa has not always considered herself as an artist. She spent a great portion of her adult life staring into computer screens and managing computer system implementations and upgrades in the traditional corporate setting. It was through a chance paint night that she discovered her passion for painting. On her 51st birthday, she treated herself to some acrylic paints and brushes and has not stopped painting since. She balances her passion for creating with her day job as a systems analyst. In the wee hours of the morning, you will find her painting before she immerses herself in the technology that is consuming the world today. Although Raissa does not have formal training in the arts she is very conscious of the benefits it has on the human psyche. She holds a Bachelor's of Science majoring in Psychology where she focused her studies on Organizational Psychology. Through her corporate career, she has learned how to strike a balance between that which provides monetary reward and that which fulfills us as humans. For her, this balance is obtained through painting, writing, and exercise. She is currently a member of the Guild of Charlotte Artists where she exhibits select pieces during the quarterly art shows in and around the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. She has also submitted and is featured regularly in the Light Space & Time online gallery. When she is not painting or working with computer systems, she is writing. She currently has a column with BIZCATALYST 360° named “Artful Being” where she writes on topics both in and out of her corporate life to help others gain balance on what it is to be human.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. To know it took a ‘chance encounter’ with paint and easel your hidden talents is amazing. I love your artwork! The details in your painting style are just beautiful. Keep painting and writing, Raissa. You do it beautifully.

    • Thank you Yvonne. It is an inner fire that burns within me. I’m still discovering the pieces of who I am…they keep appearing along they way…it’s a sign I am finally on the right path surrounding myself with the right people.

  2. Awesome article!
    Small gestures, small daily experiments are enough to open up to new experiences. We also learn many interesting things and make unexpected encounters. This, perhaps, is one of the best habits for developing one’s creativity. And I also believe in surprisingly improving one’s life.

    • Thank you! You know what they say…doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Painting allows me to go somewhere different every day to break that chain. Thank you for commenting.

  3. “In my corporate life, I often wondered why this type of activity is not more prominent.” My cynical was-in-the-corporate-world-too-long self wanted to shout out and say “I’ll tell you why!” but why ruin a good buzz? Loved your piece even if it doesn’t make it to the office conference room. All five of your realizations are treasures.

    • What a beautiful testimonial to how creativity can bring us joy, light and healing. I love your story and I love that I am able to bring creativity to people with my painting workshop. It’s just amazing how you’ve continued to paint and what it’s done in your life. You’re so inspiring and I love your writing! I’m happy to call you my friend as well.

    • Nathalie you have no idea the creatives you may have awoken through your workshops. I honestly believe that when companies are thinking of ways to raise money bringing in Pause and Paint should be at the top of their list. United Way fundraisers maybe? Anything to break the trance of the white walls and grey carpet will certainly bring out the uniqueness in those that make up any organization.

    • I am amazed at how this discussion stirs up so much hope and excitement in me. Can wait to talk again 😉

    • Thank you Jeff. To know me knows that I also have the cynical was-in-the-corporate-world-too-long. I do think it’s time for a change…and I’m just the kind of person to do it. At least in my own mind I am.

    • Beautiful. Sometimes all we can change is what’s in our immediate circle, and that alone is no small accomplishment.