Home » Blog

2023 in review—fun, fab and fearless

Fear often gets a bad rap. But as you’ll discover in my yearly review, fear can drive you in a positive new direction.

I first began to write my last annual review in March 2022. This year, I’m following the tradition.


In March, I spent three wonderful days of art and magic making and helped three women rediscover their passion, creativity and courage.

I am still buzzing from a memorable three days spent with the most amazing, fearless ladies who participated in my three-day art retreat. I had originally called my art retreat workshop Summer Love. But we had a hell summer full of rain and cyclones. Shortly after, I changed it to Fun, Fab, and Fearless Art Retreat. Either name works, as I know love is the best antidote to fear. Early in the pandemic, I opted to join Dr Joe Dispenza’s Go-Lov 20 movement instead of the Covid-19 fear movement. As I shared in my earlier blog post, I opened my gallery/artstudio/retreat centre during the pandemic to create a refuge for myself and others.

I was going through my photos from my fun and fab fearless art retreat and saw this wonderful painting (below) created by one of my students… Ali, a newbie artist who had dreamed of painting for decades and reached out to ask if I would teach her. What joy!

 I share more about Ali’s experience of walking away from anxiety and stepping into her joy, on my blog>>

As I began to write this review, another participant, gorgeous Karen from Kewarra Beach, Far North Queensland, Australia sent me this glowing testimonial, she headed her email to me: Testimonial (client love)

After an exhaustive Internet search (at least a week checking all possibilities) finally Cassandra’s Art Retreat appeared before my eyes.

To be held in a beautiful and safe Post Covid part of the world. The combination was important to me as my first International foray in 3 years.

My intention was also for a meaningful travel experience to learn something new as well as a holiday.

Cassandra offers an invitation to inspiration and then shows you how to make it happen. Informative and value packed workshops. Her tuition and intuition are totally on point.

This retreat furthered my mission to come into alignment with a more soul based life and artistic expression.

The studio itself is a portal to a world of active imagination and creativity.

The magical landscape, view and location are the icing on the cake.

Cannot wait to return and participate again.

Karen Grant Retreater March 2023 and Aspiring return participant.

Below is what Karen told me she wanted to gain from the workshop. I’m so thrilled that she achieved this goal in spades!

Karen grant

Exhaustion drove me toward fun!

On Mar 23, 2023, Uk Astrologer Lee Harris, captured and shared his intuitive insights into the waves of tiredness and world-weariness many of us are experiencing now. It was a timely reminder of the importance of honouring and giving space to those feelings, but also how energising and healing making time for fun and play are.

I know I felt replenished and uplifted being in the company of three soulful, fearless, creatives during my art retreat. My vocation creates fun and joy and I’m grateful for that.

My vocation creates fun and joy and I’m grateful for that

Here is another one of my students sharing her experiences after her Fun, Fab and Fearless art retreat. You can read her full review and see some of her fab art on my blog>> I was so rapt when Ali and Heather came back for weekly lessons. We had such a blast but so missed Karen who was having eye surgery (successful thankfully) back home in Australia.

“You create magic: facilitating passion and joyful self-expression. Fear and crippling self-criticism (things I’m very familiar with) could not find a foothold in this workshop!


Growing up I rarely received encouragement, praise or kind words. I can’t even recall ever being told that I was loved. I’ve come to see how my experiences have shaped my life. I love to encourage, to cheerlead, to motivate and inspire. I share a little more about my experiences growing up in my last annual review in March 2022.

I’ve also fictionalised some of my experiences in the my series, Transformational Superkids.

Heal Yourself With Writing

It’s true when experts like Catherine Jones writes in her same titled book Heal Yourself With Writing. I feel this way too, and also with art.

“We’ve become lopsided living only in our heads. Writing, in order to serve the soul, must integrate outer craft with the inner world of intuition and feeling.”

– Catherine Ann Jones, New York Times

As she shares on her website, Catherine Ann Jones holds a graduate degree in Depth Psychology and Archetypal Mythology from Pacifica Graduate Institute where she has also taught.

After playing major roles in over fifty plays, she became disappointed by the lack of good roles for women and wrote a play about Virginia Woolf (On the Edge) and her struggle with madness in a world gone mad, i.e., WWII. The play won a National Endowment for the Arts Award. Eleven of her plays, including Calamity Jane (both play and musical) and The Women of Cedar Creek, have won multiple awards and are produced both in and out of New York.

Her films include The Christmas Wife (Jason Robards & Julie Harris), Unlikely Angel (Dolly Parton), and the popular TV series, Touched by an Angel. A Fulbright Research Scholar to India studying shamanism, she has taught at The New School University, University of Southern California, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Esalen and the Omega Institutes.

Her seven books(also available on Kindle & Audible) are The Way of Story: the craft & soul of writing, Heal Your Self with Writing (Nautilus Book Award 2014), What Story Are You Living?, Freud’s Oracle, True Fables, Buddha and the Dancing Girl, and East & West: Stories of India are used in many schools, including New York University writing programs. Her online courses have over 56,000 subscribers.Ms. Jones lives in Ojai, California, and leads The Way of Story and Heal Your Self with Writing workshops throughout the United States, Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

For blog, gypsy card readings, online courses, workshops, and consultant services please visit www.wayofstory.com. You can also follow Catherine at http://www.facebook.com/WayofStory

When I grow up I want to be like Catherine!

Midlife career rescue the call for change

As I write, I’m reminded of my time in a recruitment firm where I was told, “You could make a lot of money if you were more selfish.” I share how I developed shingles from toxic stress in my popular book Midlife Career Rescue.

I’ve learned more about the toxic side of selfishness recently in the wake of my mother’s death last year, and the deceit and greed by my family regarding the will and my mother’s assets, but similarly, I have learned the hard way, that being too kind can come at a punishing toll when those close to you exploit your good nature. I’m getting better at finding the balance, and feel freer…a background and qualifications in counselling and psychology and art therapy has paid dividends. As Dr. Phil shares in a Youtube video on narcissism:

“I still go to the journals and read the research—but it’s just not good. Narcissists don’t respond to therapy…which means the focus has to be on you and what makes you feel good.” ~ Dr. Phil


Children are the best fans ever!!! In March I met a new 5-year-old collector, who returned to the gallery the next day to show me her drawings. She drew me some beautiful flowers and, inspired by my painting I Love The Way You Blush (pictured below) which her parents purchased for her; Molly signed hers in gold (as I did!). I will get it framed to join my tiny collection of gifted paintings by children.

Pablo Picasso famously said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Children can teach you to be fearless, seize an opportunity and show your work!

Molly holding I Love The Way You Blush, Cassandra Gaisford, 2023

As a teenager, I would blush prolifically when anyone showered attention on me. I love the way flowers blush unashamedly – hence the name. Flowers speak a universal language of love–and nothing says it better than roses. Layered in sultry, juicy globs of love-infused acrylic on a bed of amethyst, I Love The Way You Blush embodies love, joy, happiness, beauty and peace.

And wee Molly loves it!

New Work Feeling Special

Feeling Special
Acrylic, on canvas
50.8 x 60.96 CM
20 x 24 inch

Feeling Special

Soft greens and blues make me feel so peaceful, calm and soothed, as do loving affirmations. My current go-to quote is: “The strong, calm person is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land or a sheltering rock in a storm.”~ James Allen

This quote reminds me to be the peace I want to feel. I also invite love, not fear or anger to guide my day. I’m not saying it’s easy—if it were, the world would be happier and healthier. When I paint, I create my artworks with kind, caring, loving energy.

When you purchase and hang this loving piece, these emotions will pour into your home or office. The gift of special flowers by a visiting family from Texas inspired the painting and the title. They have decided to make New Zealand their new home. I was given the flowers in appreciation. “Thank you for making our children feel so special,” they told me.

I replied, “They are special:)” and then later thought, how special it would be to paint this unexpected gift.

The painting has been created on canvas with a double coat of UV-resistant semi-flat varnish, protecting the longevity and enhancing the vibrancy of the colours.
It comes framed in a contemporary white frame (Framed by Peter Sharp) and is ready to hang.

Take a peek at some of the images and/or purchase to take this beauty home.

My spontaneous clearance sale.

What joy. This beauty created during the pandemic to soothe my soul just sold to a repeat collector. I love communicating directly with my buyers, and it’s always such a joy knowing that they love the joy-infused vibe I pour into my art.

The First Blossoms of Awakening

“A blossom of awakens” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Raw Pigment, Acrylic and Charcoal on Canvas
1400mm x 403mm

The above quote from spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh inspired the title.

I love’ the light language of flowers in this piece…

I adore this painting and was sad to see it go, but happy my special lady loves it as she shares below:

Molly’s parents purchased this painting for her.  This is a photo of her delightful Chinese grandparents. Not a word of English was spoken, but we shared three hours together!

Such a memorable day with the new owner of I Will Always Love You and her family who were visiting my gallery from Auckland with their parents visiting The Bay of Islands from China. 

Cyclone Gabrielle

Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Bay of Islands earlier than forecast.

The exhibition closed earlier that intended Sunday 12 Feb, 3pm (because Cyclone Gabrielle was coming.) but you can swim in bubbles of joyful artworks—view and purchase online

https://shop.cassandragaisford.com/product/a-hopeful-heart/ https://shop.cassandragaisford.com/product/summer-will-come-again/ https://shop.cassandragaisford.com/product-category/art/

Opens Friday 10 February at 10am until end Sunday 12 February 2022

It’s been said that art is the highest form of hope. Perhaps it’s because artists are sensitive souls, most often inspired by beauty, healing and peace. The exhibition’s name references the much-longed-for summer and how needful it is for our mental health and resilience to have love-inspired beauty around us.

As it turns out New Zealand experienced the worst summer in decades. One positive is that instead of drought we have the most vibrant greens.


“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”
Roy T. Bennett

760 mm x 760 mm. Acrylic on canvas.

I have often reflected that when it rains I paint summer. When I painted this abstract botanical that desire was at the forefront of my heart. I couldn’t control the rain, but as the flood waters rose and the gales intensified and a civil emergency was announced in my region, I shifted to creating a summer bouquet, “Summer Will Come Again.” 2023 has been the worse summer recorded and it would be easy to think summer will never come again—hence the painting’s name.

Feeling grateful for a warm, dry studio. A percentage from the sale of this painting or any others on my website (www.cassandragaisford.com) will be donated to assist those impacted by floods.

Layered in sultry glazes and gestural sweeps of colour, the palette embodies vibrant pinks and peaceful whites, Summer Will Come Again speaks to the heart. Inspired by the wild poppies and roses growing in the artist’s garden.

To view paintings in the studio or commission a unique piece call to arrange a private viewing—021 873 833

Lysaght Watt Trust Award exhibition

Many years ago I entered art competitions as a challenge and was super surprised and thrilled in 2008 when I won, The Supreme Prize of the Wai Art Awards. I used the money I won to travel to Maui with Max Gimblett, an ex-pat New Zealander who is a Buddhist Zen master and the only New Zealander ever to have the accolade of exhibiting at the Guggenheim. His Buddhist philosophy and Sumi-ink techniques with the emphasis on spontaneous, joyful gestures had a profound effect on me. I write more about this experience on my blog>>

Recently I heard about the biannual ‘Lysaght Watt Trust Art Award’ which is held in Hawera. My mother was raised in Patea and my partner is from Hawera. My grandfather was raised on a farm in Taranaki and when my grandmother married him she became a self-taught artist and exhibited her work. It is lovely to reconnect in this way and to exhibit my work.

In March I shipped Feeling Special up to Hawera for the Lysaght Watt Trust Award exhibition, which opens 8 May- closes 17 June.

feeling special contemporary abstract by Cassandra Gaisford

Put your feelings in there. Don’t just paint some shit like you don’t care.’ ~ Joan Mitchell


My Easter art exhibition, “DANCING THROUGH FIELDS OF FLOWERS”, was full of feelings! It shared a flurry of colourful, love-infused paintings inspired by my artist’s garden, love of colour and flowers. 

I was in my happy place, a day after the exhibition opened, when a lovely couple wandered through my artist’s garden and headed for the gallery—my ‘portal’ as Karen who came to my art retreat all the way from Australia told me.

🔴 SOLD! I didn’t even have a chance to get these beauties onto my website. “Better when we are together”, and “loving you loving me” perfect names and the perfect paintings for this beautiful loved up couple who came to the gallery today during my DANCING THROUGH  FIELDS OF FLOWERS exhibition.

each Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas

76cm x 76cm x 1.5cm

The paintings, as was the sister piece, Feeling Special, which I have sent to Hawera for the  Lysaght Watt Trust Art Award, were inspired by the gift of special flowers by a visiting family from Texas. They have decided to make New Zealand their new home. I was given the flowers in appreciation. “Thank you for making our children feel so special.” I replied, “They are special:)” and then later thought, how special it would be to paint this unexpected gift.

The titles for these paintings were inspired by a suggestion by one of my followers and also a Jack Johnson song. I’m also super grateful to Jenny and Mike for the additional purchase of a commission of my special poppy paintings that they have seen in loved in another collector’s home. I thanked them for loving my art and was so happy when they thanked me for creating the paintings. Love spreads love. Proud to be sharing joy.#golov-20.

Before they purchased their paintings we strolled through the garden and across the expansive lawn and Jenny turned to me, smiled and said, “We want to buy your paintings and take you home with us.” It was such a sweet moment and impacted me so profoundly that I gave her a big hug.

I feel so proud to be a part of something that people say so many nice things about. It’s so rare. I mean, for some people, it’s not that rare, but in my case, growing up I seldom received a compliment.

I can relate to Jennifer Aniston who once shared,

“…watching adults being unkind to each other, and witnessing certain things about human behavior that made me think: I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to experience this feeling I’m having in my body right now. I don’t want anyone I ever come in contact with to feel that. So I guess I have my parents to thank. You can either be angry or be a martyr, or you can say, “You’ve got lemons? Let’s make lemonade.” 

I’m so grateful that what I do sparks joy, unites us and makes people smile.


Once upon a time, as Covid struck the world, I asked myself, “What would love do?” The answer came quickly, create an art gallery, a sacred place to laugh, play and paint. Importantly, create this place so that others can come too.

This gorgeous lady attended one of my full-day Create Amazing Abstracts retreats. She had never painted before, and she CREATED AMAZING ABSTRACTS! I am so happy Morag came back to join my regular class of 6 weekly lessons, starting after Easter:) I love to keep my classes small so you get the individual tuition and encouragement you need.

Recently at the end of one of my Fun, Fab and Fearless weekly art classes, I encouraged students to create a group painting to use up all the paints. I encouraged them to “go wild, bold and free and to feel deeply,” as I played Pink’s beautiful trauma song. In this video, you will see them creating, playfully and spontaneously. I had to make a few splices in the video as one of my lady artists had some not-so-beautiful trauma having had surgery on her face the day prior and was bandaged and still healing.

In an interview for The Guardian, Pink explained, “I named the album Beautiful Trauma because life is fucking traumatic. There’s natural disasters at every turn”. She continued, “but there’s beautiful people [sic] in the world that are having a blast and being good to each other and helping others. Because I can be dark, I try to constantly remind myself that there’s more good than bad.”

I loved the results these beautiful people created and the unflinching fearlessness of my newbie artists and I loved that they felt more confident as a result. The dynamic composition creates a centrifugal sense of movement with swirling forms in bright vibrant colours—just like a Joan Mitchell painting. Joan was a giant amongst giants. Many of her canvases were 110 1/4 x 142 inches (280.035 x 360.68 cm)! The original we created is small and towards the end of the video, you’ll see a mock-up in a larger format just for fun!

Embracing Beautiful Trauma

‘When the past exists, the future may flourish.’~ Peter Ackroyd

111 Haitaitai Road

In the video below, I share the inspiration behind my latest work in progress, which is called “A Happy Heart” and my personal story which inspired it, including memories of my childhood home. As always, I hope it is helpful to you.


I also recently was reminded of the song, “Up on the Roof,” by Dusty Springfield. As a child the roof was my refuge.


When this old world starts getting me down

And people are much too much for me face

I climb way up to the top of the stairs

And all my cares just fade right into space

On the roof

It’s peaceful as can be

And there the world below

Can’t bother me

Keep a-telling you

Right slap, dab in the middle of town

I’ve found a paradise that’s trouble-free

Yes, I have now

When this world starts getting you down

There’s room enough for two

Up on the roof

Up on the roof

Everything is all right

Up on the roof

Oh, come on baby

Up on the roof

Oh, yeah

Yeah, yeah

Up on the roof

Source: LyricFind

It’s so cool to see so many people coming back to my classes. We are firm friends—soul sisters!

6 weekly lessons art retreat

Unfortunately Karen lives in Australia or she would have joined our weekly lessons too. She had such a fab time. It all started with going offline!

Here she is sharing her experiences after her Fun, Fab and Fearless art retreat.

“Cassandra invites inspiration and then shows you how to make it happen. Informative and value-packed workshops. Her tuition and intuition are totally on point. This retreat furthered my mission to come into alignment with a more soul-based life and artistic expression. The studio itself is a portal to a world of active imagination and creativity. The magical landscape, view and location are the icing on the cake.Cannot wait to return and participate again.Thank you so much for a truly wonderful, magical few days.”

I’m excited to be meeting some new people too and sharing the fun and freedom of painting abstractly.

Trish Baugh art classes

Happy vibes in my portal today working on my very special commission piece


Violets, 720 mm x 720 mm, oil on canvas

I was playing around with my oil paints in the studio over Easter. It was great to remove the ‘fear’ of not remembering how to use them after so many years of painting with acrylics. I commented at the time on a video I created, “I have a long ways to go with this piece but I did so enjoy the feeling of working with oils again and look forward to continuing the journey.”

My muse Joan Mitchell said, “Painting is made with feeling,” and there is something soul-enriching about painting in the old ways of the masters, like Vincent Van Gogh, Joan Mitchell and Claude Monet and the modern ways of artists I admire like Brian Rutenberg.

I just wish the cleaning up was easier!

I was heartened by the lovely feedback I received:

Love this! The colours are so rich and beautiful

Those colours! Rich and warm and inviting

Absolutely gorgeous!! I Love, love, love

A visitor to the gallery told me he loved this piece right away.

Beautiful Trauma

Pink once wrote an album called Beautiful Trauma… I went in search of some amongst the flower garden today.

In an interview for The Guardian, she explained, “I named the album Beautiful Trauma because life is fucking traumatic. There’s natural disasters at every turn”. She continued, “but there’s beautiful people [sic] in the world that are having a blast and being good to each other and helping others. Because I can be dark, I try to constantly remind myself that there’s more good than bad”

Do you see beauty where others see decay?

I painted several more oil paints over Easter inspired by the idea of beautiful trauma.


Oil on canvas

600mm x 900mm

But They’re Your Family

As I write, it’s just after Easter and the settlement of mum’s estate draws near. My mother states in her wishes that she wants her children to be treated equally, but a sentence later reduces my share of the inheritance by 1/3rd. My siblings get the full amount.

As I write to my aunt:

So strange when mum would talk to you about everything that something so significant wasn’t discussed..it’s a very odd will esp with Hadyn having inherited a free-hold farm from dad’s mum years ago, and Sophie getting full provision….mostly I don’t like reading that I was in full agreement when it was never discussed and Mum told me Sophie was influencing her…perhaps I should have been more nosy.

I can’t help but feel foolish now for not being like my brother and sister who were influential in changing mum’s will. This is something I have lodged in a complaint with the law society regarding the lawyers/executors and trustees treatment of me throughout this process. I don’t hold much hope of justice. But I believe in spiritual justice, so we will see.

because I drew this card today from my very popular Art of Life Inspiration Deck, my partner Lorenzo said “I’m gonna get us a scratchy!”

and guess what I won four prizes on one ticket! Total loot 2 hundie!

Child-like spontaneity is my new norm. I love painting on the wing and seeing people moved by spontaneity, joy, and, ultimately happiness itself. This little joyful piece emerged from me during my Bloomin’ Mad exhibition in May 2022, not long after returning from the tropical islands of Fiji.

Abstract genius Lee Krasner once said that she hated painting yellow. She tried to paint in yellows but they would never come and always became another colour. Perhaps it was the gloom, chaos, and conflict of living under the shadow of the alcoholic painter Jackson Pollock. I’m the opposite; yellow always sneaks into my paintings no matter how much I try to resist it. Yellow is one of the most joyful colours I know.

This painting and others in the Bloomin Mad (Botanical Art) Series are a call to embrace happiness, love, hope and healing in our lives to live with the purpose of uplifting ourselves and each other. The collection is embodied with love, positive energy, Reiki spiritual blessings and tremendous vitality, which is peaceful, enlivening and enlightening at the same time.

This fun little video shows Be The Sunshine doing what she was born to do… take away the grey blahs and spreading rays of joy… she’s heading down to my new collector in my former home town Wellington… ironically I left Wellington in search of sunshine and warmer days.

Let it go, 2023, acrylic on paper.

Should I just let it go?

Sometimes, I wonder, if I should just let it go. The lawyer tells me I am getting a good deal. He omits that others are getting a better deal and that I am not being treated equally. For Librans like me, fairness is a core value, as is justice.

I created this painting and named it Let it Go; in between lawyer calls and a playdate with young Ella, aged 6, and her grandmother in the studio, we played The Fun Squad and “Let it Go” was one of their tracks.

The original work is on A3 paper. When I supersize my artworks I often do smaller versions, just as Joan Mitchell did. Then I scale them up on canvas _ as I’ve done in this mockup. Isn’t she joyful? All my life my mother told me to stay small; going big is my act of rebellion!

Sometimes, it’s about the company you keep. Here’s Ella describing her creative process during our playdate.

All during Covid, the Government and health ‘experts” told us not to sing and dance and marinated us in fear. Anyone who knows a squat about fear knows fear weakens the immune system.

Showing up for love was my act of rebellion. All my life, I’ve been told to stay quiet and shut my mouth, as Pink sings, “there ain’t no tape wide enough.”

Princess Diana did not allow herself to be silenced and vilified. She spoke her truth—there was a reason those in the spotlight didn’t like it. Like Eric Clapton, I was born to be a rebel…with a cause!


It was lovely to receive the feedback below after I shared my experience of being silenced and told to stay small – this always boosts my joy.

I’ve found great joy taking photos with my new little camera. I even got in the bath with it! To blur or not to blur that is the .question…Bathing with Flowers

can you see beauty where others only see sadness? Life well lived and loved where others only feel loss? #BeautifulTrauma


I hope you enjoy this video where you’ll see me working intuitively and joyfully on my newest giant colour-infused oil abstract expressionist artwork, “You Are A Princess”

I was channelling Princess Diana on the eve when she would have been queen … still the queen of hearts, then, now and forever after. As Pink sings, “wild hearts can’t be broken.”

You’ll see me working from nearly the beginning, repurposing an earlier colourfield painting, and repainting it in vigorous, rhythmic, lyrical sweeps of colour. I thought about how Princess Diana loved to dance as I created this piece.

I hope you enjoy this insight into my creative process. “You Are a Princess” is part of my new series Beautiful Trauma, inspired by Pink.

“Creativity has the power to look pain in the eye and to decide to turn it into something better.”

As May drew to a close, after a fun catch up with my soul sisters I released a whole bunch of energy in my latest abstract, True Colours, oil in canvas. I absolutely love the freedom of creating the painting and the self-empowerment that is embodied in it’s creation. it makes a pivot moment in my life, the turning of a new leaf.


I’ve self-helped by way to healing and sanity thanks to the work of other authors who have shared their journey.

Will the Drama Ever End?: Untangling and Healing from the Harmful Effects of Parental Narcissism

by Karyl McBride

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

Recently, I came across this post “We’re coming to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month—an annual time to aid and acknowledge those suffering from mental health issues. In an article exploring the intrinsic link between creativity and our mental health, Micha Frazer-Carroll writes that “intense emotional experiences might serve as inspiration for art, which also has a demonstrable therapeutic purpose.”

Ultimately, most artists would agree that it’s cathartic to create; it helps us unpack, visualize, or come to terms with, feelings that the mind may not otherwise have been able to process. In honor of this month of reflection and recognition around mental health, here are four stories of people finding solace in creative expression in times of struggle>> https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/stories/mind-games-creativity-and-mental-health

it’s lovely to mark the end of the first half of 2023 with a new enrolment in my 3 day art retreat. Teaching and helping others unleash their inner artist makes me so happy.

Maree testimonial prior to art retreat

It’s been fun getting back into my writing again. I love to write and paint – painting in summer and writing in winter.


I’m dancing with happiness! DANCING THROUGH FIELDS OF FLOWERS, my 11th book in the Transformational Superkids series is available now. Exclusive to Amazon.

Universal link to worldwide Amazon stores

Free to Amazon subscribers


Here’s the blurb:

Cassie dreams of being an artist but is discouraged by her family. After her parents’ divorce she has to move house. Painting flowers helps her feel happy. She paints in secret, never allowing her dreams to die. She waters the call of her heart. One day, when she is a grown-up she discovers that her childhood dreams have become her living realities. She becomes The Joyful Artist who paints like a child!

This inspiring biographical story and personal development guide for girls, boys, men and women has themes on self-love, self-esteem, resilience and overcoming obstacles.

Reader Reviews

another heart-warming story that is a great read for young and old

Once again Cassandra has done what she does so well: spread joy through her magic with words that provide such wonderful visualisation. The reader could be forgiven for taking time out from reading to do a little dance as this is how well this book tells its story. Yes, it is not all bright and brilliant but those wee dark spots are treated so well that the reader can relate to Cassie and move through the process back to light, bright and happy with her. Definitely another heart-warming story that is a great read for young and old. Now it is time to go for another dance through the flowers of my garden……………..

Praise for other books in the Transformational Super Kids series

“Such a beautiful and life-changing message. This book shares a powerful message for all women of any age, I wish I had this when I was growing up. Today more than ever, we have to stay true to ourselves, follow our Spirit and do the work we’re here to do – amidst disapproval and criticism. The simple steps in this book will guide your way, and help you to navigate through the confusion, uncertainty, and inner blocks, so you live your one precious life in a big way.”

“Such a powerful message. This is a splendid little book for any person aspiring to reach another level, with such a powerful message. Of never, ever listening to anyone who steals your light. Cassandra is a shining example of turning every situation, including setbacks, into learning & growing opportunities.”

Universal link to worldwide Amazon stores

Free to Amazon subscribers


2023 Quotes to Live & Love By

Sometimes, one word, one sentence, one inspirational thought can change your life. Welcome to my work in progress—2023 Quotes to Live By. In this post I’ll be sharing the phrases that have helped uplift, soothe, encourage and inspire me. I’ll be adding more as they come to mind. Scroll to the bottom for the most recent entries.

As I share in Bounce: Overcoming Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy  (and the chapter entitled Journal Your Way to Joy:

In 2018, while tackling a mammoth writing project, I talked myself into a bit of a funk. I knew that what I really needed were some positive reminders of my intentions and a way to encourage perseverance.

I recalled a strategy Anne Gracie, a successful romance author, once shared in a newsletter, “I love my writing journal. It’s my partner in writing, there for me whenever I need it, my confidant and my supporter and my record of where I’ve been.” 

Prior to this, I had noticed anxiety building—as it always does when I don’t have a special book in which to purge and reshape my thoughts.

Instead of saying “I quit” and “I am so over this,” and retelling the story that allowed for failure, I went online and purchased a beautiful unlined leather-bound sketchbook.

With my gold pen, I wrote empowering and encouraging quotes from other authors who have also struggled to maintain a prosperous mindset while writing an epic book.

Top of my list was Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment.”

These words reminded me that I was picturing failure. I was telling myself messages of failure. I was feeling like a failure.

Jesse Burton, the author of The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

“In February, I was publicly honest about how difficult it had been to handle, process and assimilate in real time some of the changes in my life. Namely, the strange and wondrous effects of The Miniaturist. I wrote about anxiety, my first tentative foray into putting that mental morass into words,” she wrote in one of her newsletters.

As Burton highlights, blogging and sharing your thoughts with your fans is another form of cathartic journaling.

Who would have thought that converting a farm shed during COVID lockdown could create so much joy.

The new space Art@rangitane is feeling very very nice and very, very special thanks to all the wonderful people who have visited me, purchased my art, attended a Fun, Fab and Fearless Art Retreat or shared a meal. If you have a dream…go for it!

It’s true, “When you create something, the space in which you make it becomes very special… It’s a place of creativity, a place of laughter, a place of working together.”


I was thrilled to be approached to donate one of my special artworks to support fundraising efforts for the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. “Smell The Roses” is one of my most special pieces and will be auctioned at the event. If you are in the Bay of Islands during that time or thinking of planning a special trip I hope you will support this significant cause.

“Smell the Roses”-absolutely is how I think about you, Cassandra — stop-pause-think-enjoy-vases of roses are so endearing and the symbol of the rose is passion-love, colour, versatility in all meanings to each individual-eternity without needing words.”

Kym and her team, who are arranging this “Truly Scrumptious High Tea” event are also purchasing one of my The Art of Life Inspiration decks to go in the raffle. I know of several people who have purchased these cards to help inspire people who are suffering significant health crisis and want to gift something that will uplift and encourage and support their healing.

On a personal note, my mum who died of cancer in 2022, encouraged me to create these cards and gifted me for my birthday a course with a lady based in The States who helped me turn my dream into a reality.

Each card features a work of art I created and is paired with an insightful quotation. The cards in this unique deck may be used individually for daily inspiration. Select a card, then let the images and words work together to encourage uplifting contemplation.

“I bought a deck of these cards and they are beautiful. I draw one out every morning and it sets my mindset for the day.” ~ Judy O, Restauranter  

“I know I have said that I love your cards; I just want to tell you again how much I love them. And weirdly, they always deliver exactly what I need some clarity on or support with.” ~ Catherine, Therapist  

Purchase directly from my website: https://shop.cassandragaisford.com/product/the-art-of-life-inspiration-deck/

So Beautiful abstract artwork by Cassandra Gaisford

In July I was feeling super inspired by all the watery energy of the cancer new moon and also some guidance from my Mother Peace oracle deck. This new work literally ‘flowed” from my heart. Inspired also by the sacredness of water and the pioneering work of New Zealander Veda Austin and her book, The Secret Intelligence of Water: Macroscopic Evidence of Water Responding to Human Consciousness.

The Secret Intelligence of Water takes a quantum leap from the spring board of Masaru Emoto’s microscopic work with ice crystals. Through macroscopic photography, and a groundbreaking new technique, researcher Veda Austin, allows us to view water as an intelligent force, with the power to respond to human consciousness in ways never before thought possible.

Here, I am infusing this artwork with gratitude, love, joy and bliss. I have named it “Wow,so beautiful,” because that was my partners first reaction when he saw this painting.

48 inch x 48 inch

I share how my oracle deck inspired me in this video, and also how oracle and tarot cards can help you overcome creative block, inspire new creative directions and get your creative juices flowing again. You’ll see me working with The Mother Peace Tarot deck.

Let the Light In

“I love it. I love the shimmer. I love the shine. I love everything about it.”

What a gorgeous reaction from my new collector. I love it—as much as she loves her new gilded beeswax painting. It was so lovely to be able to giggle and laugh and do so much healing before Lisa heads away for her cancer treatment surgery.

I hope you enjoy this wee video and that it brings you many smiles. I know I do, every time I watch the video.

Lisa loving her new painting by Cassandra
Love in Venice by Mollie Mathews

Third Place Winner: Excellence in Romance!

Love in Venice, was a finalist in the Koru awards and placed third. 3 is the number of joy! I do so love this story and as I share in the author’s notes, much of this story is from personal encounters in Venice.  

The Koru Award is a FULL BOOK readers’ choice award aimed at recognising excellence in romance writing within New Zealand.

I hope you enjoy this free chapter and will consider purchasing the story and telling your friends…and doing a special prayer when it comes time to judging. Enjoy it now>>https://www.molliemathews.com/love-in-venice-free-chapter-romance-story-authortube/

As always, thanks for being my dear reader. I do so love and appreciate you.

Love in Venice romance novel by Mollie Mathews Finalist in the Koru Awards

In this video, you’ll see me in the sensual flow of rain-infused chromatic exuberance from new works in my rainwater, love and gratitude series, “Sky Fall.” The exhibition opens Labour Weekend, Art@Rangitane, Bay of Islands

I hope you find something helpful to you>>

Stolen By The Sheikh testimonial

As I write, Oct 2023, it’s over a year since I (writing love stories as Mollie Mathews) pitched my romance story to several overseas publishers during the RWNZ conference, which I attended in brief spurts while being the sole caregiver for my dying mother.  I had to postpone my pitching sessions due to Mum’s illness. Graciously, both the acquiring editors said that they would be open to receiving a submission from me this year instead. It’s the 6th of October, and I have just pushed send! Fingers and toes crossed!

Feedback terminal cancel thank you for the wonderful books

What is one of the greatest joys a writer can receive? Finalling in a prestigious writing prize? Selling lots of books…? That’s lovely… but…

What truly makes my heart sing is when readers reach out to me and thank me for writing stories they loved to read.

Today I received the most touching email during what must be a truly distressing time in her life

“I have been told that I have terminal cancer. I have so much to do before I take my Journey. Thank you for the wonderful books you have provided.”

Sometimes, we never know how our books impact a person’s life.

A myth in the creative world is that excellent work must be laboured over. Some of the most enduring, acclaimed and prized works arrive quickly. The soon-to-be-released album by the Rolling Stones is a case in point. In an interview, Mick Jagger says their new work was created in three weeks.

“We were lazy!” he claims when The Rolling Stones unveiled their new original album Hackney Diamonds after an 18-year wait. So they set a deadline, “It has to be finished by Valentine’s Day” and headed to the studio. The result is nothing short of brilliant. I especially love the song and video, “Don’t be angry with me.”

Check it out on YouTube if you haven’t already—and then go create something original quickly!

Well, this was exciting…and unexpected for my little sobriety book #2 in hot new releases! Sober curious? Grab your copy!

To enjoy your copy from Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CJNDMVB3
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0CJNDMVB3

To enjoy your copy from iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other great bookstores:

Guest Appearance: Kings Court Interior Design Calendar 2024

I was flattered to have several of my works photographed for the Kings Court Interior Design Calendar 2024. The January ‘pin-up girl’ is ‘I bought you flowers.”

Kingscourt Interior Design 2024 Calendar

September is also my birthday month— the ‘pin-up girl’ is ‘Inside the Flower

I hope you enjoy a preview of my solo exhibition: “SKYFALL: Messages From Water and The Universe.”

making life more bearable Kurt Vonnegut quote
couple of visitors happiness and love Skyfall opening

This lovely couple enjoyed s visit to the studio. There favourite words are mine too…”happiness and love.” They are standing beside one of the paintings they loved the most “Harmonia”

620mm x 915mm

Oil on canvas
Harmonia was created during the full “pink” moon energy of Libra during Easter 2023 as I returned to my love of painting with oils.

The inspiration behind this beautiful painting’s name came from one of my followers, Escha Van Den Bogerd, who suggested the name. In Greek mythology, Harmonia (/hɑːrˈmoʊniə/; Ancient Greek: Ἁρμονία /harmoˈnia/, “harmony”, “agreement”) is the immortal goddess of harmony and concord.

Gosh, don’t we need more of this after the last few years!
The painting was inspired by the beautiful sweetness of Vincent van Gogh’s floral paintings and the vibrant whole-hearted passion of Joan Mitchell’s lyrical, gestural paintings.

I also drew inspiration from Pink’s album Beautiful Trauma and the rain-drenched camellias, hibiscus’ and other flowers in my artist’s garden outside the studio as I painted on a rainy Easter Sunday during my Dancing in a Field of Flowers art exhibition


“That one’s mine!” this beautiful visitor from Auckland said when she spotted Love is The Answer in the Skyfall Exhibition. Oh, I do love seeing what paintings make people’s hearts sing.

Love is The Answer

910mm x 910mm x 35mm

Oil on canvas

Inspired by the wild poppies that wander into the artist’s garden

Seductive, sensuous pinks are employed pamper, soothe and delight. Playful, spontaneous and gestural strokes imbue this painting with life.

Illusion and Lyrical Beauties caught this man’s eye!

30 inch x 30 inch x 1.5 inch deep

70cm x 70 cm x 4 cm deep

Acrylic on canvas


love is having a joyful assistant touch up the walls before my solo exhibition… nothing like a fresh coat of paint to make paintings

Vincent has always inspired me—with his love, compassion, huge heart and passion for art that would, to paraphrase him, “Console those who are broken by life.”

It was such a beautiful day in the happy gallery, Ar@rangitane, on the 28th of October. The sun was shining, flowers were blooming for the open garden trail, and I enjoyed meeting loads of beautiful people who visited me in the gallery. I love people, and I love discovering which of my paintings speak to their hearts.

It was a wild, stormy day the following, but I shall always carry the memories of the day, the smiles, the laughter, and the joy of watching my paintings leave my gallery with their new collectors, ready for love on their walls.

Visitors to the gallery for Skyfall and garden trail
Visitors to the gallery for Skyfall and garden trail

“To anyone who hasn’t been to visit I really recommend that you make the wee trip just 12km from Kerikeri. It’s such a joyful place to visit and the joyful artist always makes you feel so welcome. I keep going back!!”

“Sharing time with the joyful artist always reignites my passion for art, for colour, for painting, for nature, for everything!”

Art For The Soul Free and bestseller

Lovely news to wake up to. My short book on the power of creativity to change our lives, was #1 on Amazon. To celebrate, I’m giving away a free copy.

To grab your free copy of ‘ART FOR THE SOUL Find meaning and connection through creativity’ navigate to:


“Wonder is the feeling of a child in a world where everything is new.” – Patti Smith

I felt so blessed to have spent the most wonderful day with the lovely ladies who attended my one-day art retreat at the beginning of December. We embraced the wonder of play, experimentation, and fab, fun, fearless joy in a major way. Wonder is wonderful!❄️

P.S. I have some wonderful quotes about wonder on my blog, 2023 QUOTES TO LIVE & LOVE BY

art class collage of paintings and lady painters Dec 2023


So my friend, what of you? What interesting things occurred in 2023? Remember, even the bitter can turn sweet. Believe me—I know! What interesting things lie in wait for the remaining months of 2023? What will your life story be? How has life shaped you so far, and what will you carry forward into 2024? I would love to know:)

Above all dare to be a rebel with a cause, live passionately and show up for joy!

“…Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”

~ Robert McKee

Many thanks for reading. I love hearing from you, so reach out if you’d like to connect, share your thoughts on 2023, beautiful trauma, resilience, bittersweetness, or anything else.  If you’re interested in a painting or you’d like to know how my commission process works, please get in touch. 

But most of all, I hope you experience magic and miracles in the months to come.

With bubbles of love




You may also like:

2022 in review—fear can drive you




Posted in: Blog

2023 in review—fun, fab and fearless

The Joyful Artist

I am an artist, storyteller, intuitive guide, mentor and Reiki master. All my creations are infused with positive energy , inspiration, and light. I believe in magic and the power of beauty, joy, love, purpose, and creativity to transform your life. My greatest joy is helping your realize your dreams. That makes my soul sing!

P: +64 (0) 21 873 833
E: hello@thejoyfulartist.co.nz


Facebook Instagram Youtube Pinterest

© 2023 The Joyful Artist
Website by Webstudio