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 Stop stopping yourself

Stop stopping yourself—be fab, fun and fearless instead! In How to Find Your Passion and Purpose I share that one of the best ways to overcome fear is to find and follow your passion. “Without passion, you don’t have energy, and without energy you have nothing. You have to let love, desire, and passion, not fear or ambivalence or apathy, propel you forward.”

Sometimes this can feel daunting. Intellectually we may understand this, but challenges can arise in the doing. Which is why being with like-minded people and, as people who attended my recent art retreat told me, a skilled facilitator is a wonder cure for doubt, fear and anxiety.

During three beautiful days of art and magic making, I helped women rediscover their passion, creativity and courage. I was going through my photos from my fun and fab fearless art retreat and saw this wonderful painting created by one of my students…

I just love this painting by a newbie artist….I adore the vibrant energy. There is so much love poured into this work … created from a magical memory of swimming in caves in Hawaii.

Ali originally began the retreat worrying whether she could keep her perfectionism in check and learn to let go, go with the flow and relax. I was so thrilled with what she achieved—personally and creatively. Further in this post, I share her feedback. She created many wonderful paintings but this early work remains one of my favourites. As she shares in her feedback one of the most life-changing things she learned with the magic of play. “We are going to have a play date. We are just playing!” I reminded participants throughout the art retreat.

“My favourite exercises were the ‘play dates’ and other rapid painting activities. They took away performance anxiety and also freed up the painting process from overthinking.

I love playing (is there such a thing as playology?) and I love numerology, too. I saw this photo of our vibrant time together creating magic when the time was 11:11:)

What does angel number 1111 mean?

“What does angel number 1111 mean? The ones signify new beginnings. Whether you’re about to embark on a brand-new passage or you’re already on the right path, seeing 1111 coincides with that. And when you see it, experts say you should focus and use it as an indicator that you’re on the right track”

Seeing 1111 also encourages us to listen to our intuition and trust our hearts. This is such an important thing to remember when we are embarking on anything new, including learning a new skill as my newbie artist was doing. She had commenced the workshop feeling ‘anxious” – but excited”. You can read more about the energy of wisdom of 1111 here: https://www.womansday.com/life/a39779218/1111-meaning-numerology/.

Fun fact—I spent my childhood living in a bright blue house with the number 111.

Inspired by Ali’s painting, as I write this post I am also listening to an instrumental called “We are all water” on Spotify. Synchronicity is another way Spirit speaks to us. I saw the below on FB at the same time, which made me think of my lovely student who created the painting and who loves to swim daily in the sea. I had no idea that it was World Water Day as I created this post.

world water day

“An old Japanese warrior, Yoshitaka Kuroda, who created five principles that asserted that the nature of water represents how we should live and we would like to introduce that on this world water day.

Five Principles of Water

1. Water can move other things by moving for oneself.

2. Water always seeks its own course and never stops.

3. Water multiplies the power one hundred times when it encounters obstacles.

4. Water gracefully makes others clean and can accept both clean and unclean together.

5. Water fills a vast ocean, vaporizes, making cloud, rain, snow and hail, and freezes like a clear and smooth mirror, but its quality is essentially the same in any form.”


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 shortly after, I changed it to 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.

Fear often gets a bad rap. But as you’ll discover in my yearly review (2022), fear can drive you in a positive new direction>>

As I shared, in an earlier post, in the wake of Covid, fear-mongering by the Government drove me toward love. This is why I opened my own art gallery in the first months of the pandemic and started painting again. I wanted to share my joy, so I began to teach and shared my love of fun, play, and creativity with others. It’s true about “the helpers high” – when you uplift others, you uplift yourself.

Originally the workshop was planned for February 17 through to Sunday, February 19 but along came Cyclone Gabrielle (and more water!)…going with the flow and rescheduling led as into the incredible energy of the sun moving into Aries (passion!) and the Autumn Equinox. My next art retreat is planned for The Winter Solstice and sun into cancer (emotion!), Friday 23, Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June ((4 places left) 

Here is more from my student sharing her experience after her Fun, Fab and Fearless art retreat.

What is one thing that you enjoyed about your experience?

The whole experience was totally enjoyable! I enrolled in the workshop wanting to learn how to relax into the creative process and how to playfully explore the new (for me) medium of acrylic paints, letting go of any concern about results. I did this. I was totally lost in the process… in the magic ‘timeless zone’. Cassandra was a wonderful facilitator who was very intuitive.

We were all encouraged to fearlessly follow our own passions. Theory and technical skills were explored through quick ‘play date’ activities followed by reflection. The small group meant we got a lot of individual support from Cassandra as well as encouragement from the other wonderful participants. I took away some paintings on canvas. I will continue to keep exploring. The environment was also magical. (Thanks too to Laurie who made us feel so welcome.)

What do you feel your greatest accomplishment was that came out of our retreat experience together?

I turned up. I learned to play creatively. I’m back in touch with my love of colour and gesture using the medium of paint. I had last painted at high school. I feel as if I’ve picked up a missing part of myself. Joy!

What was your favourite exercise we did together or tool that you used?

The ‘play dates’ and other rapid painting activities. They took away performance anxiety and also freed up the painting process from overthinking.

How has your life benefited from our time working together?

I feel more complete. I feel as if I’ve found a missing part of myself.

How would you describe what I do for people or what I facilitate?

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!

I’ll share more fab experiences from the retreat in following posts. Subscribe to my newsletter to receive tips and inspiration to live fearlessly and creatively>>http://eepurl.com/huqe1T

More passion…less ground hog day!

Flower Girl
Acrylic on Canvas
1145mm x 1905mm


I’ve recently discovered a new passion: the life and work of abstract artist Joan Mitchell.

The paintings that Joan Mitchell created in the last decade of her life reveal an artist who showed no restraint. She immersed herself in them, abandoning cognizance, rationality, and objectivity. Direct and immediate, they are the work of an artist using her failing strength and strong emotion to express her intellect and her anger, as well as the joy she derived from the very act of painting.” (Richard D. Marshall

My recent painting above is an ode to her fearless creativity and boldly beautiful mark-making. Passions can make us wonderfully obsessed with people and things that bring us joy and that inspire and embolden our courage.

When I was a career coach I was criticized by some people in my profession for encouraging people to find and follow their passion. I was heartened and fortified in my conviction that whether in work or life (or both) passion is a vital ingredient to strengthen our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical  wellbeing when I read some that Joan Mitchell had once said to the son of her former teacher:

“Your mother saved my life! She taught me passion—I really mean that.”
Joan Mitchell

The inspiration and title for this painting was created by the joy I felt when Lorenzo came into the studio carrying crucifix orchids he had picked from the garden. I asked my followers on FB what I should name the painting and someone suggested, “Joy!” 

“It is a beautiful painting. I used to grow orchids and they have a way of lifting your spirits.”

I haven’t loaded Joy onto my website yet, DM if you would love to take her home:)

910mm x 910mm x 35mm

Acrylic on canvas

The vibe of the painting was also inspired by Joan Mitchell and the wonderful energy of my art retreat participants who co-created with their spirits and joy. We will be donating the sister piece of this artwork to Women’s Refuge. Women, like flowers, are beautiful, fragile and strong when they need to be.

NEW RETREAT DATES: Friday 23, Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June (Winter Solstice)

Save your spot! Create Amazing Abstracts with award-winning artist Cassandra Gaisford Friday 23, Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June, Outside of Kerikeri in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

Slots for an intimate retreat fill quickly, with only a few spots available! Cassandra doesn’t teach often, this is a rare chance to join her and learn her secrets with one-on-one time and get your questions answered and demo’s shown. We hope you’ll join us and kindly help us spread the word!

For more details>>


Paint yourself happy. Leave your worries behind, let go of perfectionism and unleash your inner, fun-loving child!


ALL LEVELS. NO experience is needed.


I love sharing the joy of creating amazing abstracts with people who turn up to my class looking for artistic inspiration or simply questioning, “I wonder if there’s an artist in me?” Or  “Can I let go of detail and create something abstract?”

Brilliant results are always achieved! 

It doesn’t matter how much or how little skill you have as an artist; it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter what your background is… All that matters is permitting yourself to play, have fun, connect with your Creative Spirit and express yourself joyfully.

Join me for an in-person art experience in a beautiful 10-acre paradise to create some happy art. Get all the details and join us for three inspiring, fun days of creative play!



Friday June 23 to Sunday June 25, 2023


Art@rangitane (12 km from Kerikeri), New Zealand


All levels, newbies and artists of all experience levels welcome!


Join Cassandra Gaisford for an in-person art experience in her studio sanctuary on a beautiful 10-acre paradise to create some really joyful art.


– How to fear less and feel free-er and play as you create

– How to truly feel joy during the creative process

– How to create your most joyful art

– The 7 stages of the creative process – including doubt!

– The glee and magic of mixing your own colours

– Valuing values (….this has been said to be worth the price of admission alone!)

– Composition tips that will easily take your art to the next level, including creating larger art

– What to do when you’re blocked, stuck, or f*cked

– The 5 elements that all great paintings possess (you’re going to be surprised about #3), and how to incorporate them into your art

– How to discover your voice and harness the unique energy you bring to your art

– Cassandra’s personal painting techniques and process (this is gold!!)

– How to choose your colour combinations that sing in a more intuitive way

– How to use meditation and journaling to guide your art

– How to let go of fear, doubt and inhibitions as you create

– How to embrace our own intuition as an artist

– Cassandra’s secrets to expressing your feelings, inspiring yourself and taking your art higher



$2997 per person paid in full before the retreat.


dm, call 021 873833 or email Cassandra today: Cassandra@cassandragaisford.com


– Welcome drinks on arrival

– Yummy refreshments during the workshop

– Paints and brushes and other materials

– Paint magic

– Expert tuition by award-winning artist and creativity coach Cassandra Gaisford (BCA, Dip. Psych)


– Transportation to/from retreat.

– Accommodation (we will happily recommend great places to stay)

– Meals (BYO own light lunch)

– Please bring your own canvas (we will provide the address to purchase from or ship them to in advance of the retreat and can recommend great places to source affordable larger canvases), your favourite tools & brushes


– Gather around 9:45am

– Learn something/fling some paint around / laugh a lot and have plenty of fun

– Break for lunch

– Come back and learn/laugh/play some more

– Finish up around 4-5pm each day.

– Enjoy some alone time OR spend time with your fellow art workshoppers


Do I need experience?

No this is an all-levels course—beginners are welcome as are experienced artists. You are totally in safe, non-judgemental and skilled hands. A willingness to experiment and play is the only pre-requisite

Is there an age limit?

Anyone over the age of fifteen is able to participate in the workshop.

Can I extend for some one-on-one time?

Definitely. Consider combining one-on-one time with something truly bespoke…perhaps a wine and art tour enjoying the best the Bay of Islands has to offer. Gourmet food, award-winning wine, personalised tuition and more! $900 per day.

Once I enrol can I change my workshop/ one-on-one date?

This is a non-refundable payment and the workshop/one-on-one date selected cannot be changed or swapped for a future day.


Carol Testimonial Art retreat


Join award-winning artist Cassandra Gaisford’s Bay of Islands Art Retreat for three days of creative play, fun and joy.


dm, call 021 873833 or email Cassandra today: Cassandra@cassandragaisford.com

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks,

breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” 

Mary Lou Cook

Consider getting a group of besties or work colleagues together for a fun and educational play date. Or, do as one super kind mother-in-law is doing, purchase a gift certificate.


About your instructor

Cassandra Gaisford is known as here and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube



nan review

“That was so much fun. I learned so much and feel so much more confident. I know what I’m doing now!”

“How inspirational you are! I’m enjoying finding out about the artists and styles you comment on and feel excited about my journey so far.”

“I feel more confident and feel that as I continue to ‘play ’ and experiment my work will evolve more and more. It’s a great feeling knowing I have this creative outlet in my life especially nowadays.”

“I’m 72, I’m young at heart and still trying to learn as much as I can so that I can push my art-making to its potential. Thank you for being such an inspiring person.”

“Thanks, Cassandra, had a fun day!”

Would you love to get a group of friends or clients together for a memorable day of creativity, fun and play? Please contact me to arrange something truly bespoke.

Discover a new hobby or resurrect a slumbering passion. Can’t make it in person? Be sure to check out my online classes, feedback continues to be rewarding. Invest in ‘your-self.’

Are you afraid of criticism? In 2019 I released a book called The Little Princess. It’s based on the true-story of how I was attached and criticised when I shared my dream to create a tool to help people follow their passion and purpose. If you’re afraid of standing out you may enjoy reading The Little Princess. Discover how I found my courage and aligned with my purpose to create a life of joy, passion, prosperity, and fulfilment. Purchase links and more about this book can be found here>>

Posted in: Blog

 Stop stopping yourself

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


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