For just a smidge over 6 years, I’ve been the main contributor to Rhodia Drive with over 1200 published posts under my belt. I came aboard in the fall of 2009, after Karen Doherty (VP of Marketing for Exaclair) became aware of my blog, Spiritual Evolution of the Bean, which at that time was heavy at with ink, pen and paper reviews.
I’d originally started the reviews on the photo sharing website Flickr by talking about the different art supplies I was using. Since most of the higher quality art and writing supplies are difficult to find in commercial hobby shops and office supply stores, and with independent retailers becoming harder and harder to come by, (think Art Brown) many people end up purchasing their supplies online. Without being able to see colors in person, or the ability to run your fingertips over the surface of a sheet of paper, product reviews can be really helpful to people with a limited budget.
Can I tell you how much fun it’s been over the years to try almost every product in the Exaclair catalog? There was a stationery store in the neighborhood where I grew up and I always wanted everything. All the different pens, pencils, paper, envelopes… No matter what it was, if someone would have bought it for me, I would have found a way to put it to good use.
Writing for Rhodia Drive, I’ve always been granted a lot of freedom to editorialize about the products and about creativity in general. Though I was always writing for a corporate blog, I always appreciated that I was able to be seen and heard as an individual. Working as a freelance writer for Exaclair gave me the freedom to work at home and on my own schedule which was really helpful in allowing me to develop my creativity in many other ways.
Back in 2007, I saw someone on Flickr post an image of a mandala drawing. The artist defined it as a meditative art practice that was typically performed in one sitting. You started at the center and worked your way out in radially concentric patterns. As I was an avid doodler at the time, I took quite easily to this practice which to me, was almost musical in nature. My love of testing/playing/reviewing art and writing supplies gave me good reason to keep making mandalas and over the years, I’ve literally made thousands in a wide variety of media. (A few hundred were for certain made with fountain pens and whatever was my favorite ink of the moment.) As the mandala was once used by the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung in what could be called an early form of art therapy, I too had adopted a similar practice for growth and personal transformation.
In the summer of 2008 I began teaching others the practice of meditative art making. In late 2010 I decided to work with more substantial and archival materials – specifically, acrylic paint. One year after that, armed with a small batch of paintings, I applied for and was granted a private studio at a local art and education center called The Banana Factory. As one of 30 resident fine artists at The Banana Factory, I’ve had the opportunity to show and sell my work, offer artist talks to local high school and college students, and to continue teaching workshops, classes and private lessons.
Over the years, I’ve really come to understand the title of my blog – Spiritual Evolution of the Bean – the name of which was ironically created with little thought. My username on many of the social media sites is Biffybeans. Spirituality is defined on Wiki as “an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.” Evolution is “the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.”
Well, that’s me. Every creative thing I’ve done over the last ten years has helped me to grow and inform the next.
This summer, I took another big step by attending a 200 hour yoga teacher training. While I may or may not eventually become a yoga teacher, the training was incredibly powerful for me in many ways. Physical, mental, emotional… I especially loved the philosophy aspect.
Right now, I’ve no set plans for my life post Rhodia Drive. All I know is that I’m sure that I’ll continue to be creative in one way or another.
If you’ve stuck with me this far, I’d like to extend a huge thank you. Your comments and feedback over the years has always been a welcome part of this job.
Want to keep in touch?
Stephanie Smith on LinkedIn
Stephanie Smith’s Mandala Art on Facebook
Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
Biffybeans on Twitter
Biffybeans on Flickr
Biffybeans on YouTube
Stephanie_Biffybeans_Smith on Instagram