“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced” 

Vincent Van Gogh

About The Dirty Easel

At The Dirty Easel, we work with organizations that recognize that people are their greatest resource. Organizations that understand this want to invest in their people. And one of the greatest investments organizations can make in their people is to enhance their ability to disrupt markets through innovation. Innovation is the bi-product of creativity. The Dirty Easel works with organizations to develop their collective creativity through team building workshops.

My Story

photo of the owner of The Dirty Easel

Christiane Michaelis

As the founder of The Dirty Easel, it is my mission to fulfill on this promise of developing a creative culture. I have spent years studying the nature of creativity, of innovation, of disruption. And one of the most important realizations I’ve come to through my research is that we are all creative. From the time we were born, we had a thirst for drawing, for creating something new. As adults we often get away from that creative impulse. It’s my job and the job of my team to tap into that primal impulse to create and to foster that creativity in organizations to make them more innovative — more successful.

I didn’t start my career with the Dirty Easel in mind. It developed over time. I was first a music student in Germany, where I earned my Master’s degree and played double bass in orchestras. After college, I became an opera and theater director and staged productions across Europe for ten years. Through music and theater, I learned to trust the creative process of an artist — how to generate ideas and form them into a finished piece. I then settled down a bit and taught German, theater, and music to young people. As a teacher, I learned how to get others to express themselves creatively.

Finally, after moving to the United States, I found a new passion: The Dirty Easel.

The Dirty Easel synthesizes all of my artistic experiences, as well as my research into creativity. I found that my true passion is igniting in others a passion for creativity, for innovation, for disruption. I now frequently speak on the subject of creativity and innovation, and with The Dirty Easel, I lead workshops that are fun, energizing, and lasting — workshops that develop better, more collaborative and disruptive teams intent on doing amazing things.

The Core Difference: Experiential Painting

The Dirty Easel’s goal is to expand your ability to be creative. With that goal in mind the way we paint is different from a traditional art class, or  painting by numbers classes. Instead of everyone copying a famous artwork, we explore. We start every session by playing with colors and trying out forms. By focussing on experimenting rather than an end-goal, painting becomes relaxing, forgiving, and easy. We offer participants lots of ideas for stimulating the senses that inspire your creativity.

Through experimental, process oriented painting you learn to:

  • generate innovative ideas
  • be spontaneous and present in the moment
  • express your personality
  • let go of the fear of failure and other mental blocks
  • trust the creative process

In the end, everyone walks out having experienced something unique — things they can use in their work life to be a better, more innovative, and stronger employee. There is nothing like watching someone enter a room somewhat afraid of the blank canvas and leave the room after one of our sessions smiling, energized, and ready to take that energy back to the workplace.

That’s why I founded The Dirty Easel.