Creating Art in a Spirited Way: an Interview with Janet Trierweiler

by | July 10, 2014 | Articles, Interviews, Visual Artists

"Aegean" (c) Calaj, duet art collaborators Janet Trerweiler and Matthew Schaefer

“Aegean” (c) Calaj, the collaborative art duet of Janet Trierweiler and Matthew Schaefer

Artist Janet Trierweiler (, a member of the collaborative art duet Calaj, discusses art, energy, feng shui and Spirit in an interview with Joan Forest Mage, Executive Director of Life Force Arts Foundation. Janet teaches “Feng Shui Design Basics: Change Your Space, Change Your Life – an Art Transforms! program” starting July 21, 2014.

Joan Forest Mage: The mission of Life Force Arts Foundation is to activate the spiritual power of the visual, literary and performing arts in artists and audiences. How do you define art? And what is your understanding of Spirit or the spiritual aspect of life?

Janet Trierweiler: Art happens when we engage our inner forces, our spiritual energy, to come into relationship with our physical skills such as observation and drawing. We begin with an idea, but allow the open field of creativity to bless our actions with divine beauty and order.

Spirit is the fuel which animates our life. In practical terms, it works like a faucet of life giving energy which we can use to fuel our actions. This gives our actions a creative edge, balancing our inner and outer expression. Spiritual energy used consciously gives a feeling of well-being. When we are unaware, this same energy can come out as anger and negativity. We can make a conscious choice for healthy, creative expression.

Joan Forest Mage: At Life Force Arts Foundation, we say that three aspects of spiritual art are that it 1) flows from spiritual practice, 2) strives to connect the audience with Spirit and 3) creates spiritual healing, transformation, or awakening.

How does your art relate to spiritual practice? Is there a spiritual practice or belief that influences your art? Is your art your spiritual practice? Have you been influenced by other artists whose art has a spiritual component?

Janet Trierweiler: I have a sense of natural order or placement. I know that when I allow this to flow through me into my art, something beautiful and harmonious will happen. Something much greater and more beautiful than we can conceive of.

I believe my attraction to art is an attempt to live in harmony with nature. Through doing this, I discover my individual expression. I conceive of it, but then let go and allow it to emerge naturally. This is not easy. We are programmed to want to control things to a specific outcome, expectation. Both my painting practice and Feng Shui are done in a state of objective meditation. The ability to have open attentiveness combined with keen observation skills are benefits of the practice of creating art in a spirited way.

There is a tradition of art. I’ve followed a thread that led from artist to artist. These Masters from the past leave their knowledge and spirit behind to guide us.

Joan Forest Mage: Do you strive to connect your audience with Spirit? If so, how? In general, what do you see as the relation of the audience to you as an artist and to your art?

Janet Trierweiler: Foremost, I believe I enjoy life because I am an artist and that is what my inner nature calls me to do. My interest in relation to the world is in teaching and healing through knowledge and experience with beauty and natural order. Opening hearts and minds to the value of time and space is just as essential to quality of life as material objects. Creative practice lets you find out who you are so you can relax into an experience in an authentic way.

Joan Forest Mage: Commenting on the third point, does your art create spiritual healing, spiritual transformation and/or spiritual awakening? If so, how?

Janet Trierweiler: Teachers, artists and mystics all help to bring transformation but the real teacher is oneself. My methods are designed to teach each student to teach him or herself. Along with sharing concrete information, I help students experience creativity firsthand and develop hands-on skills. I hope to inspire something in them that will become a lifelong practice. These artistic practices are healing as a byproduct of having a valuable experience. Art brings us to meditation but also requires that we are conscious of our actions while maintaining the open state of mind. This practice of holding our attention, allows us to be both observant and creative at the same time.

Joan Forest Mage: Are there measurable results or reports from your participants about the transformation they experienced through your work? What is your favorite anecdote about the effect your art has had on someone observing it?

Janet Trierweiler: What I love most is the surprise one experiences when letting art happen through guided energetic effort. Learning new technical skills combined with learning to use energy in a positive way is uplifting for both the students and great fun for me to experience their progress. It goes beyond their everyday comprehension into learning a new way of thinking. Here is an example of one of my student’s comments.

“I really enjoyed your class. I feel you created a great environment for exploration. 90% of the time I managed to be in the pleasure of letting go and flowing. When I got into my head I was able to regroup and get back into the flow. Your encouragement and guidance enabled that.

I also teach an art experience, using collage to tap into one’s intuition or wisdom, so I especially appreciated your creation of a safe space and the gentle and helpful feedback that you gave me and each person present.” – Kit

Joan Forest Mage: Are you a healer or teacher in addition to being an artist? How does your teaching and healing interrelate with your art? How does your teaching and healing interrelate with your spirituality or spiritual practice?

Janet Trierweiler: I feel so blessed to be able to continue my own evolution as an artist while teaching through my experiences and yes, it has been a source of healing for my students and for myself.

The artistic path connects with the study of the great philosophers and the study of psychology. It is all connected with directing the spirit to be used in a positive way.

Creating, whether it be a painting or setting up a beautiful space in your home, when done in an open frame of mindful meditation is good energy, good feeling. Feng Shui maps out the space, leading the way to fill in what is lacking and discard what is irrelevant. The space will be transformed to something with a beautiful personalized order. This makes a home that is both life enhancing and enjoyable.

In painting, I use the same process of construction and discerning deconstruction to sensitively adjust until the painting works as a personally imaginative, harmonious and integrated, unified whole.


Janet Trierweiler ( received her Certification from the New York Institute of Art as a Feng Shui Designer/Consultant. She attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has more than 20 years as a professional Fine Artist, honing creative, perceptual, observational and collaborative skills, exhibiting in numerous shows and galleries in the Chicago area and teaching as a faculty artist at Evanston Arts Center. With Matthew Schaefer, Janet is one half of the collaborative art duet Calaj. Janet is the recipient of the 2014 Best of Evanston Award for Fine Art and Feng Shui Design and Illinois Institute of Art Purchase Award. Her design focus is on helping people to awaken and enhance their lives through the power of healthy change and harmonious relationships.

“[The Feng Shui consultation you did for me was] really useful & insightful, Janet. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and promoting more awareness & openness in me.” Paula Hart O’Neill

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