Artist teaches students to unleash their creativity

Jan Haller at Magic Brush Studio

(Originally published in Taos News)

Jan Haller came to Taos for the first time in 1977 and met her husband here. They went off to California, but in 1998 they came back and have stayed here ever since.

In July 2011 Haller  opened the second Magic Brush Studio in Civic Plaza Drive (the first was in her home) where she offers classes to children and adults.

The studio’s front window is a work of art in process. Haller calls it a “Window Blog.” “I have been painting it from time to time and adding encouraging words to inspire the desire to paint and create,” she said.

Haller’s personal journey toward painting started inSan Francisco in 1978. “I heard about a class at The Painting Experience Studio, attended it and fell in love with   painting,” she said. “Nobody told me what I should be doing, there was absolute freedom. And, by painting my inner world, I got to know myself for the first time.”

The freedom to create, she said, fed her soul. Today Haller has around 3000 finished paintings.

Now she wants to inspire in others the sense of freedom, honesty, independence and self-knowledge that she learned in her painting classes.

“I encourage my students to paint in their own unique way, which allows them to follow what is alive in the moment rather than being concerned with the outcome,” she said. “When we surrender to what is alive, creativity knows where we need to go.”

For Haller, painting is the beginning of personal discovery. “We have a lot inside that is unmanifested,” she said. “It feels good to express it honestly. Painting is a journey of self-discovery because it takes us through a mysterious door into new worlds. What is unseen becomes seen. With strength, courage and curiosity as companions, we are enticed into our freedom and invited to embody a creative life.”

She has also made flags, banners and cards. “I think of them as a means to invoke Spirit and inspire creativity with honest, truthful reminders of a larger perspective,” she said.

Haller currently teaches an adult class for ACT (Assertive Community Training) and PCS (People Centered Services) and two classes for children. One of them takes place on Saturday mornings, from 10:00 to 11:30 am. It is free, though she welcomes donations.

Paul Montoya attends it every Saturday with his grandmother, Henrietta Gomez. “He saves his allowance and donates it to the class,” said Gomez. “On Saturday mornings, Paul rushes to finish his chores to come here. He really enjoys painting.”

The other class is on Wednesday afternoons, from 2:00 to 4:30 pm. It is called Art Care and students come from the nearby Enos Garcia Elementary School, which has early release on Wednesdays.

“The children paint, have a healthy snack and do an art project, which lately has been sewing,” Haller said.

The cost is a sliding scale, $15 to $25. Haller has also worked with students from the Taos Integrative School for the Arts.

“As the children learn to trust what they have inside, their confidence and concentration grow,” she said. “I want them to enjoy the process and paint whatever they feel inspired to create. Once we put too much emphasis on the finished product, they start criticizing themselves and the creative doors close.”

She calls this inner critic “the Silly Monkey”.

“I saw that the children didn’t know what to do with this voice and discovered an effective way to work with it,” she said. After a sense of trust is established with her students, Heller advises them to send “the Silly Monkey” outside when it starts telling them what to do.

“Kids get the idea right away,” she said. “It was a great surprise to discover the children spontaneously applied this insight to homework, play and relationship. Once they realize they don’t have to listen to that little voice that puts them down, they feel empowered and their creativity gets unleashed. They become quiet with a new light in their eyes.”

Haller also teaches an introductory free-expression painting classes for adults called Try It Out, some Saturdays from 2:00 to 4:30 pm. She charges a sliding scale, $15 to $ 25 and all materials are provided. Private sessions can be scheduled as well.

“My goal is to offer people a safe place where they can paint and feel free to express themselves,” she said. “It is a joy to paint this way. If we have the wonder of the journey, the results are secondary. We can be present to whatever the moment brings and fall in love with this mysterious journey.”

Haller is the author of a book, The Invitation to Paint, where she shares her discovery of painting and artistic freedom, and combines it with seven-year-old Sarah’s painting journey. (Sarah is one of her former students.) The book is beautifully illustrated with Haller’s and Sarah’s paintings.

Haller’s advice to artists and creators:

 Trust that you have everything you need to be able to paint (even if you believe you have no talent).

Find a quiet spot to create.

Simply look at the colors, take the one you are attracted to and start…

There is no need to ponder. Creativity is intelligent and trustworthy!

 The more you say “yes” to whatever comes, the more creativity brings to you.

Don’t worry about the outcome. You don’t have to create a masterpiece. Enjoy the process and have fun!

The April Try It Out sessions will take place on the 14th and the 21st —the same dates for the Saturday drop-in classes for kids. The Art Care days are April 18th and 25th.


Magic Brush Studio is located at 108BCivic Plaza Drive
To contact Jan Haller, call her at 575 613 0921
email her at
or visit her websites