Sunday, July 10, 2011

People Behind the Posts: Raphaella Vaisseau

Her last name means vessel and that is a perfect word to describe artist Raphaella Vaisseau ― she is a vessel for positive intention. “I give people the words to say what’s in their heart to people they love,” she said. “I give them words and color to inspire and uplift them.”

Raphaella was raised in Minnesota and grew up with a creative drive and practical parents. “I was told you can’t make money with art.” But in 1981, Raphaella felt a calling to her creativity. “I told myself, okay I’m just going to paint for me...for fun.” She began with watercolors and layered color on color, and some took years to complete. People responded and her paintings started selling.

Besides having an artistic expression, Raphaella always seemed to know the right words. “I would write blessings whenever anything difficult was happening with friends or family,” she said.

It wasn’t until 1991 when she saw a glass artist at an art fair in California that she realized the old adage “you can’t make money with art” might be a myth. The glass artist was selling very expensive art. There were hoards of people at the booth ― people backed up in line to buy her stuff. Raphaella approached and asked, “What’s different about you?” As she talked to the artist, Raphaella knew there was a lot she could learn from her. She suggested volunteering at the artist's shows for the summer so that she could learn more while helping the artist with sales. The artist welcomed the opportunity to mentor Raphaella, and by the end of that summer, Raphaella started her own company, Heartful Art, selling hand painted greeting cards which combined her words of blessing and simple watercolor art. “That’s how my products were born,” she explained.

A few years later, when sales of her greeting cards reached $500/month, Raphaella wondered what might be possible if she devoted 100% of herself to her art business. She enrolled in Landmark Education’s Curriculum for Living, a series of classes that empowered her to make that change in her life. She quit her day job and moved to Ashland, Oregon, where, as a full-time artist, she spent the next three years expanding her business and product lines.

She had art representatives to back her for a brief period and became involved with a gallery in Sausalito, which within a year became her own. For six years, Raphaella sold her original art and art products in her Heartful Art Gallery. It was a very successful business venture. Then, in the fall of 2006, her landlord passed away and the building that housed her gallery was no longer available to rent. Life changed dramatically. Without the direct retail sales from the gallery, she experienced a huge drop in cash flow and laid off her five employees. Forever an optimist, Raphaella then set out to reinvent Heartful Art, once again as a wholesale business.

With the attitude that “life is a grand adventure,” Raphaella wanted to find a new location for her gallery, in a place that was less expensive than California, but just as sunny and beautiful. She settled on Venice, Florida and moved in October of 2008. “It has not an easy time since the gallery closed, but through it all I trusted Spirit.” She has not yet opened another gallery on the Gulf Coast. However, she has expanded her wholesale business, has established additional streams of income from her art (including catalog and Internet sales), and she enjoys selling her art at the Venice Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings.

Being true to self, Raphaella always looks for the lesson shining through tough times. She knows there are reasons for her experiences. “I am excited about the future,” she said. “I am a seeker of life. I want to be the best I can be. I trust that what I went through was important, and I trust that each day is a new adventure. I’m living my passion and I keep myself open to possibility.”

Her work depends on self awareness and being centered. She makes it a point to find the value in each moment. “Where’s the joy? Wherever I’m happy is where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “If it feels like work, I stop and take a walk on the beach. That way, when I create, I’m creating from that true place inside – my heart.”

To get a sense of Raphaella’s Heartful Art, visit her blog, Raphaella’s Journey Continued, and check out her beautiful inspirational art and products at

Her posts? They are color, hearts, flowers and inspiration.

Heartful Art Images used with permission from the artist.

Posts are being painted by local artists and friends from afar. These blog entries are interviews of the artists. The finished planks will be combined and used as a construction wall when construction begins at SHAMc. Boards are for sale for $10.00 each or three for $25.00. For more information or to purchase a board, email IMPURPLE@ME.COM.

If too you have painted a post, please e-mail Laura at LEKSINK@GMAIL.COM

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