Interview with Jenna Rizzo

Jenna Rizzo is a Seattle-area coach, EMDR therapist and artist who combines her approach to mental health with her approach to art and teaches multi-media art making. 

How did you become an artist?

I’ve always played with paper.   I knit, cook, and studied photography but I never thought I could be an artist because I couldn’t draw.  A lot of people believe that “I’m not an artist” myth. 

How did you get over that?

I unraveled it by doing art.   I started with photography, took classes on art theory and composition, and then studying Visual Journaling in 2004. I unraveled it by risk-taking and going into that intuitive place, by asking myself “What do I love?  What do I see?” 

What do you say to the person who says “I can’t make art.”?

I’d say creativity and intuition is available to everyone.  Art is self care and a can be really fun too.  You can take your stress and dump it into art.  You can take what’s joyful and make it bigger.

What about that initial resistance or hesitation? 

If it’s hard to get started take a class

Why is art important?

Art matters because the journey to being satisfied and confident as an artist parallels the journey to being satisfied and confident as a human beingBeing in the creative process is a relationship with the self.  Cultivating the ear to listen to the creative voice or impulse is where artistic skill comes from. 

People make art mysterious and unattainable.  It’s not about being famous or accomplished.  It’s about listening to the inner thread of consciousness. 

I’ve noticed that folks often shrink their lives by avoiding taking risks.  I think art-making offers a perfect low-stakes opportunity (no real life-ramifications) to take risks.  How do you encourage risk-taking in your art classes?

I encourage people to mess up.  I tell them if you don’t like it you can just cut it off, cut it up, or throw it away.   I get them to focus on process instead of product and ask them to notice what happens.    I intentionally buy “low brow” art supplies.  I get ninety nine cent paint just to get the juices flowing.  And I give people the four pillars which are: time, space, supplies and permission

How does your art influence your work as a therapist and vice versa?

The therapy process parallels the creative process.   Judgment and insecurity, underlying values and beliefs show up, such as feeling “I’m not enough.”  My journey was about how to love myself.  That brought me to becoming an artist as well as a therapist.  

On August 18th Jenna is teaching a Personal Altars Class which looks terrific.   You can find out more about it here:


One thought on “Jenna Rizzo: Paint, Place and Permission

  1. I wish I was in Seattle to take your class! After being told by an elementary school art teacher that I was ‘violently left-brained’ an could not draw, I avoided making anything. Then the last three years I started painting, building, installing, performing, designing, you name it. I thank my art practice for helping me survive the trauma of accidentally killing two people when my car hit them. It gave me a safe space to express my grief and horror non-verbally, straight from the gut, without killing myself. I have worked with an EMDR therapist, and she helped too. Part of my material art process is up on my blog,

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