Many people talk about experiencing a life-changing event. Artist Marjie Eakin-Petty’s may have been a bit more dramatic than most, since it involved a serious car accident when she was 24. She refers to it her “transformative moment” and believes she was spared in order to have her life turned around. “I wanted to realize my purpose and I became more ambitious,” she says smiling.
Marjie was born and raised in the Bay Area of California and grew up in a family of artists. “I was always surrounded by creative people. My parents were active in community theater so life was full of artists, actors, musicians, and dancers. My father was an oil painter and writer; he directed plays and later taught painting. My mother was active in theatre, as was my artist auntl and as kids, my sister and I were part of the stage crew too. It was a very colorful upbringing.”
Wanting to get back to nature, she left home at 17 and relocated to Quincy, California, an area she describes as similar to Evergreen. There she attended college, majoring in art and studying graphic design. At 23 she returned to Oakland and a career in the corporate world in San Francisco. “It was the dream job,” she states. She was promoted first to the position of graphic designer and later became the art director of a department she herself created after conducting a survey to determine the specific needs of the company’s clients.
“I loved the visual nature of my work, and it was a wonderful beginning; but I came to realize the corporate structure was not the lifestyle I wanted to pursue.” Following a company buy-out, she took her severance package and went to Europe for a year, giving herself permission to take the time to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. It was in Paris that she had the inspiration to become a massage therapist, went back to the Bay Area and enrolled in massage school. There she met her husband, Doug, who was studying to become a chiropractor at the same time.
They had a combined dream to form a healing arts center, selected Evergreen in 1989 and opened their doors in 1991. Marjie’s corporate background and her skills in graphic design came in handy for running their front of office and designing their promotional materials – in addition to conducting massage therapy.
She also opened a separate office offering life coaching, hypnotherapy and grief counseling services for 10 years and where she first introduced her workshops, “The Creative Journey.” “I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of where healing comes from. What are its mental, emotional and spiritual components in addition to the physical? I’m intrigued by the internal workings of both creativity and healing; and in fact, I firmly believe there is a connection between the two. These questions still drive me,” she says.
This likely hearkens back to that life-changing event at age 24. “I was in the passenger seat of a car about to fasten my seatbelt,” she explains. “A voice in my head told me not to put it on. For some reason I listened, even though I always wore it. Just minutes later we were t-boned, and I was thrown from my seat onto the driver with whom I was riding. The passenger side of the car was completely crushed. Had I been wearing the belt, I probably would not have survived. As it was, my hip was fractured in four places; my arm and several ribs were broken, and my lung collapsed. I know that audible warning was my wake-up call – my spiritual voice, and it has guided me to the spiritual outlook I possess to this day.”
In 2009, Marjie, with Doug’s support, made the decision that she wouldn’t work in the front office any longer, but instead would commit to doing her art full time. Starting in the early 90’s, she painted in oils, then transitioned to working in pastels, studying with many teachers.
Marjie’s work has been exhibited at Evergreen Fine Art where she also worked and helped to launch their academy for teaching art. In 2010 she launched her revised “Your Creative Journey” workshops series, which combine discovering the path to inspiration with instruction in pastel techniques. She continues to conduct these two-day classes, both in Evergreen and around the state. “I love inspiring others to create their own art,” she says. “I much prefer talking about the participants’ creativity, rather than about my own works.”
Marjie is now represented by LaFave Gallery near Zion Nat’l Park. Her paintings have won numerous awards and have been published in a variety of magazines and books. She was an Artist in Residence at The Hubbell Trading Post in Arizona. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Center for the Arts in Evergreen and donated her painting “Our Time on the River” to be auctioned as a fund-raiser for the organization’s new facility in Bergen Park.
She also enjoys walking, hiking, gardening and traveling with Doug. In addition to everything else she writes and journals every day. Even with everything else occupying her time, “Writing is my most consistent companion,” she says.