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Making art that Matters at Bold School with Charla Maarschalk

You’ve probably heard it before:
art matters blah blah it makes the world a beautiful place – which is all true, but that’s not what I mean.

If you’ve ever met a writer, you know there’s something about them that makes them a writer – and it’s not how many books they’ve published or stories they’ve written, or how “good” their work is. There’s something within them that makes them a writer. The same goes for musicians, filmmakers, singers, and well, you name it.

I could tell you my whole story

… about being born on the East Coast and the trials of a Fine Arts degree.
I could tell you about my graphic design background and photography business. I could tell you how I switched lanes and began to paint again before making a name for myself as a bold color artist ...

... but those parts of my story aren’t the ones that really matter in this story.

There’s only one story that matters.

And it’s the story of the moment I realized just how much my art mattered.

It was 2019:

And I joined a friend, 
Dr. Alana Berg, in Kenya where she would be helping a medical clinic.
I had recently left a successful photography business to become a full-time artist, transplanting my husband and kids to Kelowna, BC.
Suddenly my life no longer revolved around client meetings and weekend weddings.

Instead, I was painting a lot and trying to make a name for myself as a bold color artist, and I was ready to take on another adventure. 

There wasn’t any practical reason I found myself in Kenya.

I had simply answered 'Yes!' to an invite. 
The Kenya team didn’t really need me. But I wanted to be useful. Yet, when asked to paint a mural in the women’s prison, my first reaction was a firm no – I’m not going into a prison in Africa!
But Francine, one of the missionaries living in Kenya) was insistent.  She said, “Charla, these women are so desolate, they have nothing – they need art.”

So I surrendered.

Okay, I thought, maybe that’s why I am here. I began researching and put together a design that might inspire these women.

I designed the prison mural without fully understanding its significance.

The painting was of two African women with traditional beaded neck pieces. 
Those beads, I had learned, actually tell stories of important moments of their lives.
In my design, the beads came off their necks and floated up in the air where they became seeds that turned into flowers and children plucked the flowers out of the sky. 
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Mothers can survive anything if they know their child will be okay.   

*Click to enlarge


Although I didn’t grasp it initially, I eventually came to understand what it all meant.

You see, women prisoners in Kenya typically have children with them. 

Many of them arrive pregnant or with infants in their arms. Some end up pregnant while they are inside.
In this prison, children can stay with their mother until they are 4 years old and then they are sent out into the world to fend for themselves. 
When the women saw this mural, sitting in their torn clothes with small children at their feet, they began to cry.

The fundamental truth dawned on me as, through my own tears, I saw the whole room sobbing:

Mothers can survive anything if they know their child will be okay.   

The mural I painted wasn’t my best painting. It wasn’t the most creative or the most ingenious. But it was the mural that needed to be painted – a mural of hope. 

Artists Are Vehicles: 

they are the medium through which purpose, passion, beauty, love, and hope are passed through. It’s less about them and more about what that art will be to the people who witness it.

So when I tell you your art matters, that is what I mean. 

I started Bold School to help more artists release their art into the world. Because too many of us have a calling to create  — and too often we ignore it in lieu of other things that should matter more. 
But when we realize that our art isn’t selfish, our art isn’t even about us – it becomes the gift we are meant to share with the world. It becomes our purpose, and our purpose is the path we are meant to walk. 
Because whether one or a million...
       ... art has the power to change lives. 

Keep creating,


Ps. Learn more about the mural in Kenya here >>
Pss. Wondering who else you'll meet at Bold School? 
Meet the Entire Team >

Philippians 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


Philippians 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Wondering how an artist's life unfolds? 

It's starts with one step and then another.



Completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Post-Graduate in Interactive Multimedia. 

My studies were a mixture of painting, film and the rise of digital media.  




Met This Guy

Committed my life to him.  

And in that same year moved my photography business from side hustle to full time. 


Shot a Lot of Weddings

I even flew around the world to shoot in places like Italy and underwater in Maui. 

During those years I started leading and teaching photography workshops. 


In the beginning God created...

    Genesis 1:1


God Gave Us Family

I've been watching them grow up at rocket speed ever since.   

This is the best the most important part of the artists timeline - adventures with family. 

Got Some Pets

Our little bird was a big part of our story for 23 years. 




Every well rounded artist needs a dog, just cause.  

Isaiah 43:19

Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?      


Art Became the Main Thing

In 2012 I started painting. I began showing my work locally and online. 

Finding the courage for this important step happened after seeking what the Lord had to say about the arts rather than what he world was saying.  



Got Some Press

Art needs to be seen and my very first show brought a news article into the world.  

That was exciting.  


Artist Voice

After experimenting with thread, my signature style of embroidering into my work debuted.  

See more of my works at




Bold School

After teaching in person classes for a few years I filmed my first online class in 2019 and Bold School was born.