Sometimes, you will find in your life that a certain constellation of stars comes together, over a period of time. You meet one star here, another star there, as you travel through your universe. In time, you find these stars seem to align in a glorious manner to make a constellation that deserves acknowledgement.

Or a blog story in this case. How did they impact my life, you ask? Well, their art, their own journey towards awakening and their essence have lent their beauty as I travel my own inner journey in the area of arts and healing. The three stars in question are: Martina Dresler, Vanessa Arnold and Rana Haj-Daoud.

Colourful panels of intuitive art by Vanessa Arnold. Photo ©Jan D'Sa.

Colourful panels of intuitive art by Vanessa Arnold. Photo ©Jan D’Sa.

Early this month, Vanessa and Rana held their joint exhibition at Yogia Living in Dubai. Their artworks were a result of  attending artist and art therapist Martina Dresler’s expressive/intuitive painting classes held at DUCTAC, Dubai.

Let me digress a bit. I first met Martina at ARTE, where I currently showcase my cufflinks and men’s accessories line.  By then, I’d already heard about her expressive art classes but was too shy to attend. At ARTE, we had exchanged many conversations about the life of an artist and what arts for healing as a certified art therapist means.  Much to my misfortune, as Martina has moved back to Basel, Switzerland, so I have missed out on taking the classes.  I’ve already written about the work that Martina has done for the Rashid Pediatric hospital where she worked (The blog story is titled:  CaN & Rashid Pediatric Centre for special needs – a successful collaboration).   Martina’s calls her work ‘Heartworks: Art for Sanity.


photo of martina

Martina Dresler, artist and art therapist. Photo provided by Martina.


A painting by Martina Dresler, artist and art therapist. Photo provided by Martina.


Now, about the artists.


Intuitive Expressive Art at Yoga Garage, Dubai

At the art opening: Vanessa Arnold (far right), Rana Haj-Daoud (centre) and a friend of theirs Kat Sulit. Photo courtesy Andrew Sulit. Used with permission.

Vanessa Arnold

Vanessa is a talented woman with many faces. Very down-to-earth, soft spoken, in touch with the beauty and very graceful in a soft and magical way. She is a woman with many gifts. Writer. Artist. Energy healer. Vanessa’s paintings are very interesting. They leave a lot of room for interpretation (and I quite like that!). In fact, the more I gazed at her paintings at her paintings, the more people I saw huddling together. The experience was amazing: like paintings within a painting.

Vanessa is also the Super Assistant lady at Juicy Monkeys Photography , led by her husband Dave Nascimento. ( Just so you know, I have used some of the photography of his wife’s work to illustrate this article). This is what Vanessa says of her husband, “I’m lucky to be married to a photographer, and he does a great job of taking photographs of my work.”  I agree with that.


Intuitive artwork by Vanessa Arnold.

Intuitive artwork by Vanessa Arnold. Photo copyright David Nascimento. Used with permission.

Rana Haj-Daoud

The other artist is Rana. Now, I’m yet to meet Rana in person, but after seeing her paintings,  I feel I already ‘know’ her. I would like to say this when I saw her work. I will have to speak in heaven’s tongues to describe the depth and the vitality seen in her work.  A bit of trivia here. Rana is like me, we come from technical backgrounds and we are have shown the world that despite our technical backgrounds, we choose to use creativity to spark our lives and the lives of those around us.


Intuitive Art by Rana Haj-Daoud.

Intuitive Art by Rana Haj-Daoud.


One of my favourite colour combinations is the aubergine purple with yellow gold. Close up of artwork by Rana.

One of my favourite colour combinations is the aubergine purple with yellow gold. Close up of artwork by Rana.

Interview with Vanessa Arnold

Jan D’Sa (JD): You have been painting for how long? What techniques have you used previously?

Vanessa Arnold (VA): I’ve been making art since I was 12. I did a Minor in Art at university, and my work includes collages, acrylics, and oil pastels. I really love doing portraits; I feel very connected to my subjects after staring at them for hours!


JD: Considering that you have experience painting already, what attracted you to try out the expressive painting classes by Martina?

VA: One of my friends raved about Martina’s classes, and my previous education in art focused on life drawing and still life. Martina offered Expressive/Intuitive Painting classes, which was perfect, given that I’ve spent the last 13 years developing my intuition as well as studying spirituality and healing.

Intuitive painting by Vanessa Arnold

Details of an intuitive painting by Vanessa. Love the green rain!

JD: What did you learn from this process, considering that there were no techniques involved in the classes?

VA: Martina gave us a few guidelines for painting abstracts, but then she encouraged us to just allow the painting to emerge. No plans or expectations, no judgment, just showing up and seeing what happens. Sometimes, I don’t like the final painting, but I’m always grateful for the process!


JD: It’s not about trying a new technique is it? That’s what’s intuitive painting is about…

VA: Intuitive painting fits in perfectly with my spiritual views. It’s all about allowing rather than trying, being surprised, having no plans and just using the painting process as a form of expression and an opportunity for emotional release. Martina also encouraged us to paint with a palette knife rather than a brush so we’d have less control.

Painting has always been very therapeutic for me. I love the zone I enter when I’m being creative; everything falls away, and nothing matters except the piece I’m working on.

Some of my paintings have predicted events, which is pretty cool! My intuitive training included learning to ‘read’ the symbols and energy in artwork.

Intuitive painting by Vanessa Arnold

Almost feeling peaceful with this little birdy perched on the window sill of my life 🙂 Two sets of intuitive paintings by Vanessa Arnold (left) and a close up of the birdy painting on the right.

JD: You’ve also been involved in other art forms/dance forms. Name a few and how do you  blend all these together in your life?

VA: I love creativity in all its forms. I enjoy dance forms such as 5Rhythms and Contact Improvisation, I write and I enjoy sewing and singing. I think any form of self-expression is good for the soul, especially when I get lost in what I’m doing.
JD: Is this the first time you’ve shown your art as part of an exhibition?

VA:I took part in several art shows when I was at university, and I participated in a group show in Dubai several years ago. I think it’s good for me to exhibit; it helps me appreciate my work with fresh eyes in a different setting.


JD: What is it that you hope to convey to people about your new pieces of art?

VA: People are welcome to see whatever they see in my paintings! It’s always interesting to hear other people’s interpretations. I get really happy when my work inspires people to dive into their own creativity.

Intuitive paintings by Vanessa Arnold

Love the way PINK takes control of these two paintings by Vanessa Arnold.

JD: You are fond of pink? what does it signify to you?

VA: Bright pink is a very joyful colour to me.  I love bright pinks, they command attention but they remind people not to take things too seriously. I have a serious love affair with colour, and I love jewel tones like red, purple, emerald and sapphire. I have a form of synaesthesia, so colour triggers multiple senses and affects me very powerfully.


JD: You are also an energy healer. Do you plan to blend art and energy healing together? If yes, why/why not?

VA: I hope that my paintings have a healing effect on people; the process of making them is definitely very healing for me! I’ve found that if I do a spontaneous drawing or painting for someone, the painting will contain symbols that are highly relevant to that person. My drawings often contain information about things I will experience on a spiritual or energetic level.

For example, quirky little houses started showing up in my paintings when my husband and I were looking for a new home. They keep showing up; I think it’s because for the first time in decades I’m actually ‘nesting’ and excited about having a home that reflects my tastes. I spent 20 years feeling like I was camping in temporary spaces.

Intuitive artwork by Vanessa Arnold.

See those houses that Vanessa talks about in her interviews? So cute and so colourful! Photo copyright David Nascimento. Used with permission.

JD: How did it feel about doing a joint exhibition with Rana and what are your take away points?

VA: I didn’t want a solo show; I was very adamant about wanting to show alongside Rana. We met in Martina’s class and we have great fun painting together.

To buy art prints, contact Vanessa on vanessajarnold AT hotmail DOT com


Interview with Rana


JD: You remind me a lot of me. Coming from an engineering/technical field, how did you feel about expressing yourself in a creative manner?  What was the real reason you took the course with Martina?

RHD: It was a nice surprise to find that we have similar educational backgrounds. Actually, four years ago I decided to quit in engineering my job and close my web designing solutions company so that I could chase my dream of all time: Writing. From that point of view, I have always been in the creative field.

However, 1 1/2 year ago, I started painting to satisfy an inner need.  I practiced painting as a healing of my unsolved pain in my soul. I actually produced 25 paintings in 21 days when I was alone. When I posted those paintings on my facebook page,  the feedback from my friends amazed me. They encouraged me to continue painting, so that I looked for courses to improve my skillset since that was my first experience with paints and brushes. As a result of my research, I met Martina.

In short, I was, I am and will be always a creative soul. Creating makes me touch the depth of the soul of everything surrounding me. I strive to live an authentic life and my soul reflects that.


Intuitive paintings by Rana Haj-Daoud

This series of indigos and violets used in Rana’s paintings is reminiscent of the universe as well as some feeling of futuristic expectations.


Intuitive paintings by Rana Haj-Daoud.

Close up of one of Rana’s intuitive paintings. Isn’t it amazing? Hatched and crossed. Swiggles and splashes. It’s almost like dancing in the rain and then staying still while the rain splashes on your head.


JD: Do you think your colleagues who are engineers have become encouraged to take up art to destress?

RHD: I am so blessed to say yes, both my writing and painting inspire many people to start chasing their dreams or at least to try new experience.  And get out their comfort zone.


JD: Discuss your painting with a spray of grey and golds over the crimson red (See below). It feels like a universe within a universe. That’s my interpretation. What is yours?

RHD: You’ve interpreted correctly. Each one of my paintings involves a part of the universe, since they are all an expression of my spiritual beliefs of our own light as luminous which is a part of the bigger light, the universal light. So I try to play with all its shades to create my own universe.  In fact, if I may, all my paintings are about love, light and truth. My love.  My light. The golden touch of my truth.

Intuitive art by Rana Haj-Daoud

You need to see the red painting by Rana in person. As I stood gazing at that painting, I was literally taken into another universe where beauty beyond the words of the dictionary existed.

JD: What did you discover about yourself after each class with Martina?

RHD:  I discovered the hidden potentials of a new part of me that I didn’t think I had. It was around a year, once a week for three hours that I took her classes.  After that, I can confidently say that my art is my safety blanked which I hold on to, in order to feel inner peace.


JD: How did it feel to do an exhibition, if this is your first time?

RHD: Honestly speaking, I was walking on clouds. I was so happy to share the colors of my journey with my friends and family. It gave me the opportunity to set the statement that my soul is that which is filled with colour.  I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive that once the exhibition was completed, I would feel some emptiness. However, I’m pleased to say that my soul feels full and better still, I’m ready to start a new adventure with my art!

Final words

I encourage you to learn from these two women. Through their exhibition and artwork, they have so willingly shared their story with me and with you so that you feel that certain spark to try intuitive art in a way that speaks to you, without the world telling you how to do it.  Thank you!