Practices of Self-Compassion with Carrie Sleme-Stakes

by | May 25, 2023

If we could describe Carrie Sleme-Stakes in three words, it would be “intuitive self compassion.” We fell in love getting to know Carrie and how she combines her art practice of painting with her intuitive eating mindset in her health coaching. It really is a blend of self compassion, love, healing, and nurturing oneself through the practice of connectedness to ourselves and each other. 

Girl Louie had the opportunity to interview an incredible St. Louis based, visual artist and health coach, Carrie Sleme-Stakes, the Founder of Well Honey Studio. With over 10 years of experience painting and 3 years providing health coaching, Carrie shares with us her creative process and reveals the unique ways both painting and intuitive eating involve practicing self-compassion, exploration, and a process of learning and growth.

Carrie’s art practice developed from studying photography in high school which set her on track to study photojournalism in college. During her photography studies, she became very interested in her drawing and painting classes. She then shifted gears and fell in love with painting. Carries states, “Painting offered a different presence for me than photography, a presence that I was really particularly interested in. I began painting over photographs, this was the transition from photography to painting on a canvas.”

Carrie began painting in 2012 and has been creating works of abstract art ever since. She describes her process, stating, “I paint in layers. I start with one layer and use a squidgy and blend all the colors together. It’s a practice of layering, destroying, scraping, and adding more layers. The process for me is very meditative. It is something that feels very intuitive and is a practice of listening to the material and responding to what it wants to do.”

As Carrie explains the way in which she listens to her art materials during the creative process, she connects this observation to health coaching, where she often encourages clients to practice intuitive eating, rather than restrictive dieting. Intuitive eating encourages individuals to let go of judgment and embrace their body’s natural cues and preferences without guilt or shame. According to Carrie, both painting and intuitive eating promote mindfulness and emphasize being fully present in the moment. While painting, one focuses attention on brushstrokes, colors, and sensations. Similarly, intuitive eating encourages individuals to be present and mindful while eating, savoring the flavors and textures of food. 

Carrie has experienced firsthand the therapeutic benefits of both painting and intuitive eating, sharing, “Painting has been healing and therapeutic in the sense that I am not just listening to the material but following my body’s natural movements and what my body wants to do. There is communication back and forth where I am controlling the paint but also its controlling me. It brings me back into my body which has tons of benefits and makes me think of intuitive eating in which I practice following my intuition, listening to my body and responding to it in a way that is loving and nourishing.” 

Overall, Carrie’s painting and intuitive eating practices encourage self-compassion and a constant process of honoring oneself and one’s needs. Carrie states, “I like helping people achieve and realize their goals and encouraging them to treat themselves with self-compassion and love. The ultimate goal is to love and take care of yourself.” 

Carrie continues to commission paintings and provide health coaching for those who desire greater self-connection and discovery. Carrie dreams of opening an accessible, community center with a health coach and art therapist available to help foster self-compassion and healing for all.