In Conversation With Kerys Nathan, Author of Phenomenal Woman

Phenomenal Woman, David Emmanuel Noel, David Emmanuel Noel interviews
Phenomenal Woman

It’s always great to see people moving forward personally and professionally. One person I’ve come to admire and respect is Kerys Nathan. I’ve blogged about her before as an entertainment industry director, choreographer, vocal coach, performance coach and photographer. Kerys now launches her second motivational book entitled ‘Phenomenal Woman.’ The book is for every woman on a mission to achieve her dreams, working from the inside out and executing, as the title suggests, a ‘phenomenal’ journey of personal growth in all areas of life. Launching the book this month and preparing for several sold out workshops, I caught up with this particular phenomenal woman to ask her a few questions about the book and moving forward.

So what is a phenomenal woman?

A phenomenal woman to my mind is a woman who is in touch with her inner self and what she needs out of life. She is comfortable with herself and takes action towards achieving all that she desires. She does it in a classy, intelligent, memorable way. She is a positive human being, who not only looks after her own needs but sets out to help others. A phenomenal woman is therefore greatly beneficial to her family, community and the world around her.

This type of woman has a mindset that allows her to navigate the world with compassion, strength and an unbending willingness to try! She is someone who leads well by example and therefore inspires and motivates those that she comes into contact with – she is in harmony with herself and others. A phenomenal woman makes the best of herself inside and out because she truly values the unique person that she is and knows that her physical and emotional presence makes an impact; one that she will be remembered for. She therefore aims to make a good impression. A phenomenal woman also continuously works to improve in all areas of her life because she knows wholeheartedly that she is worth the commitment. She is someone who makes the best of her life no matter what the circumstances. The beautiful thing about that is we therefore all have the ability to be phenomenal.

Is this publication for a particular demographic background?

The book was primarily written with women in mind and is certainly aimed at that demographic, but many of the personal growth concepts and missions I put forward in the book are applicable to everyone. However, I have found that many men are also very interested in the female specific concepts I talk about in the book. J When I invited comment from the guys to put into the book, I was happy with the great response I received.

What motivated you to write this book?

I guess I am always motivated to write this type of book, because I love affirmations and personal growth concepts. I like to create meaning from circumstance and ‘paint it with words’ if you like. As I do with my poetry, the book is designed to move you to a deeper and therefore greater level of thinking. If you want to live a phenomenal life, it all starts with the mind and the vision you create for yourself so I look into what I call ‘vision control,’ mastering the mind and the concept of ‘knowledge is power,’ as my books starting point to achieving a better life. I also of course wanted to celebrate womanhood because I think we are fabulous after all. We are all phenomenal but sometimes we get lost in other things and forget that along the way.

As a woman of a certain age myself and, after a few seriously bad episodes in my own life, I got to thinking what would happen if I put myself first for a minute, celebrated my uniqueness and focused on how to be the best version of myself regardless of what was going on around me? As a motivational coach for the last 14 years, It seemed like a great idea and made sense to me so I took my own journey and discovered it was so much fun that I had to write a book about it. I enjoyed all my missions and still have a lovely long list of things I’d like to achieve next. Now, I can share my coaching ideas and stories with everyone because of the book. That is phenomenal and a great blessing.

Has your experience in the arts and entertainment industries made it easier to write this book?

Not particularly, I have always written. I feel therefore I write. I guess my being a performance coach to many artists and students over the years helped some but I only became a coach in the entertainment industry because I felt a deep need to help people become the absolute best versions of themselves. I love to motivate and guide people to reach every dream and goal. I continue to do this on a weekly basis with my students – it is something I am totally passionate about.

You pay reference to being fashionable, charming and creative. How important do you feel these qualities are to evolve as a person?

Creativity is the centre of my world and the place where everything I ever do evolves from. I write about imagination in the book and how when we go back to that place of creative thinking, that childlike imagination, we find that everything is possible. Creative thinking leads us to strategies that can improve our lives dramatically. Art truly is life, in any form, it allows us to breathe, feel, experience, express and therefore grow again and again. This is our personal evolution.

With regards to charm, I am a woman who believes that a little bit of old-fashioned charm is the key to accessing the things we want. It also attracts the right kind of people to us. I mean nobody wants to deal with or attract rude or un-charming people do they? Manners and respect are everything in my book and yes they certainly do get you places as I talk about in chapter 12. True ladies and gentleman have manners, and I think it’s time we went back to that place of old-fashioned values sometimes.

The idea of fashion in the book is a play on words i.e. ‘fashion yourself a life’ – meaning create the kind of life you want for you. My analogy is this: create your pattern, cut it out and then wear your creation with pride – create yourself a beautiful life! It is also a physical reference to a so many women having a passion for clothes and shoes. I love dressing well or creatively and am launching a fashion label next year, so I bring in the notion of dressing to give the right impression, as we all know people are often judged by what they choose to wear. So as I ask in the book, ‘what kind of woman are you and what kind of impression do you want to make? You will be remembered for it. First impressions often stick.

What is the House of Divinity?

The House of Divinity is the spiritual home; the place a person lives when they are at one with themselves. A divine space that centres who you are. I believe women are divine spiritually and physically and through continued personal growth and meditation, they will remain in the ‘House of divinity.’ Again, it is a play on words and a nod to all the divine fashion houses, i.e. ‘The House of Chanel/Dior.’ In this book, I am inviting all the ladies into ‘The House of Divinity’ – The home of the fabulously phenomenal woman.

Book titles connote many things to different people so what has been the reaction so far, particularly from feminists and men?

The reaction so far has been quite wonderful. Ladies have embraced the concept of the title and are ready to ‘phenomenalize’ along with me. The book includes everyone from the old-fashioned femme fatale to the modern day feminist (I sit in both of those camps) so I haven’t had any negative reactions from women at all. As for the men, well they are just either excited to see these phenomenal women or are already embracing them. Fabulous!

You’re set to write a follow up publication entitled ‘Phenomenal Man.’ Some men may question your motives and authority to write such a book. Can you explain your reasons for doing so?

I certainly do not believe that being a woman gives me less authority to write about men. I have dated, learned from and experienced men and feel that is authority enough to deliver the words of wisdom that can and will benefit their lives. I believe that if you feel and experience, you therefore have the right to express that in whatever artistic way you choose. I can also tell them what women ‘really’ want!

My motive here with this second book, is purely to deliver the same service to men as I have for women. We as women look for phenomenal men in our lives and I am lucky enough to have been brought up by one. It is by my fathers’ and brothers’ behavior that I am able to judge the standard of behavior I wish to connect in a husband. I totally believe in the old-fashioned gentleman and still believe he exists, contrary to many women’s belief sadly.

Phenomenal Man will be written with two concepts in mind – firstly as a personal growth and motivational tool for men who want to improve and become the best versions of themselves and secondly, to deliver the kind of information guys want from a female perspective. I currently read a blog for women that is written by a man and I love it! I actually find it extremely useful, as it not only gives me motivation, but also clear guidance on how many guys actually think. To a woman this is invaluable. I hope to do the same for the guys in my book. And of course, like the first book, I am celebrating the phenomenal man – the gentleman. He too is worthy and that should be recognized.

Kerys Nathan
Kerys Nathan

What else should we expect from the pen of Kerys Nathan?

I am currently finishing one of my long overdue novels, titled ‘Raising Expectation,’ about motherhood, adoption and race. I will then be completing ‘Phenomenal Man.’ I am very excited about this book and am enjoying talking to so many phenomenal guys who have wonderful things to say. We can all learn from this. I will also be embarking on a photographic mission to create a visual book that celebrates phenomenal men and women from all walks of life. It’s a very exciting time.


I wish Kerys the very best with her new book and hope it enriches the lives of others who subscribe to its principles. For further information about Kerys or to purchase a copy of Phenomenal Woman please visit the following link.

Easy Reading is Damn Hard Writing!

Africa Writes 2014
Africa Writes 2014

I had an enjoyable weekend at Africa Writes, the Royal African Society’s annual literature and book festival in association with the British Library. The energy and enthusiasm of some reminded me of the George R.R. Martin quote “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” We can undervalue to power of literature and worth it holds in preserving our consciousness.

Launched in 2012, Africa Writes annually showcases established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing. The weekend delivered an exciting and varied programme of book launches, readings, performance and discussions, featuring debut authors alongside acclaimed writers and poets. I’m glad I attended, particularly since I discovered I’m related to one of the guest speakers! The event also highlighted the disturbing challenges many black writers and publishing houses face regarding distributing books where protagonist are people of colour, represented in ways far removed from the negative stereotypes seen in the media.

We talk about equally, living in a progressive and educating society, but this is hampered when black authors and their chosen subjects are marginalized or perceived to be relevant only the minority groups they come from. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of this event, the authors and represented publishing companies despite the challenges. For more info visit Africa Writes website.

Artist Roopa Dudley Provides Strategic Guidance For Painters

Artist Roopa Dudley
Roopa Dudley

If you’re an artist, fresh out of college and starting your career, what is your strategy for success? It can be argued that the world is a smaller place due to the advances in technology. Now we are able to market ourselves online through websites, various social media platforms, join art collectives, not to mention seek formal representation by galleries showcasing the work of both talented graduates and seasoned practitioners.

I’ve had a number of conversations with creative professionals, from architects to fashion designers, on the subject of how important it is to be business minded as well as creative. I’ve participated in a number of discussions regarding how important goal setting, marketing and strategic planning is. I’ve also witnessed contrasting views regarding how best to use the aforementioned platforms of communication. Maryland based artist Roopa Dudley is one person who has made it her personal goal to provide guidance for painters looking to establish long and fruitful careers. She kindly shared some of her thoughts with me:

Can you tell me more about how you became an artist?

I always wanted to be a wizard – so I became a painter. It started out at a very early age. I made my first watercolour painting of “Lady” as in “Lady and the Tramp” when I was only 3 and a half years old while the rest of my family was glued to the television watching the popular show at the time “The Six Million Dollar Man”.  Once I discovered the joy of painting, I never stopped thereafter.

It of course helped that I had the genetic makeup for it; my father was an artist and my mother is quite artistic too. What pushed me to make it into a full time career was getting laid off from my regular 9 to 5 day job in early 2012. In order to deal with my anxiety attacks of being unemployed, I started painting much more frequently. The writing was on the wall for me when people started buying my paintings.

Painting of Frida Kahlo & Roopa
Painting of Frida Kahlo & Roopa

Is there particular artist that inspires you?

Oh, I have a whole list. Leonardo Da Vinci for his versatility, Rene Magritte for his thought provoking ideas and humor, Paul Gauguin for his intense colors and compositions. Tamara De Lempicka for her contemporary style and personality,Frida Kahlo for her courage and allegories. Salvador Dali for his technique and craftsmanship. M.C Escher for his draftsmanship and illusions.

I also interview many living artists for my Art Blog from all over the world whose work I find remarkable. Their personalities and contribution to society fills me up with all sorts of inspiration. So I do everything I can to support them and promote them and their work. As a matter of fact about six of them will be the superstars of my upcoming book, the next in the “Painter” series of three.

What’s your favourite medium and why?

Acrylics on canvas board. I like how the colours are so brilliant. Acrylics are easy to layer, environmentally friendly, don’t stink up my studio and are fast drying. Furthermore, they are versatile and permanent…unlike any other medium.  As a matter of fact, I will be one of the six featured artists in the upcoming ‘Eco-Friendly Artists’ issue in the Professional Artist Magazine because of my conscious choice of using environmentally friendly products.

You recently wrote the book ‘ A Strategic Painter: Mastermind Your Craft. ’ The title seems self-explanatory but can you explain what motivated you to write it?

I wrote the book “A Strategic Painter ” as a manual for painters. Years ago, when starting my career as an artist/painter, I was looking for a similar book but could not find one. For the past fifteen years I went though a journey, learnt the “tricks of the trade” through trial and error, with research and analysis.

I read a lot of books that danced around the subject of art but were mainly catered towards the business aspect of being an artist. It was mind-baffling experience like I was missing an important piece of the puzzle. One day, on my quest to find this artist manual, I came across a book “HOW TO SURVIVE & PROSPER AS AN ARTIST” by Caroll Michels which gave me the answer to the “why” factor as to “why there are not too many books written to guide painters?”  Here is what she wrote, “Some academics who discourage career advice at the college level believe that students should be sheltered from real-life survival issues while in school. But many fine-arts faculty members are opposed to career development courses for selfish and self-serving reasons: they are aware that today’s student artists will become tomorrow’s practicing artists, and eventually artists with whom they will compete for gallery, museum, and press attention, so there is much resistance to imparting any sort of information that could possibly give these future peers a career edge or jeopardize their own pecking order in the art world.” I figured that perhaps there are more people like me out there and if I can help them out and save them a few years, then that is a good thing. I am tired of hearing the phrase the “starving artist” and I sincerely believe on the contrary that painters have a lot to offer to the “starving world” that is devoid of fresh ideas and innovative concepts. In this digital age, the sky is the limit for any painter who wants to succeed.

How has it been received?

A Strategic Painter
A Strategic Painter

It is a slim book. With 30 images, it is less than 100 pages. It is meant for visual readers with possible ADD and a limited attention span so the chapters are short and to the point and keeps things interesting with all sorts of carefully selected chapter related visuals. No fluff at all. At some point I may include a couple more chapters, but for now I am quite satisfied with it.

A couple people who have read it (it just came out in the end of January 2014 so nobody has posted any reviews just yet – sigh). They have told me that it will be a great text book for college students who are taking painting classes as it gives them a clear picture as to how they can help themselves become a serious painter, how they can use and exploit the media to market and promote themselves. Also, for those who like myself, who were basically recreational artists and decided that they should take their passion to the next level.

However, on the flip side, I just got a review yesterday from someone who is a professional artist (I am connected to her through linkedin). Over all she liked the book however, she had a very specific problem with a chapter in the book dealing with art galleries vs. art studios (sales). I do understand where she is coming from. What she did not take into an account is that when one is starting out, it is one of the hardest things for an emerging artist to get a gallery representation. My point was to encourage artists just starting out that there is much more to being a professional than having a gallery representation and there is a way around it. So there you have it. You have both sides of the coin about my book.

This book is definitely not for everyone especially mid career artists who already have a gallery representation or the artists who are seeking major gallery representations or the artists who have a fragile mind. This is a total out of the box DIY approach fit only for those outliers who like to take charge of their own destiny.

With massive growth in social media and online marketing platforms how important is gallery representation for an artist?

Galleries will soon be becoming extinct and that is a fact. Unless they transform themselves into something other than what they are right now, digital revolution is going to annihilate them. Painters are becoming quite empowered with all kinds of knowledge available to them on the internet. Collectors are becoming educated when it comes to where to put their hard earned money towards and actually find it quite entertaining to visit artists in their studios and get to know them. Work of art is becoming more important than ever as collectors want originality and at an affordable price. A few well-reputed galleries would still survive despite the revolution I am sure, but gallery representation for an artist is now a thing of the past.

So what’s next in your career?

I usually have an annual Open Studio Exhibit around 4th of July weekend. I have been doing that religiously for the past three years. Majority of my art is sold during that exhibit. So I am preparing for that “Hot & Steamy” Open Studio Exhibit. Shoot me an email if you are in Maryland and would like to come.

I have three more books to write. My second book, I plan on getting published next year. Writing a book is an exhausting experience (quite similar to pregnancy) but once all is done, and the product is out — voila!

The next three books are more art history as well as business related than my first one, which is in the “Art – Study & Teaching” genre.  They will be catered towards mid career painters and art enthusiasts. As you can see, if I live long enough, I have already planned out my whole career – after all I am ‘a strategic painter. I practice what I preach.

I wish Roopa continued success with her career. For further information or to contact Roopa please visit

Featured Artist- Kerys Nathan

Design Balance
Design Balance

I often take comfort and motivation from creative professionals I know. Few are more creative or professional as Kerys Nathan who has featured in previous blog entries.

Kerys  is a writer, director, photographer, performance coach & motivational speaker.  She is a constantly evolving artist, morphing through different artistic disciplines.  Her photographic and design work is very arresting, articulating expression and capturing art in a bright, colourful and refreshing way. Her resume includes music video, logo design, album design as well as visual layouts, brochure and poster design.

The desire to visually stimulate, inspire and challenge is at the centre of all her photographic and design work. Passionate about imagery and the response it can provoke, she approaches every project with a focus that allows this to happen for both her and her clients. Whilst creating and designing projects for her own business she is establishing a client list that includes recording artists, performers, fashion labels, schools and corporate clients.

Kerys Nathan Photography
Kerys Nathan Photography

There are many  from corporate companies to freelance artists who could benefit from her services. For  further information on her photography and design services please visit

The Healing Presence of Art 
Evening Lecture by Richard Cork

Touching base with you all. Paintings in Hospitals, a registered charity using art and creativity to reduce sickness, anxiety and stress in UK healthcare facilities, presents an evening lecture by British art historian Dr Richard Cork. Richard Cork discusses his new publication, which takes a detailed look at the extraordinary richness of art in hospitals and its ability to alleviate clinical bleakness and leave a profound, lasting impression on patients, staff and visitors.

The event takes place at the Henry Wellcome Auditorium, 
Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE this Tuesday 19 June 2012 from 6.30 – 7.30 pm. The lecture will be
 followed by a book signing and question & answer session. The event is free but there is a suggested donation to Painting in Hospitals of £10. If you are around and interested in the therapeutic benefits of art in public places I’m sure you’ll have a good evening.