Photos by Zach SparksChristalene Karaiskakis juggles multiple projects between face painting, body painting for cancer patients, and an affirmations board outside her home that provides positive reinforcement to passersby.
Photos by Zach SparksCrystalooneys Creative Arts owner Christalene Karaiskakis spends some of her spare time sharing affirmations with the Cape St. Claire community.
Healing Through Art: Christalene Karaiskakis Sees Art As A Calling
When Christalene Karaiskakis paints, she has to exercise caution. After all, skin can be an unforgiving canvass.
The Cape St. Claire owner of Crystalooneys Creative Arts is adept at face painting and coloring the crowns of cancer patients. She has also endeared herself to neighbors for daily affirmations she scrawls on a whiteboard outside her home.
All of her passions are a union of her vivacious lifestyle, which can be traced back to her adolescence in Melbourne, Australia. The Greek Cypriot was born in South Africa and moved to the Land Down Under before she was 3 years old.
After a divorce, she had an epiphany. “When I got divorced, someone asked me what my favorite color was and I had no idea,” she recalled. “I knew nothing about myself.”
That discovery prompted a journey of self-discovery: working on a boat in the Mediterranean Sea, promoting water sports at hotels, frolicking in the sun. She later worked as a teacher’s assistant, affectionately called “Looney” by the kids, upon whom she first tried her face painting skills. “It was the worst face painting you’ve ever seen in your life,” she said with a laugh.
Undaunted, she honed her craft and started her own face painting business, bringing it to the United States after getting married to her current husband, Kyriakos, whom she had known in Australia.
She built her mini empire in 2011 — face painting at parties, corporate functions and community fairs using cosmetic-grade, nontoxic paints.
“Part of our mission with Crystalooney’s is that for everyone who sits in our chair, we don’t know what happens at home — if that child is abused or from a loving home — so we want them to feel amazing for the six minutes they’re in that chair.”
Crystalooney’s burgeoned within the Broadneck peninsula, but before long, Karaiskakis found another purpose: empowering cancer patients by creating complimentary Henna crowns for those who lost their hair. So began Healing Through Body Art.
Barbara Fuechsel has ovarian cancer, stage 3. She met Karaiskakis at the Wellness House of Annapolis, and received a crown on January 13 and another on January 29.
“The experience of having a henna crown done is emotional, very empowering, and a completely positive experience,” Fuechsel said. “I noticed a difference in how people approached me – so positive and interested in the beautiful crowns and in your cancer, as opposed to looking the other way when your bald head makes them uncomfortable.”
Does it bother Karaiskakis that her work is lost to water, to soap, to time? Not one bit.
“When I do body paintings, they’re always intuitive. I look at it like mandalas. You can make a perfectly symmetrical circle and the monks will wash it off in the river,” she said, adding that, for cancer patients, the cleansing is a figurative symbol of starting over. “They’re not getting attached to it. They’re letting go and shedding it like a snake sheds skin.”
Between adults and children, the Cape St. Claire mother of two estimated that she has helped 50 to 80 cancer patients through the program since 2010.
Karaiskakis said there’s a special intuition that goes into her work. When she’s not painting — and sometimes when she is, depending on the person — she performs an ancient Japanese healing practice called Reiki at The Shop in Cape St. Claire under the moniker Christalene Visionary Intuitive.
Deciding to offer the free service Healing Through Body Art, posting the words of affirmation at the intersection outside her home and marrying Kyriakos are all decisions she made based on a feeling she intuited.
“Clairvoyant, you can see things, like you see a movie or pictures,” she explained. “Clairaudio, you hear songs or sounds … and claircognizance, you have a knowing but can’t explain it.”
She also does art sessions at The Shop, passing her passion for the arts onto others. “That is exactly why I teach: so that people not that confident can feel empowered, not just to create a piece of art but to create anything.”
Continuing that mission of paying it forward, Karaiskakis and her neighbors created a calendar, with portions of the proceeds going to the Affirmation Board – Cape St. Claire, the Olivia Constants Foundation and Healing Through Body Art. Copies can be found at Artist Flat.
Whether Broadneck residents see Karaiskakis face painting at an event, doing Belly castings, or bartering her artwork for milk and eggs, chances are that she will be smiling.
“She is such a warm person, full of life and love, shares her insights, leads the way with helping folks in manifesting dreams and goals, and brings a great light full of hope and happiness, regardless of where one is in life,” Fuechsel said of Karaiskakis. “She is a great healer. She has helped me accept myself during this very difficult time and brings great joy with the two henna crowns she provided to me through her Healing Through Body Art program. I am ever grateful to have crossed paths with Christalene.”