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Our Staff


Claudia Erzinger   
Claudia Erzinger is a teacher and the Executive Director at the Center for Creative Exploration. She started painting there in 2000, with Barbara Kaufman, one of CCE’s founders (watch her video here), and began teaching the intuitive painting practice in 2006. Claudia has also studied with Michele Cassou (the originator of the Point Zero Method of painting).


Claudia brings experience from many traditions and practices to her work with painters at CCE. In her 20s, she began formal training as a nurse and soon decided to specialize in hospice care, which she continues to this day. She has studied meditation, Buddhism, and Yoga. Claudia also engages in Soulwork—a form of inquiry rooted in deep listening and stillness, and the way of love—with Michael Regan.  Read Claudia's Personal Statement

Maria 3.jpeg

​Maria Freebairn-Smith

Maria Freebairn-Smith is a teacher and Family Program Coordinator at the Center for Creative Exploration.  She has been painting and teaching the intuitive painting process for over 30 years. She participated in the first teacher training for The Painting Experience, facilitated by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley. Along with Barbara Kaufman and others, Maria was one of CCE’s original founders. She also helped to establish the nonprofit Drawbridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children, and The Open Circle Cooperative Preschool, both in San Francisco.


Along with her process painting training, Maria holds a degree in Psychology from

Barnard College, Columbia University, and has a graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice Practices. Other advanced trainings include Waldorf Early Childhood Education, Middendorf Breathexperience, and Motion Improvisational Theater.


When Maria began raising a family, she moved to Sonoma County. Focusing on

education for children in her new community, she founded The Creative Parenting Center and helped establish Sunridge, a Waldorf-methods charter school. Returning to the CCE painting community, Maria brings a lifetime commitment to body, breath, and inquiry practices that ground her teaching in a broad transpersonal perspective.  Read Maria's Personal Statement

colorful painting of leaves and swirls

Jan Haller 
 I am delighted to be a guest teacher at The CCE Painting Studio. This is a great time to be painting. The world needs creative responses to its challenges. Painting is one of those responses because it changes us. Painting in the way we do, we learn to live a creative life which, of course, touches all that we do. It is a vehicle for us to grow and expand and discover the potential of this life. This is what I love about painting.


In 1978 I started painting with Michele Cassou. This painting process was my first deep foray into my life and creativity. It was and is the form and measure for everything I do. Whatever I give to the painting is held in the great loving arms of the creative flow. I trust it and can be honest there.


In Michele’s studio in 1979 I met Barbara Kaufman. The friendship with Barbara was a deep long connection about painting, life, family, dreams and more painting. We taught together and co-founded a painting studio for children. In 1989 I moved to New Mexico and started Magic Brush Studio for children and adults. This year I was invited to teach in Malaysia and returned ready to take the show on the road.

I look forward to spending time with new and past painting friends.

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