Creating a work of art…. how often have you heard (or even told yourself) someone say that they are not creative or they are “no good at art”?
Let me tell you a secret………
You don’t have to be an accomplished artist or proficient in techniques to create a work of art. Doing an “art activity” is more than creating an artistic masterpiece. The act of creating an image engages the kinaesthetic as we move pens/pencils/brushes; the visual as we choose colours and shapes; and perhaps even the auditory senses as we hear our chosen implements move across canvas or paper.
Take a mandala or a picture from one of those popular colouring books. I have given these out in workshops and am always delighted to see such variation in colours and textures from the same pattern given to everyone. Some chose to create their work of art with many colours, others with just a few and some made a bold statement by using a black fineliner. Each one was a work of art in its own way, because while the participant was creating and getting in touch with their inner artist, they lost their conscious filters as they engaged in mindfulness. Many were surprised at how the time had flown past, demonstrating that they had entered into an altered state of consciousness where time had no meaning.
I have an upcoming stress management workshop that I will be putting online and it will incorporate an “art activity” as a precursor to the inner work to be done on identifying stressors. Keep an eye out for the announcement of the online course!
How can Art Therapy help in our current times? But what if I’m not “good” at art or “don’t have an artistic background”. These and more questions have been asked of me in recent days. I have responded with examples of my own portfolio which demonstrates that I am not necessarily an accomplished artist. It is about the symbolic nature of what you create and bringing to your conscious mind feelings or emotions that need resolution. What you do with it later, can be either even more creative or cathartic. Art Therapy is more about the Therapy than being an accomplished artist.
Art helps with feelings of sorrow, particularly the medium of photography. It can convey the immediacy of a situation and captures – particularly in black and white – to the collective and subconscious emotions of the viewers.
Situations viewed through the photographic lens allow the viewer to simultaneously view an event whilst experiencing it as a disconnected viewer. Focus and contrast can be easily manipulated to draw the eye to a specific area. This is beneficial, in that emotion that may not have been otherwise expressed or subconsciously repressed can be brought to the fore and by the expression of same, healing can begin.
We all have an imagination. Whether we use it creatively or destructively is ultimately up to us. Art and Music can transport us to places that allow our imagination to run free, you don’t have to be a VanGogh or Matisse to create beautiful art, even the act of colouring in a mandala in a purchased book can create beautiful images that relax our conscious minds and allow the subconscious to find solutions or a better way of doing things.
When our imagination is less than helpful by focusing on negative things or overthinking outcomes, it is time to pick up a pencil, a brush or some clay and allow the subconscious mind to have a play. Likewise, we don’t have to be an accomplished musician to enjoy the benefits of music. The notes can transport us to a different time and place as the subconscious retrieves the memories of times gone by. An added benefit of being able to play an instrument is that it engages the kinaesthetic as well as the aural senses. The powerful effect that art and music have on the psyche and our wellbeing cannot be underestimated.
It’s been a while since the last update but I do have a legitimate distraction…. I started studying just as the first lockdown started and have regular assignments to complete. A bit of a backstory to the area that I’m studying in first….
At High School I did Art and my art teacher was very understanding, letting me hide out in the art room when I should have been in a Japanese or French class. I’m sure they were also aware of home issues at the time and just let me find a space, but that’s another story. End of Year 12, results in and I was offered a place in the highly coveted Art and Design course at the Institute of Technology. Parental influence prevailed – because it would be a waste of time “because I would only get married and have children” – so off to the workforce. At the start of this year, a chance email came in offering a chance to enrol in a Diploma of Art Therapy, just at the time I was tossing up whether to take on a training course.
Allowing my intuition to guide me (a novel idea) I signed up for the Art Therapy course and have to say I am loving it. It is as much for me and allows me to have a second chance at what I set aside all those years ago. The distraction is not about the the course content as such. Each unit requires a portfolio activity with an image/art work to be completed as practice for becoming an art therapist.
Regardless of the assignments, each New Moon I record something in my vision journal. The New Moon in May coincided with an assignment to go beyond vision boarding but to create a ‘Scene Map’ of something as if it had already happened.
Just a few days after creating this image, I received a phone call from a rescue service that I have been registered with for over 4 years… “we have a dog… we know you were looking for a male dog…but…..” .. A meeting was set up and we met with Lucy. An interesting background and when we arrived for the initial “meet and greet” with the foster family- there she was looking out of the window as we arrived.
So….. just a few weeks on ….. here’s Lucy! Just 2 years old – a teenager in dog years and a very affectionate nature. Before second lockdown, we were able to take her up to the retreat where she really enjoyed the wide open spaces to run and do “zoomies”. In the city and in second lockdown she gets to go for twice daily walks. The two occasions she got to meet with grandchildren, she was overjoyed to be around little people and was exceptionally well behaved. There are moments…. when she gets over enthusiastic about my socks or shoes that we are not in sync with each other but as we get to know each other our respective boundaries will be observed.