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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Healing of Art Therapy

Art therapy is used in hospitals, clinics, rehab facilitites, schools, private practice and in senior centers. It is used with children, teens and adults, older adults and with families and couples. It is used to promote and enhance physical, emotional and mental health by using creative expression. Taking part in artmaking helps decrease anxiety, stress, depression and increase self-awareness, self-esteem, relationship difficulties and behavior and developmental delays while providing insight into one’s life. I explain that art therapy is not an art class though the process might inspire a person to pick up pastels and draw on their own. Children gravitate towards the use of art and approach creativity with imagination and freedom and play without judgment or self-criticism. They enjoy experimenting with new art materials and soon discover creative tools to handle difficult emotions such as anger. Art therapy is beneficial in helping children diagnosed with ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, fear, and the challenges of living with a chronic illness. As we age, we begin to seek perfection in ourselves and, through creative expression, clients can learn to silence the voice of the internal critic and become more self-aware of their negative thoughts and irrational beliefs. I invite clients to let the page hold the feeling(s) where we can explore them together. I suggest to clients that, instead of letting the feeling fester inside of them, why not allow the art to be the container.

If a client has a reaction to an art piece, I provide a safe place to explore the feelings that surface. Many adults are surprised how art can facilitate the expression of feelings and emotions easier and quicker than traditional talk therapy. I explain that when we look at an image of a loved one or a visual image of a place that we have strong feelings for, we many times experience a physical response. It is the same when we create expressive art and images. In the last few years, scientific research has discovered how fear-based emotions, negative thoughts and suppressed feelings can trigger physiological stress on the body in turn directly affecting the immune system. As we begin to heal emotional wounds, the body begins to heal also. One of the goals I have when working with a client is for them to find balance between the right and the left brain. This way, not residing completely in the emotional brain or living stictly in the analytical brain. Through the creative process, I assist baby-boomers better move through life transitions and discover acceptance and peace with the aging process.

Art therapy is a master’s level profession with training in psychology and visual arts. When seeking an art therapist, it is important to work with someone who is trained in the field of art therapy or expressive arts. Many therapists claim to use art, though they are not trained specifically in art therapy. When asked how I work, I explain that I invite clients to take part in an art directive. For instance, I might ask, “What might that anger look like if you put it down on paper?” “What color, shape, or size might it be?” I might suggest that they use their nondominant hand to draw or that they create an image out of clay that represents how they feel that day. Even the simple act of doodling can provide a relaxing and contemplative experience. For people that suffer from anxiety, I many times recommend keeping a doodle journal with them. This way, when they begin to experience worry or anxiousness, they can doodle. If a client feels uncomfortable drawing, I offer alternative art forms, such as collage using magazine cutouts.

Must Relax and Draw

Fast forward to today. A mere 100 years later, how many people can read even their own handwriting, let alone make a simple sketch if they had to? Conversely, stress, anger and rudeness are everywhere in our high-tech, impersonal world.

Art, and the emphasis and value of drawing has gone the way of the dinosaur as pre-schoolers grow up on computers, text on hand-helds, and take photos with cellphones. In the crush of time, a fine “hand” and seems relegated to art museums, and seem worlds away. The high-tech world gives us no break from workweek stress as we are increasingly attached to laptops at home. Hours of computer/video screentime leave us stressed, frustrated and wondering why.

The connection between daily hand-creations and daily work has been lost as computers have become the silent partner of everyone’s job. As much as they have helped progress, even the word “stress” seems to have entered our vocabulary holding hands with the computer, whose “downtime” and ‘glitches” are part of universal parlance.

In search of peace and individual meaning, our computer generation has run themselves ragged with jogging, thrown out their backs with yoga, bicycled until they are gaunt, etc., but, until now, ignored the complete and perfect mind/body enhancement which was the delight and accomplishment of our ancestors.

Want to stop the world and get off for awhile?

My suggestion is to try what has worked for 20+ years in my evening courses for adults: take a drawing class! A class extends the brief vacation you feel when doodling during a lecture. A good class will encourage you, will take you wherever you are in your art journey and make the most of your unique self-expression. It can help in other ways. Students have experienced major life transitions: widowhood, moving, etc. and have told me that the class was a real brick for them during this time.

Connecting to your own creativity has huge and lasting benefits which won’t leave you exhausted and reaching for aspirin:

1. You will reconnect with your own ability to create. Always wanted to do a collage that matched your dining room decor? Do a portrait? Create a children’s book?

2. You will see how focusing on drawing a simple flower or seashell is immensely calming and stimulating at once.

3. He who teaches, learns twice. Have you ever visited someone, perhaps in the hospital, but didn’t know what to say? Take your sketchbook along and have a laugh as you both create pictures.

4. Finally, see how stress shrinks and goes away when your interest in creating takes over. You are taking control, doing something new and positive, and having fun doing it.

Art Easel For Kids

The fact that the table top art easel is compact and therefore more portable than larger, heavier models makes it the perfect entertainment item to take with you on trips or to visit a playmate. Many of these easels include a magnetic surface for playing with letters and numbers which makes it a great learning tool as well as portable entertainment. You will find a variety of options such as chalkboards or whiteboards for dry erase markers as well as the traditional paper roll or clip-on paper pads for painting, drawing or just doodling.

Table top easels are great starter models for kids that are not old enough for a standard floor standing model and they offer the additional benefit of being a less expensive way to introduce your child to the exciting world of art and personal expression. Most children will have a ball creating works of art and you may have to find a way to make room on the refrigerator for a constant supply of freshly painted or sketched masterpieces.

To find out if your child would prefer a table top easel, you might want to let them be involved in the selection. It’s amazing how much pleasure they get in being able to participate in choosing the art easel and art supplies for themselves. They may well have likes and dislikes that you would not discover in any other way. It would be much better for all concerned to find what your child prefers before making a wrong choice that ends up with a toy that is not what they wanted and therefore does not get used.

In addition to the hours of fun you child can have with an art easel, there are some wonderful benefits of both a physical and mental nature. Table top easels are a perfect tool to develop upper body strength, hand/eye coordination and a whole range of fine motor control and handwriting skills. The seemingly simple process of choosing which art supplies to use for a project, how to express an idea or which colors to use in making a painting are all exercises in decision making and expression that they will use for the rest of their lives. An art easel for kids is far more than just a toy and entertainment device. It is the perfect tool for building and exercising a wide range of skills and discovering talents and abilities. All that while having fun too…what could be better?

Mixed Media Art

We can flick through magazines to look at techniques and colours

But it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the glossy photos and the gorgeous pieces with lots of layers and put together with such mastery that we would never be able to copy it, let alone create an individual piece – before you know it – time has passed but no art has been made

If we are looking for inspiration, there are times where new techniques and seeing what others have made is important; it feeds our minds and allows our clever brains to put an idea together with a colour scheme we saw with a technique we haven’t done in ages..

And to get it done – we need to sit down at our art tables and DO IT.

If inspiration doesn’t hit when we have the time, I often start by gathering up the left over pieces on my table (sorting as needed, throwing away *cringes* if I must). Sometimes a colour will catch my attention, then I will go in search of other similar colours I have, or images that will match or fit my mood

This is where the inspiration begins to get momentum.

Sometimes that’s all that I need to get an idea; gathering like colours.

If that still hasn’t got me inspired, when I’ve got some leftover pieces of paper and some matching colours, I will find some blank card and cut a few ATC’s (2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) or a greeting card base and put things together without too much thinking, as I usually would.

In most cases, by now I am MAKING art in full swing with ideas pouring out of my head.

Then there are other times where inspiration still hasn’t hit. That’s when I need to evaluate if making art is going to happen today – am I too sick or too tired or just my head is too busy thinking of other thinks?

At these times I will dig out my sketchbook (a term I use loosely, as doodling book is more accurate) or a piece of paper and my coloured pencil (a simple 12 pack) and put colour on the paper. I’m not a drawer or fine artist (that’s why I love mixed media art) but I can do squiggles and lines and attempt to shade. Some times I just write words, letting my mind wander…

And I may not end up with a masterpiece, ready for the next glossy mag edition, but I have given myself permission to create something simple, giving myself a rest and hopefully added ideas to my brain to sort into inspiration for another time.