Short and Sweet Post! – “Arts Therapy Tours”

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The National Gallery Australia (NGA) in Canberra are offering arts therapy tours to help people with dementia overcome isolation.  These art therapy tours helps them stay connected with the wider world by engaging them in conversation with others, helping them be inquisitive and look for meaning in what they are viewing.  This process assists in reducing their anxiety and distress.

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“Windows on the Walls” Photo:  Residents of Canberra’s Goodwin Aged Care Services are taken on arts therapy tour at the NGA. Ref:  Dyett, K. (2014, Jul 28). ABC News. [5626890-3×2-940×627.jpg].

alzheimers-arts-therapy-tour-at-the-national-gallery-data

“Windows on the Walls” Photo:  Residents of Canberra’s Goodwin Aged Care Services are taken on arts therapy tour at the NGA.  Ref:  Dyett, K. (2014, Jul 28). ABC News. [alzheimers-arts-therapy-tour-at-the-national-gallery-data.jpg].

Please click here to access an interesting news article and video about this process, how it works and the positive outcomes for these people experiencing dementia.  It shows how arts therapy can add value to their everyday life.  Art Therapy at its best…

NB:  Provided here is a pdf report “An Art Gallery Access Programme for people with dementia: You do it for the moment” for those who would like to view a more detailed report provided by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Reference – Dyett, K. (2014, Jul 28). Alzheimer’s art therapy tours at National Gallery of Australia boost dementia sufferers’ wellbeing. ABC News. Melbourne. Retrieved July 30, 2014.

Art Exhibition – National Gallery of Victoria – “Art as Therapy”

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After seeing Alain de Botton talk about ‘Art as Therapy’ via YouTube – I was very keen to see what he and John Armstrong, renowned philosophers and authors had achieved at my home town galleryNational Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Australia.  My husband and I decided to take the time to go and see what they had done.  It was a self guided tour consisting of approximately 58 selected works from the collection of the NGV and were located throughout three levels of the gallery.  Each work had two labels beside it; one had been written by a curator from the NGV which listed “details of the work in an art-historial context” and the other label was “written by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong” (NGV. 2014).  The purpose of these additional captions was to “challenge visitors assumptions about themselves, society and how we view art in galleries” (NGV. 2014).

It was an interesting approach to viewing works of art.  Having the extra labels gave myself and my husband, an opportunity to view art works, with an added insight as to what the art work may have been about. It got me thinking more deeply, about each art work and I came away with a feeling of being more fulfilled, than I normally would after viewing a range of art work.  I also came away with more knowledge, understanding and a deeper curiosity about each art work I had viewed.  Now I am not an expert…no not at all – but this is part of the benefit of this whole project/philosophy of Alain de Botton’s and John Armstrong’s – you don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to be intimidated by the whole process of viewing works of art.  You just have to be human and enjoy the journey of feeling more meaning and purpose about each art work viewed.  This way of viewing art becomes deeply personal and far more engaging in my opinion – art as therapy at it’s best…that is how I found it.

The below slide show consists of photos I took whilst viewing the ‘Art as Therapy’ NGV art work collection. For full ‘Art as Therapy’ label information, please refer to Alain De Botton and John Armstrong’s book ‘Art as Therapy:  Works from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria – Australia Exhibition.  NB:  A small number of the images are not part of the ‘Art as Therapy’ collection but I found them worthy of their inclusion.

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Following are images of some art works that I favoured and wish to share them with you. Also included is their ‘Art as Therapy’ captions written by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong.

 “Joseph Highmore – Susanna Highmore c.1740-45.  Sickness:  we grow up too fast.  She wears the finery of a fashionable young woman, but underneath she is still really a bit childish and naive.  It wasn’t so long ago that she was playing with dolls and thought her parents were the best people in the world.  The figure in the little oval picture she is holding looks like a winsome young soldier.  Yet what does she know of the difficulties of relationships?  It is not her fault.  Suddenly she has the power to attract mean; if she displays her wrists the right way, puts some lace round her bodice, they are falling over her.  She’s entering into the adult world” (Alain de Botton & John Armstrong. 2014)”

 “Japanese – Sweet container (Kashiki) Muromachi period 15th century – 16th century.   Sickness:  only rare things deserve to be in museums:  It’s always strange to see an object in a gallery that is not terribly different from something that can be bought in a shop.  This particular item may have refinements and a pedigree that set it apart from what’s on offer in High street, but the kinship is definitely there between them.  It might cause a moment’s anxiety.  Isn’t the point of a gallery that it’s a place where you can encounter things you cannot find (let alone buy) anywhere else?  Perhaps we’ve mistakenly fallen into the habit of linking beauty to rarity.  It is actually rather sad to think that only a very few things are lovely enough to deserve special attention.  We should wish for the opposite to be true.  We should hope that the world (and our homes) can be filled with things that are truly delightful and yet widely available.  This little sweet container is hinting at cultural revolution” (Alain de Botton & John Armstrong. 2014).

“Auguste Rodin – The thinker (Le Pensure) 1884 – Sickness:  I say I admire thinking, but in fact I don’t.  We would like to think of ourselves as thinkers.  To be called thoughtful is a very nice complement.  Sadly, thinking can go wrong in so many ways: one circles around the same conundrum, shoots off in distracted directions, or simply feels a bit numb and blank.  The actual prestige of thinking is quite low in comparison with other things:  action, money, fame, physical attractiveness, Auguste Rodin is trying to correct our perspective, to bring to our attention, in a memorable way, to the appeal of thinking (absorbing oneself in reflection, musing on great matters, sticking with a conundrum, working out what one really believes and why).  He is not reciting facts to himself.  We are so familiar with the low estimate of thinking that we rarely notice it.  We take it for granted that with world will be full of aeroplanes, restaurants, car showrooms, hotels, supermarkets and banks (to start the list) that we fail to notice temples devoted to thinking” (Alain de Botton & John Armstrong. 2014).”

At the Exhibition, we purchased Alain de Botton and John Armstrong’s book ‘Art as Therapy:  Works from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria – Australia Exhibition.  The book can be purchased Online.

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

References:

NGV. (2014). Art As Therapy Works from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. [Map PDF]. Retrieved July 26, 2014

Alain de Botton & Armstrong. (2014). Art as Therapy. Works from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved July 26, 2014

I Do Art Discussion No. 11 – “Salvage Code Red”

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Using art for therapy has helped me, not with just being able to express grief and despair but also as a way of protesting about important issues, particularly to do with the environment.  It becomes a way of being able to vocalise concern, fear and doubt; to bring about awareness.

Painting No. 49 – Titled “Salvage Code Red” July 2010, acrylic on canvas as featured below was inspired by the man-made disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, fifty miles off the coast of Louisiana – April 20, 2010 (Time. 2014). It was the largest Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig crude oil spill in US History. There were 126 people on board the floating oil rig when the explosion occurred. This disaster cost the lives of 11 men on the burning rig. The disaster griped the entire world as the crude oil was spewing out from the ocean floor sea bed. “At the time of the explosion, the rig was producing up to 336,000 gal. of oil a day and carrying some 700,000 gal. of fuel oil” (Time. 2014). The final report of this man-made disaster showed that poor management was the cause of this dreadful environmental disaster.

 


It was after viewing many news media images, over a matter of months, that inspired me to do a painting of this man-made disaster.  I used red and yellow colour in the painting to represent fire, destruction and loss of life. The brown and charcoal grey colour is representative of the oil sludge which had carved its way through the ocean towards the shoreline; suffocating the life out of the sea. And the blue colour – is the portions of oceans, struggling to regain its majesty, dominance and breath…

Painting No. 49 – Title “Salvage Code Red” July 2010 – Acrylic on Canvas – 137cms Length x 81cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Abstract Artist: Karen Robinson NB:  All images are protected by copyright laws!

This image below of a poor pelican, covered in sludgy oil, is a clear example how devastating this man-made disaster impacted on wildlife.  Many other forms of wild life such sea turtles, dolphins struggled with the sludgy oil on the ocean surfaces which had spewed from the Gulf of Mexico’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill (National Geographic. 2010, June 8).

National Geographic Daily News Photo ID - gulf-oil-spill-killing-wildlife-brown-pelican-wings_21352_600x4501.jpg.

“Oil Weighing Down Wildlife” – National Geographic Daily News Photo ID – gulf-oil-spill-killing-wildlife-brown-pelican-wings_21352_600x4501.jpg.

The loss of human life and wildlife, along with the terrible impact on the ocean’s resources, beach fronts within the Gulf of Mexico’s shore lines; and the devastating impacts on the lively hoods of thousands of people, was a message to us all about the risks we are taking with our natural resources, with our planet’s wellbeing.  How long can we go on doing this?

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

References:

McNamee, W. (2010, June 8). Getty Images. National Geographic. Daily News. Gulf Oil Spill Pictures:  Birds, Fish, Crabs Coated. [Photo ID:  Oil Weighing Down Wildlife]. Retrieved July 19, 2014 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/06/photogalleries/100608-gulf-oil-spill-environment-birds-animals-pictures/?rptregcta=reg_free_np&rptregcampaign=20131016_rw_membership_n1p_intl_ot_w#

Time. (2014). 100 Days of the BP Spill:  A Timeline. Day 1. Retrieved July 19, 2014 from http://content.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,2006455,00.html

Five. (2010, Jul 4). Oil Disaster The Rig That Blew Up 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So–O0g2860

I Do Art Discussion No. 10 – “My Australia”

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Australia has the most extreme climate variations of any continent on earth!” (ABC 2. 1999).  As a child and as an adult having lived in Australia all my life, from far northern Queensland in Cooktown and Cairns, and varying other towns/cities along the eastern coast of Australia, born in country NSW and spending most of my teenage and adult life in Melbourne Victoria – I have witnessed such variations.

During 2006/2007, whilst working for Belgravia, I travelled with my husband through Southern Queensland, coastal NSW and country Victoria – Australia.  I saw much of eastern Australia during one of its driest periods of time in recorded history. What was most striking, was the lack of water; especially in the rivers and creeks.  When I was a very young girl, I had travelled with my family, the same travel routes, a number of times, where water was in abundance. It was very saddening and served as a deep reminder to me that we, meaning Australians, need to value and preserve our water supply – this resource that can be so limited in one season and so plentiful in another.

This work travel experience inspired me to paint the following abstract painting in memory of that trip.  In memory of a land I love so much…

Painting No. 14 Titled “Australia” Apr/May 2008
Acrylic on Canvas
92cms Length x 92cms Wide x 3cms Deep
Abstract Artist: Karen Robinson
NB: All images are protected by copyright laws!

Australia is well noted for its floods, draughts and bush fires causing hardship to anyone affected during these natural disasters. Dorothea Mackellar’s famous Australian poem “My Country” was written by her when she was just 19 while home sick in England (Mackellar’s. 2011).  The poem talks of a longing for one’s homeland, a love and a passion for the land its self and a deep understanding that it is the land that sustains life. This poem is a reminder to me that I and fellow Australians, need to cherish our land, treasure our country!  It has never been so important in our time, to do so for future generations.  As a child growing up in Australia, I heard Dorothea Mackellar’s poem recited many times and every time I heard it and even today when I hear it, her poem pulls at my heart-strings. Especially the most famous section of the poem that starts with “I love a sunburnt country….

My Country

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Author Dorothea Mackellar (Dorothea Mackellar. 2011)

The below ABC 2 Documentary “Australia – Eye of the Storm – La Nina” (1999) is part of a series about “La Nina a climate phenomena, the sister of El Nino (ABC 2. 1999).  Where El Nino left drought, La Nina causes floods, massive cyclones and endless rain.  This YouTube Documentary is about the “story of Australia’s unique creatures and how they cope with this catastrophe” (ABC 2. 1999).

My abstract painting is really about my relationship with my home country Australia.  How beautiful and unique she is – how I have witness the seasons.  How as a child she was my friend.  How I fear for her future…

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Reference:

Mackellar, D. (2011). Poem My Country. Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/archive/mycountry.htm

Ga. Gov. (n.d). Map of Australia. [Image ID: 1073.jpg]. Retrieved July 1, 2014 from http://www.ga.gov.au/images/GA1073.jpg

ABC 2. (1999). Australia – Eye of the Storm – La Nina.  Series/Documentary 1 of 4. [YouTube]. Retrieved July 13, 2014.

Short and Sweet Post! “Artist Interview with Casey Webb of Jung Katz”

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This month – July, 2014 – I had the good fortune to have had the opportunity to be interviewed by Casey Webb – Jung Katz – Blog for Artists.  Please click here to read “Artist Interview: Karen Robinson – Abstract Painter”.

It was a wonderful way of being able to share with others my ‘art for therapy’ story and I really enjoyed the process of thinking through the set of questions that Casey Webb for Jung Katz – Blog for Artists had put forward as set out below:-

  • Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you make?
  • How did you get started making the type of art you make?
  • What is art to you?
  • What does your typical day look like?
  • How have others responded to your work?
  • How do you keep motivated?
  • What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
  • What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
  • Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
  • What are your thoughts on art school?
  • Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
  • What’s your dream project?
  • What art supplies do you use?
  • How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
  • Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?

I hope you will take a look and make comments – I would love to know what you think. Please click here to read “Artist Interview: Karen Robinson – Abstract Painter”.

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

I Do Art Discussion No. 9 – “My Melbourne”

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Painting No. 44 – Title “My Melbourne” Story:   This Painting was inspired by a series of photos I had taken in June 2009 consisting of different buildings/locations within the city of Melbourne (Australia). I was so inspired by the colour and architectural contrasts Melbourne shows off! After living in Melbourne now for over 40 years, the development of Melbourne has been amazing. Melbourne – Australia has so much to offer and very easy to get around to see. Each time I go into the city of Melbourne I find it has something new to share!

Below is a photo showing how I used blue tape to assist with my arts practise.  It takes many months to complete one abstract painting such as this painting.  Each colour I leave to dry thoroughly before commencing on with the next.  I apply three layers of acrylic paint to give the colour a rich look!

Use of Scotch-Blue Painters tape to define lines within Painting No. 44 Titled "My Melbourne" by Abstract Artist: Karen Robinson NB: All images are protected by copyright laws!

Use of Scotch-Blue Painters tape to define lines within Painting No. 44 Titled “My Melbourne” by Abstract Artist: Karen Robinson NB: All images are protected by copyright laws!

Below are the set of photos I had taken and used as a source of inspiration for this particular painting.  NB: Please hover over the photo to view details of the image!

 

I guess this painting really was/is about the love I have for Melbourne – my home, where I fell in love with a dear and great human being, married that person and now my husband for over 30 plus years; had two children, one daughter whom we cherish and my son, who so sadly was killed in a single vehicle crash in 2009.  His loss broke our hearts.  Melbourne holds many, many memories that are dear to me and this painting is a tribute to the joys I have experienced whilst living here…

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Short and Sweet Post – “Art for therapy’s sake!”

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This particular article from the Hindustan Times, nicely and simply sums up art for therapy’s sake’.  We all think that when we have a problem, talking about it will help and it can – if you can talk about it!  And sometimes, we find ourselves in a situation which has us emotional held up, until we can find a way to communicate, communicate in a positive and effective manner and art can do just that, give us a voice when words are just too hard to find…

“The classic image that comes to mind when you think of counselling is a psychiatrist sitting in a comfortable chair, notebook and pen in hand, and the patient lying on a sofa, talking non-stop about the early childhood experience.

This is because the best way to deal with a problem, or even know the problem, is to talk about it. That’s the common narrative, and it’s true to a great extent. But sometimes, a person suffers trauma so severe that he/she can’t talk about it. Can’t open up. Can’t deal with the pain in any way but to hide it away or keep it locked. That’s when the experts know words are useless. What this person needs is, to express himself some other way; which is why counsellors are now using art therapy to aid their non-talking patients to open up” (Singh, Veenu. 2014, June 27).

 

Singh, V. (2014). Lady with lots of thoughts. [Photograph ID. pg_19]. Retrieved July 4 2014 from httpwww.hindustantimes.combrunchbrunch-storiesart-for-art-therapy-s-sakearticle1-1234219.aspx#sthash.N0cUhPTZ.jpg

Singh, V. (2014). Lady with lots of thoughts. [Photograph ID. pg_19]. Retrieved July 4 2014 from httpwww.hindustantimes.combrunchbrunch-storiesart-for-art-therapy-s-sakearticle1-1234219.aspx#sthash.N0cUhPTZ.jpg

EXPRESS YOURSELF (Singh, Veenu. 2014, June 27).
“Art therapy includes doodling, drawing and painting, but it’s also more than just these. It includes music, colours, dance and story-telling as well. “Art therapy, when combined with counselling, speech therapy and occupational therapy, is known to show superior results for people of all ages including children, individuals, couples, families, groups and communities,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Hospitals. “Through the creative process involved in the artistic self-expression, people can resolve conflicts better, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and self-awareness.”

Doodling helped an 18-year-old girl, who suffered from anxiety and was unable to connect with anyone including her counsellor, open up. “I gave her paper and crayons and once she started doodling, she started talking about her childhood and problems,” says clinical psychologist Kamna Chibber. Story-telling also helped a nine-year-old boy diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder increase his power of concentration. And painting helped a 56-year-old cancer patient cope with her illness” (Singh, Veenu. 2014, June 27).

CREATIVE TOOL (Singh, Veenu. 2014, June 27).
“Art therapy brings benefits to children and people suffering from sexual abuse, terminal diseases and cases of marital discord when the couple simply cannot communicate with each other,” explains Chibber.
So it’s a useful mode of therapy – but not one that should be used on its own. “It’s used as part of counselling, not a therapy by itself,” says art therapist Kanika Mehrotra. “Counselling must continue. But art therapy is used when words cannot reach a patient’s emotional space.” (Singh, Veenu. 2014, June 27).

 

For me, I found myself using art for therapy during a difficult time in my life and I continue to do so.  What also helped me was the act of verbalizing my art process.  With the completion of each painting, I would  and do, articulate its meaning for me, inclusive of its source of inspiration. This process of story telling/writing along with the act of painting and photo taking was/is an important part of my art therapy process.  It gave/gives me an opportunity to be able to examine my thought processes, my emotions and feelings which I at first had no words for!  Over time, I was able to re-look at where I had started in my art therapy journey to where I am now and have been able to realize that art for therapy has been an important process for me, to be able to move forward in my life.  An added bonus has been, that by sharing my art and the art work’s stories, others have been able to gain an insight into issues, that they themselves had previously had no understanding about; or issues that they themselves had experienced and now understand that they are not alone.  By sharing my art and their stories, has not just helped me, but has actually helped others as well.  And that’s a great feeling…art for therapy in action!

Reference:  Singh, Veenu. (2014, June 27). Art for therapy’s sake! When talking doesn’t help. Hindustan Times Online. retrieved from http://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/brunch-stories/art-for-art-therapy-s-sake/article1-1234219.aspx#sthash.N0cUhPTZ.dpuf

Follow @VeenuSingh12 on Twitter From HT Brunch, June 29
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Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

I Do Art Discussion No. 8 – “Single Images as Abstract Digital Photo Paintings”

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Part of my “art for therapy” journey has not just involved abstract painting on canvas with acrylic paints; it has also involved taking photos and spending time digitally manipulating them to create an altered imagery.  I have spent a lot of time, over the course of time, going through my photos, finding little gems of images, cropping the image and then altering its brightness, contrast and colour.  Some of these images, I would then completely abstract by using a Windows program called ‘Paint’.  Whilst this program is not very sophisticated, I did find using it a very therapeutic endeavour and gained some satisfying results.

This first set of images below, come from a single photo I had taken whilst attending the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse 2008.  I had taken a photo of a young lady who was waiting with a group of other young ladies, whom were about to have their Melbourne Cup outfits judged, for the “Fashions on the Field”.  The image of her below has been greatly cropped and digitally manipulated.  The two following images in this first set, are the same image of this young lady but using the Windows program ‘Paint’ to create an abstract look!  The same process was used with the following sets of images.

Whilst the original photos had been taken during November 2008, it was over many months onwards that I worked on many photos creating single digital photo paintings and collage digital photo paintings.  It was a very therapeutic process which became essential to me.  My husband had been diagnosed with Lymphoma January 2009 and was under going chemotherapy treatment and I became his carer during the following 12 months.  It was a very difficult time in our lives and during my spare time in the evenings, I would work on these creations.  It was all engrossing and helped me clear my mind of all my worries, for a least a small amount of time, each day – art for therapy in action…

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson