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My Art Therapy Group Session 2 – was unlike the first session for me. During my first session I found it fun. I came along to this session 2 with a mind-set that I was going to have an enjoyable experience. During the process of this session, I found myself emotional when I least expected it. The art therapy process had revealed hidden emotions, thoughts and feelings that I had not expressed in sometime. Whilst each participant’s activity was the same, the visual and verbal outcomes were unique to the individual. The session I found most revealing; revealing in relation to myself and in relation to others within the group. Please note that these art therapy sessions are not about creating works of art but about creating a means to express oneself with imagery and hopefully words in a safe and supportive environment.
NB: Please click here to read the introduction to this series of posts and also more about the first session: Art Therapy Group Session 1 of 7 – ‘It’s actually fun!”
First up in this session two – we were required to spend 5 mins with crayons and a small sheet of butcher paper and create a ‘stream of consciousness’! It was a way of warming up our create brains; getting us in an art therapy mind space! Once again it was interesting to take note, how each of us had interpreted this instruction given by the Art Therapist. My sketch above was just about having some fun and enjoying the process of just ‘doing’ with colour and black lining, which I don’t usually do in my normal abstract painting efforts with acrylic on canvas. Our efforts expressed a range of different emotions such as: anger, sadness, pain, worry, despair, joy, delight and happiness.
We were then asked to do another sketch (mine above) within 5 mins about ‘how we feel right now’!. Same materials were used. My sketch was based on the saying about the ‘cup being either half full or half empty’. My life now, is more than ‘half full’ and the bright yellow is representative of this; with the blue and green colours representing cooler feelings and emotions, along with orange, red being rage and/or being upset and lastly the black which represents the loss of my son, which will never go away.
I also explained that my sketch, once turned upside-down represented some days where it is not all sunny, they can be dark and looming; but these kind of days were few and far between now as it had been nearly five years on from the loss of my son Ben in 2009.
The above sketch was the last in this set we did and once again in was crayons on butcher paper. We were then asked to ‘create a feeling that you need’ and I sketched a blue, soft, fluffy cloud floating across my sunny day. Everyone’s set of sketches were so different and each brought forward an emotion, feeling, thought that was shared willingly in this safe and supported art therapy group. Conversations were honest and frank and within the comfort zone of each participant.
The last task we were assigned, was the most revealing in my opinion, personally and group wise. We were asked to sit alongside a light which allowed a silhouette of ourselves appear on a sheet of butcher paper which had been temporarily applied to the wall. Another participant penciled along the outside of the silhouette head of the person seated. Each participant was then asked to then complete the silhouette portrait in such a way it would show ‘what we are’ and ‘how we see ourselves’. Once again there was a time frame of approximately 45 minutes. The start to my task was relatively easy for me; I have a head full of grey hair, so I took to applying streaks of silver paint. Then I filled in the lips with red lipstick because during my whole life, I have most of the time, when I dressed up, worn red lipstick. We were allowed to use words, symbols, diagrams, figures anything that came to mind. For me this became very difficult and all of a sudden I found myself becoming very upset and distressed. It was confronting and I was surprised that this task had stirred up such emotions. But I progressed and added in my brown eyes, the mole on the side of my face and then painted my face in a light pink. The light pink was representative of how vulnerable I was feeling at the time and then I added my favourite part – colour. Each participant’s silhouette portrait was very individual, each creation telling deeply personal stories about themselves which they shared. It wasn’t easy to do…
We were also given a list of questions to consider about our ‘silhouette portrait’. Following is that list with my own particular response:
- What was that process like for you? My answer: Difficult…
- What was challenging/hard? Why? My answer: Using symbols – couldn’t do – too hard because it would mean I would have to visualised painful images.
- What was easy/fun/enjoyable? Why? My answer: Doing the colour with the paint was fun and I love colour, my home is full of colour – it makes me happy.
- What opened up for you? My answer: Pain and grief.
- What did you learn or what will you take with you from this session? My answer: Trend softly – art therapy can reveal pain and grief.
After our art therapy group session, we all decided to take lunch together at a local cafe which was really lovely. It gave us all a chance to debrief and get to know each other better outside of our art therapy process. Art therapy at its best I feel…
Whilst you are here – please check out my home page! My Art Therapy Journey – A window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytelling…by Karen Robinson