Art Therapy Group Session 7 of 7 – “Our journey is at an end!”

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My Art Therapy Group Sessions have now come to an end.  Part of me was sadden by this, as I was going to miss the meeting up each week, with a group of women whom I have gotten to know and appreciate.  Over a period of seven weeks, we have all shared deeply personal thoughts, emotions and feelings with an honesty and frankness that is generally very rare with people whom you barely know.  The art therapist herself proved to be an intrinsic part of the success of this Art Therapy Group set of workshops.  We left with the knowledge that art for therapy, has a place in our lives that will give us a voice to express ourselves seriously and sometimes just for the fun of it!

It was at this last Art Therapy Session, the Art Therapist had us start with an exercise that would involve each of us contributing to one another’s art work.  We were asked to gather up, art materials and a piece of butcher paper and commence producing an art work. The theme was around, what we found we had gained from attending the Art Therapy Sessions overall; and what we had gained also from each other.  We were given a short period of time to do this and then we were required to passed onto the group member next to us to contribute their part. This process preceded via each group member until each had contributed on each and every art work.

Featured above is mine and I commenced with a circle of green, squiggly lines and in the middle of that, I wrote the words ‘BEING’.  Then I wrote the words: ‘exploring self’; ‘understanding others’; ‘appreciation’; ‘new connections’; and ‘new artistic ideas’.  The rest of the art work were the contributions of the other group members.

We were then asked to make a set of little cards that would be representative of each group member. Each card needed to be about what we had learned about that group member. I firstly chose a colour that, for me, reflected their personality and then used symbols to tell my story as requested.  I add a common element of the silver pieces which was a symbolic representation of finding the ‘silver lining’ in life.  I also used gold and silver paint to be symbolic of the best I found in them all over the course of the 7 sessions.  Once this task was completed, we shared with each other our cards and their stories about that group member.

NB:  Below are my set of cards – each representing a group member and the bright green card is the one I made for myself.

3. ArtTherapy Group Session 7 'Our journey is at an end!' Painting by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson Sept 2014 NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

3. ArtTherapy Group Session 7 ‘Our journey is at an end!’ Painting by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson Sept 2014 NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

To finish up our last session, we had lunch together.  It was a warm and friendly atmosphere with lots of laughs and good conversation and a blossoming of new friendships.  Art Therapy at its best I feel…

Thank you for joining me on this Art Therapy Group Session Journey! Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 Art Therapy Group Sessions:

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

Art Therapy Group Session 6 of 7 – “Blessings, Ideas and Inspiration!”

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Art Therapy can be a surprising process within a group session.  It is an incredible way of learning about one’s self and about others, in a safe and supportive environment. It can reveal pain, sorrow, joy and laughter…

This week’s Art Therapy Group Session revolved around selecting one to two cards, from a set of cards called ‘Healing with the Angels Oracle Cards’ by Doreen Virtue Ph.D.  The pack consists of 44 oracle cards with unique Victorian-style or Old Master-style angel pictures on one side. They convey a simple statement on the front side of the card and on the reverse is the full meaning of the ‘angel readings’.  During this session, these cards were used just as a means to creating another meaningful piece of art within this art therapy session.

After we had all thoughtfully considered which ‘Angel Card/s’ and it’s statement had appealed to us most, we were asked to collect them and assemble as a group at the table.  The Art Therapist asked each of us to explain our reasons for selecting our specific cards.  When it came to myself to explain, I suddenly found myself very emotional and began to cry.  It was a shock to me and I didn’t think I would be able to continue but with a breath of time, I was alright to do so.  My choice of the ‘Blessings Card’ was related to the fact that after my son had been killed in a single vehicle crash, I found it very hard to find joy and meaning in my life.  It took so much inner strength to look at my life in a different way and it was very hard to look forward without my son but I worked hard at looking at what blessings I had, which eventually lead me to a better place in my life.  The second card for me ‘Ideas & Inspirations‘ was all about finding that new path, rebuilding myself and finding joy in everyday life – it took a lot of ideas and inspirations to do – but I am there and grateful to be able to enjoy life again.

Once we had all talked about our reasons for choosing our particular cards, we then received instructions about our next art therapy project.  We were to make little ‘candle holder covers’ from assorted provided materials.  These covers once completed were then stuck to the outside of a glass jar and a little tea candle placed within it and lite.

I decided to base my glass candle cover around people; people in my life.  Here below you can see how I have strung them together and when placed around the glass jar, they complete a full circle.  Different colours represent different types of people, and the different heights represent the different ages of these people.


The image below I particular like as it shows one large purple person looking down at the small yellow person in a caring way – the green person is part of this group and at the same time is reaching, stretching out to connect with another within the circle of people.

Once we had all finished our glass candle holders with their new covers around the outside, we lite the tea candles. Each group member’s art work was reflective of the ‘angel cards’ statements. We then had the opportunity to share our thoughts and emotions we experienced during this art therapy process.  Whilst these art works will not mean much to others, they are little treasures to the group members…art therapy at it’s best I feel…




NB:  Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Art Therapy Group Sessions:

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

Art Therapy Group Session 5 of 7 – “Finding a safe place within!”

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This week’s Art Therapy Group Session consisted of a well attended group of 5, plus the Art Therapist and the assisting facilitator.  We commenced our session with a light physical stretching set of exercises for approximately 10 minutes.  Just to get us loosened up.  We were then asked to sit down and close our eyes and concentrate on our breathing, clearing our minds of other thoughts, relaxing our body and bringing ourselves right into the present.  From here we were asked to think of a space we felt safe in; it could be a real space or it could be an imaginary space.  We were asked to image ourselves walking through this ‘safe space’ and to think about what it was that made us feel safe.  It was a very relaxing process where I could feel my mind and body totally washing away other thoughts and emotions and truly being in the moment.

From here we were asked to open our eyes, take up our desired art materials and commence an art work that represents our ‘safe space’.  I gathered up a sheet of butcher paper, paint brushes of varying sizes, some acrylic paint, soft oil pastels and some ink paint and got started…

After completing our paintings, we were asked to place them in a line across the floor.  Each of us in turn talked about what our painting said in relation to painting about our ‘safe space’.  It was interesting to see and hear what others had painted and said about their ‘safe space’.  A number of the group had ‘imagery safe spaces’ and others had ‘real safe spaces’.

My painting was based on a ‘real safe space’.  It was my home garden which my husband has worked on for over 13 years to create from bare soil.  Every room in our home has a view of our garden.  The garden its self is full of well established bushes and trees where wild life flock to rest, feed, drink water and go about the daily lives.  Over the seasons, the leaves on the trees go golden brown, yellow, orange and drop; in spring they flower and in summer they provide us with must needed shade to protect us from the strong Australian sun.  In my painting about my ‘safe space’ the golden-yellow represents the soft warmth of the sun in spring, when it warms my cheers and reminds me of the summer to come.  The blues remind me of our beautiful clear bright blue sky, we as so fortunate to have here in Australia.  The planting represents a plant my husband has used to line each side of our garden leading from the road to our front door.

Our garden has been a treasure over many years, offering both my husband and myself a form of refuge during difficult times in our lives.  My ‘safe space’ is my garden where nature kindly cares for my soul…

NB:  Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Art Therapy Group Sessions:

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

Art Therapy Group Session 4 of 7 – “Using Music To Inspire The Artist Within!”

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The scene was set for our Art Therapy Group Session 4 with a back drop of beautiful music.  We were first asked to sit quietly and just listen to the music, then close our eyes and visualise the music in images and colours to help inspire us to create an individual piece of art. We were then instructed to open our eyes and gather up our art materials and commence…

So with a small sheet of butcher paper, acrylic paints and a charcoal stick, off I went!  My art piece was inspired by the rhythm and joyfulness of the music and how it made me feel.  I decided to use a small roller to apply the paint to the surface as I had never used a roller before and really enjoy the freedom it gave me to push around the paint; in motion with the music.  The colours I chose were favourites of mine; brilliant orange, bright sky blue, metallic gold, silver and then black for some definition. Then I took to using the charcoal stick to edge some of the rolled lines; it was another art item that I had never used before.  It was easy to emerse myself into the music and the art – gave me a great sense of being in another world, a world without any other thoughts, emotions other than what was at hand – the music and the art.  This process, I found very calming and enjoyable; most of the other group members seemed to have enjoyed the experience as well.

After finishing off our individual art works, we layed then on the floor in front of us.  Each one of us in turn, talked about our painting results; what it meant to us and how did the music impact us during this process. It was interesting to note that all members of the group had mostly happy stories to recall and it was clear that this particular ‘Art Therapy Session – using music to inspire the artist within’ was a joyful experience and perhaps unlike some of the others where deeply personal and sometimes sad emotions had surfaced during a session.

We were then asked to participate in a group effort to produce one single piece of art work. The art therapist layed out a single stretch of butcher paper along a number of tables so that we could all have the opportunity to walk around the entire circumference of it.  Without words and with the beautiful music playing in the background, we went about creating a group painting.  Quietly and studiously, each of use went about creating our part of the painting.  At the end of the time frame given to complete our group effort, we were asked to share what we experienced throughout the process.  For me, I found it more fun than what I thought it would be!  Whilst at first, I was a little apprehensive to paint over another’s efforts, I found it liberating once I had decided to let go and just do!  I didn’t think that I would enjoy this process because, it would mean it would require of me to share with others an art expression; but it was strangely liberating and fun.

This ‘Art Therapy Group Session’ 4 was different from the other three for me because it was not as confronting.  Not confronting in the sense that I was not having to challenge some deeply embedded thoughts and emotions.  It felt like a little Siesta midway though our Art Therapy Group Sessions, which was greatly appreciated by me and very much enjoyed by most of the group members.  In summary I would say that the inclusion of delightful music with the process of making art, offers a reprieve and aids improving one’s sense of well-being – this is what I found on this day…

NB:  Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Art Therapy Group Sessions:

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

Art Therapy Group Session 2 of 7 – “I found myself emotional when I least expected it…”

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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 JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson