Art Therapy Group Session Four – August 2015 “Fantasy, Mystical Creature of Self…” by Karen Robinson

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No. 11 of 13 Art Therapy Session 'Fantasy, mystical creature of self with shelter that provides for all its needs - by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG.JPG

No. 11 of 13 Art Therapy Session ‘Fantasy, mystical creature of self with shelter that provides for all its needs – by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

 

INTRODUCTION

Today was our fourth group art therapy session and consisted of just one creative exercise which took up most of the session’s given time span.  The art therapy facilitator instructions were to make a fantasy, mystical creature of our selves out of polymer clay.  It was not to have any human likeness.  Once we had achieved this, we were then to make a home/shelter for our creature that would include all the creature comforts we thought we needed to live.  We were provided with varying materials to use to make the home/shelter consisting of – different sized boxes, printed paper, felt, wool, glitter, magazines, pens, pencils, felts, paints ect. Whilst at first this task seamed like child’s play it quickly became apparent that participants were endeavouring to go about producing creations that significantly interpreted the project brief given.

 

MY FANTASY, MYSTICAL CREATURE OF SELF

For myself, I decided to firstly use a brown colour for the torso of my creature.  It then gained orange feet, a white face, red nose, black eyes and brows and three colourful feathers set at the back of its head.  During my story telling to the group, I said that my creature was colourful because of my love of colour and my creature also had the ability to chance colour to reflect its environment as needed.

 

No. 12 of 13 Art Therapy Session 'Fantasy, mystical creature of self with shelter that provides for all its needs - by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG.JPG

No. 12 of 13 Art Therapy Session ‘Fantasy, mystical creature of self with shelter that provides for all its needs – by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

 

HOME/SHELTER FOR MY FANTASY, MYSTICAL CREATURE OF SELF

My creatures home/shelter started with a small box which had an open lip and when put on its side led to look like a balcony or like an entrance into my home.  Within my home I included small fluffy balls which represented food.  Then I made a bed out of fine wool that I glued to a circular rug like shape.  The back of my home inside the box, I lined with dark rock patterned paper, and the sides and balcony/drive with a rock patterned paper to represent the Australian outback.  At the sides of the entrance of my creatures home, I cut out small trees and glued them onto the box which represented my love of nature.  At the end of the balcony/drive, I placed a dark blue felt lagoon shaped object with sparkles to represent fresh, clean water.

 

No. 1 of 13 Art Therapy Session 'Fantasy, mystical creature of self with shelter that provides for all its needs - by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

No. 1 of 13 Art Therapy Session ‘Fantasy, mystical creature of self with shelter that provides for all its needs – by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

 

At the back outside of my home/shelter, I used paper that had blue sky and clouds and then I glued a fluffy, yellow ball of wool which represented the sun.  At the back outside of my home/shelter I glued a picture of a cactus with glitter.  At the very top, I glued a picture of a bull’s silhouette against a raging sunset  I also included other creatures which were representation of family and friends.  In summary I ensured my fantasy, mystical creature of my self had a home/shelter that provided me with:- shelter, food, a warm bed, a home that I felt good and safe in and then I surrounded myself with family and friends.  I said to the group when we were sharing our story about our creations, that for me, my fantasy, mystical creature of my self and the home/shelter was a representation of what is important to me – it is what I have built-in my real life for myself and my family.  That I was the sum of all those who are in my life and without them I would be alone and life would seem meaningless…

 

 

CONCLUSION

Once we had completed our mini projects we then shared our story about our creatures and their homes/shelter.  It was just so interesting and revealing what was shared during this part of the session.  Whilst an activity like this can be seen as child’s play, it is very apparent when participants share their stories, including myself, that much more is going on in our minds.  What could be seen and heard is how differently we all had interpreted the brief and how powerful the stories were that we had shared!

What also becomes evident during these sessions it that at times carers feel unheard, unseen and their needs, desires are put on hold whilst they endeavour to care for their loved ones in their day-to-day lives. But having a place where they can have time for themselves such as attending an art therapy session, gives them a place where it’s just for them and where they do not have to share their time with another – for just a little while at least…

At the completion of the art therapy session we packed up and headed across to the local restaurant for a bite to eat and a friendly chat. It’s a great way to finish up on a positive note and it always works for me…

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group Sessions 2015“, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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 Three – July 2015 “What is important!…Mandala” by Karen Robinson

While you are here – please check out my home page!

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Today was our third group art therapy session and consisted of a number of individual exercises.  Here within this weblog, I have included just the one!  For our first art for therapy exercise, we were asked to create a circular mandala that would be made up of a number of sections.

 

About Mandalas

Mandala means ‘circle’ in the Sanskrit language and is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe.  The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point.  It can be used as a psychological and educational approach to human development and offers a conceptual model for understanding how we can heal, develop, and transform consciousness (Mandala Symbolism).

Please find below here an amazing time-lapse YouTube about –

“the making of a Mandala by the Tibetan Monks who painstakingly spend five days to design and place tiny grains of sand to create a beautiful work of temporary art.  On day 6 they scoop up the sand and place it in a body of water, releasing the energy of the project back into the community” (The Crow Collection of Asian Art Jan 20, 2010)

 

EXERCISE 1 – “What is important!…Mandala” 

Each section of the mandala we were to make in this art therapy session was to represent something that was important to us as individuals on this particular day.  We were given a sheet of paper and a large bowl which was used to create the outer rim of the circle.  Materials supplied consisted of magazines that we could cut out selected images and paste onto the mandala, felt pens for easy drawing application, oil pastels, crayons and ink pens.

 

 

I decided to work with some images from the magazines, and with ink pens and felt pens for quick, easy application.  We had approximately 20 minutes to achieve but by the time we actually got started and completed the exercise, it was more like 40 minutes all up.  After completing the task each of us in turn explained what our mandala was all about.  Above is an image of my whole mandala and below – images of each section with an explanation of its meaning for me.

 

 

Mandala Section 1 – ‘Mother Nature’ Important to me!  My husband has create around our home a beautiful garden.  Now 15 years on in its development, we have large mature trees and brushes that attract the local native birds.  Be in winter, spring, summer or autumn – our garden offers a slice of nature just outside our back and front door – good for the soul!

 

 

Mandala Section 2 – ‘Coffee’ Important to me!  When my husband and I were at the peak of our grieving process from the loss of our son, we would take ourselves out and find a quiet place to have a cup of coffee.  It was a time where we found it hard to get out and mix with others. This coffee outing treat, helped us both feel that we were not alone, that we were still connected to the rest of the world.  At times we would just sit, sip our coffee, read the paper, or just quietly take in what was happening around us.  So having a cup of coffee out at a cafe’ was important to us and still is these years – it’s a small treat for us both.

 

 

Mandala Section 3 – ‘Art for Therapy’ Important to me!  The engagement of art for therapy in the way of abstract painting, creative writing and blogging is very important to me.  It helps me everyday maintain a good sense of wellbeing.

 

 

Mandala Section 4 – ‘Good Health’ Important to me!  During the period of time when I was my husband’s carer, as he recovered from chemotherapy, and during the period of time where my husband and I were deeply grieving for the loss of our son, my personal physical and mental health declined to a point where if was beginning to shorten my life span drastically.  My mental health has improved and my physical strength has returned. I am now eating better, walking each day and sleeping soundly.  Good health has become a top priority for me to ensure I can live a long and productive life.

 

 

Mandala Section 5 – ‘People in my life’ Important to me!  More than ever before, the people in my life are essential to my existence as a mother, wife, friend, colleague, art therapy group participant, creative writing group participant and as a volunteer worker. All these people who I come in contact with, week in and week out, help to ensure I have meaning and purpose in my everyday.

 

 

Mandala Section 6 – ‘Equilibrium’ Important to me!  Everyday I look for equilibrium in my life.  A balance between all of the other elements that may up my day.  When things look like they are getting out of balance, I take a deep breath and reassess and look for the things that tick the happy box!

 

CONCLUSION

We completed a couple more exercises and then packed up at the completion of the art therapy session.   We headed across to the local restaurant for a bite to eat and a friendly chat. It’s a great way to finish up on a positive note and it always works for me…

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group Sessions 2015“, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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 Two – July 2015 “Starry Night…” by Karen Robinson

While you are here – please check out my home page!

 

INTRODUCTION

Today was our second group art therapy session and consisted of four individual exercises.  Here within this weblog, I have included two – one I have named “Starry Night” and the other “Brave”.

 

EXERCISE 1 – “Starry Night” 

 

Dutch post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh's 'Starry Night' Painting 1889 - Oil on Canvas. It depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Remy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village. It is regarded as amoung Van Gogh's finest works (Wikipedia 2015)

Dutch post-impressionist Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ Painting 1889 – Oil on Canvas. It depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Remy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village. It is regarded as among Van Gogh’s finest works (Wikipedia 2015)

 

For our first art for therapy exercise for this session, we were given a small rectangle piece of paper, featuring a copy of a small portion of the Dutch artist – Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting titled ‘Starry Night’ 1889.  With our individual particular image portion of his painting, we were asked to do our interpretation of it, within a 20 minute period of time.  There were no restrictions, except for the time frame! At the end of our personal creative efforts of producing our own ‘Starry Night’, we were asked to place them on the wall in the sequence that would represent, the original painting (original painting image shown above).  I had the section of painting that consisted of the chapel in the background surrounded with small homes in the foreground.  It was interesting to see how each of us had interrupted the instructions and how each participant had created their own personal work of art.  Most participants indicated that the exercise was a very relaxing experience and for me a good way to start the art therapy session for the day.  Below please find my efforts…

 

No. 1 of 3 Art Therapy Session 2 July 2015 'Starry Night' Pastels on Paper by Karen Robinson - Abstract Artist NB All images are copyright protected.JPG

No. 1 of 3 Art Therapy Session 2 July 2015 ‘Starry Night’ Oil Pastels on Paper by Karen Robinson – Abstract Artist NB All images are copyright protected.JPG

 

On my return home, I couldn’t help but do some research on the life and works of Vincent van Gogh and enjoyed watching the following tv documentary published 26th January 2015.

 

 

I also found this interesting YouTube where modern-day technology meets 1889 Vincent van Gogh and shows another approach to artistic application.

 

 

This video below was forwarded onto me by a of my followers and offers  –

The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” – Natalya St. Clair Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, “When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.” As difficult as turbulence is to understand mathematically, we can use art to depict the way it looks. Natalya St. Clair illustrates how Van Gogh captured this deep mystery of movement, fluid and light in his work.  Lesson by Natalya St. Clair, animation by Avi Ofer

 

 

EXERCISE 2 – “Brave”

Our second art therapy exercise for the session involved creating an art work that reflected what others say is a good quality within ourselves.  I have to confess that I found it difficult to come up with what others say, perhaps it’s because I don’t listen for these comments, don’t seek them out but I was able to record what is said to me when I do my volunteer speaking to repeat road traffic offenders at Road Trauma Awareness Seminars (RTAS) when I tell my family road trauma story.  Often these RTAS participants come to me after the end of the seminars and tell me how brave I am to do what I do which is what many other volunteers do as well with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria.

Karen Robinson - RTAS Volunteer Speaker Presenting her family's road trauma story at Werribee RTAS July 2015 Photo No. 2.JPG

Karen Robinson – RTAS Volunteer Speaker Presenting her family’s road trauma story at Werribee RTAS July 2015 Photo No. 2.JPG

I stated to the art therapist facilitator that I don’t feel brave and I noted for myself this to be an interesting statement.  It was something that others had discovered as well, that we don’t often see what others see in ourselves.  That the person we show on the outside can be in conflict with what is going on within ourselves – this was an interesting reflection and shows how art for therapy can raise questions that are worthy of examination.  Some of us reflected on our thoughts during the group art therapy session and others, for sure will be reflecting further at a time which allows for some soul-searching.

 

No. 3 of 3 Art Therapy Session 2 July 2015 'Starry Night' Pastels on Paper by Karen Robinson - Abstract Artist NB All images are copyright protected.JPG

No. 3 of 3 Art Therapy Session 2 July 2015 ‘Starry Night’ Pastels on Paper by Karen Robinson – Abstract Artist NB All images are copyright protected.JPG

 

CONCLUSION

We completed a couple more exercises and then packed up at the completion of the art therapy session.   We headed across to the local restaurant for a bite to eat and a friendly chat. It’s a great way to finish up on a positive note and it always works for me…

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group Sessions 2015“, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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 One – July 2015 – “A Warm Up…” by Karen Robinson

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!

 

 

INTRODUCTION

July has arrived and the recommencement of our Art Therapy Group has got started!  There were the same familiar friendly faces along with an addition of two new members.  We have been fortunate to have the same art therapy facilitator and the organisation’s co-facilitator as in previous art therapy sessions.  Being our first session, we were advised by the art therapy facilitator that this session will be a warm up to get us all back into the art for therapy process.

 

EXERCISE 1 – “Landscape Colour Opposites” 

No. 1 of 3 Art Therapy Session One - July 2015 'Landscape Colour Opposites' by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

No. 1 of 3 Art Therapy Session One – July 2015 ‘Landscape Colour Opposites’ by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

 

For our first art therapy exercise, we were asked to choose a piece of paper from a selection – being small, medium and large which ever we felt comfortable with in size and I choose the large.  Then we were to do a landscape image with a difference.  We were to have colours within the landscape that were a contrast to what we would normally expect them to be – for example the sun could be normally yellow, so a contrast could be green.  There were a choice of mediums to work with such as pencils, pastels and crayons, I choose the pastels.  Some of the participants expressed that this exercise was difficult to some degree being that doing the opposite to the norm was a challenge and others, like myself found it fun, a good challenge and especially for myself, a relaxing experience.

 

EXERCISE 2 – “Self Portrait”

No. 2 of 3 Art Therapy Session One - July 2015 'Self Portrait' by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

No. 2 of 3 Art Therapy Session One – July 2015 ‘Self Portrait’ by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

 

Our second art therapy exercise for the art therapy session involved doing a self-portrait.  I had done a self-portrait in a previous art therapy session and could remember it as being very challenging at the time and thus lead me to be a little apprehensive about committing to producing another.  I decided to follow the same method as done previously and asked the co-facilitator if she could outline the shadow of my image onto the paper.  I then outlined this shadow in black pastel.  I found I wanted to soften the black lining and commenced etching short strokes across this lining.  Liking this look, I decided to complete the whole image in the same fashion.

At the completion of our self portraits, we were asked to hang them on the wall, in one line, side by side to view.  We then sat back and viewed from a distance.  It was amazing how different each of our portraits were and how we had interpreted the art therapist’s instructions.  The art therapist facilitator stated that it was not unusual during this exercise for participants to do a ‘young self’ image and for me, I had done an image that really portrayed my current self.  This I did find challenging and found myself becoming upset without really understanding why – the challenges of art for therapy I feel, the close examination of ones inner most personal thoughts and emotions, not always clearly definable!

 

EXERCISE 3 –  “Zentangle Art”

No. 3 of 3 Art Therapy Session One - July 2015 'Zentangle Collation in Ink' by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

No. 3 of 3 Art Therapy Session One – July 2015 ‘Zentangle Collation in Ink’ by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson.JPG

 

To finish up for the art therapy session we were ask to do a Zentangle small artwork.  This was meant to be a relaxing process but unfortunately for me, it wasn’t.  I had started off this art therapy session enjoying the process, but after the self-portrait exercise, I found myself a little disturbed.  Other participants did find this exercise a good way to finish up the session.

 

CONCLUSION

After packing up at the completion of the art therapy session, we headed across to the local restaurant for a bite to eat and a friendly chat. It’s a great way to finish up on a positive note and it always works for me…

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group Sessions 2015“, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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 – last for 2015 – “Winding Up…” by Karen Robinson

While you are here – please check out my home page!

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

As an art therapy group, we have now come to the end of this lot of art therapy sessions.  Some of the participants were sad to finish up, some were looking forward to their next opportunity to participant in another art therapy group and some participants unfortunately were unable to attend this last session, due to carer commitments. But for me, I have now reached a point where I am ready to move on from participating in group art therapy sessions.  It has been an interesting and sometimes challenging undertaking being part of an art therapy group; but one that I have gained so much from and I am most grateful for having had the opportunity to have participated within.  It has improved my sense of wellbeing for sure and allowed me to connect with an amazing group of people, who have shown me kindness, respect and given me an insight into how resilient they are in the course of living their daily lives, as carers, for loved ones with mental health issues.

 

EXERCISE 1 –  “Zentangle Art”

 

No. 1 Art Therapy Group Session 5- Exercise 'Zentangle Art Marking' Art Work created by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson March 2015 NB All images are subject to copyright laws .JPG

No. 1 Art Therapy Group Session 5- Exercise ‘Zentangle Art Marking’ Art Work created by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson March 2015 NB All images are subject to copyright laws .JPG

 

During this last art therapy session, we engaged in just two exercises which took up most of the time allowed. The art therapist facilitator had us create repetitive patterns on a sheet of paper.  We were able to use any medium we wished to create our patterns.  Some participants used crayons, paints, colour pencils and I decided to use just grey lead pencil.  I use a lot of colour paint in my own arts practice, so it was a joy for me, to use just one simple medium on paper – for a change.

It was a very relaxing exercise for me.  I discovered myself just simply enjoying the process of creating.  I found a sense of calmness working its way through my mind and body as I worked on my repetitive pattern.  This activity “Zentangle Art Making” just empty my mind of all negative thoughts and emotions and I found myself just enjoying the moment…just being!

 

EXERCISE 2 – “Group Booklet Making”

 

No. 10 Art Therapy Group Session 5- Exercise 'Group Booklet Making' Art Work created by all participants. This is a view of the 'Group Booklet' unfolded. Each image was made by a participant with the thought of the owner in mind. In this case the booklet has been made for me and each section is each person's individual contribution to my booklet. March 2015 NB All images are subject to copyright.JPG

No. 10 Art Therapy Group Session 5- Exercise ‘Group Booklet Making’ Art Work created by all participants. This is a view of the ‘Group Booklet’ unfolded. Each image was made by a participant with the thought of the owner in mind. In this case the booklet has been made for me and each section is each person’s individual contribution to my booklet. March 2015 NB All images are subject to copyright.JPG

 

Our second and now last art therapy exercise consisted of making a “group booklet” – one for each of us to take away as a memento. The art therapist facilitator gave us each a sheet of paper that had been pre-folded so that it made a little booklet.  Our instruction was to make an image on the front cover of the booklet that would be representative of ourselves and/or words/message about the art therapy sessions.  We were to write our name on the front cover and therefore making it our own personal booklet.  Once done, we were then instructed to hand over our own booklet to the person beside us, where that person would then on the following page draw/write an image for the person whom the booklet belong to. So at the end of this whole process we had our own booklet with an image/message from each of the participants.

Each page tackled – was done within a very small window of time, so for some, it was a challenge to think of ideas/images for each individual participant.  Some used coloured pencils, some used crayons and some decided to use ‘collage’ instead.  I decided to do a very quick, miniature portraiture of each participant with wording in a balloon.  At the end of this process, we got to see, what each of us had created and some of the wonderful notations that had been stated within these little booklets of friendship.  Please find below, my booklet, commencing with the cover page which I had created and followed by the pages created by each participants during this exercise.

 

 

CONCLUSION

Now that I have had the opportunity to complete two lots of art therapy sessions, one being in 2014 and now this lot in 2015, I have found it has shown me, that we all need to find ways of being able to express our thoughts, feelings and emotions in a safe and secure environment.  Art therapy sessions can be, in my opinion, a wonderful way for people to be able to do just that – feel free to explore what makes them tick!  To get us thinking about what is truly going on in our lives that may be holding us back from enjoying life to the full.  After doing now – 2 lots of art therapy sessions, I feel I have come to a point, where I don’t feel the need to continue with this form of group art therapy.  Well…not for now at least anyway. This statement is said with the intent on being a very positive outcome for me – it’s just time to move forward … art therapy at its best I feel…

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group 2015”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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, 3 and 4 for 2015 – “It get’s you thinking…” by Karen Robinson

While you are here – please check out my home page!

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Art Therapy Group Sessions 1, 2, 3 and 4 – 2015 have been just as interesting and revealing as demonstrated in the first lot of group sessions I participated in during 2014. Being my second round of art therapy, I have been finding the sessions more enjoyable and less confronting. But I have noticed that for some other participants, being their first experience with art therapy, are at times finding the art therapy sessions emotionally challenging.

 

ART THERAPY SESSION NO. 2

Exercise 1 – “Yellow & Black Cut Up Painting on A4 Paper”

For one of the art therapy exercises, we were asked to think about a problem we currently have in our lives.  Once we had formulated this within our minds, we were then instructed to paint/draw it onto a sheet of paper. What came to mind for me, was a difficult relationship that exists between a family member and their young grown-up child and how this relationship has caused grief and despair for both parties over a long period of time. So I painted one black rectangle with a yellow circle in it and another rectangle in yellow with a black circle in it. This for me, was representative of how both parties had the same DNA, yet a huge chasm sadly exists between them.

Once we had completed our drawing/painting, we were then instructed to tear and/or cut up the drawing/painting itself. This was a significant process and very symbolic.  By tearing/cutting up our drawing/painting, we were effectively breaking up our problem into smaller, more manageable pieces to deal with.  It also appeared to look different, hence giving me the opportunity to look at my own problem in a different way. An interesting process that got all the participants thinking that our problems can be approached in different ways, if we are prepared to take a different approach and perhaps instead of looking at a problem as a whole, that we take some time out to see it in smaller tasks that might be easier to handle – even if only part of the problem is solved with other parts left to resolved perhaps at a latter date.

 

 

 

Exercise 2 –  “Happy Boxes Made In Clay”

This next art therapy exercise involved taking a large block of clay, approximately the size of a square-shaped brick. We were then asked to close our eyes and start working the clay with our hands. We were asked to make something with it and I decided I was going to make something positive – I just didn’t want to have any negative emotions and feelings at work in this particular activity. We were given a period of approximately 10 minutes for this part of the process. I personally enjoyed moulding the clay but there were others that found it hard and didn’t enjoy. During the closed eyes part, I started making what I like to called ‘happy boxes’. I made a set of them and decorated the tops with a pencil. It was interesting to see what others had made and the symbolism of their work.

 

 

ART THERAPY SESSION NO. 3

Exercise 3 – “Australian Native Garden Drawn with Pastels on A4 Paper”

For this particular art therapy exercise, we were asked to close our eyes and visualise sitting on a magic rug that was to take us on a ride. We were asked to imagine where the magic rug was taking us and to imagine where its final destination would be. Some of the participants’ magic rug journeys were sad, emotional and distressing, others had journeys that were pleasant and comforting. For me, I had a good journey across the grass fields opposite where I live, across homes and gardens within my suburb.  My final resting place was within my own home garden. My dear husband over 15 years has grown from bare earth, a beautiful Australian Native Plant garden and it offers both of us in our autumn years, much joy and peace.

 

 

Exercise 4 – “People Scene Drawn with Pastels on A4 Paper”

This was a very interesting art therapy exercise. We were handed a set of cards. These cards each had an individual image. We were required to take a card from the pack without sharing the image on the card with another and then partner up with the person next to ourselves. Each partner was required to describe the details of the card to the partner, without the partner seeing the card. The partner was required to draw from this description on a sheet of paper. Once each partner had completed the task, we all showed our cards, shared our experience and drawing with the group. This for me, was a process that really required a great deal of trust in another. It required a degree of understanding that at times, we need to surrender our desire to want to control all circumstances. I didn’t have a problem with the task, as I trusted my partner, to do her best to inform me of details that would enable me to complete my drawing from her description. I also noticed that I wasn’t too concerned about how different my drawing might be from her card. I really just enjoyed the process but I did see and understand that some others struggled with letting go and just taking it as it comes and not getting stressed out because it didn’t look the same as the card image. It was a very good activity about effective listening, communicating, trust, understanding that we cannot always be responsible for another’s actions, we can only be responsible for our own.

 

 

ART THERAPY SESSION NO. 4

Exercise 5 – “Two People Talking Drawn with Black Felt Pen on A4 Paper”

The art therapist had us do a series of sketches that involved firstly choosing a card from a pack of cards without the knowledge of what we were about to be asked to do.  Once each of us had our chosen card we were asked to do the following:

  • 1. Drawing the card image with dominate hand without looking at the card image
  • 2. Looking at the card image and drawing the card image with our dominate hand
  • 3. Looking at the card image and drawing the card image with non dominate hand
  • 4. Drawing the card image with dominate hand without taking the pen off the paper

What was firstly revealing was how little we had listened to the instructions first up.  How we really needed to have paid attention to fully comprehend what seemed like simple instructions.  Another revealing factor was that most of us preferred the last of our images being No. 4 – drawing with dominate hand without taking the pen off the paper.

 

Exercise 6 – “Fence and Barbed Wire Section of Group Mural on Length of Butcher Paper”

Our last activity for session 4 was a group activity based on producing a group mural.  I had, in 2014 participated in such a task and was familiar with what to expect, which did help me prepare myself to just enjoy the process and not be to ‘precious’ about my artistic endeavours.  We were required to paint/draw an image and then think about how it could be connected to the person’s art work, either side of ourselves.  I was happy with my image, which I did in paint with bold orange fence posts, out lined in charcoal with two runs of charcoal barbed wire running through them.  As I stared at my art work, I realised that it could be the fence posts and the barbed wire that could be the connecting theme running through the whole mural work.  For me, I found the task enjoyable.  My only concerns during the process was to ensure I had consulted properly with the rest of the group to ensure they were going to be happy with what I proposed as a way of connecting all our individual art works, for my part.  Some of the group were apprehensive about having another mark their part of the mural work but after some general conversation, they came to appreciate that it was a group work of art and as per the instructions given by the art therapist we needed to ‘give and take’ during the group mural task at hand. All group participants in my group got the idea and all individually went about adding in their personal contribution to the other participants mural art work sections.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Over the course of participating within these art therapy session for 2014 and 2015, it is very clear to me that it is not about the art, but about what we are thinking and how we apply that thinking to the art work itself. The art therapy process can present as a challenge for some participants.  Some, also find it hard to let go of the fact that their art work is not a representation of being a good artist or not; and struggle to make an open acceptance that it’s about self exploration; that the art work is just a vehicle that is used to achieve that outcome.

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group 2015”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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 1 of 5 for 2015 – “A Tree of Treasured Memories…” by Karen Robinson

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!

 

INTRODUCTION

My art therapy journey 2015  – has once again enabled me to participant in another art therapy group.  This group is larger than our previous 2014 group and is especially for those who are carers for another in their lives.  It is facilitated by a very experienced Art Therapist and a co-facilitator.  They assist participants to express themselves through art in a safe, secure and supportive environment.  It also gives participants, an opportunity to meet new people with whom they learn to share thoughts, emotions and life experiences with, in an imaginative and creative way.  The art work produced during an art therapy session, is not and will not be, works of art, as little time and energy is invested in the creative process.  But what is important to understand and appreciate, is that it is, about the process of self exploration through art therapy.

 

GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER

Getting the participants to know each other – was the group’s Art Therapist’s primary goal at this first session.  It involved participating in a number of simple exercises which helped each of us, to get to know one another, a little better.  For some, we already knew of each other through our first art therapy group in 2014 and for others, it involved getting to know the whole group for the first time.  Following our first session will be another 5 sessions, where we will have plenty of opportunity to broaden our knowledge of each other and of ourselves even further.

 

A TREE OF TREASURED MEMORIES

One of our art therapy exercises involved a visualisation process.  We were asked to close our eyes and visualise a place of beauty, a place we feel safe in, a place we would enjoy being within.  I found it easy to reach my ‘mind place’ as I like to call it, being the beach with stretches of golden sand, a deep blue sea with crashing waves creeping up onto the shoreline, a pretty, light blue sky that seem to go on forever, a warm sun filling my soul with a sense of joy and a soft sea breeze caressing my skin.  On reaching this ‘mind place’ we were then asked to find a ‘magic seed’.  I found myself picking up a seed pod near a rock pool and holding in my hand as I examined its texture, shape and colour.  We were then asked to plant it and visualise what it had grown into.  After a few moments of visualisation, we were then asked to open our eyes and draw/paint/crayon an art work that showed what our ‘magic seed’ had grown into.

Once we had completed our art work about what our ‘magic seed’ had grown into, we each took turns to explain it to the group; and only as much as we were comfortable in revealing.  It was very interesting and amazing how serious the participants had involved themselves in this visualisation process.

 

No. 1 of 3 ArtTherapy Group Session 1 'Tree of Treasured Memories' created by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson Feb 2015 NB All images are protected by copyright..JPG

No. 1 of 3 Art Therapy Group Session 1 ‘Tree of Treasured Memories’ created by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson Feb 2015 NB All images are protected by copyright..JPG

 

For me, my seed grew into ‘A  Tree of Treasured Memories’:-

It was an imaginary tree with no leaves!  It held only pear, shaped droplets hanging from its branches, that once reached for and plucked, would take me to a treasured memory I held in my mind and in my heart.  I didn’t realise at that very moment of producing my ‘tree of treasured memories’ art work, that I would become very emotional.  I found myself working hard at trying to push back the tears, so as no one could see them. As we went around the table, with each person telling their story and showing their art work, I found myself becoming more and more tearful.  I held tight to my tears welling up in my eyes, so they wouldn’t fall. It was then that I realized, that my ‘tree of treasured memories’ was about, having a wish to be able to revisit memories of my son Ben, who had been killed in a single vehicle car crash in 2009.  Over the recent years, I had come to understand, how time spent with loved ones was a treasure.  I tragically had learned this through my loss and all that was left of my son now – were treasured memories.  I did manage to explain some of my tree of treasured memories art work, but it was difficult and I stopped short in order to hold back the pain in my heart, that was slowly seeping forward to the present moment.  No doubt there were others there on this day, that had difficulty in relaying their stories as well, but it was hard not to think about anything else other than – my treasured memories….”

Written by Karen Robinson

 

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

 

Our next art therapy exercise involved getting a piece of paper and cutting a small hole out of it, in the centre, a hole big enough to peer through.  We were then instructed to hold the paper up to our eye and look through it and then look for something ‘beautiful’ to focus on.  The room we occupied had beautiful,ornate architraves.  I used those images to create the above sketch.

 

WHAT I NEED NOW

No. 3 of 3 ArtTherapy  Group Session 1 'What I Need Now!' created by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson Feb 2015 NB All images are protected by copyright.JPG

No. 3 of 3 ArtTherapy Group Session 1 ‘What I Need Now!’ created by Abstract Artist Karen Robinson Feb 2015 NB All images are protected by copyright.JPG

 

The last art therapy exercise for the day, involved choosing a card from a set of cards.  On one side of the card was an image, and on the other side of the card, were a set of words.  Using the card as inspiration, we were asked to create an art work that reflected  ‘what we need now’.  My chosen card and its accompanying words as stated below, inspired my crayon art work above.

“We will call deep into the past to all our ancestors and they will come because they have to.  Because…without us they do not exist and without them we do not exist…Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service Cards

 

During my sharing of my art work, I explained that what I needed now and look for, is joy in my life.  I very much look for actions that tick the happy box in order to fulfill that desire.  So there are lots of colourful shapes in my art work which is representative of having lots of avenues of finding joy in everyday life.

 

CONCLUSION

I must say, I found it difficult to go forward with the rest of the session after the visualisation process exercise, where I created my art work and story of  ‘a tree of treasured memories’.  Sometimes during art for therapy, I have found and still do find the process to be very challenging, difficult and confronting.  Thankfully our co-facilitator had organised for the whole group to have lunch together after this session. This helped wash away any sadness I was feeling and I left in a good frame of mind; strong enough again to go back to working on actions that tick the happy box!…

 

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group 2015”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

 

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

Creative Writing Group Session 3 of 6 – “Treasured Memories”

While you are here – please check out my home page!

INTRODUCTION

Once again, we as creative writing participants arrived ready to reveal our homework writing pieces.  It was interesting to note how each of us had taken a considered approach to these writing pieces; how by sharing them within the group was an important part of the creative process and also a means to expressing details that revealed more and more about each of us as people.

THE CREATIVE WRITING HOMEWORK

For our last week’s homework creative writing piece, we were asked to write about a piece of furniture and after some reflection, I wrote about an old piece of furniture my family have had for many years.   I called it ‘Treasured Memories’.

Title:  Treasured Memories

“It stands currently in the corner of our living room, the side board that has been in my family all my married life of 34 years. My husband as a young man and before we met, had rescued it from the house next door to his mother and father’s home, when the old woman, who lived there had died and left behind a house full of old furniture. My husband lovingly restored it to its former glory!

Over the years, this side board has moved from house to house, as we did. Sometimes looking out-of-place and at other times blending in beautifully. It has curved legs and stands tall against a wall. Its mahogany timber is a dark, warm, honey colour and has been protected by a layer of varnish which shines in the light that streams in through the window. It has a flat board top, where our family photos sit proudly; and where a back timber board looks over them. Below this top board, there is situated to each side, a set of wooden shelves and wooded inlaid doors, with fancy antique lock handles. When the doors open, it has that old musky smell of a time long gone. In its centre, it has a set of heavy timber draws, which have been lined with pretty, flowered, scented draw liners.

This piece of furniture holds many dear and treasured memories of my adult life with my husband and children; and explains why it is still with us despite being a very heavy, old piece of furniture…”

Written by Karen Robinson 16/11/2014 ‘Copyright’ Protected

DURING THE CREATIVE WRITING SESSION

During the session, the creative writing facilitator had us create a number of writing pieces on (1) Moving; (2) then on a saying we had each chosen, mine was ‘never say never’; (3) and a final writing piece on something that we could sight from the balcony window where our session was being held – I called my writing piece “Black Power”.

CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING ART!

Again I wanted to use my creative writing piece ‘Treasured Memories’ to inspire an art work.  I wanted to especially create an image based on the sideboard wooden texture characteristics and it beautiful honey tones using  Matisse Acrylic Structure Paint.  Four colours were used:  (1) a very dark brown – almost black; (2) a lighter dark brown; (3) a mustard colour; (4) a orangey colour; (5) and then a light metallic gold.  I then used the end of a fine paint brush handle to etch in a lining to reveal the first layer of the dark brown – almost black paint.


CONCLUSION

Thank you for joining me on this Creative Writing Group Session Journey!  Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1 & 2 Creative Writing Group Sessions:

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Creative Writing Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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

Creative Writing Group Session 2 of 6 – “The Face Mask”

While you are here – please check out my home page!

No. 1 Creative Writing & Abstract Painting 'The Face Mask' Acrylic Paint on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Nov 2014 NB All images are subject to copyright laws .JPG

No. 1 Creative Writing & Abstract Painting ‘The Face Mask’ Acrylic Paint on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Nov 2014 NB All images are subject to copyright laws .JPG

INTRODUCTION

We are now into our second session of Creative Writing and feeling a bit more confident about what the process of creative writing will bring.  Group participants appear to be happy to be in attendance; and keen to reveal their creative writing home work efforts, that our creative writing facilitator had set for us, to do in between our first session and this now our second session.

NB:  Please click here to read the introduction to this series of posts and also more about the first session:  Creative Writing Group Session 1 of 6 – “The Happy Box”

THE CREATIVE WRITING HOMEWORK

We were asked to think about writing a piece about ‘what plant/flower’ we imagined we might be!  On giving this some thought and after doing a small amount of research on my choice, I decided to nominate myself as a ‘prickly pear plant’ –  http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/76606/IPA-Prickly-Pear-Control-PP29.pdf

This is my homework writing piece and I called it ‘Prickly in Nature!

Title:  ‘Prickly in Nature’

“I remember a time, when a CEO of a company I worked for, said to me, that I was a little prickly in nature! Yes, it is true at times, I can be a little prickly and therefore it seems appropriate I choose to be a prickly pear plant…

I am greenish in colour and have long, sharp spines that protrude from my fleshy, oval-shaped flat pads. When I am at my best, I have a show of flowers that will bare one fruit for every flower. My fruit can be peeled and eaten raw, but I like to be used to make candy, jelly, juice or wine, as it helps improve my reputation, as a sometimes likable cactus. My flowers maybe coloured red, yellow, or purple and depends where I am growing. I have a tolerate nature and therefore like a wide range of temperatures and moisture levels. I adore my desert like conditions!  For centuries I have been best known for my healing capacities and hold valuable food qualities.  At my worst my spines will come off into your skin, they will be difficult to remove and will irritate your skin for days, so a warning – be careful how you handle me!

So whilst at times, I can be a little prickly in nature and perhaps I don’t appeal to all; and whilst valued by some and brushed aside by others, I do know there is a place for me in this world as a prickly pear….”

Written on 2nd November 2014 by Karen Robinson – “Copyright’ Protected

I was the first to embark on telling my story about, being a plant/flower and there was some discussion that I wasn’t really a ‘prickly pear’; that some of my writing didn’t sound like me.  I was surprised and also pleased, but not without understanding that there is a prickly pear inside of me!  Each creative writing participant then proceeded to share their plant/flower story.  All were very thought-provoking creative writing pieces.  Some wrote detailed and deeply personal stories that revealed life long struggles.  Hearing their creative writing pieces left me pondering about the power of words and how writing our experiences can be so revealing, about what we are thinking; about what we have deeply embedded in our subconscious’.  That by taking on a creative writing exercise, can bring forward these thoughts and emotions to the forefront, for further self-examination.

CREATIVE WRITING PROCESS DURING SESSION 2

During the balance of the session, we were asked to write a piece about a Sue Janson Mug.  We were presented with the mug itself.  It was handed around the group, where each of us had a turn, to examine it in detail.  Then we were asked to brainstorm a list of thoughts that came to mind after handling the mug.

The following is my brain storm list of thoughts after viewing the Sue Janson Mug:

  • Being old – not a wonderful look!
  • Comfort in old age!
  • Vanity disappears – thank god!
  • Good humour about bodies!
  • As if the face mask can hide the other 99.9% of the body image!
  • Seagulls are having a good laugh!
  • Learning to accept the passage of time!
  • Humanizing body image!
  • Low acceptance of human fragility in society!
  • Glamorising of the body beautiful of so few!
No. 2 Creative Writing Session 2 - working with Sue Janson Australian Artist Coffee Cup Images as inspiration photographed by Karen Robinson Nov 2014.JPG.JPG

No. 2 Creative Writing Session 2 – working with Sue Janson Australian Artist Coffee Cup Images as inspiration photographed by Karen Robinson Nov 2014.JPG.JPG

Once we had written our brain storming list of thoughts, we were than asked to pass it over to a partner and we where then asked to circle three thoughts and/or words/phrases on the list and give back to the writer.  From this point we were ask to write a piece, which would be inclusive of those three circled word/s and mine consisted of:  (1) body beautiful; (2) face mask; and (3) the seagulls are having a good laugh.  From these I wrote the following creative writing piece which I titled ‘The Face Mask’.

Title: The Face Mask!

“The glamorising of the ‘body beautiful’ puts so much pressure on us as women. I have seen it, as my job as a mum, to ensure my daughter does not feel the need to adopt a falsehood of herself. That the value of a person is not summed up in, how we look first up, but in what we say and do!

Makeup wearing by women can act like a ‘face mask’ worn to hide the real self, to indicate to others that we are not happy with the real us, that an improvement of our physical self needs to be done regularly. It’s the same for body hair and in particular women’s body hair. We go to such lengths to ensure there isn’t a pubic hair in sight, when wearing bathers at the beach, fearing that the sight of one, will be an utter embarrassment and most certainly have ‘the seagulls rolling on the beach in laughter’.

It’s a tragedy that we cannot, just be our natural selves all of the time; we waste so much time, energy and money on our ‘looks’. We need to just consider our health in mind and body only, as looks fade and without a healthy mind and body…looks are just so unimportant!”

Written on 5th November 2014 by Karen Robinson – “Copyright” Protected

CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING ART!

Again I wanted to use my creative writing piece to inspire an art work.  ‘The Face Mask’ had me thinking about how as women in privileged societies spend so much time, energy and money, in trying to live up to almost impossible images that they view each and every day through television, newspapers, magazines, movies, and social media.  Over a life time, masses amounts of lipstick is applied to our lips;  face make up smeared onto skins; eyebrows plucked and shaped;  lashes lengthened and coloured; face-lifts done to ward off wrinkles; tanning colour applied; bleaching of skin; eye colour lens to change original eye colour; hair dyed, cut and styled over and over again; along with numerous other ‘beauty’ treatments.  All these effects are beyond wanting a healthy mind and body.  My art work below is of a face that has had a constant laying of Matisse Acrylic Structure Paint applied to its surface – hence hiding its true self…

CONCLUSION

I am finding the creative writing group process, gives me an opportunity to express myself with words.  We get to share our creative writing pieces and we have the opportunity to hear what others have written as well.  It really makes you think and listen…

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Creative Writing Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

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

Creative Writing Group Session 1 of 6 – “The Happy Box!”

While you are here – please check out my home page!

INTRODUCTION

My art therapy journey has been mostly a solo experience up until recently, meaning without any outside influences or company. It has been a very personal endeavour and one that, at first, was just for me. Over recent years though, I began to share some of my work through group exhibitions which has been enlightening and revealing.  It was through these exhibitions that I learned about the power of art as a form of self-expression; a way to empower a person with a visual voice, when words are hard to find.

No. 9 Creative Writing & Abstract Painting 'The Happy Box!' Acrylic Paint on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Oct 2014 NB All images are subject to copyright law.JPG

No. 9 Creative Writing & Abstract Painting ‘The Happy Box!’ Acrylic Paint on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Oct 2014 NB All images are subject to copyright law.JPG

Throughout my abstract painting portfolio, I have dedicated an effort to verbalizing my art works’ sources of inspiration, meaning and sometimes its purpose.  Each painting has its own painting story, as I have called it, and whilst the details are of a factual nature, the process feels very much like creative writing. The creation of painting stories to accompany each painting has become, for me, an important part of the therapeutic process which has, over time, lead to a greater sense of wellbeing.

CREATIVE WRITING GROUP

Just recently,  I was fortunately asked, if I would like to join a ‘Creative Writing‘ group.  The small group is especially for those who are carers for another in their lives.  The sessions are designed to offer individuals a way to express themselves through ‘creative writing’ in a safe, secure and supportive environment.  It also gives participants an opportunity to meet new people whom they learn to share thoughts, emotions and life experiences within an imaginative and creative environment.

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Creative Writing Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

No. 10 Creative Writing & Abstract Painting 'The Happy Box!' Acrylic Paint on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Oct 2014 NB All images are subject to copyright laws.JPG

No. 10 Creative Writing & Abstract Painting ‘The Happy Box!’ Acrylic Paint on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Oct 2014 NB All images are subject to copyright laws.JPG

CREATIVE WRITING PROCESS

In our group there are between five to eight participants, one creative writing specialist and one co-facilitator.  At this very first session it was really about getting to know each other, gaining a sense of being comfortable in sharing basic facts amongst the group, in this new space.  We then embarked on several creative writing exercises where we were asked to write about (1) The View; then about (2) Where am I right now!; and lastly (3) What am I an expert in?  After each piece was written, we shared our writings with each other.  It was very interesting to share and hear each others creative writing endeavours and was a wonderful way to get to know each other in a manner that was quite personally informative.

MY CREATING WRITING PIECE TITLED “THE HAPPY BOX!”

We were given homework to do which was to write another piece on ‘What I am an expert in?’ and this is the writing piece I would like to share here below.  I gave it the title of ‘The Happy Box!’:

Title: The Happy Box!

When it comes to thinking about what “I am an expert in” and taking into account my age, being the length of time I have had, to create expertise – I am left to ponder. The word expert, for me, has a limiting effect. Once you become labelled as an expert, there is a notion that you have reached the end of that ability to grow further more; that you therefore know, all there is to know, about that particular field of knowledge.

Thinking again, about what “I am an expert in” I would have to say there have been many things that I have become an expert at, over my life; and once I reached that state of being an expert, I moved onto the next thing I could become an expert at. Over what now seems to have been a long life, I have always challenged myself to be the best; to be expert in tasks that require great dedication and drive, and an inclusiveness of a sort of madness to continue, despite hurdles to overcome.

My greatest life-long challenge has been, to become an expert at being a fully functional human being. Inherited childhood learning’s and deficiencies, became adult puzzles to work on throughout my whole life. I would mould myself into a better me at times and at other times fail at this task miserably. I have learned to treasure the smallest of delights and recall them in my melancholy moments; to use them to uplift my spirits, when day-to-day life had failed to do so.

To help me gain this sense of expertise in being a fully functional human being, I just recently developed a system for myself. I call it the ‘happy box’! I ask myself each day, is what I am going to be doing this day, going to tick the ‘happy box’ and if the answer is yes, then it is included and if the answer is no, I take the time out to ask why and should I be doing it at all, if it is not going to tick the ‘happy box’.

I find myself now working towards being an expert at living the balance of my life in such a way that I look for joy in everyday. My ‘happy box’ thought process, has been helping me work towards this quest. I look to become the expert I have been striving for, all my life. It is a deeply personal endeavour and it is going to be very satisfying … it will tick the happy box!”

Written on 28th October 2014 by Karen Robinson – ‘Copyright’ Protected

CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING ART!

After immersing myself in my creative writing homework task; and after reading it to the creative writing group in session 2, I decided to go home that day and do a small work of art based on my creative writing piece ‘The Happy Box!’ to accompany this weblog.  The ‘Matisse Acrylic Structure Paint‘ colours I chose to use are bright and bold being (1) Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and Red Oxide, along with two other colours I had mixed previously – a reddish colour and black/smokey colour.  I used a flat, oval spatula to smear the paint around the paper and then used a thin paint brush to add the box and tick. I found myself really enjoying the process of producing the art work and photographing it accordingly.  Even the act of photo-taking of it was a therapeutic process!  Art therapy at its best I feel…

CONCLUSION

For me, the act of creative writing and accompanying it with the process of creating an art work to reflect the creative writing piece – definitely ticked the happy box…

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

Artful Child’s Play!

While you are here – please check out my home page!

September 2014, I was asked if I would do a one-off, two-hour ‘holiday program art session’ at our local council, for a group of 8 children, ages from 5 to 12 years old, as a volunteer artist.  The theme we decided upon was Halloween and the children made Halloween masks.  We had an assortment of materials to work with and I was on hand to assist with any requests the children had; to answer any questions and to offer artistic encouragement during the whole process.

We firstly talked about what Halloween is in very simplistic terms being that it is one of America’s favourite holidays which is celebrated on the night of October 31st. It’s a time putting on costumes, trick-or-treating, and having theme parties.  It can also be a time for superstitions, ghost and goblins and also about having lots of fun…

It was very interesting how each child went about producing their Halloween mask and what materials they individually decided to use.  We started the process with a coloured rectangle shape of hard cardboard.  I had given each child a specific colour and suggested that if they didn’t like the colour they had, perhaps they could ask someone to swap with them.  A couple of the children decided to swap and did it in such an agreeable way – that impressed me!  Then we glued a white, plain cardboard face onto the square coloured paper, just so that they had a basic face to work on.  Paint was a big favourite with the children and glitter became the star product used, both with the boys and the girls.  I made a suggestion to use wool for hair and as you can see above, there were some children who took up the offer.

I was so impressed with how the group of children went about studiously working on their Halloween masks.  At times I offered further encouragement and input; along with some ideas and suggestions for them to consider; and with lots of encouragement and praise.  For me, this was a form of art therapy for children, as it gave them an opportunity to do just what they wanted to do; unrestricted creativity and with total ownership for their end results.  It was a good art session and it appeared the children had enjoyed themselves and were genuinely pleased with their efforts.

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that ran the session.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will be about my own experience and broad statements about the session.  I hope you will understand.

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 1 of 7- “It’s actually fun!”

While you are here – please check out my home page!

My art therapy journey has been a solo experience up until now, meaning without any outside influences or company. It has been a very personal endeavour and one that at first was just for me. Over recent years though, I began to share some of my work through group exhibitions which has been enlightening and revealing.  It was through these exhibitions that I learned about the power of art as a form of self-expression; a way to empower a person with a visual voice, when words are had to find.

Just recently, I was fortunately asked, if I would like to join an art therapy group.  The small group is especially for those who are carers for another in their lives.  The sessions are designed to offer individuals a way to express themselves through art in a safe, secure and supportive environment.  It also gives participants an opportunity to meet new people whom they learn to share thoughts, emotions and life experiences within an imaginative and creative environment.

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Art Therapy Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.  During my first session experience, I realized that I must have been ready for this type of art for therapy, as I found it actually fun. This was my personal experience but I am sure for some of the other participants, it was emotionally challenging and confronting.

In our group there are five participants, one art therapist and one co-facilitator.  At this very first session it was really about getting to know each other, gaining a sense of being comfortable in sharing basic facts amongst the group, in this new space.  One of the exercises involved using a set of crayons and a sheet of butcher paper.  Each participant had to articulate a story about the first session.  Our time frame was just 10 mins – so we had no time to waste, it was straight into creating!  It was very interesting how each individual’s drawing was so different; and how each participants accompanying story – fascinating and revealing.  I was just amazed how the act of making art could unleash such strong emotions, thoughts and feelings.

For myself, I did a crayon sketch on butcher paper about our group.  The black darken outlines represents the seven of us within the art therapy group.  The red shaping in the body of each represents our hearts.  The different coloured lining represents our human makeup.  What I said at the time, when explaining about my art work story was that “we are at the beginning of this 7 week journey in this art therapy group, we are all human, all the same, we know little about each other at this point, but we are united together as a group to venture forward to learn more, more about ourselves and about each other”.

Once we had all explained what our art work was about, we had to cut or tear it up and use the pieces in a group weave.  This was confronting for me and some others because it meant we had to virtually destroy what we had just created.  It was an interesting group process and once completed, we all stood back to have a look at our new group master piece.

 

This whole process for me, was about the act of individually creating; individually given up that creation; and then recreating as a group.  A little like what happens in a family, giving up individual efforts for the good of the family as a whole.  Another thought that I had, was that we can some times in our lives suffer great losses and in order to continue on, we need to look at being able to recreate ourselves over again, for ourselves and for others.  Art for therapy gives us a way to process thinking…I could see this in action within our art therapy group on this day…

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