I am always making art of some sort. Most of the art pirces on display in this post were made this past week, except for one oil pastel drawing and the two rubbing template designs which are from the week before. My life is filled with art since, for a living, I am an art therapist, so there is potential collage fodder all around me constantly. Daily, at my job, I am actively demonstrating how to do various art techniques and also coming up with examples to inspire others to want to create and get their creative juices flowing! Most of these collage fodder pieces below were a by-product of my artistic, creative work environment.
This one below (#1)was made outside of my groups on my lunch hour. Its just a simple drawing using the Caran D’ache Neocolor 1 and 2 crayons. It doesn’t take long to create something like this, and its a great stress reliever!
I came across this article yesterday from San Francisco Chronical reviewing the book “Your Brain on Art” which makes the case that making even bad art every day can be good for your health and your brain! Check. I make some kind of art almost every day! Songwriting, cooking, dancing, playing musical instruments, creating poetry, singing, etc., can also fall under the category of art-making; anything creative qualifies. I also do many of those other types of creative endeavors as well. The co-author of the book, Ivy Ross, who teamed up with Susan Magsamen (assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins) says that art making actually rewires your brain by helping to “build new synaptic connections” which increases neuroplasticity. They also said that it can lower the risk of developing chronic pain and reduce cortisol levels.
So, back to my art, I used the wax resist crayons first and then colored over with the water soluble ones. I then added water and even added some water droplets. I quite like the effects of that. It was so satisfying to make something simple like this, knowing that it can potentially be integrated into something larger or more meaningful. It reinforces the idea that all the little bits of our life count for something and can be made into something beautiful even if it doesn’t look beautiful initially. I just love that idea. Maybe that is why I am drawn to collage so much being a trauma survivor. I love to save all the little bits and enjoy the challenge of trying to work them into larger pieces of trying to make the ugly, discarded, or rejected pieces beautiful. I think that is why I am drawn to ministry as well. Ministers do that through the power of God. I am drawn to the outcasts; to those who feel broken. I see the potential of people. Ministers speak a creative “zoe” word straight from God, which is life producing; calling forth those things that are not as though they are! Ministers seek to release the healing power of God, which mends broken hearts. Art imitates life and life imitates art. Ministers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, seek to help people gather the broken pieces of their life and rebuild it into something beautiful! That my life can feel so integrated as far as who I am, and all the things I do are so satisfying considering how fractured and disconnected it all was in my early years. God took my own broken pieces and made it into something meaningful. The fact that God uses us in what we love and what we’re good at, in the ways that He built us, is so satisfying, too.
I noticed that I have used these raindrops in my art-making a lot lately because they represent healing and cleansing to me.
These below, #3 and #4, were made in my adolescent group today! The kids love watercolors! On Fridays I like to give them a free choice on what type of art to make, and out of 10 kids, they all chose watercolors! However, a couple of kids had left the watercolors muddy by dragging one color into the next. Of course, nobody wants to use the muddy watercolors! So with a new idea to clean it (and because I’m in a collage fodder making frenzy), I decided to wipe off the extra muddy colors on watercolor paper versus to try to wash it off in the sink, where the water can clean it off, but then splash the other colors right back into each other. Honestly, this way was much more fun, and I can keep an eye on the kids while I’m doing it! So I cleaned off one muddy watercolor on blank watercolor paper, but muddy colors remained, so I pulled out the start of a collage from Weds where I was showing them how to glue papers down. I didn’t have very many papers on there. Later, I added a white oil pastel over the collage papers just to integrate it further. To be honest, though, the muddy colors turned out beautiful! I really like these earthy colors!
Below, #5 and #6, are some random oil pastel drawings. The first rainbow like swirl was made last week as I showed the kids how you can scratch into the oil pastels. The second one was made during a small group. It was an under-paper that would normally get thrown away, but I decided to add to it. If the groups are small enough and calm/safe enough I can make art, too, and I find it often will inspire and engage the patients further, especially those patients who don’t have the energy or right mindset to want to create; They enjoy watching!-Its one way for them to passively engage. Sometimes, they’ll even give me verbal input.
These below , #7 and #8, were made as examples when we did rubbing templates which I think was last week. I showed them that you can make a loose scribble and then use the rubbing templates in different sections.
Below, #9 and #10 are simple, 15-minute landscapes. They were actually made at a lady’s request this past week in two different groups. I typically can’t make an art piece or drawing at a patient’s request because I’m too busy running the group, and I want them to not be dependent on me, but make art for themselves, but once in a blue moon I can or it seems like it will be therapeutic for the person for me to do so. I’ve done portraits of patients before at their request, but rarely. This particular person didn’t have a problem with engaging in art herself. She didn’t even ask to keep it. She was just fascinated by my art examples and seemed to be inspired by them. In one group she asked for a landscape and in another group she asked for the house, the path, and trees.–That group was particularly small with only 4 people (9-15 is average for a group size,) I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the challenge, and she enjoyed watching.
2 thoughts on “Art as Healing: How the little bits can become whole and how that ties into collage fodder; plus a few simple landscapes.”
So many interesting techniques and light-filled designs. Love them! How do the rubbing templates work?
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Thank you. They are textured plates with raised surfaces, and you lay them under your paper and can use a crayon, oil pastel, or colored pencil and draw (rub) over top and that texture (raised surface) transfers to your paper similar to if you put coils or leaves under your paper and rubbed with crayon over it. Thinner papers work best, although some watercolor paper can work if you bear down hard enough.