Art for Self Care

For me, Process Painting, Mandala Making, Intuitive Drawing, Painting to Music, Breathlines, and Art Journaling all fall into the realm of healing and contemplative arts — which makes them absolutely ideal when you’re looking for an arts practice to immerse yourself that’s restorative, and “process-based” (as opposed to “art lessons” to develop a specific skill or a ‘project’ like when you’re creating a body of work).

Each of these processes emphasizes the letting go of painting as ‘product’ or painting as ‘possession,’ so you can explore painting as a process of self-discovery and allowing.

These approaches to art-making may be attractive if you:

  • have been taking beginner art lessons and are now wondering “what’s next?”
  • have been painting for a while and you want to do something other than paint from photos
  • want to approach your art from a deeper, freer, more personal, more self-aware place
  • have never done any artwork at all, ever — you’ve always wanted to but find the idea of “lessons” intimidating
  • are struggling with a transition or a sense of loss, grief, or loneliness
  • have become disenchanted about something and are experiencing a sense of alienation, frustration or discontent
  • have been feeling weary due to caregiving demands
  • have been feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of working in caring professions, such as healthcare, community and social services, occupational therapy, or teaching (actually feeling work-weary, overwhelmed and burned out can happen in almost any career!)

A Healing & Contemplative arts practice promotes resilience and well-being, and when approached as part of a program of “extreme self-care” can help you recover from burnout-depression.

Themes in the healing and contemplative arts revolve around the idea of play, offering, community, loving kindness, celebration, beauty, ritual, silence, listening, helpfulness, confidentiality, mutuality and respect, and conscious conversations with oneself and with others. As a facilitator, here’s just some of what I can offer you:

Intuitive Drawing

Process-oriented exercises from mark-making to life-mapping to using the non-dominant hand and various forms of portraiture to express ideas and emotions. Best experienced over several sessions. Each session is 2 hours duration. One to one or small group in my studio, or at a location of your choosing.

Painting to Music

Painting to Music is expressive painting – meaning that it is a spontaneous response in the present-moment, hugely intuitive, and usually non-representational. We work in acrylics, on canvas or canvas board and explore the different types of energy that’s created when we incorporate a variety music genres into our work. Lots of fun and best experienced over several sessions. Sessions are two hours in duration plus time for set-up and clean-up. Sessions are 2 hours plus time for clean-up. One to one or small group, in my studio, in the community, or through Rosetta School of Visual Arts.

Mandala Making

Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle, and mandala making is creating art within that ‘container’.
People use mandalas for centering during times of transition, answering a question, for calming, expressing a feeling, or processing an experience. They can also be tools for exploring relationships, marking milestones (celebrating!), expanding perspective, developing empathy and attunement, as a tool for journaling, and self-care. Mandalas can be drawn, painted, or made with clay, stone, sand, leather, wood, cloth, or other materials.
Mandalas can be made in solitude or with others, made individually or created by groups. The results are often immensely satisfying because creating in circles has a calming effect and builds the capacity to focus and concentrate your energies. I offer 3 different one-day workshops (generally 9:30 to 4:30), suitable for 2 or 3 people in my studio, and larger groups (up to 12) at a location of your choice in the community, or through Rosetta School of Visual Arts.

  • Mandala: Spirit Friends & Personal Totems

Spirit Friends & Personal Totems provides an exploration of personal symbols, metaphor and story, incorporating mindfulness, guided visualization, and drawing from om inner vision and supplied resources. We work on black paper as is customary for illuminating a mandala (bringing light into your art) for dramatic results. We use colour pencils and learn how to enlarge elements and compose fleeting thoughts and disparate elements into a cohesive and meaning-filled composition. Creating this mandala often generates inspiration for extending this experience into other works of art – outside of the circle.

  • Mandala: Journey to the Centre

Journey to the Centre is just that – the making of a ‘ritual’ mandala, following a step by step process which differentiates between the universal, cultural, material and dream worlds, and the various ‘gates and portals’ to your personal centre. The process explores symbol and includes meditation and some journal-writing in response to your discoveries in the process of creating your mandala. Provides an excellent introduction to the properties of various water-based media (watercolour – tempera – acrylic) (you’ll choose your preference) and the mandala is completed on good quality watercolour paper.

  • Mandala: Light and Luminescent Colour

Light and Luminescent Colour is an exploration introduces the idea of form, movement and rhythm through geometric, patterning. It also touches on your sense of colour as it relates to the chakras – energy centres in the body. It’s great way to learn more about colour mixing – tints/tones/shades – to create a mandala with a ‘rainbow’ spectrum. Provides an introduction to water-based media (watercolour – tempera – acrylic) and you’ll choose your preference, and complete your mandala on good quality watercolour paper.

Process Painting

Process Painting offers an experience of mindful self-expression. It’s present-moment, intuitive, metaphorical, and representational. We work in tempera on high quality Bristol, in silence. It is calming. Non-evaluative. We learn to become aware of the emotions our paintings evoke, to be observant and patient with ourselves, to release images that speak to us and to acknowledge the many layers of our stories. We celebrate the stages of a painting’s development and our discoveries along the way, and through commitment to regular sessions with adequate time for the process to unfold, we find ourselves more able to express love for ourselves and compassion for others. Sessions are 3 hours in duration including time for closure and clean-up. Ideal for 1 to 3 people in my studio, or a smaller group – up to 12 in a location of your choice in the community, or through Rosetta School of Visual Arts. (Spring 2017)

Creative Journaling

Incorporates guided autobiography, reflective writing exercises, poetry, journal writing, painting, mark-making and collage during the process of making an altered book or hand-made book/journal as you explore life transitions, significant markers and meaningful discoveries at various points on our life path. Best completed over a series of sessions; sessions tailored to you and your group, and your intention.

Breathlines – Coming Soon!

I used to do this as a kid! Sort of – but Laurie Edwards has taken the method of teasing images and stories ‘out of the spaces’ to a healing and contemplative practice based on “the assumption that authentic encounters with self or others occur in otherwise unoccupied spaces. It therefore relies on ritual, and encourages delight in beauty.” This practice centres on intentional use of the breath – and an ever increasing awareness of the act of exhaling. Much like process painting, Breathlines paintings are created in an environment of silence and is best experienced over several sessions. Each session is 2 hours duration, plus time for set up and clean-up. Count on 5 to 6 sessions because it takes 3 to 4 sessions before a painting will be ready for colour and one or two more sessions to finish the painting. The aim is that the group moves together to the colouring stage, and upon completion, we explore ways, both verbal and non-verbal to articulate meaning (e.g. through story, poetry, movement or meditation, and we name our pieces).

Expressive Arts

Expressive arts experiences integrate the use of visual arts, movement, music, voice, spoken word, and creative writing as a catalyst for personal inquiry, discovery and growth. To a practitioner EXA is both’ multi-modal’ (all of the arts forms) and ‘intermodal’ (integrated use of all of those arts forms)
So… an example of an expressive arts session: You might start with a short creative writing exercise, that moves on to a visual art expression of a word, theme or emotion that comes out of that writing… you might do that yourself, or you might work with others – first on your piece, then theirs and they yours… you might meditate on the visual art, or discuss it – and share your stories… then you might decide on a sound for the piece – you might use your voice to make sounds andor various instruments… and then move to it… ‘dance’ or to create a drama around the theme that has emerged, then return to journaling about what has come to mind… and that may lead to… making a mask or…who knows!
I tend to enhance visual arts experiences with writing, music and movement… so you get a taste of  how various forms of expression can compliment each other, without taking a deeper dive right away. An expressive arts experience requires a safe ‘container’ which comes over time, through a relationship based on mutuality and co-creation. Read more about expressive arts in the resources