Art Therapy: So You Think You Can’t Draw

Perhaps by sharing my talented friend, Carrie’s, art work in my recent post about art therapy, I have unintentionally given you the idea that you need to be an artist to do this.  While it is true that Carrie is a talented artist (you should see her other work), it is not necessary to be an artist to use art therapy effectively.

I’m willing to put my own art on the line to make my point.  So brace your self…

My results from the Visual Journaling book
My results from the Visual Journaling book

This is one of my drawings using the method described in the book Visual Journaling by Ganim and Fox.  My notes about this picture say only:  Pondering the source of joint pain.  Drowning in sorrow-surrounded by pain and anger both from within and without.

Snapshot_20130628This picture from my journal has no caption only the date, but looking at it I can tell I was trying to work through some anger and pain.  After all what do you do with the anger and pain of so long ago?

Everyone says, “let it go.”  I’m trying!

As you can see by these pictures, the purpose of art therapy is not to create master-pieces, but to help one work through feelings, sometimes very intense feelings.  I know my pictures look childish, reasonably so since they depict childhood pain.  But I’m okay with that because they are an outlet that keeps me from self-harm.  I’m not tempted to self-harm any more, but at one time the desire was very intense.

Besides giving one insight into themselves as Carrie’s pictures and descriptions show so well, or allowing one to release emotions, art can also help one relax.

I enjoy drawing and doodling, though I have never thought of myself as an artist by any means.  (If my artwork about hasn’t convinced you I don’t know what will.)    So when I stumbled upon Zentangle, I was intrigued.  Snapshot_20130628_6First, I looked at a couple websites on line, and then at a couple youtube videos.  Then, off to the library (website) to find some Zentangle books.  Not surprisingly they were all checked out, but I put a few on hold.   While I was waiting, I created this–with my on-line instruction–Sorry it’s not a very good photograph, but the picture is pretty rudimentary anyway.

Then I received my first Zentangle book from the library, this is one I must buy my own copy of: One Zentangle a Day: A 6-week Course In Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration and Fun by Beckah Krahula.

Snapshot_20130628_7

With her wonderful instructions, I started to “get” it.  I have to warn you here–it’s only right that I do–tangling is addictive.  I can’t seem to stop.  It really is relaxing, inspiring and fun.  I can’t get enough of it.

One day I showed my pictures to a friend, previously I had never let anyone but my therapist see my “art”.  The friend, who happened to be an art teacher was very generous with her praise, so I let other people see it.  Before I knew it people were saying to me, “I didn’t know you were an artist.”

Believe me, I didn’t either.  Actually, I still don’t think of myself as an artist, but simply an art yogi.  I’m kidding.

Snapshot_20130628_8

What I want to say to you is this:

If you have any desire at all, to try art therapy, then do it!  Don’t worry if your creations look childish–those seem to be the most therapeutic anyway.  Who knows, you might just find a new addiction–err–hobby, as I have.

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The Official Zentangle website is: http://www.zentangle.com/

The Zentagle Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/Zentangle?feature=watch

And here is a sample:

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Betrayal of the Mind–OR–Embarassing Moments with Art Therapy

Very Basic Notan…to see something better check out the google link below

Awhile back, when my therapist was going to be on vacation for a week, which at the time felt like forever, I decided to give myself some homework.  I got some books from the library on art therapy.  I’ve been doing it on and off ever since.

ON–I do it because it helps bring things from my unconscious mind forward, and can be helpful in therapy.  Kind of like dreams.

OFF–sometimes I don’t do it because it helps bring things from my unconscious mind forward, and I don’t always like that.  Kind of like dreams.

In my on again, off again way, I have filled about 7 sketch pads with my randomness, some of it revealing, some mysterious, some dull.  Each sketch pad is more personal than a journal simply because I have more control over what I say in a journal.

If you haven’t tried art therapy, that may seem like an odd thing to say.  But I will give you an example of a time art therapy took me by surprise.  Part of the problem was that I had not intended to do art therapy at that moment, but the subconscious doesn’t care about little things like proper timing.

So, I was in my son’s Kindergarten Art Class.  They were learning Notan.  It is a form of art that uses contrasting colors and paper cutting to make designs.  Some notan is really intricate and beautiful.  You can see some google images of notan HERE

As I often did in that class, I helped my son with his project and then I made my own.  (I had so much fun in that class!)  After we all finished our pictures, the teacher had us hold them up (parents too) and show them to each other.  So I held mine up for this class of Kindergarteners and three or four other moms.  Then we sat them on the table and started on a second one.

That is when I looked down at mine, blushed furiously and turned it over so no one could see it.  This happened on a therapy day, so I took it to therapy.  My therapist burst out laughing when he saw it.  Then said, “Can I take a picture of it for your file?”

“A picture?  You can have the horrid thing.  I don’t want it!”  I said.

He just smiled, took a picture with his cell phone and told me he would email it to me.  Much later, I was glad that he did.  But it has taken me a year to overcome my embarrassment enough to post it here on the blog.  I’m sharing it to show you the power of the mind, and of art therapy.

So….what were we talking about?  The weather…how about that fog we’ve been experiencing in the Seattle area. . .