Movement medicine inspired artmaking 

Over the weekend I participated at a movement medicine workshop. It was called ‘This being human’ and was facilitated by Catherine Wright. 

http://catherinewright.co.uk/

During a meditation about the tree of life I had this really clear image in my head of a human figure as a tree trunk with a black heart or hole where the heart should be. I have had a tight chest recently and palpitations as menopausal symptoms. I danced the feeling out. I am aware of being in touch with my head and my stomach – but there is a numbness where my heart is. 

During the workshop we worked with a poem by  Rumi called ‘ The Guest House’ 

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 

some momentary awareness comes 

as an unexpected visitor. 

Welcome and entertain them all! 

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, 

who violently sweep your house 

empty of its furniture, 

still, treat each guest honourably. 

He may be clearing you out 

for some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, 

meet them at the door laughing, 

and invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes, 

because each has been sent 

as a guide from beyond.

We did an exercise on Saturday where we welcomed a ‘guest’  and worked with a partner – talking, witnessing and using dance. I chose the idea of ‘disappointment’.  As I danced I became aware that I was relieving ‘something’  but it wasn’t disappointment. So I chose to revisit my confusion on Sunday. 

I am still unable to verbalise what is exactly present but I realised with relief that the hole is not black or vacant but a conduit that is not to be frightened or scared of. 

I needed to revisit this experience today through art making. 

Sketches for  ‘a black heart’ – I wrote in my journal ‘ figure rooted but with a hole where the heart should be’ 

 As I was dancing , holding my heart or the feeling of my hands up to my chest was important – drawing hands that don’t look like claws or sausages is always a stretch of my ability – I also needed the tree/body to be a real rounded shaped woman  

Conduit / portal heart sketch – there was such a sense of relief at the realisation that what was going on felt like a portal. As I was at a dance session it was important that I tried to convey movement. 

Black heart – in my head the tree trunk / body was red – the background is newspaper that I used as  protection paper. It is advertising a film and it has amused me that my figure could also look a bit like an ‘Oscar’ there is no way I would offer to be the mouldy for any figurine 😂😂😂😂 


Conduit/portal heart 


My mandalas seem to need to be in everything I do at the moment. The conduit doesn’t feel draining and the energy feels like it is not restricted by time and space. 

During the dance workshop we did a session where working in groups of 3 we witnessed , danced and or meditated , wrote or drew. During my first role as ‘meditator’ I doodled , the portal was very strong in my head and I produced this 

Paper shrines / origami 

I am doing some work about ancestors and family at the moment – I posted some pictures on Instagram of a papershrine pattern that Ideveloped  from a basic folded box.  Some people asked about instructions 

I used a basic origami box and lid found at the link below and suggest if you don’t know how to make these practice a few times before you try my shrine 

http://www.instructables.com/id/Classic-Origami-Box/


Because you make a hole in the lid – you need the base for strength


Here are some of my samples 

You need two squares one 21cm x21cm and 19cm x19cm. In the larger square, the lid,   draw a square 1cm smaller than the central folded shape and cut it out. 


Then cut down the folds as shown below


Make the lid as you would normally up to the stage as shown below. 


Fold the top cut edge into a triangle ,to make a point ( the roof)


Trim the corners of the sides that make the top side of the box , fold and glue together



Below is what it looks like when you turn it around 


Make the base as normal 

I am going to decorate the paper before I cut out the hole in the lid and I recommend folding the paper a couple of times before you cut out the hole 

Here  is a decorated sample with the ‘hole paper section ‘  stuck onto the inside of base 

Self Doubt 

Wed 31 May

Over the last couple of years I have been meditating and working( art journalling )  with Tara Brach podcasts. My friend Deb instigates which podcast we listen to each week. Every time something shifts. Today  we listened to ‘Healing Self Doubt’ from 9th April 2016

 I regularly feel that I cannot be trusted , that I let people down, Not in a moral sense but ,because I make mistakes, struggle with boundaries, am dyslexic and  have migraines 

Notes from listening to Tara Brach’s podcast will appear in bold italic through out this post 

Self doubt, shadow side, who do you think you are? Final challenge of the Buddha. Universal problem. Do I have the capacity to be free? ‘Wee being’ with a badness at its core, definining feature of who I am. Identity can solidify become a cluster of repeating beliefs that catch us. Need to unpick, investigate, weaken hold, release thickness. Belief has power , identity is wrapped up in sticky beliefs , a vulnerable seperate self. Primaries , core identity, false self, 

I have been manically doodling this week – making zine fold books 


I like this format because you can see the inside and outside of the Zine  inbetween stage E and F above 


It’s necessary to shift doubt , find the authentic self and release the not good enough syndrome. There can be an endless hunger for affirmation, imposter syndrome. The ego doesn’t like itself for seeking affirmation. Ask your self – who are you really? What could happen if you let your negative belief go? Veil of belief . Take back your own listening. RAIN* . The beliefs might feel real. How has this squeezed your life? 

The podcast feels very relevant because it talks about unpicking self doubt  – ‘lifting the veil , looking at identity, releasing a thickness in oneself , and sticky beliefs’. I find listening to the podcast , making notes and then collaging a physical release. Cutting out images , layering ,waiting for things to dry , repetition, all help with healing (though this can be quite transient and momentarily) a sense of self . I am having tummy migraines, my head hurts and my  perception feels displaced. This art making feels embodied

Making my ‘Zine’ I have lots of layers – doodling , tea dipping , paint , black marker. It’s like exposing stratum or a map 

After working with Deb/ Tara and thinking about how my self doubt limits me.  I went to work. I am a receptionist and I have to check data. I went through a pile of papers 3 times and then devised  a different way of verifying  so that it got checked again – I didn’t trust my self …….. I needed to tell my manager that my findings were correct, That I could be trusted , the irony of the  repetitive checking today after working on self doubt this morning was not lost on me. 

What would it be like to live without that belief? Liberated, space, relax , trust enough . Not my will but my hearts will, real but not true. 

Thursday 1st of June 

This morning I felt ill, but wanted to keep working on my ‘Zine’  making the pretty patterns is  a relief in it self , but the finished resultsdon’t seem to  articulating any meaning. 

 Yesterday Deb reminded me of a technique we have used in the past caledl ‘veiling’ . This requires  dragging  white paint with a credit card over imagery to knock back or hide sections .This time we used a stencil to add texture 


I found this very powerful and added it over my patterns and text throughout my Zine ( for some reason I really dislike that term) 


I still needed more – more text , more images, more scrawl.  (I am back into my black mail typography at the moment. It feels cathartic to search for individual letters , cutting them out as I work and I don’t make so many spelling mistakes) 



I highlighted the eyes because I felt it was important  highlight the fact sea of looking inward, to be seen , ‘to investigate, to unpack my core identity ‘ ( Brach 2016) 

I am frustrated by fashion magazines lack of diversity of shape and age in the models they use. But I did find a picture of Vanessa Redgrave (who is still very thin) but has nice wrinkles. What is funny is that I still managed to obscure them.


 Using the Zine  layout is that it is possible ( by not making a cover) to confuse the reader. To not have a definite beginning or end, one can go round and round not stopping , revisiting the pages  ( which is what it can feel like when I worry things like the stack of data). 


There is also the possibility of turning it inside out so that all the painful navel gazing is on inside and  a bit less exposed. 

I do like art therapy journalling. 

*RAIN – http://www.tarabrach.com/books-cds/

R – Recognize what is happening

A – Allow life to be just as it is

I – Investigate inner experience with kindness

N – Non-Identification.

Collaborative collage conversations 

Collaborative collage conversations – I have been making collaborative letter journals for a while but most of them occur with people who are over seas, so even though they are great fun and interesting there is no sense of immediate interaction.  Like the give and take of a conversation.
I had a go working in this format at my recent training session with Jo – it didn’t really work as I expected because we were making two collages (  so that we each had one to take home) . 

I felt excited to work with Jo, we had a great conversation before the art session and bounced around lots of ideas about how to work with the participants.

When we had the collage conversation She was very strict and didn’t allow any talking throughout. I found it quite hard not to look at things to choose in advance of her input. I added text by using cut out words from magazines and circling them from the bodies of text.  I had included some of my mandalas in the bags of scraps for the main session, I found I wanted to add bits of those. Jo added a window/ hole over the top of my section excluding some of the green , it felt restricting and excluding so I added another piece further down the page . We both had soup for dinner and had talked about my obsession with circles which seemed to creep into the designs as well. 

Jo disrupted the surface in the bottom piece too by poking holes with a needle in to the red paper on the left. I am gluten free and supposedly dairy free in my diet so I reacted strongly to the ice cream being added by adding the signposted food, which just jumped out at me when I was flipping through a magazine. It was fun and interesting for me to be quiet. When Jo uses this technique with a client she said she watches body language and placement of the pieces. 


I wanted to do more. My friend Diana came around to play. We couldn’t keep quiet ( we hadn’t seen each other for about a month) we agreed not to discuss making the collage. We started of quiet tentatively 


The colour scheme was muted and the text playful ( we make each other laugh a lot) . As we worked the design  seemed to want to explode off the end. Interestingly as an aside I managed to introduce ‘dance’  to this collage and one of the first ones with Jo. ( dance had become quite large in my life at the moment at least 2hrs a week) 


The second one is much louder in comparison. Diana wanted to add the circle of rainbow watches so I added texture and colour to the background while she ‘fussily’ (technical term) cut it out the rainbow  circle. The making atmosphere was light hearted and jolly – it wasn’t as intense as working quietly. Then I found the red acrylic sheet. It was much more give and take working on one sheet

I need to do this again in silence  and just on one sheet. 
Today 

I realised , that the person I most needed to have a conversation is , with my self- I always have trouble with my irritable , migrainey bowel when I travel – but I seem incapable of staying focused and looking after it – I can see a series of conversations looming on the horizon ( lol) 

Number 1 : ‘why can’t you be kind to me?’ Some times I worry about talking to my self in the 3rd person – this time it is my stomach complaining. The waves represent the inexhaustible relentlessness of  eating – everybodies eating , it’s always about food. What can I get away with, what will not upset me today? I definitely have a disassociation with the communication between my mouth and my stomach.  W ords I added say ‘it’s all about today, excuses , bad,health, everyday, why, food, forget,snackisfaction ( because it was there ) irresistible, selective blindness, I want to be healthy. Punishment, relentless’ when I think about children been blown up by bombs it seems trivial and insignificant – but I am ground down by it everyday and up until now seem unable to be kind and break the cycle. I start and stop , but don’t get off the treadmill 

Art journalling session 2 – session outline 

Session 10am-1pm then 2pm-3.15pm 

Co -facilitated with Jo from the charity in Dunfermline- the participants were  all counsellors interested in introducing art journalling to clients ( 4 participants) Due to the small size of the group Jo and I worked together on a couple of exercises so that we gave the participants space 

Start 10-11am I demonstrated  how to make two simple journals (see previous blog post) 

 Jo suggested that we started by making a ‘safe page’ in the journals, ( one of the participants had been unable to attend the first session so we revisited magazine collages) . Some suggestions for ideas if clients don’t know where to start were – to do a page of your favourite colour, use words that suggest what your safe space might look like., use found images to create an image of your safe space 

Group discussion 11-11.20

Coffee 

Exercise 11.30-1pm 

Demonstration-  Jo and I explored how to use pastel and felt pen to express feelings – I drew whilst Jo prompted me to be reflexive about my mark making in front of the group ( at their request  10-15mins)


The group divided into pairs and had 25 mins each working as counsellor/ client in the medium of their choice- 3 used Patel and crayon, 1 person used collage. 

Jo and I did the soft eye flicking through a magazine and chose words and phrases that appealed to us – I found that I had chosen the word ‘colour’ but my words lacked colour or were in  black and white. So I added wax crayon and circled words that had more meaning to me than others 


Group discussion 

Lunch 1-2pm 

Exercise 2-245pm 

Before this session Jo and I discussed different ways that we could use collage in pairs – Jo suggested having a silent dialogue

We suggested that the participants worked in collage collaboratively in 2 journals at the same time so that they each had an example to take home – this diluted the experience a bit, some people found they had two seperate conversations. Jo has found it more intense  if you just work on one page and watch as the other person makes their part of the conversation. Looking at body language and how images and text are placed on the page 

Examples of conversations 

1. 


2.


2.45-3.15 pm Evaluation/ discussion 

Jo fancied the group producing an evaluation of the session as collage/ mixed media. So we each produced an index card that illustrated how we felt about the session- one of the participants cards was two sided. (Mine is bottom right these sessions always make me very happy) 

Art Journalling session 2 – making journals 

Following on from my recent introduction to art journalling – I did another session for the counsellors and in September will do one for the group workers. In this session we explored how to do art journalling / expressive art with clients. 

There was a request for me demonstrate how to make a couple of different types of journals we made an accordion  and a pamphlet stitch journal 

1) Accordion fold journal  – I couldn’t find an easy step by step illustration on the Internet so I photographed one I made – there are lots of videos on YouTube 

Accordion fold – you will EE’s   6 sheets  of paper that are  the same size, I am recycling an Edinburgh International brochure 


fold all the piece in half to make fat halves 


Take one sheet and fold again into quarters , then rip or cut into strips along the folds 



Fold the strips in half again , these are the joining strips for the other pages 

Open up a strip and apply PVA glue , thinly all over ,take one of the other sheets of paper and lie it down on the wet strip in line with the fold


Take another piece of paper and lie it down on the other remaining glue strip 


If I flip the two sheets over at this stage you can see the strip which is yellow on one side gluing the two pages together 


Repeat , glueing all the strips to the remaining sheets  to create a long thin strip 


Fold this  strip, using the folds and glued strips as a guide ,into an accordion shape.  


Make 2 thicker pieces of paper/card the same size as the fat halves and glue them to the first and the last page – this makes the journal stronger for carrying and keeps  it together.  when you have finished working  on the pages- you may want to tie it together with a ribbon or apiece of string. 

2 Pamphlet stitch 


http://www.quietfiredesign.com/Galleries/Techniques/3HolePamphlet.htm

I always use a variety of papers in my journals to make ‘folios’  – the one we used today were made of Matt magazine pages, book pages ,white cartridge paper and one of my doodles. We use the metric ‘A’ system for our paper sizes in the UK – the paper was approx A4 ( 8.5″x10″) before folding. 

Art Journalling an introduction 

I facilitated an introduction to art journalling for some group workers and counsellors in Dunfermline yesterday – they are hoping to introduce some journalling to their clients so I have written an outline of the session. ( The group had a big range of art experience , from seasoned art makers to those who were quite anxious of using art materials ) 

I have been art journalling with my friend Debbie and following Shelley Klammer , Lisa Sonora and Orly Avineri –  so they have influenced my  work heavily .  I also draw from my art practice and teaching experience 

This CPD session shows you how to start art journaling – using simple techniques to explore feelings and emotions through art materials – have fun using found images, explore collage and expressive techniques with crayons and 

Materials and equipment 

Pastels and paint 

Sample technique books 

Examples of journals 

Blank journals 

Box of collage bags – scraps / paper / my prints 

Scissors 

baby wipes/ paper towels 

Magazines 

Glue sticks 

Paint 

Palettes 

Make up sponges 

Stencils 

Paintbrushes 

Washi tape 

Pencils 

Biros

black sharpie 

White signo pens 

Letter stamps 

Ink pads

Pastels 

Colouring pencils 

Wax crayons 

Abstract photos 

Photos of journal pages 

Aspects of self cards 

Soul cards 

Forgot to take hair dryers or drying tool 
Morning session 10am- 12.20 ( with 15 min coffee break)

Intro session 

Introduce my self 

Group explain who they are and what art experience they have 

Look at some art  journalling examples and ideas for how group could use them for self care. Through out the day I would explore ways that they could use this technique with their clients. 

Important to create a safe space with no expectation of art skills, no right or wrong way of art journalling , it is for your self, try and work in an intuitive , not over thinking kind of way 

Warm up exercises 

1) taking a line for a walk – What an angry / sad / happy / content mark / line would look like in pencil and pastel 


2) Abstract Photos – images of walls , water, fabric , my abstract art , stairwells etc 

A) Look at the picture write down what comes into your head when you look – don’t over think it do stream of conscious stuff –

B)  then write down what it makes you feel, weather, time of day, mood etc 

Discuss with the person sitting next to you 

Art journalling 

Choose something that has been with you this week – not a really deep emotional  ‘thing’  but more like an irritation – or a feeling 

Sit with it for a bit 

Then take a magazine and with soft eyes not reading the articles flip through the pages and rip out any whole pages with things that you like or attract you 

Try not to think too much – words / images/ patterns / texture 

When you have a pile go through and get rid of excess page by cutting or ripping out the pieces that attracted you 

Suggestion – choose a large piece for a background and stick it into your journal 

Then place some of the other images / text onto your page – when you like the arrangement stick it down 

Use collage bags / letter stamps / words

Discuss with the person sitting next you and come up with some statements about the work so far to share with the group 

Group plenary 

Afternoon session 1-2.30pm 

Introduce paint 

Stencilling 

Washi tape 

Aspects of self cards 

Give the group freedom to choose what work they do 

Clear up 2.30 

Plenary 2..45- 3pm 

A few Images from the day 








Links 

Instagram                                                       Tesswyatt , orlyavinerie, howardDebbie,shelleyklammer, lisasonora

Web links: 

Shelley Klammer https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/

Debbie http://www.facebook.com/earthaddictart

Orly Avinerie https://oneartistjournal.com/

http://lisasonora.com/