Group work and art journalling

I ran an art journalling session for group workers. They attended my initial session which introduced art journalling for self care back in May.

I started the session with a selection of journals that I have worked on collaboratively with friends from Instagram and FB. After talking to the group work facilitator we felt that collaborative work would be a key part of our art work with clients.

As a safe way of working collaboratively I got the group to work on sheets of A4 circular stickers so that they could explore the materials provided

I showed the group how to make a couple of journals using different folding techniques – a Zine format and a concertina fold. We noticed that the folding and handling the paper was relaxing in its self.

http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine/

The concertina journal is made using the preliminary origami fold and glueing together 4 shapes with the top single points all facing the same way ( I do quite a lot of origami and wouldn’t recommend trying this unless you know the group quite well)

We decided that we wouldn’t work further with the concertina folding because it was quite problematic. I asked the group to work in pairs and come up with ways that they could use the Zine journals in a group work

Situation.

We chose to look at making a sample journal that the participants could use as a teaching tool . We initially decided to explore how colour could be interpreted.

I provided a range of materials and equipment

Magazines

Ink blocks

Pastels

Colouring pencils

Paint / brushes

Glue sticks

PVA

Scissors

Paper sample bag – printed matter/Photos/ coloured paper/

As we worked the group decided that they wanted to keep working on this aspect during most of the time allocated. We discussed the work in progress in pairs and as a whole group.

I am new group work so to I tried to let the group work in a self directed way as much possible. I am not sure how successful I was. I attempted to make my comments related to art techniques and encouraging members to stick to the task we had agreed upon …….

Advertisements

Hannah Gadsby at the fringe

The fringe is in full flow at Edinburgh. Every year I look at the size of the programme, flip through the pages and put it down. The sheer volume and variety of acts is like an assault. I do not know how people choose what to go to. I rely on family and friends suggestions. Jon always chooses a few things and I tag along. He is writing a book about how comedy and counselling are similar, so we tend to go to see people who have interesting things to say about life.

The visual assault of the city starts the last few weeks of July. The usual grey tenements and railings are decorated with large billboards. It feels like a never ending array of Faces , colours, and text – as I walk up the hill I think I must exude a scary ‘fuck of vibe ‘ because the young people have stopped offering me flyers.

Last night Jon and I went to see Hannah Gadsby – before we went I knew she was gay, Australian and thinking of giving up comedy.

I was not prepared for the physical onslaught. She is a large presence on stage. Her face grimaces, eyes pop, nudge , nudge , wink wink. Innuendo , it’s a joke.

She is very funny, but there is an unease, it’s a joke , it’s a joke

There is something about her physicality that reminds me of Trump. The throw aways don’t ring true. Am I perceiving this in hindsight?

There is back story about 10 yrs in comedy, being a lesbian, in Tasmania, where it was illegal to be gay until 1997. She is self depreciating about being large and not fitting in.

She has a degree in art history which added an interesting layer for me. She lets her anger slip out around privileged dead white males, particularly Picasso and his misogyny…..

The first 30 minutes is hilarious, but increasingly uncomfortable as she explores why she is thinking of giving up comedy.

I don’t want to give too much of her act away. I am up at 4 am writing this. I woke at 3am with a tightness in my stomach and my head ringing.

I had a need to get up and explore how I was feeling. I felt like I had been run over by a large lorry. Hannah talks about playing a room, making tension and controlling the atmosphere. The raw emotion and anger that she holds is palpable. On the bus back to outlet flat, I could hardly stay awake. I was physically exhausted. We had to catch the bus because I couldn’t face another assault by the crowds and visuals all the way home.

Her anger – it’s a joke, it’s a joke

I started doing one of my circles of bodies. I made Hannah into an ancient Venus figure and wrote in tight neat handwriting around the shapes on the page. I needed to let stuff out so I reread the Guardian article about the show and picked out words ‘lesbian’ ‘comedy’ Tasmania’ ‘1997’ ‘anger’ stood out. Writing Hannah’s reported words made it possible to step away from how I was thinking and feeling.

It’s not finished yet, I want the figures to be more 3D

But you get the idea.

I wanted the feeling of a tight female figure screaming. She has no arms to represent the tension and rage on the stage. She was magnificent in her fury and it was a powerful set – I have been thinking about white privilege and the need to find ways of of being newly accountable – may be blogging and incorporating stuff into my art is a way forward.

http://hannahgadsby.com.au

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/stage/2017/aug/16/standups-quit-comedy-edinburgh-hannah-gadbsy

Migraine mandalas

I get hemiplegic migraines ( which I am sure I must have mentioned in an earlier post) they are exacerbated by flashing lights and hormones. Most of the time they are under control with a very small dose of antidepressants. However, menopause and my irritable bowel has been fun!!! Sometimes, the migraines are brought on by flashing lights – sometimes food (if I am being sensitive). This latest episode was self inflicted really – reading a book and drawing mandalas in 4 hrs of flickering light on a car journey -was asking for trouble. 

I decided to have a go at working through my frustration and anger at my self , after several  reared their ugly heads , consecutive evenings. 

I am staying at my Dad’s house in the south of France with only my travel kit. I painted  loose ovals on lots of sheets of heavy duty cartridge paper with  very diluted acrylic. Then added swirls of neocolours, oil pastels and more paint- it’s warm and arrid here so everything dries very quickly. 


I wanted to continue working with my paper dolls. I tried a design where a female shape is curled up in painholding her head but it ended up looking like white splodges in some sort of fiery constellation. 

A head screaming (below) just looked weird( lol) and didn’t convey what I wanted to express- I like the colours , textures and patterns , so they became backgrounds. 


I needed some figures that worked in circles so I searched on line and came up with an ancient artifact from Mexico 


Practicing blind contour faces in pain ( really getting into the details 😂😂😂😂) 


The above design uses an African figurine as motif but even though it made a lovely mandala in the centre with its arms and legs I didn’t like the proportions of the head and neck. 


Nice uncomfortable screaming baby type figures are amusing me now my head is better and I like the nightmarish qualities – there is an other worldly feeling and out of body experience that I seem to have captured too , which sums up my aura stage quite nicely. Though if I think about it -I don’t experience all that colour 

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 

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 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/

Art journalling and counsellors 

I am teaching a couple more sessions to counsellors soon and I have been reading and making notes for a hand out 

“Art journalling is the process of working through ideas, and feelings intuitively. You can use any method e.g simple collage techniques or doodling. ‘The key is to create for pleasure, to engage in the process, and let go of the product. ‘( Lisa Sonora 2016)” 

Below are some example of mixed collages produced during a journalling project with Shelley Klammer  – The first one is a more complicated page produced using lots of layers , doodling and kidnap note lettering 
  

This one is more simple – I went through a magazine I didn’t particularly like – the February edition of NME and I picked out text and images that jumped out at me 

This one is an example of a very simple page – I used 2 pictures as a background and then added text and images
 
    
“As a counsellor you could use art Journalling regularly as a method of self care and that is kept in a form that can be closed and put away. It is an effective means of stress reduction, and cognitive“workout” that flexes your creative muscles and sensory parts of your brain. ( Cathy Malchiodi 2013) 

It is important as a counsellor that you have ways to look after yourself and ‘creativity is restorative, mentally, emotionally, and physically’ (Lisa Sonora 2016) ”

There are lots of more complicated-journal   pages on my blog feed 

I do a weekly session with my friend Deb in Oxfordshire  (over Skype) we call our posts #soulseedsessions ( which can be found on Instagram) Deb organises a meditation session with a group of friends and then I join in with the art.

 We are working through some Buddhist principles at the moment it is “Equinamity ” 

Below is this weeks journal page- I used collage to make a more complicated design than those shown above – I built up layers of background using an image of a tree – Deb provides the layout and ideas; I tend to develop it in my own way.  
Last night I had a bit of a wobble so this morning I made this  it’s called ‘whoops’ 

 
The back ground is acrylic paint that I used in a teaching session – to wipe my brush inbetween colours and to use up paint that would other wise be wasted .  The stones are cut out of a magazine page and then shaded with watersoluble wax crayons. 

At the moment I am going through a phase of working on water colour paper – then when it is dry peeling off a layer of paper from the back  so that I get tears and rips in my images and uneven edges – it all helps with my equilibrium ( lol) 

References 

Lisa Sonora – email news letter Feb 2016 

Cathy A. Malchiodi ‘Psychology today’ 2014 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201312/visual-journaling-self-care-in-the-new-year