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 …….

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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 

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.

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/

Developing a style , A3 size part 1- step by step 

Frequently over the years, I have been asked to do bigger work. I bailing at it because I like working in my kitchen on several things at once. However, the still life style I have been producing would work well A3 ( 12″x16.5″)

Drawing a mandala that big was a bit tricky until I got the hang of it

Stage 1 – mandala  drawing using water soluble teal ink on 140lb watercolour paper and cartridge paper 

Stage 2- Spritzed with water x4 

The second one is drawn with thin sharpie just to see what happens ( my turquoise pen ran out) I always think as I do each stage – leave it here …..


I love the slight differences that you get doing a series 

Part3- adding texture and energy drawing loose spirals in a variety of different pencils , gelatos and pens 


I also added some Galeria  Matt varnish because the blokey in my local art shop said it would act as a resist …… we shall see 

Stage 4 – sprayed pink watersoluble pink ink through a crochet diolly 


I have decided that If I am doing teal and turquoise acrylic backgrounds on top and of these I need to add a bit more zing to the underneath layer. Disappointing there is no evidence of the varnish acting as a resist at this stage …..


But not too much 
Fluorescent pink and yellow is just a bit too much even for me …. ( above I spread it on with a credit card) 

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