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 

Doodling flowers 

I am regularly asked how I start my doodles so I decided to break down the process into small stages here 

I start with some sort of a circle 


Then I build up the design – breaking the circumference into small repetitive shapes. I use the same ones in lots of different combinations to make different designs 



Flowers petals are usually odd numbers but I don’t let that bother me at this stage 


I go round the circles making the designs more complicated – building up the layers of pattern 


I felt the the two on the left needed more in the middle so I went back to the centres 


Here are two flowers with external petals added 

I never do exactly the same design -but keep added more layers until I fill the page with my design. Here are two flowers similar to the pink and white designs above with extra layers added 

Large collage mandala -a training course – breaking free 

I attended a fab training course at SafeSpace in Dunfermline at the weekend – the course was mainly aimed at counsellors, but was very interesting and the more work I do in this area the more I want to know about it. 

http://www.safe-space.co.uk/

I have been feeling quite tight and restricted recently. My doodling has reflected this with my mandala type images getting more and more detailed and layered. 



This was particularly noticeable  during my visit to the US. You would think international travel would be an opening / stretching of consciousness type experience. I think this time since Joe’s accident has been one of  of huge anxiety for me – very inward looking and diminishing 

The course felt very liberating,  learning about how emotions are affected during child development. How empathy in counselling can liberate stuck patterns, was liberating 

Being with a group of people in an intense learning situation again was exhausting and fabulous all at the same time. 

Jon has been trying to push me towards working on a large scale again. Yesterday after work,coffee with a friend and a snooze this happened……


I have a couple of large canvases in my store room from last year- they were cheap and didn’t respond well to layers and layers of wet collage and paint. However, the size appealed to me. 

It’s funny in my head I had a pile of mandalas waiting to be used in a box somewhere – I forget they are under collages in my journals or ripped up and added to other art all the time. I think one of my favourite things to do so far in this process is to rip up my mandalas and work very quickly with great big brush strokes as I paint on the glue , lol.

I had 6 as a starting point about 6″x10″- in black and blue ink , mostly on the insides of security envelopes and a few photocopies 

Not enough to fill this – but I think that is quite a good thing – I will have something to work on over the next few weeks.

Writing this I am enjoying looking at the piece, drying. 

I like the fact that I work in my kitchen. It is a pain to be always surrounded by mess- but I like to be able to get on with house hold jobs in small spurts. 

I think the course was a bit of a break through, physically I feel as if I have been to see the osteopath and had a right bashing – I can feel clear tingling pathways through out my body. Something has definitely shifted – it’s a good job we have a couple of weeks before the next couple of sessions. So that I have time to digest and recover before the next bout. 

My mandala so far – that blue section in the middle needs disrupting a bit,  other wise I quite like what is happening 



I am not sure if I will cover up all the white or not – because I have used a couple of photocopies – the ink has run in several places ….

Collaborative letter journaling 

I do some collaborative work with a face book Letter journals are small books that are made with 4 pages of light weight paper and a cover 8″x8″stitched down the middle.  When it is folded in half the journal fits in a business envelope. Most of the time I send the journals to Australia or America , because this is where most of the work that is similar to mine is produced. One of the aims of these journals is to have fun and keep the weight down so that they don’t break the bank when posting them internationally – the maximum weight is 50gms – so your journal will need to weigh 20gms or less at the beginning of the swap 

It’s fun to keep the cost down by using lots of cheap easily found art equipment. 

I use different light weight paper to make my pages for example security envelopes , old books , music scores and I recycle things like boarding passes 

Equipment : Colouring pencils, pencils , cheap acrylic paint , postage stamps, stamps, biros, thin black writing pens , sharpies, washi tape, stickers, madgazine and newspaper images, letter and image stencils 

When I send out my journals I go through and add stuff to every page 

Stage 1 

Examples :

Smear  some paint with credit card – add dots of paint 

This image is from a journal worked on with Brenda Lin, Joanne Hughes and Kerry Coleman
Scribble with a colouring pencil or a felt pen

The above image is from a journal with Michelle Hood, Jade Herriman and Natasha Kirby 

Use pages with patterns or textures- e.g old music paper , book pages 


Add images from news papers and magazines 

Add strips of colour or texture from news papers and magazines 

Add children’s stickers 

Colour in or doodle on plain  stickers 

Add stripes with different types of pen- sharpie , biro, pencil , thin black liner 


Doodle 

Cut out words from magazines and newspapers 

Stamp images using commercial stamps


From a page finished by Michelle Hood 

I send my journal off at this stage – usually you finish a double page spread in each journal and sign it. I like to do my final spread at the end, when I receive my journal back. 

Stage 2 

Things that I do to other people’s journals when I receive them 

Doodle 


Top left from a journal worked in with Paula Jeffery 

Add paint using stencils 


Add magazine images and text 

Other things to do – 

Colour in doodles 


From a journal worked in by Kathy Moulton , Darlene Winter and Sue Maher 

 
Add outlines and layers to people’s images 

Add more collage 


From a journal page finished by Joanne Hughes 

Washi tape – I tend to add washi tape at this stage because it is hard to doodle over the top of with my fine liners – even the permanent ink ones 

Work from a journal worked in by Michelle Hood, Jade Herriman and Natasha Kirby 

Stage 3 

Some finished pages – if everyone had a good go you get back 8 or 9 pages of mixed media fun 


From a couple  of journals worked in by Tess Wyatt ,Michelle Hood, Jade Herriman , Natasha Kirby l,Brenda Lin, Joanne Hughes and Kerry Coleman 

The FB group I work with is run by Jade Herriman 

Loving Letter Journals!

Over drawing 

I read an article about an artist called Tim Youd – who types out copies of books on one piece of paper. He over writes each page putting it back into a type writer to create texture and tone and abstract pieces . I really liked the idea of these so I am doing my own over doodle – drawing on the same piece of paper for a week 

 Day 1- I started with something simple to leave lots of space to draw over 
Day 2 ( with  the start of day 3 ………)  it was interesting how quickly I wanted to add a darker line into the design to differentiate from one day to the next 
  Day 3 – I couldn’t resist using the lines from the last few days to accentuate parts of the design today – I.e drawing into the flower bottom right using the lines in the page from day 2  

Day 4 – I am having to draw intuitively because it is begining to be  difficult to see where I am going – I feel like I cheated because I out lined the flower I drew today to make it stand out. I know I am going to end up with a black inky page but – I found I wanted to establish where I took my pen  for a walk today   

Day 5 – I managed to use a slightly thinner pen by accident today  and I told my self- no straight lines – the drawing is having to be intuitive and looser because I cannot always see what I am doing- I didn’t like it yesterday – to day I do – interesting to be making something that is not necessarily into asthetics , not thinking about composition , tone , line quality , depth etc . 

 

 

 Day 6 – I liked my end layer yesterday. I decided to keep the technique of drawing in a looser manner. I like it when something like this exercise which can seem quite randomn at the begining developes a skill or an idea- so I ‘scumbked’ over the top for today’s layer – starting in a small circle and then moving out – which follows the idea of the other days 

  
I enjoyed doing it so much that I decided to add the technique to some of my travelling doodles – I like the effect of the looser technique over the top of my tight cross hatching 

 1.New York Oak leaf pattern   

2. With added scumbling to the background 

 

Travel doodling 

On my transatlantic holiday I have a kept a book which I have doodled in – I draw and make circular designs ( since the move to Edinburgh)  I have tried to use images and motifs from the countries visited to influence the designs . I have developed a lazy way with flowers so I have tried to push my self to develop different images – though using the same pen and ink / hatching / textures – flowers are my thing 

Not all of the designs are shown below – 3 have been given away -2 to friends on the trip and one I swapped with a little Chinese girl at Tokyo airport – I have included her picture below 

  

The doodles are called ‘travelling doodles’ I tend to do them on public transport it sitting in coffee shops the last one in the grid above is my logo for the holiday – I started doing mandala designs , but they are not quite perfect enough to be called that , they are definitely therapeutic 

A few larger ones 

My logo  
  Japan and Seoul influenced 
  One of the first ones 

 
 One influenced by an Iraq decorative panel in the Met New York