Thursday, February 3, 2011

Healing Art

Art has been a great means of healing, both for me and a number of other survivors I know. Personally, I believe art is so helpful because it allows me to express how I am feeling - even when I am unsure of what I am feeling. Art allows me to work through issues, to explore how I feel about something and often leads to self discovery.

After I was hurt in 2008, I just could bring myself to paint or do any form of art - even though water colours had always been a calming activity and art in general has been something I was passionate about. It was too hard and hurt too much. I didn't really understand this response - at this point I didn't really understand the idea of using art as a healing tool. The images that did come out during the few times I tried were very dark and frightened me. For a long while Margaret (the psychologist who I see) encouraged me to get back into art but I resisted for a long time. It wasn't until the end of 2009 that I really started to try again.

Starting to paint again was a slow process, having stopped for so long I found that I was out of practice and often would get frustrated that I couldn't get my art to be what I wanted due to a lack of ability. I was still learning what it meant to use art as a healing tool and so I was mostly trying to paint images like I always had, rather than letting it come from within. I would often give up trying for a while, or would get destructive with my own art. I kept coming back to it though and while my skill is still not what it once was, I am discovering I don't mind so much. I am now creating art for the process and not the end product and that is much more satisfying.

Paul's blog, where he often shares his healing art and the process, as well as the Expressive Arts Carnival have both been something that has really helped me to understand what healing art really is. When I discovered them in November 2010 I really started to get into art in a healing sense. It was like a door finally opened and understanding of what Margaret had been talking about made sense. I began to start to really trying to use art to explore my feelings, and to sort through my emotions and express them in a safe way.

One of my little ones, the 7 year old, doesn't speak, it is her role to keep the secrets and make sure we don't tell. She struggles to understand that we don't need to keep those secrets any more, that it is safe to share our story. She is getting better, she has allowed us to open up more and slowly is learning that it is safe. However it is still a scary thing and there is still a lot she wont let us touch on. This can hinder our healing, particularly since she often stops us speaking in therapy. Art has become a way that she finds safe for all of us to express our feelings about the past without telling the secrets.

Art is an extremely personal thing, and the way one person chooses to create is not going to be the same as another. However it doesn't matter, their are no rules with art and while there will always be critics, there is no wrong way with art. I think I have always found this very appealing, particularly when I grew up being in fear if what would happen if I got something wrong. There are several ways I go about healing art, each one is as productive as the other, though the outcome is usually very different.

When I am in a really bad way I usually reach for which ever medium I am drawn to at that moment which is easily accessible. I just let whatever is inside out onto the page. Sometimes it works out as a picture, other times its more abstract, just colours and patterns on a page. It gets how I am feeling out onto a page, it is simply an outlet to the mass of emotions I am feeling at the time. This is something my littles one do more often than I do, I find it hard to just let things out. It feels out of control and that scares me. However I am getting better at simply letting go of how I am feeling and letting it flow on to paper.

More often I simply draw with pencil, without particular focus. I usually do this when I have something on my mind and I am trying to work things through. I find these pictures rather enlightening as I don't usually have a plan of what I am going to draw, its simply like doodling while letting my mind wander. Quite often the picture turns out to be a face, or an eye usually crying. This is my most common 'doodle' when I draw like this however all sorts of things come out.

There are times when I have a particular picture in mind, there is an idea that I want to express and I usually plan the picture out on paper before starting on the actual artwork. When I first started to learn about healing art I never thought that this form of artwork would be very healing. It wasn't until the first time I participated in the Expressive Arts Carnival November 2010 that I really found that this could really help me grow and explore an issue. When I work on art like this it usually takes at least a week, as I will work on small parts at a time and keep coming back to it, adding to it, changing it and improving on it. Often it will be in my mind even when I am not working on it and it really allows me to explore the issue surrounding the art.

Sometimes the process is a mix of these three, I will have an idea in my head of what I want to do, usually a theme of some kind based on what I am thinking or feeling but I wont have a specific plan. This kind of art I find very meditative. I am focused purely on what I am doing and I let every thing else flow away. Collages are a great example of this, usually there is a theme that the collage is based on but the actual structure is based on the pictures found. I find sorting through the various pictures, editing them to fit into the collage and placing them to be very relaxing and I believe my state of mind is very similar to what it would be if I were to meditate. Often I am so caught up in the process and the individual components that I don't actually see the entire picture until I am finished and sit back. I think this is why I have enjoyed Polvore since I found it, it can be very relaxing and a great way to express myself when I don't feel like other mediums.

On a slightly different note, Paul has posted the latest activity for February's Expressive Arts Carnival. This month's theme is 'Your Truth', read more about it here. As I do each month I really want to encourage any survivors to submit their art. I have found that the activities often help me to grow and explore myself and being part of the carnival gives us a voice in a safe and loving community.


Tiger Bailey said...

Did you draw that picture...The second one...I will call it the "Shhhh" picture...It's really very very cool.

MultipleMe said...

One of the little ones created it using Polyvore about the 7yo. I am sure they will love the compliment. Thanks Tiger :)

Telstaar said...

I love it when you talk about art. Its something so new to me and my ability to draw/paint etc is soooo far removed from your capacity but wow. It is sooo helpful too. Just being able to draw the pictures in my head when I have no words, it is helpful. I still say to my T, "I can't talk about that yet" and he respects that (thankfully) but its a start.... one step at a time.

As for YOUR pictures, they're AMAZING, seriously. I'm so impressed. :)

(I could email separately but i'm pretty exhausted, I'm off to TDU tomorrow, prayers welcome if okay. I'll try to email while I'm away and feel free to do the same! love ya kit!)

Paul said...

I am so glad that you, like me, find art to be healing. It wasn't something that came natural for me. I was shown how helpful it could be by my therapist. This is why I have the Expressive Arts Carnival, because I don't think everyone who is healing appreciates what art can do. Thank you for the kind words!

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