Art journaling – around migraines

I have written before about my migraines. I had another stinker over the last couple of days that left me feeling disoriented and with my eyes feeling very odd. I listened to a Shelley Klammer art journaling webinar called ‘Diving Deep’ I haven’t even finished listening to Shelleys course and I was inspired.

I used the soft eye techniques flipping through magazines and collecting images and text. I wanted to work with something around eyes and glasses because of the disorientation. I am always touching my glasses – to make sure that I am seeing as accurately as I can.

The words just jumped out at me.

I added a bit more text in the distorted clocks because time seems to stand still, when I am in the full episode.

I wanted to represent the feelings of too much going on in my head. I added pen scribble and white paint to add more texture and oddness to the composition.

I made the collage in a book that I had worked in before. The page on the left had a hole in it – I was very pleased that serendipity played a part – when I closed the page one of the eyes was exactly in the aperture. The framed eye has a lot more impact that when seen within the composition.

Self Compassion dolls

Tess and Monika decided to run a session on compassion after the workshop attendees reacted to Tess’s doll silouhettes.

Monika and I are working with an art journaling for self care group in Edinburgh.

We wanted to do something on self- compassion. Last week we worked on emotions and sensations within the body. I felt that the group reacted quite strongly to the body shapes I produced. I chose an imperfect slightly rounded body shape to work. 

Because of the groups reactions, we thought it would be great to work on self compassion- being kind to their inner critic. I found a few resources on line that were really helpful

https://www.bjclearn.org/resiliency/PDFs/002104.pdf

https://self-compassion.org/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08322473.2018.1454687

The last link is an article by Patricia Rose Williams for the Canadian Art Therapy association journsl . Within the article is table of exercises and ideas for art projects.

‘For example, creating a simple wrapped doll with a variety of textiles and embellishments can become a powerful symbol of the self.’

I wanted to adapt this and make a doll that could be added to an art journal.

ACTIVITY: Practicing Self-Compassion

The purpose of this activity is to introduce the concept of self-compassion. It will allow participants to assess how they currently practice self-compassion and to begin thinking of ways they could become more self- compassionate.

Background

Self-compassion is defined as being kind and understanding to one’s self in times of suffering, failure, or when we feel inadequate. Self-compassion contributes to increased resiliency. People who practice self-compassion can take responsibility for negative experiences but don’t get overwhelmed by bad feelings.

Self-compassion researcher Kristen Neff identifies three components of self-compassion:

1) Self-kindness: being kind and understanding to one’s self in times of suffering, failure, or when we feel inadequate.

2) Shared humanity: Suffering and being imperfect are part of the shared human experience. Everyone suffers and everyone feels inadequate sometimes.

3) Mindfulness: Observing our negative thoughts and emotions openly and without judgment, but realising they are just thoughts and emotions. They are not facts.

• Ask the group what they think self-compassion is. After they respond, share the definition .

• Ask the group for their thoughts and feedback on the exercise.

• Does anyone feel they are already very good at self-compassion? Does anyone feel this is

something they need to work on?

• Why do we tend to be so critical of ourselves?

• What are some other ways we could practice self-compassion

1) Think about a time when a friend or family member was going through a hard time or felt bad about themselves. What did you do in that situation (how did you act, what did you say, what tone did you use)?

2) Now think about a time when you were struggling or feeling bad. What did you do in that situation (how did you act, what did you say to yourself about the situation, were you self- critical or kind)?

3) Is there a difference between how you treat a friend who is suffering and how you treat yourself? If so, why?

4)How could you treat yourself more like you would treat a loved one the next time you are suffering or feel “not good enough”?

For more information on self-compassion, visit Dr. Kristen Heff’s website:

About the Book

The writing activity above was adapted from “How Would You Treat a Friend?” at: the

http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#exercises

Sources/ More Information

On a paper doll I wrote down things that I don’t find easy about my self

I wanted to use paper to wrap the doll in, but wanted it to be more like fabric, so I scrunched it up to create texture, I wrapped a section of the doll in th paper and attached it using washi tape, so that it looked like a blanket, then I attached the doll to the page using comments about self compassion.

The above doll comes out of the red wrap so that I can use it for a teaching aid. I decided that I wanted to make another doll today – I get really bad migraines and after suffering for a few days I decided I wanted to make my own doll

I scrunched and coloured the paper with water soluble pastels and hand wrote out the statements, it felt more mindful and I had more control. I made a nest of paper scraps, wrapped the doll in ripped out coloured paper with the colours up against her body and stuck her in the nest. As an exercise this was a lot more satisfying for me. I like how messy it is ….. the top one is a bit toooo clinical

Messing about with ideas around anger – using an exercise described by Cathy Malchiodi

Monika sent me a link to an interesting link through the facebook page ‘Psychotherapy Networker’

This three-part process uses the body as a foundation for exploring emotions and personal narratives: https://bit.ly/2G8EVjh by Creative Arts and Play Therapy Series at Guilford Press’s Cathy Malchiodi

The article describes how to use this process and describes examples of using it with a client. It goes into lots of detail and is a good read.

I wanted to have a go. Monika and I might use this idea with one of our art journaling groups.

The points below are lifted straight from the article

1) ‘ Show through colors, shapes, and lines what you’re feeling. Don’t worry about making it into ‘art

Wednesday Morning

I had woken up feeling very grumpy and in a lot of pain

I tried using red water colour pencils scribbling a circle really fast and then drawing squiggly orange lines- it wasn’t intense enough the colour of the pencils were a bit thin

I had a go using some gelato crayons I picked up in Seoul 3 yrs ago – I love the texture and rich feeling when you draw – it’s like spreading lipstick on to the paper ( I wish they came in more environmentally friendly packaging )

This was richer – but the paper was too small ( A4 – 10″/8″approx)

I tried A3

This was a better representational what I was feeling grumpy angry with lots of energetic pain – I worked very quickly blending the colours by only working strokes on top of each other – I missed my circles so I messed about layering the 3 photos in the Imageblender app

2) ‘Drawing the perception of that feeling in the body’.

( As I said I was very grumpy and in pain in quite a few places. I drew on a screen dumped image from Shutter Stock – I chose one that wasn’t sylph like ….)

I felt that these images weren’t expressing how I was feeling in a viceral way – my anger and the perceived pain were dissipating but I wanted a more vibrant image ……

3)  “What kind of story would that image tell me if it could talk? If it’s a worry, for example, what would that worry say?”

Initially I didn’t do this exercise, as I said my mood had improved during the exercise. I also had a bit of trouble working out what voice my pain would have. Seems a bit daft because there is a great example – I think I was having trouble making the pain talk as if it was in the first person ….

after a couple of hours doing other things this happened – (warning hubby says I am relishing my nasty vicious side in this piece , to be read with humour and a loud booming voice)

‘I am pain – running riot this morning eating into the muscles at the back of your neck,over the top surface of your brain.

You were stupid on Tuesday exercising and not warming up – I am making your back pay – shooting arrows into your hip- burning up your your muscles nipping and biting around your vertebra with every twist or turn

– for Gods sake lie down or sit still – then see what I can do after 20 mins without moving mwaaahaaaaaaahhhaaaaa

Lets bloat up your stomach until it’s so tight and throbbing you can’t think straight

– yes take that deep breath, I’ll catch your lungs and intestines on thorns as the air flows back in

I’m sewing needles through the skin of your left breast – can you feel it ache, as I pull the thread taught. let’s not forget your hands as I stick pins into your joints trying to distract you whilst you hold your phone just too long – oh yes – I feed on your internal screaming’

‘This is the three-part harmony starts the flow of embodied intelligence and becomes the foundation of trauma reparation and integration via the arts’

Thursday afternoon

Today my pain narrative doesn’t feel within me , when I re read what’s written on the page – probably because it was far too much fun making it as horrid as possible – I don’t feel that this matter’s too much , because making the art work took me out of my self and reduced the anger and pain ……


Shame monsters – Picasso, Shelley Klammer and Joseph Arthur

I am working with Monika on an 8 week course – ‘ Art journaling for selfcare’ . We are looking at running a session about shame and guilt. I have been searching for images that we could use as inspiration on line and I found Joseph Arthur. An artist who paints, writes poems and songs. He also paints as he sings ……

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XZBj7bNltbM

I found Arthur looking up ‘images of shame’ on google – a link took me to a poem using some of his paintings as illustrations https://steemit.com/poetry/@ezravan/to-shame-the-loneliness-original-poem-accompanying-paintings-by-joseph-arthurstemmit.com

Watching lots of videos of Arthur painting faces reminded me of Picasso’s crying women

Shelley Klammer is an art therapist that I admire and use regularly for inspiration. She suggested doing an intuitive painting about shame and then ripping it up and seeing if one wants to rip it up or comfort the picture …..

https://intuitivecreativity.typepad.com/expressiveartinspirations/2015/09/healing-the-shadow-with-spontaneous-creativity.html

I loved the idea of a shame monster to attack ( not sure what that says about me …..) but, was struggling how to present it to our group without scaring them – by making them draw – I had fun having a go at making a portrait using cut out features I prepared, also using magazine faces and felt pens.

Next to add some text

I like this quote from Arthur

‘You never have been young

You never have been sane

And if you say that you don’t care,

In your eyes I see the shame

Looking through the window of your mind

I see your lonely shadow running out of time’

Joseph Arthur Termite song 2002

I worked on her a bit more And then screwed her up.

And then had a go at ripping into her

I needed to stick her back together again ….. she isn’t half so scary now

redacted poems

One of my favourite art journaling methods is to use found text and make simple poems.

I first discovered found poems when I was teaching in the 1980’s, when hubby used them in his English classes. Redacted poems are not quite the same, but I use the same principles, they don’t rhyme and they don’t have to make sense. I have found when teaching art journaling they are a good tool to use if people struggle with using images.

I like messing around using different materials to redact the words ( if you want to see lots of examples on Instagram you need to search #blackoutpoems) I like crosshatching and using washi tape.

I think the cross hatching with mandala detracts a bit too much from the text – but it is fun doing it.

Yesterday Monika and I taught a class where we used text by Bene Brown and other ‘goodread’ quotes about vulnerability as the starting point.

I asked to photograph the work – but promised to just use fragments to illustrate the different techniques the participants used to make their poems. I love the variety of materials and the colours.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/vulnerability

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13588356-daring-greatly

Living by and working with ideas around water

During my life I have lived by water. I am fascinated by how the light plays on the surface, the movement and the patterns that are created.

I grew up near the Thames at Wallingford and as a child we used to visit Abingdon where I ended up living for 25 yrs. During uni a I was in London and up in the North East at Newcastle upon Tyne. I suppose living on a small island you are never very far away from water…

Now in Edinburgh there is the water of Leith that winds its way through the city. I travel over the the Forth of Firth regularly for work and visit the North Sea at North Berwick.

Recently in Bristol I was interested to see that architects had incorporated elements of water into a foot bridge in the quay area and some railings on Temple St.

My latest ripping/ hand sewing into a mandala/ blue abstract on paper is reminding me of water this morning

I wrote into it today about mandalas, their cultural significance, how to draw them and their meditative values with Hindu and Buddhism.

I started weaving in some text from yesterday’s writing about art making

And watery concepts popped into my head. I have been making lots of layers using digital imagery this month so I needed to attack this in the Image Blender app

I attached the piece to another mandala which peeps through the gaps – I’m not sure about the text and patterned strips they might come out.

more Image Blender stripes

Sewing paper mandalas

I have always sewn things. I can remember living with my biological Dad before my parents divorced. I used to go and knock on my parents bedroom door and ask for a needle to be threaded before they were up. My parents divorced when I was 5yrs old. About that time my mum made me my own sewing basket. It’s only recently I can’t find my felt pin cushion that she made.

So I have always liked sewing. Sometimes I forget. Making tea bag quilts reminded me. I am saving tea bags to make a bigger quilt and my hands get bored of drawing mandalas so I decided to sew through one on paper.

I worked on the back- the stitches didn’t photograph well – so I dipped the paper in a tea vat that was lying around

Sitting in front of the TV I sewed some more – this time I crumpled up the paper until it felt more like fabric – it was easier to sew circles at the at the beginning in the middle of the paper.

After sewing on the teabags these seemed a bit dull – I enjoyed the sewing but the end product wasn’t doing anything for me.

I decided to see what would happen if I tore it.

The thread did fab things and the paper was so soft …..

I decided to play with the other piece too – I had sewn the second mandala with black thread.

I like the way the ripping and the thread disrupt the drawn lines of the mandala and the way you can see through it.

I attached the blue piece to another mandala. I went to bed thinking about the words I could weave through it.

This is what I wrote this morning. I was thinking it would be more poetic about being stuck drawing mandalas ( lol)

‘Sitting still art making my back seizes up drawing mandalas my safety net protecting my stomach from stress watching the tv Round and round in ever increasing circles trapped in the patterns sewing and drawing until my hands ache trapped in my endeavour my art evolves through making experimenting – what happens if I do this how does that material react if I do this which ink is water soluble try fountain pens they are better for the environment what happens if I crush that paper, sew with black rather white stamp that paint through a new stencil

sew that tea bag on to this fabric carve that stamp change that pattern dip that paper use that floor wipe that colour run panel use that as a substrate collect that bumpf stitch that teabag read that book go to that conference hear that seminar write some words drink that cider think about that concept’

Has