"Art making is an intuitive process; that is, it does not depend on logical or rational thought, and it has no rules. When you use your intuition, you simply feel that you know what is right in a given situation…
Art making involves a sense of play. Jung noted that, without play, “no creative work has ever yet come to birth.”
Play is important to adults, too. It is behavior that enables us to feel free to explore and express without self-judgment or inhibition, to participate for the sheer joy of the experience and to think creatively, flexibly and innovatively." -Cathy A. Malchiodi
For those who feel lost, overwhelmed, or isolated, expressing it and visualizing hope on the shore would be a therapeutic and beautiful way of identifying needs, feeling hope for the future, or realizing where they are on a specific journey.
Affirmation and inspiration are the keys to the self-care box. It can be comforting to have something small, tangible, and beautiful in times of trouble. The box can be used as a resource and its ongoing creation can be therapeutic for the user.
Self-criticism can make the act of creation difficult, and often that difficulty in finding the words to express your feelings is because you’re self-conscious of what you’ve written and how inadequate the expressions feel. By creating a poem out of words you choose without having to draw them from your head, you can create an un-self-conscious poem that molds pre-existing words to your own feelings.
People with Panic Disorder can be stirred into panic just thinking about having a panic attack. It can come on after a great deal of stress, or without warning in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Having a Panic Book can be a way to keep yourself calm and comforted. Here’s how to make one:
Drawing patterns and allowing your brain to enter a peaceful flow state reduces anxiety and generally helps with a feeling of peacefulness, slowing down time and focusing moment to moment. Zentangle was created with the promise that anyone can do it, even if they didn’t think they could draw well enough to create something beautiful. Drawing Zentangles creates a feeling of accomplishment and helps to pass time in a thoughtful, healing way.
According to Malchiodi, because everyone started scribbling as kids, this is a natural place to start with art therapy. Before you begin, she suggests relaxing for a few minutes, listening to soothing music or meditating. For this activity, you’ll need an 18 by 24 inch paper and chalk pastels.
Tape your sheet of paper to the table (or wherever you’re working) so it won’t budge. Pick a chalk color that you can see. Place your chalk in the middle of the paper, close your eyes and start scribbling.
Scribble for about 30 seconds, and open your eyes. Take a close look at your picture, and find an image (“a particular shape, figure, object and so on”). Be sure to examine your picture from all sides. You can even hang it on the wall, and step back to get the whole perspective. After you find your image, color it in and add details to bring “that image into clearer focus.” Hang up your drawing, and think of a title.
“Making images on a regular basis opens up many possibilities for understanding and expressing oneself,” Malchiodi writes. In your spontaneous images journal, you not only paste or create images, but you also write down a title and a few phrases or sentences about your work. (And date each one.) You can do this daily or several times a week.
The more you do this, the more you’ll “begin to see similarities in a theme, colors or shape” and develop “your own unique way of working with materials and your own images and symbols.”
You can use images to “self-soothe and create positive sensations,” Malchiodi says in her book. For this exercise, you’ll need 10 or more sheets of 8 ½ x 11-inch paper, magazines, colored paper, collage materials, scissors and glue.
Start by thinking about pleasant sensory experiences, such as landscapes, sounds, scents, tastes, textures and anything else that makes you feel tranquil or happy; and write them down. Cut out images that match those experiences out of your magazines and other collage materials.
Then paste those images onto the paper. You can organize the images by composition or textures, the environment and other categories. Pull together all your papers, create a cover and figure out how you’d like to bind your book. (For instance, you can punch holes in the papers and put them in a binder.)
Afterward, write down your general thoughts and feelings. And specifically, think about how you felt while choosing the images. Ask yourself “Which sensory images did I favor over others? Why?” Continue adding to your book whenever you like.
To dig even deeper with these activities, Malchiodi suggests asking yourself questions about your work and art.
Books for Self-Guided Art Therapy
Art Therapy Sourcebook by Cathy Maldiochi
Art Therapy Techniques and Applications by Susan Buchalter and Tracylynn Navarro
The Book of Zentangle by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas
100 Magnificent Mandalas: Adult Coloring Book Vol. 1 by Jade Summer
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