These are two examples from a new series I’ve been working on for a few weeks. I started out just writing phrases from the DBT view of mindfulness. I’ve been interested in DBT for about four years, studying from books and a few online classes for therapists. The great thing about DBT is using it for yourself and sharing your experience of it with patients or using the skills as a therapist in a session to be more present with your client and able to be aware of verbal and non verbal communication.
I always tell people there aren’t any side effects to the practice of mindfulness. DBT talks about a formal and informal practice; both are useful. The informal practice means bringing awareness to whatever is going on moment to moment all day, what I’ve heard referred to as meditation in action. The formal practice involves actually dedicating time to engage in an activity mindfully or to sit and observe and describe what is going on with yourself for a certain length of time.
One recent discovery was the idea, “Improve the Moment”, a DBT principle that is greatly useful for me. It is empowering to know that while most of the time, I can’t make huge changes to improve aspects of my life, at any given moment, I have the power to do something active to change something in the moment. Noticing you’re feeling anxious and frustrated, you can just remind yourself to breathe and let go and be aware that you are frustrated and take a time out.
I started making drawings and paintings of phrases that I like from DBT, as well as making drawings of jokes about mindfulness. In my journal I had on one page, improve the moment, and on the bottom it says “Fuck it”.
As with most work in progress, the work started evolving and changing. I put speech bubbles on all the “signs”, which made the drawings/paintings feel like visual art more than just signs with words on them.
I’ve been making Slow Down and Breathe signs for myself and clients for years now; in the Art Therapist Coloring Book, my page is a Slow Down and Breathe to color in and put up in your house or office.
I had recently given someone a grid painting for his therapy office, and he commented that maybe I could market my work as some kind of meditative art. I started thinking about these signs and how I would like to sell them, not particularly as meditative art, but as a painting you would put up in your room or some are of your home or office to playfully remind yourself to “Pause,” “Take a Time Out”, etc. One of the paintings says, “You are not alone now.” I’m letting these signs evolve past just being about mindfulness. There is the “Fuck it” group as well as this new group of drawings/paintings that will be more playful and maybe provocative. I thought of making a bubble that says, “You had me at goodbye.” I’m not sure if that’s too negative. I also might do a “I’m having what she’s having” or something to that effect. Taking some cliche sentences from pop culture, movies, etc. and making them into paintings. “Participate in your life.” “Kindness is magic.” “Mistakes are the portal to discovery.” “Be yourself.” “What do you want now” “Be in the moment.” “Be present.” “be here fucking now.” “Pause.” “Stop, Look Listen…”
I’m trying to think about ways to sell these works and be very intentional about finding people who would want to purchase them. I’m not making them to be trendy, but since I’ve been making them a while, I’m going to take advantage of the zeitgeist out there! Are there signs you would want to put up in your house? Would you like your art to be talking to you directly?