Poem: Magic

There is a little magic in every moment:

to open up the magic I open up myself

and unwrap whatever might be covering up that package of magic.

today it’s a poem that was wrapped in shiny gold paper and tied with a shiny gold sparkled ribbon.

I tore off the wrapping in excitement.

What a tiny little box to open up.

a little voice that seemed to come from a tiny person in there

said Hello and welcome.

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Friday is Creative Deed Day!

A week of making free art to give away to strangers, people I come across and family and friends. Last night I gave one to a sales person and three to a friend and his family. All week I put pieces in various public places…

The photos posted here are unusual as I strayed from how I had been making the art. I took one of my current long drawing projects and cut the bottom off and cut little squares from it, then added words and a little extra to fill the white space. Still going with the concept of recycling art, but this is the first time I’ve recycled new art from a series in progress. I will post the piece, how it looked after the surgery!



Photos from the week since last Friday’s post:





Appearances and Blog Exhaustion!

I think I have tried about 15 different themes in the last week on my blog, trying to find the right one that looks good. Taking the two Blogging classes I took got me thinking about my blog in so many cool ways I had never thought of before. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging a few years and only recently understood what widgets are and what themes even are. I think I just randomly threw up my blog, which was a great way to start, as I am the opposite of perfectionist. I like to just go for it, with art and blogging. Thinking too much and criticizing just isn’t good for creativity, but it is of course a balance, and looking into things more and editing are useful things I am often quite lazy about. I know that I am good at helping people just get going and jump beyond their blocks and critical mind, and those same people help me realize it’s good to reread an email before hitting send and that blogs can be deeper than I thought, and that I have to keep my websites updated, and looking good.

Appearance! Here I am an artist and it took me so long to think, what do I want this blog to look like? I just now learned you can find a great theme and love how it looks, like the “Plane” theme I threw up yesterday, only to be frustrated by being unable to use a featured image. Now I’ve changed themes again and picked one that has featured image as part of it, only to find that the featured image is put inside your “header”. I am very into the header as I have cool images to use and you can change the header a lot. The header is at the top of your blog when people click on it, they see it and the title of your blog is in the header, so then the color of the font etc. becomes important.

Anyway I’m still tinkering with the appearance of this blog, as I am just not into the themes I have tried and I’m in the middle of trying to fix both my art therapy website and my art website, so I’m going to leave this theme up for now even though it’s not ideal.

I get excited by all the possibilities of the internet, but it sure eats up time, the upkeep of everything. It’s like cleaning your studio or apartment; there are other great things to do, so things pile up. It’s very hard to set priorities and get things done and remember to do important things. It’s crazy, this life on and off the internet. We introverts can get really sucked in to the internet and expressing ourselves and checking out what others are doing because it’s what you do late at night after 10:30 when you should be off the computer and getting ready for bed! It doesn’t help that I just picked a featured image and it wouldn’t crop it how I wanted so I had to remove it. Totally frustrating…

BLogging 101 Day 9: Inspire Yourself!

This assignment comes from the assignment of the day before, to create an “About Me” page. I just got rid of my boring “Profile”  and substituted a more passionate “About Me” page: https://natashashapiroarttherapy.wordpress.com/about/

I’m pretty satisfied with it, but the featured image does not seem to show up. Anyway I will post some images to this post that reflect the idea of writing a post inspired by my “About me” post.

While writing it, I remembered this great quote from one of my favorite artists, Louise Bourgeois; its from her book, “Drawings and Observations”, which is a great book that I own and used to look at frequently but of course, like lots of things at my house, I can’t find the book!

So from another book of her work, here are some interesting quotes:

My early work is the fear of falling.

Later on it became the art of falling. How to fall without hurting yourself.

Later on it is the art of hanging in there…Hanging in there-the art of living, the art of a lifetime. -Louise Bourgeois

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I choose these three because they also apply to art therapy and the therapeutic process for both therapist and patient. “Hanging in there” sums it up in terms of once you get yourself going; now that I am in my 40’s I have passed the other stages, the fear of falling and the art of falling.

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There is much to say about hanging in there, but for me it involves returning to my basic survival kit, my art supplies and my “portable studio”, doing art anywhere and everywhere including in my current studio.

As the making marks on paper or any surface is mainly a non verbal process, I won’t say too much about it, as I still believe what I discovered over a quarter century ago, that art making was a balm for all the words expected of us all the time, a sanctuary from explanation, a sacred space to make your own without need for verbalizing. Hanging in there is about just showing up every day to your life.

Here is the image I tried to use for the About Me page:

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It’s a page from my journal, from 9/25/2010.

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Here are a few pages from the journal I started this month:

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Creativity and Inspiration: Leonard Cohen Agrees With Me!

I started a series of posts about creativity and so called “creative blocks” quite a while ago, and now that I’m on vacation, I will post someone else’s words about the creative process. “Show up” is the message, and I would say its true of everything in life. What’s the key to bring a good parent? You gotta show up every day however flawed a person you are…

My mantra or idea that we artists don’t wait for inspiration, we make art on a daily basis just like any other daily habit is not original or particularly earth shattering, but are you practicing it with your particular medium/media?

Most of the time I am lucky because I simply don’t care that much if I “like” what I am making or not, sort of like how you feel after your yoga class that the benefits come from doing it often and it doesn’t make much sense to judge how you did yoga.

Anyway, Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite musical artist, and he talks about his own process from “Brain Pickings Weekly:

“There are always meaningful songs for somebody. People are doing their courting, people are finding their wives, people are making babies, people are washing their dishes, people are getting through the day, with songs that we may find insignificant. But their significance is affirmed by others. There’s always someone affirming the significance of a song by taking a woman into his arms or by getting through the night. That’s what dignifies the song. Songs don’t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.”

I would add that sometime so called boring activities inspire all kinds of creations from Charles Schultz’ beloved Peanuts to the TV show Seinfeld (which I believe took a lot of inspiration from Peanuts). There is a line in a David Bowie song about the artist Andy Warhol that I love:

“Andy walking, Andy tired
Andy take a little snooze
Tie him up when he’s fast asleep
Send him on a pleasant cruise
When he wakes up on the sea
Be sure to think of me and you
He’ll think about paint
and he’ll think about glue
What a jolly boring thing to do”

I myself do love to think about glue and tape and practically any material.
Anyway here is the piece:

“Cohen approaches his work with extraordinary doggedness reflecting the notion that work ethic supersedes what we call “inspiration” — something articulated by such acclaimed and diverse creators as the celebrated composer Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”), novelist Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), painter Chuck Close (Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), beloved author E.B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (“My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.”), and designer Massimo Vignelli (“There is no design without discipline.”). Cohen tells Zollo:

I’m writing all the time. And as the songs begin to coalesce, I’m not doing anything else but writing. I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is. So I’m working most of the time.

To find a song that I can sing, to engage my interest, to penetrate my boredom with myself and my disinterest in my own opinions, to penetrate those barriers, the song has to speak to me with a certain urgency.

To be able to find that song that I can be interested in takes many versions and it takes a lot of uncovering.

My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.

But why shouldn’t my work be hard? Almost everybody’s work is hard. One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I’m not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.”

Taken from:
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/07/15/leonard-cohen-paul-zollo-creativity/

Description of The Healing Powers of Art Making

I am always looking for good descriptions of what art therapy is and what makes art making so healing. Here is a great synopsis (written by colleague, art therapist Fredricka Brooks: website: http://www.fredrickabrooks.com/) which includes so many of the important aspects of the creative process of art making that makes it so powerfully healing:

“It has been my experience that people use and benefit from art-making in many different ways, including: making art as a way to be seen, finding pleasure and joy in the process, as a vehicle for self expression, as a way to communicate, as a way to care for oneself, a way of developing and learning new coping skills, relaxing, learning to work to completion, learning to self-start, and meditate. Art-making can increase self-esteem through pride about one’s work, creating meaning through making images, metaphors, and stories, witnessing oneself develop a visual language that is unique, and taking pride in oneself and one’s identity as an artist.”

Thank you, Fredricka!!!

Altered Book Workshop Proposal Accepted!

The good news is that my altered book workshop proposal for the 2013 Creative Arts Therapy Summit this fall was accepted! The whole event will be taking place in NYC in various locations, from November 7-13, 2013. Link to the site is:

http://www.cvent.com/events/expressive-therapies-summit-2012-registration-site/event-summary-a631d616cdd6499c92f749761a4d1d3a.aspx

The other part of my news is that instead of a 3 hour experiential workshop, I will be doing the workshop in 80 minutes, basically and hour and 20 minutes, which basically cuts out a little over half the time, so I tried to re focus the workshop.

Here is my description of it: (Let me know what you think; it’s a lot to pack into 80 minutes!!!)

Title: Altered Books with Adults in Art Therapy; Conquering Creative Blocks and Depression

Description:

In this workshop, we will discuss how the medium of altering books in art therapy uniquely treats adults with any kind of creative block and/or depression, connected with past or present trauma and feelings of creative deadness or loss of the creative “spirit.” Through the experiential, participants will choose a book and begin to alter it, thereby experiencing the uniqueness of this format that allows for the creative spirit to reawaken. The transformative experience of “destroying” a book to create something new can jump start the creative process through the variety of options, length of the project and the holding environment of therapy. I will also provide actual examples of Altered Books in process by some of the adults I am working with to demonstrate the scope of options in this particular medium and the essential role of the art therapist and therapeutic relationship in this long- term process.

3 Measurable Objectives:

  1. Participants will learn about ways that creative blocks and/or loss of creative spirit in adults is best treated through the creative process itself combined with the relationship with the art therapist.
  2. Through art making and viewing real examples of patient and therapist artwork, participants will learn about the different options provided by altering a children’s board book versus an “adult” hardcover book, and the messages the choice of book can convey to the patient and therapist.
  3. Through the experiential, participants will start the process of altering books and use at least 3 different media and techniques involved in the process of making an altered book.

 

Inspiration Wall!

In my last post I mentioned having an “Inspiration Wall” in my last studio and present one. It is common for artists to have an area where they pin up little images that they love or which inspire them… In discussing Pinterest and art therapy, I was reminded of my inspiration wall which I could actually “pin” to one of my Pinterest boards!

I have used two sides of a wall in one corner. Here are some photos if the images I used thus far. The Inspiration Wall can be changed and added to as you discover different images…

Do you have an inspiration wall? You don’t need to be an artist to make one…

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Pinterest is Really A Form of Art Therapy!

I only started using the social media Imagery site called “Pinterest” about six months ago. I have not fully immersed myself in it and really participated regularly, but yesterday I was looking on a site and saw a bag I liked and “pinned” it to one of my boards. Then some time later I was still thinking about Pinterest and thought, “Wow, It really is similar to a certain kind of art therapy, how fascinating! I’ve got to blog about this discovery!”

To begin with, here is Wikipedia’s description of the definition and origins of Pinterest. I usually attempt to find other sites to cite on my blog but once in a while I find Wikipedia is best at doing the descrtiption and especially history and origin of some kind of phenomenon… I was surprised to find that in its beginnings the originator was interested in keeping it very “closed” and private and even wanted to talk and meet with its users. That strikes me as really a nice way to start a social media site, and I was quite surprised as right now, June 2013, is about 3.5 years since the development began.

“Pinterest is similar to earlier social image bookmarking systems based on the same principle, such as David Galbraith’s 2005 project Wists.[3] It allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users’ boards if they have similar tastes. Popular categories are travel, cars, food, film, humor, home design, sports, fashion, and art.
Development of Pinterest began in December 2009, and the site launched as a closed beta in March 2010. The site proceeded to operate in invitation-only open beta.
Silbermann said he personally wrote to the site’s first 5,000 users offering his personal phone number and even meeting with some of its users.[4]
Nine months after launch the website had 10,000 users. Silbermann and a few programmers operated the site out of a small apartment until the summer of 2011.[4]
Early in 2010, the company’s investors and co-founder Ben Silbermann tried to interest a New York-based magazine publishing company in buying Pinterest. The publisher declined to meet with the founders.[5]
The launch of an iPhone app in early March 2011 brought in a more than expected number of downloads.[5]”

For those of you interested in the future of Pinterest and where it may be going with marketing and trying to get more traffic and interest businesses in it, I found a good link:
http://www.copyblogger.com/pinterest-2013/

I was actually just trying to find out how many users there are currently. As of mid may there were 11.7 million Pinterest users, which was behind of course Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the other big social media sites. The surprise data reported was that people were giving Pinterest and Facebook the same amount of their time when on the sites! Here is that interesting report on this data:
http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-users_b22556

Ok. Moving on now that I’ve explained a lot about it the most common types of investigation of Pinterest, that is, looking it as a social media site and phenomenon and also slightly related to a lot of shopping/fashion social media type sites where people post items of things that consumers can actually buy, as Pinterest is a cross between a kind of personality identity statement and a kind of gathering of consumer generated images, which is probably where they are going in terms of the Pinterest people looking to the future in marketing and development.

My discovery when I was musing about it had to do with the concept of simply “picking out images of anything that you like” which also translates to, in my words: “express yourself in images more than words, by looking at all there is in the known universe and finding what you love to do, look at, want to do in the future, have already done, or images that express an important aspect of who you are, including mostly images of things that are generated by others, either some photographer who put this image on the internet, or some piece of art work by someone else that you like, or your own image of something personal to your life, including, of course, your own art work…” On my own Pinterest, I have not really paid so much attention to what I do and how much I pin as I do not do it often enough, though, just as with Facebook and LinkedIn, and perhaps Twitter. I expect to follow the same pattern of checking out the site and going on the site not too often, going through periods of more interest, and forgetting about it, until the magic moment when I suddenly really “get into” it and start “using” it not just more often but to its fuller capacity and participating in it more than the average user. With Facebook, it meant starting my own Public Artist Page about my Artist career, a few years ago, and just last year, with my launching of my Tribeca Healing Arts Website, I launched my Public Art Therapy page. Along with this, I was visiting Facebook a lot more frequently and joined some art therapy related groups, most recently the “Visual Art Circle” which I will discuss in another post. With LinkedIn it involved posting more, connecting more, and joining about 50 groups, both Artist and Art Therapy related.

So probably like a lot of other people who blog, have a website and Public Facebook pages and participate in LInkedIn and are into social media, Pinterest is sort of an after thought, and given that all this Social Media stuff, whether personal or mostly professional, including blogging, takes up a lot of time, Pinterest was lowest on my time factor and still is.

As I defined Pinterest above, it is based on a very simple principle that is connected to art therapy, which is that people enjoy images and their non verbal power of communicating about themselves and the world, and that images have a lot of power, and that images are enjoyable; nvesting in expressing oneself through imagery is very healing and, here is a very important part of it — it is a great way to connect with other people and sometimes preferable to communicating just non-verbally!

Most non art therapist do not know that, among the principles of the healing power of art therapy is the idea that just looking at and sorting images as well as picking out images you like is therapeutic and a part of the art therapy process or even can be The Art therapy process which you choose to use to make contact with and engage with patients. With some client populations, certain individuals and also at certain points in the art therapy process, the therapist will use this style of intervention, which may involve showing an individual or groups a few boxes or container or files of “images”, often divided into categories, such as, art by interesting artists, images from nature and landscapes, images of people in various settings and from different ethnicities and cultures, and other such groups of images. The form can be through images the art therapist “pre cut” before the session or group. With the internet now available, the images can be from various magazines or from different websites on the internet, in which case, the art therapist prints out different images to fill these types of categories. In this case where the art therapist did this, what we call “prep work”, the art therapy intervention that is similar to the Pinterest process would be, “Look through these images, maybe pick categories that are appealing to you, look through and pick out images you like, or just images that intrigue you, and this can include images you don’t like or images that disturb you.” (By the way, this last part just made me think of adding a category to my personal Pinterest called “Ugly Images” which would be images I find disgusting, ugly, repelling, gross, unappealing…) Only that last idea does not seem to be what Pinterest aims at.

Usually most users approach Pinterest as a way to express their individual identity through images they love, like, are interested in, and positive about. I don’t imagine most users think to post images of things they find negative and disgusting, but in art therapy, actually, the “Ugly” image or art work can often yield a lot more discovery and information about the Self than what we are pulled towards. Whenever someone makes something they really don’t like, I take extra time to investigate with them its power and what it means to the person and why they hate it so much. In fact the “Ugly Art: Make something with colors you hate and try to make it as ugly and unappealing to you as possible” is a directive I am interested in trying out with people. (yet another post topic).

Anyway, Pinterest involves having “Boards” which are like bulletin boards that you “virtually” take a push pin and stick images on, but you have an unlimited number of these boards and can use suggested categories or invent your own categories. Until I wrote this post, my boards were in this order called:
“My Style, Favorite Spaces and Places, Stuff, Books Worth Reading, People I Admire, Cool Stuff, Bunnies, Art and Artists I Love”. You can have as many boards and thus categories as you want, I think! I have about 118 pins. I have now gone back on Pinterest and added the boards “My Art Work” and “My Past Artwork” and rearranged the order of the boards…

The reason I cited that info about my participation in Pinterest is that I did not think much about what boards I made up and wasn’t really invested in thinking of my own Pinterest as being an expression of where I find the most meaning in life. If I had approached it that way instead of casually, it would be the way it is now…This is to show that I approached this like other social media, attitude being “Looks interesting, why is everyone so into this, I will try it out but I don’t really have time to do it really, its not super important or meaningful, so I will just jump in without giving it a lot of time and energy”, then building up to, “Wow, I didn’t realize all the potential in this social media site, I’m going to give it more time and energy and shape it more to be useful to me and/or an expression of who I am.”

And so, I am going to try to invest a little more time and interest in my Pinterest, as I have not fully explored the potential of this particular social media. What makes Pinterest social, and thus a bit like a very large art therapy group, is that like with other social media, you can “follow” people whose images you like. Also, you can find “pins” (images to pin) which you like and decide to “repin” them from some other person you randomly found on Pinterest by looking up a particular subject. Also of interest about Pinterest, is that you can find images on other sites and often now have the option of clicking on the Pinterest logo to “pin” anything on the internet to your personal boards. You can find a lot of cool images on Pinterest itself by searching for a subject you like. Also, I receive weekly emails from Pinterest with suggestions of boards and pins to investigate. So the social part is “sharing” images with people and also “liking” them, similar to liking on Facebook.

I find the name “Pinterest” is itself interesting and inviting. The idea of a “virtual” online kind of bulletin board or group of boards that are unlimited in size for “pinning” images on is cool in the way that people sometimes find ways the virtual world can imitate the real world. If I had the time and space I would love to get pushpins and pin cool images on a bunch of boards, but it would of course not allow for unlimited images or the amount of sharing that takes place on Pinterest.

In fact, I actually do have a kind of “Board”, my Inspiration Wall in my new studio. I had one in my old studio too. I put up postcards of art by artists that I admire as well as some of my own images, and my new studio’s Inspiration Wall is actually on two little walls and for the first time includes an image I made with an artist friend,another form of art therapy, combining the studio visit with another artist with making art together…

I have not fully explored all the possibilities and scope of Pinterest yet, but I really do enjoy the connection with art therapy and the healing power of looking at images you like and feeling inspired or comforted or excited by them!