Art Therapy Interview: Amy Maricle

‘I love when conversations and energy just flow.
Not forced.
Not coerced. Just present.’
– Dau Voire

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of having artist and art therapist Amy Maricle over for an artist’s date.

We spent the day up in my studio talking about art, art therapy, our careers so far, being moms, and many other things. The day flew by and we are eagerly anticipating our next artist’s date.

I am inspired by Amy’s warmth, creativity, and experience in the field. Her interests and focus on mindfulness, spirituality, and client-centered collaboration resonate with me on a deep level.

During out time together we decided to interview one another so that our blog followers could get a taste of our conversation and hopefully draw some inspiration from it like we did.
Amy posted her interview with me recently on her blog:

Art Therapy Podcast: Sara Roizen

Now I’m excited to share my interview of Amy (audio below). Amy talked about the path that led her to becoming an art therapist, what she loves about art therapy, and her experiences in private practice. I think that listeners will be especially interested to hear some of her tips and encouragement for anyone interested in taking the leap and starting a private practice.

To find out even more about Amy’s therapy work you can visit her site:

Amy Maricle Counseling ~ Foxboro Art Therapy

Be sure to enjoy her blog as well, which is packed with video tutorials, guided practices, and inspiration about creative self-care, managing anxiety, and many other topics.

Enjoy the interview and we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!
🙂

 

 

 

Connecting With Mandalas

Esther’s Tattoo
My original mandala drawing

I wanted to share a very cool story and an example of how art can connect us all, even from across the ocean…

Almost a year ago a woman named Esther from the Netherlands emailed me after finding this blog while she was looking for mandala inspiration for a tattoo. She had found a mandala of mine that she really connected with and asked if she could use the imagery for her first tattoo…so of course I said YES! 

A few days ago I received an email from her with her finished tattoo (pictured on left) and this is what she wrote about it:

A time ago I send you a mail with the question about your mandala drawing and my idea to make a tattoo.

So I just seemed nice to me to let you know my tattoo is finally placed on my back!!


It is my first tattoo and it means a lot to me:


It symbolizes the birth of my daughter (now 1.5) in the middle and the tiny circle. The other circles are my partner and me; both worlds come together in the middle circle and the triangle figure pointing towards it.


The details are filled with fire-dynamic elements: my constellation is aries (which is also the triangle element fire).

I feel very honored that Esther resonated with this mandala and reached out to me. I also found it interesting that when I draw these interconnected mandalas I do it as a way to explore my connections to loved ones in my life as well – how we overlap, connect, and impact one another. Esther’s interpretation of the mandala was similar in depicting the intersecting deep connections between her daughter, partner, and self.

Just as there are three interlocking circles, in this story there are three artists linking together as well! Esther is an artist and you can visit her site here: http://www.esthermeijer.nl/

And here is the site for Xander, her tattoo artist: http://www.mana-ink.nl/

While thinking about the way mandalas connect us to ourselves and to one another, I found this quote by Carl Jung to be especially relevant:

“In view of the fact that all mandalas shown here were new and uninfluenced products, we are driven to the conclusion that there must be a transconscious disposition in every individual which is able to produce the same or very similar symbols at all times and in all places. Since this disposition is usually not a conscious possession of the individual I have called it the collective unconscious.”

From an art therapy perspective, I have utilized the intersecting circle mandala drawing with my clients quite often. Each circle can represent a person in the client’s life (including the self) and I ask them to place the circles in relation to their current feelings and experiences with each individual. 

Another variation I’ve used that my clients have found illuminating is to draw three overlapping circles and label one past, present, and future. After the circles are drawn or traced I encourage my clients to fill each circle in with colors, shapes, symbols, and imagery that symbolize their past, present, and future. This is a way to create a visual timeline, gain perspective on future hopes and dreams, and explore how they perceive their present reality. 

Creating art within the circles is naturally centering and can help contain triggering memories while still allowing the client to review their life experiences. Art therapy group members often enjoy sharing and processing their mandala timelines at the end of group and after this experience there is often a sense of deeper connection within the group.

I’d encourage anyone interested to experiment with creating interlocking mandalas as a way to center the self and gain insight into the ways we are connected. Please feel free to leave comments and share links to your art here if you feel inspired!

If You’re Feeling Blue…

I often post inspirational quotes about art, creativity, and life in general on my Art Therapy Spot Facebook page. Over the past few months I’ve seen how many people seem to enjoy the little inspirational reminders every few days and it always puts a smile on my face to see these quotes being shared with others. Part of the reason I do this is because I think we can all use these pauses in the midst of our busy lives. It’s easy to get stuck in autopilot mode, multi-tasking, and to lose sight of the bigger picture.

I noticed that this quote attributed to an 8-year-old named Hannah Cheatem was a very popular one and since sharing it I’ve been using it as an exploration tool as I move through my own day and with my art therapy clients. She said: “If you’re feeling blue – try painting yourself a different color.” 

This quote is a reminder of how naturally children are able to think outside of the box when approaching life situations. Most children have not yet been overly conditioned by society, other’s expectations, and patterns of behavior. Adults (myself included) may find it challenging to create flexibility in our daily routines and ways of perceiving the world around us. Even more importantly, we may view ourselves in a rigid way and have difficulty grasping the fluid nature of our moods, feelings, thoughts, and ways of being. Here’s an example of what I mean:

A few weeks ago I was leading an art therapy group at the emergency transitional shelter where I work. My clients are homeless adults who are living with HIV, mental health issues, and substance use. These individuals have lived through many traumatic experiences and are usually in crisis mode by the time they come to live in our building. They are needing to reestablish basic living essentials such as a safe place to live, medical and psychiatric treatment, and financial resources.

One of my group members is a woman who has made art therapy groups a priority every week. From our conversations and what she shared with the group, I learned that she had been struggling with severe depression for years and had expressed some suicidal ideation. This is always taken seriously and her case manager and other staff members had already drawn up a safety plan for her and continued to monitor her closely. 

Over a number of art therapy groups, I began to see her open up during the hour and a half. She began as the quietest member and became one of the most verbal. She was able to articulate her thoughts and feelings beautifully and simultaneously had insightful and supportive feedback for the other group members. I noticed a change in her affect as the weeks progressed – from the way she sat up straighter in her chair to the increased smiling and easy laughter. 

However, when I would do an informal check-in with her regarding her current level of depression she would seem to catch herself and say something like ‘well I’m still depressed all the time, and always will be.’ At first I would just take her comment in and reflect back my understanding of her statement. However during one check-in with her during group I deliberately had her pause after her comment. I shared my evolving observation that her affect (smiling and laughing) during group no longer seemed to match her self-reported feelings of depression and hopelessness. My observation clearly caught her off guard for a moment as her face reflected back surprise. She then shared that what I had said did resonate with her, but that she was so used to feeling depressed that it was hard to imagine seeing herself in a different way.

This interchange opened up into a fascinating and powerful conversation about how she labels herself and tends to limit herself this way. I was sure to acknowledge that her past and present depression is a real thing. The goal is never to invalidate a person’s feelings and experiences. A feeling is never wrong. However, the therapeutic balance is in validating her feelings and then also (gently) helping her to expand her self-definition to include being someone who can also have fun, engage in creativity, and even enjoy herself. The sadness and the happiness are allowed to exist in the same holding space. As her therapist, one of my goals is to show that I can hold both of these emotions for her within the group setting. The longer term goal is to help her trust that she can hold these different states of being herself and that one state of mind does not negate the other. Both states of
mind simply exist at different times, and sometimes even
simultaneously.

 
The art therapy process helps my client to create physical objects that become proof of her ability to work through a variety of creative methods and problem solving, to be flexible in her approach, and to become aware of how varied her moods and styles are. This is one of the reasons that I encourage my clients to experiment with different and non-familiar art materials and ways of working. It helps them to strengthen an inner trust of the process when they see repeatedly that they are capable of responding to the art object within the moment, even without any prior training in art. 

A powerful component of group art therapy is that the group can serve as a larger form of validation for the individual’s creation, mirroring back their appreciation for the art created and interacting with one another in a way that they are not used to in the outside world.

Although this particular group tends to be more non-directive in nature (open studio art therapy), there are many art therapy directives that can be helpful to explore in terms of helping someone become more flexible in their self-definition. Creating self-portraits is a powerful method of self-exploration, especially if given the opportunity to create self-portraits over an extended period of time. These can be symbolic, abstract or more realistic. They can be done with drawing materials, paint, collage, sculpture, or photography.

Here are a few of my previous posts to check out if you are interested in reading more about art therapy and self-identity exploration:

Art Therapy & Body Image
Art Therapy Techniques: 3 Self-Portraits
Mask Making & Art Therapy

Enjoy!

The Invitation (A Poem)

Photo: Sara Roizen 2011
A friend shared this poem with me over the weekend. I was very moved by it, as it seems to go to the heart of what healing work and process is all about. Read the words and explore what this poem might mean for you personally. Please feel free to comment, and let us know about your own associations and feelings after reading this poem.
The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder 
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing. 
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. 
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. 
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human. 
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true, I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. 
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from its presence. 
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours or mine, and still stand
on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!” 
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children. 
It doesn’t interest me who you are, or how you came to be here- I want to
know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back. 

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments. 

Photo: Sara Roizen 2011

For the Bookworms!


I’ve been devouring books lately…nothing quite like curling up in a blanket and diving into a good book when it’s freezing outside.

Over the past few years I’ve amassed a growing personal library of books that I couldn’t do without. I’ve received a few questions about which books I might recommend for someone who is interested in art therapy. Below is a starting list of books that I’ve found really informative, insightful, and inspirational. I’ve divided them into the categories of art therapy, mental illness, creativity & art, and spirituality.

Hope you enjoy!

Art Therapy

Approaches to Art Therapy: Theory & Technique, Judith Rubin

Handbook of Art Therapy, Cathy Malchiodi (a new edition is coming out soon!)

Creative Arts Therapies Approaches in Adoption and Foster Care: Contemporary Strategies for Working with Individuals and Families, Donna Betts

The Secret World of Drawings: A Jungian Approach to Healing Through Art,
Gregg Furth

Studio Art Therapy: Cultivating the Artist Identity in the Art Therapist, Catherine Hyland Moon

Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul, Shaun McNiff

Existential Art Therapy: The Canvas Mirror, Bruce Moon

The Artist as Therapist, Arthur Robbins

Art is a Way of Knowing, Pat Allen

Art Therapy for Groups, Marian Liebmann

Books on the Creative Process/Art

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles & Ted Orland

Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go, Shaun McNiff

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

Books on Psychology and Psychotherapy

Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought, Stephen Mitchell & Margaret Black

Necessary Losses: The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies, and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow, Judith Viorst

Attachment in Psychotherapy, David Wallin

Psychoanalytic Diagnosis: Understanding Personality Structure in the Clinical Process, Nancy McWilliams

The Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood, Selma Fraiberg

Books on Mental Illness

The Buddha & The Borderline, Kiera Van Gelder

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Kay Redfield Jamison

Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, Kay Redfield Jamison

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Joanne Greenberg

Books on Spirituality & Mindfulnes

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, & Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up and Changing the World, Arjuna Ardagh

A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, Jack Kornfield

Autobiography of a Yogi,
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Paramahansa Yogananda

The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield

The Bhagavad Gita, Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood
(there are many translation versions – I happen to like this one)

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

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Getting unstuck in the studio



“Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.”
– Stephen DeStaebler

How true. I know that I’ve gotten to this point when I walk by my studio and stare longingly at my canvases and paint, but am afraid to walk in. When I promise myself that “tomorrow I’ll paint” but find the day passing without picking up a brush. I feel a restlessness inside of me – pent up energy that has nowhere to go. Sometimes the feelings arise as anxiety or frustration. When I was young my parents tell me that they used to send me up to my room to draw for a few hours whenever they noticed that I was in a bad mood, or had too much energy and no direction. They report that I would come back down a few hours later with a smile on my face, and like a whole new person.

With all of that in mind, I have to admit that I’ve been having a very hard time getting back into the studio over the past few months. The longer I put it off, the greater the fear seems to grow. So here I’m compiling a list of ways to get back into creating. They are all methods that I have used in the past. With any luck, I will follow my own advice and get back into my painting rhythm. I hope some of these ideas will inspire you as well, especially if you find yourself creatively stuck from time to time.

  • Un-clutter your creating space, whether it’s a studio, a kitchen table, or a spot on the floor. This doesn’t mean making it spotless! In fact, most inspirational creating spaces have a certain degree of clutter. However, if you have to literally leap across a pile of stuff to land at your easel (true story) then you might benefit from some space clearing rituals. Plus, the action that you take to clean the space up a bit is a very productive activity in itself, which might give you further motivation to just keep on doing (creating) when you are finished!
  • Make the environment more inviting through music. Are there any artists or songs that consistently lift your spirits when you are down? Or maybe there’s some really angry music that gets your energy moving. (A lot has been written about listening to soothing music while creating, but I often find the opposite type of music gets me motivated, so it’s whatever works for you!) Music itself can be a source of inspiration for a painting, poem, or drawing.
  • Try a new material out. Sometimes we expect too much of ourselves with familiar materials. Using a new material (or one we haven’t used in a while) can free us up to be more spontaneous in our exploration. If you’re an acrylic painter, try oil sticks. If you’re a watercolor painter, try using gel mediums and playing with texture. Using collage elements and found objects can also be helpful when we are stuck, as it provides us with an automatic source of inspiration (and may be far less intimidating than staring at a blank canvas).
  • Create with a friend – collaborate. Creating can be a lonely endeavor. Sometimes this is what we seek, but at other times it may be helpful to have the added creativity and motivation from a friend. Creating with a friend is like having a three-way dialogue, between you, your friend, and the object that you are creating. It also can just be more fun that way!
  • Get out and see some art. Or if you can’t get out at the moment, look through some art books or browse the internet to look at art you are drawn to. Sometimes while looking at the art of others, we are re-inspired and remember what draws us to art in the first place. While you’re thinking about getting out, why not consider joining an artist’s networking group?
  • Brush up on your drawing and painting foundation skills. I’m not saying that you have to be classically trained in order to create (not at all!) However, sometimes getting back to the basics (paying attention to line quality, composition, color theory etc.) can be a source of inspiration in itself. Focusing on the basics again can help us get back to seeing with “beginner’s eyes.” Consider taking an affordable art class at a community center or local college. Or, think about buying one of many great drawing foundation books, such as “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.
  • Find a space and time to show your work in the near future, and then work on a body of work for that show. This does not have to be a Chelsea gallery or the Guggenheim! Think outside of the box, and exhibiting in places like restaurants, coffee shops, or friend’s apartments if they have a good space. Often times places like restaurants and coffee shops are happy to have an artist’s work on their walls – it’s free decoration for them, and free exposure for you!
  • Create a small daily goal for yourself to create – anything. This could be as small as creating a miniature drawing a day on a little piece of paper or cutting out one image for collage each day and collecting them in a folder for future use. The goal could be bigger as well, such as paint for 1 hour each day. Sometimes scheduling the creating time into your day is extremely helpful. Look at it as something that you owe yourself – and that is just as important to your well being as the other things on your “to do” list.
  • Stuck without ideas? Here are a few random ideas to get you creating on a little theme: Paint a picture with only white and one other color. Mix the white in different amounts to the primary color and see how many different hues you can make. Create a list of different feelings such as angry, sad, joy, etc…Then pick one feeling from the list and create an abstract representation of it. Create a self-portrait of your “ideal self” as well as your “monster self.” Create a sculpture out of found objects, and then create a drawing or painting of that object – as realistic or abstract as you’d like. Re-imagine and create a piece based on a famous painting such as Picasso’s “Starry Night.” Take an image from a magazine, paste it onto paper or canvas, and extend the image outwards using paint or drawing. Cut up old paintings or drawings and create a mosaic piece (this is great when you have a lot of old pieces you are not fond of but do not want to get rid of – recycle them!) Make an altered book: go shopping at a used book store (the Strand in NYC is great!) and alter the book pages to make it your own, using collage, paint, textures, and cutting to transform it into something new.
  • And finally, here’s a saying that I have found very useful in creating art and for life in general. “Action precedes motivation.” Sometimes we need to make ourselves do something before the actual motivation is there. When all else fails just do it! As you engage in the creative process, inspiration and motivation to continue is sure to emerge.

Inspirational Art Quotes

Below are a few quotes that I find very inspirational and just wanted to share:)

Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. – Stephen Sondheim

An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world. – George Santayana

Artists don’t make objects. Artists make mythologies. – Anish Kapoor

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
– Scott Adams

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures. – Henry Ward Beecher

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
– Pablo Picasso

Great art picks up where nature ends. – Marc Chagall

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keefe

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
– Dorothea Lange

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton

Inspiration





















My husband Adam continues to be one of my biggest inspirations in life. He is an amazing husband, fellow adventurer, and friend. He has many talents…one of which I’d like to showcase here – his photography! He has (quite literally) thousands of amazing photographs which can be seen on his site: http://www.adamfarber.com/

Here I’ve shared a few of my favorite photographs…so hard to pick, but these are just a few!

Enjoy:)

Inspiration from Artists


I often come across quotes by different artists that inspire me in my own work. I thought it would be nice to share a different one every once in a while!

“From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me a chance to prove that this is no lie.”

Quotation by Hokusai Katsushika (1780-1849)

Image above : The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, by Hokusai