Mural Making & Art Therapy





Mural making has been a passion of mine for a long time. I have done murals myself, as well as facilitating group mural making. Group mural making provides the participants with unique insight into how they express themselves within a group setting and often brings about new revelations about each participant’s unique individual voice and how it relates to the whole. Mural making may take place over a single session or over a longer period of time. Materials can be decided based on what the members are most drawn to – whether it’s paint, markers, pastels, oil pastels, or collage images.

Below are a few key concepts to explore before, during, and after creating a group mural, taken from Art Therapy for Groups by Marian Liebmann.

  • How does the art form get started?
  • Whose suggestions are used? Ignored?
  • Do people take turns, form teams, or work simultaneously?
  • Is anyone left out?
  • Where is each person’s work situated, and how much space is used?
  • Do people add to other’s work?
  • Who is the leader or most active participant?
  • What influence do different kinds of boundaries have?
  • Is group painting an enjoyable or a threatening experience?

Other interesting points to explore are, how directed or non-directed does the group want to be? I have begun groups with no instruction, and asked that the first 10 minutes the group paints in silence. Afterwards, people may begin communicating through verbalization again. It is fascinating to rely solely on visual communication for the beginning of the mural.
Group mandalas can be created by drawing a large circle out, and then dividing the circle into pies. Each member begins with their own pie section, and every 5 minutes or so, members move to the section next to them in this round robin approach. Pay attention to what each member adds to the original section, and later conversation can revolve around why they chose to add their specific art to an area.
Another interesting approach is to have each member draw their own island and inhabit the island with things that they value. Then, challenge the group members to link up the islands in some way and explore the idea that “no man is an island” and how that was depicted visually. Who in the group had a difficult time connecting to others, and is this also their experience in life outside of the art making session? What are the sizes of each member’s islands, and how crowded are they with things – are some very simple, while others are elaborate?
These are just a few examples of ways to work within a group to create a mural. I have shared a few pictures of murals that I have painted, as well as a few that were done in groups. Enjoy!

Mural




Here are a few pictures from the last mural that we did at the hospital. It is displayed in the front area of the “Zone” – which is our therapeutic play space. I sketched out the hot air balloon design, and then the mural was painted by a 5 year old patient. While painting she learned to mix her own colors and now refers to various blues by names such as: periwinkle, cobalt, and cyan. Amazing! I will post pictures of the current hospital mural soon.

p.s. I apologize for the glare and rather poor quality of the pictures – better ones next time with my husband the photographer’s help! 🙂

Group mural painting


Mural painting is an amazing form of creating…while working on a larger format our body and mind may be more fully engaged as we reach up, kneel down, twist around, sit, stand, or even lie down while navigating the expanded environment that we are creating on.

A few weekends back, my husband Adam, our friend Lee, and I all went to visit our friend Matt – who lives in a beautiful wooded area in the Catskills. We spent the weekend hiking around, exploring the small towns, and Adam took many amazing photographs. Check out the link below!

www.adamfarber.com/gallery/7938234_bHJui#515208779_owkty

Part of our adventure while there was the creation of a group mural on un-stretched primed canvas. For Adam, Matt, and Lee it was really their first time painting and I was very curious to see how they approached the process ahead of them. All three energetically jumped in, and began to develop their own unique styles, ways of relating to each other’s images, and methods of exploring the white space.

I participated in the painting as well, but surprised myself by stepping back for a large part of the time and just enjoying watching the piece unfold before my eyes. We listened to music as we painted, and the majority of the piece was created in silence besides that. The communication took place on a non-verbal level, and each artist decided what felt right for them in terms of color, technique, size, and whether their image blended with someone else’s or maintained it’s own boundaries.

The finished mural is a snapshot of a moment in time…a reflection of where each artist was individually and more importantly, as a group at the time of creation.

I look forward to posting more about mural painting, as well as the unique ways that group mural painting can be used in an art therapy setting. I’ll also include some small ways to get started on doing group art…and no experience is necessary! More on that later…

Bistro 33 Wins!

I was just at Bistro 33 this afternoon to show some buddies my mural there and say hello to Chef Gary and his wife Deni and I found out that Bistro 33 had won the title of “Best New Queens Restaurant” through Time Out NY!

Thank you for all who voted!

www.bistro33nyc.com