Ink Painting & Art Therapy

September 18, 2011

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Sara Roizen ~ ink on paper ~ 2011



“Learn how to meditate on paper. Drawing and writing are forms of meditation. Learn how to contemplate works of art. Learn how to pray in the streets or in the country. Know how to meditate not only when you have a book in your hand but when you are waiting for a bus or riding in a train.”

     ~ Thomas Merton

These are a few recent ink paintings on paper that I have created. I started this series during one of my open studio groups, after being inspired by a group member and his ink paintings.

The technique I have been using is “wet on wet” and is commonly used with watercolor and ink painting. You begin by doing a light water wash (spreading water over your surface with a larger brush) and then add your pigment (paint or ink) to the paper while the wash is still wet. You can wet the entire page before adding paint/ink, or you can only saturate certain areas of the page, which is what I have been experimenting with for the most part. As soon as you drop or apply the ink to the paper, it bleeds across the page as it follows the water. In some ways you can predict the way the color will flow, and in other ways you can’t! You can blow gently on the water pools to coax them in certain directions, or you can even move the paper around to move the water/ink. Experiment with the “blotting” technique, where you gently dab a paper towel, cloth, or sponge to the paper, which lifts off some of the pigment and water. This creates interesting textures and can add depth to the painting.


Ink Painting as Art Therapy 

Last week, I used this technique in two of my art therapy groups at work. I gave a brief demo of the wet on wet technique, and provided my group with canvas paper, watercolor (metallic colored!), high pigment liquid watercolor, and of course water. I encouraged them to experiment with the technique, and not think too much about creating a finished art piece. Instead, I asked them to see what happens when they added more or less water, more or less color, moved the piece around, blotted it, etc.

While painting in group, we processed how this art technique can be related to life. Many of my group members shared that they had a difficult time “letting go” in general, and getting out of their own way at times. When I asked them to explore where that fear might be coming from, one of the basic themes that kept emerging was the idea of “trust” and how so many of my group members had not learned to trust others or themselves after years of trauma and negative experiences. Therefore, the process of letting go was often difficult for them, since they had no basis for trusting that things would work out if they were not in tight control.

After creating the paintings, group members shared how pleasantly surprised they had been at the way their pieces had come out. They were also surprised by the fact that they had been able (for that entire hour) to let go of the finished result, and simply enjoy the process of exploration. A few members expressed how much easier life might be if they could apply this way of painting to their way of interacting in the world. As we ended the group, I encouraged each person to think about one area (outside of group) where they could try on a more relaxed and open perspective, whether it was just smiling at the annoying person on the crowded train, or enjoying their next meal in a more deliberate and slow manner.

Finally, a short quote for you to contemplate:

“Letting your mind play is the best way to solve problems.”

~Bill Watterson

Sara Roizen ~ ink on paper ~ 2011
Sara Roizen ~ ink on paper ~ 2011
Sara Roizen ~ ink on paper ~ 2011
Sara Roizen ~ ink on paper ~ 2011
Sara Roizen ~ ink on paper ~ 2011

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