I created this mandala in a group that I was leading called “Meditative Art Therapy.” During this group we listen to relaxing (usually instrumental) music and create art in response. I usually encourage my clients to work with more fluid materials such as watercolor, to free them up and allow them to become more spontaneous in their creating. I usually do not make art with my clients, (I can post on this topic later!) but for this session it seemed appropriate to do so. It was a small and intimate group, and I felt that it would be more therapeutic to join my clients in their silent process. There was a high level of resonance within the group, both artistically and verbally at the end when we processed the experience. This group has been a much needed reprieve for many of my clients, as the daily rhythym at Housing Works can be very fast-paced. Later I will share some of my thoughts on working to create a safe environment for groups….
I created this mandala for the purpose of taking a much needed break from my school work. I began with a silver pen and created a weaving line pattern. Later I went in with light washes of acrylic, and the overall effect reminds me of stained glass. The blues and greens are associated with caregiver qualities and the ability to nurture. In this case, I was nurtured by the creation of the mandala!
I feel that it is also a self-portrait of me as an art therapist in training, and learning to balance between caring for my patients and caring for myself.
When I work with a mandala form, it is very common for nature imagery to come up. This is a pen and ink mandala that I enjoyed creating. The detail work and repetitive quality of the designs was very meditative to create and had a way of “drawing itself” as it progressed.
Black and white mandalas have a very different feel than colored ones of course…Color introduces the language of emotion. However, black and white work has a way of simplifying and drawing attention to the rhythm of the line work.
Here is the final invitation design – 2 mandalas that are side by side and touching. Each mandala is unique and individual, but they merge in the place that they meet.
The process of working on this book has brought up many feelings and associations for me, such as mother/daughter, my evolving identity as a woman, birth/rebirth, and how we create meditative spaces for ourselves in the midst of our daily lives.
If you would like to see one of the images on a larger scale, just click on it and it should open up in a new window:)
I finally had a chance to scan a few of my sketches
from our time in Mexico…Since we were on the move quite often, I found it tricky to really “set up shop” in one location to paint on a larger scale. However a small tray of watercolors, pens, and pencils did the trick. Now that we are back in NYC with my studio accessible, I might develop some of my sketchbook imagery a bit further and play with the imagery that emerged during our travels.
It was wonderful for my husband and I to both have our artistic means of exploration and creating – Adam with his photography and me, with my sketchbook. In the coming months we plan to work together to create a personal book that will combine our photos, drawings, and pieces of the journal entries that I kept.
I have been doing a lot of sketching at home lately as well. For me, a sketchbook is a more intimate form of creating, as it can be open but also closed and hidden from view. It is more journal-like in format than a canvas could be, and allows for more risk-taking sometimes or simply exploration of different types of styles depending on my mood that day…
It’s been a hectic time of year, but I am approaching the end of my first semester at Pratt. I must admit that there have been some stressful times, and as I write this I cannot help but realize that I have one last paper to complete by Wednesday…
My husband Adam has been an amazing emotional support throughout this first semester…hopping on the roller coaster ride of emotions that has marked these last few months. However, I can safely say that there has never been a dull moment. And that’s the thing about going into the field of Art Therapy. It might be intense and overwhelming at times, but each day brings a completely new set of experiences, challenges, and realizations.
On another note, thank god that Adam is such a cook – he has been nourishing my stomach as well as my brain with his amazing feats in the kitchen! As I write, he is serving up a slow-cooked pot roast, complete with carrots, potatoes, onions, and an Israeli couscous mix to boot. The dinner bell is ringing in the background as I type, and off I go!
It really does…
I am already nearing the end of my first semester in graduate school and lately everything has been very surreal to say the least. My internship is becoming more intense by the day, and with the end of the semester we are all juggling multiple papers and projects in the midst of Thanksgiving and the other upcoming holidays.
Like the figure in my painting to the left, I do feel in limbo at the moment…floating between the conflicting feelings of wanting to hibernate (following the natural slower rhythms of Winter) and feeling the need to speed up and accomplish more each day.
Each day I am trying to remind myself to take a deep breath and break things down into simpler parts. Since time will pass no matter what, I want to try and enjoy each moment that arises and worry less about the moments to come.
In preparation for creating my first altered book in class tomorrow I made a trip to the famous Strand bookstore today and had a field day digging through their collections. It was a very cold day today and my tummy was growling but I could not be distracted from the rows of $1.00 books that awaited my exploration.
It was interesting to search for books that appealed to me on an artistic level, rather than strictly for their content in words. I found myself plucking out colorful and fanciful children books, an older book on Egyptian art, collections of fairy tales, and a very odd photography book of people in different bodies of water…
I will bring a few books to choose from during class tomorrow, and the others will rest at home in my studio and hopefully make the journey into an altered book in the near future!
An altered book is a book (can be found, bought used, or new) that is taken and transformed through any myriad of processes, including but not limited to: painting, cutting, collaging, stitching, gluing, or adding 3-d objects to it. The idea is to use the beginning book as a springboard for creating a completely new and personal piece. The pre-existing art and text in the book can serve as inspiration and often leads to free association and greater creative possibilities and explorations.
Next week in my Art Materials class we will be creating our own “altered books” and so the hunt is on for a book that I can use! Although any style of book can be used, it was recommended that we look for hard cover books (for a stronger foundation) and think about using a children’s book for the first time, as they are rich in imagery and text that we can really play around with.
In the meantime, our teacher shared a wonderful site of an artist that makes altered books, among other multi-media pieces. I was very inspired by her work and encourage you to check out her website:
upper left: Karen Hatzigeorgiou
13″ x 19″
lower right: Karen Hatzigeorgiou
The King’s Garden
13″ x 16″