The Tree

Working with art materials everyday is exhilarating and exhausting at times. It can be easy to get into a rut and pull out the same materials for the same projects time and time again. I am constantly searching for new ideas that will interest the patients I see at the outpatient clinic. One project I recently found was to wet an unprimed canvas and spread watered down acrylic paint on the canvas. This project caught my eye because I happened to have a roll of unprimed canvas. I decided to try a group project of a large tree to hang on the wall. I drew and cut out a tree on the canvas, filled cups with watered down acrylics, and placed syringes in the paint cups. While I was setting up a teenage boy and his mother stopped in on their way to the teen room. I told them I was making a tree and would they like to help. The mother seemed interested, but I thought the boy would not be. I was definitely wrong! Not only did he show interest in the project, he stood in the art area, connected to many pumps and monitors, and waited for me to finish setting up. I had met the boy and his mother two days before and found them both to be very nice and very quiet. The simple availability of the art project brought them out of the dark teen room where they engaged with other families and enjoyed themselves. At one point the boy exclaimed “This is fun”! I learned a lot from the family during our time with the tree. With my simple questions they opened up to tell stories of their family and how the illness is affecting all of them. I was even able to remind them of ailments they mentioned to me when their doctor stopped by to see what everyone was making. The ability of the art to engage, relax, and bring about further communication is what draws me to art therapy and pushes me to always find new and fresh ideas for the patients.


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