Mixed Media Stars

Working in a hospital clinic often means an abundance of out of date magazines. As a mixed media artist it is hard to just toss them out, even when the boxes start to pile up. Although there are always a few people interested in collage work, the number of old magazines far outweighs the images used. One patient and her parent introduced making layered flowers out of magazine pages, and that was fun, but, while the flowers were pretty, I decided to find other uses for our old magazines.

I wanted to make a star banner for the fourth of July. I made three star-shaped templates in descending sizes out of card stock. I then started to look for interesting colors and patterns in the magazines. When we had made a lot of cut-out stars, I asked people to pick out two or three. We started by folding each spoke of the star in half lengthwise towards the center, folding in to the wrong side, giving the stars dimension. We then glued a circle of foam between the layers to keep them from collapsing.

While this project was easy for many ages, the parents were the ones most invested. Parents accompany their children to outpatient appointments, so they too spend long hours with little to do. They would start by using the stars I had cut out, but then they moved to searching for images. The parents really liked having something to do at the art area without having to “create”. Although this was creating, it seemed safe and non-judgmental. Many parents said they liked the activity because even though they were not creative people, they could explore color and texture through the images.

A few parents moved on from the safety of the stars to more individual work as the clinic days rolled by. Although my intention for the star banner was for the younger patients to create, I was glad the parents took over. It brought more families to the art area to talk, share stories, bond, and create.

Scribbling Sibs at Children’s National Medical Center

At the main campus of Children’s National Medical Center the “Scribbling Sibs” program is designed to better support our patients and families during the summer months. In June, July and August siblings have their own art space, located in the waiting room of our clinic, which provides them with a unique opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings using supplies from our mobile art cart. From drawings of favorite animals and sports teams to self-portraits and inventive creatures that decorate and brighten the clinic walls, it is apparent that children continuously embrace their creativity, spontaneity and imaginativeness in this space. In addition to their individual creations, patients and siblings have worked together to create group murals in the clinic waiting area. Our favorite so far is “Under the Sea,” an ocean themed mural filled with scuba divers, fish, turtles, crabs and a variety of other googley-eyed sea creatures. It has been so much fun to a part of the CNMC team this summer!

From Children’s National Medical Center

The art therapists from Children’s National Medical Center are very excited to be a part of the new Tracy’s Kids blog and hope to share some of the very special things that happen here every single day!

The Tracy’s Kids program at the main campus of CNMC is very lucky to have four master’s level art therapists – two full-time, one part-time, and one Summer position.  As we are fortunate enough to have this many therapists, we are able to provide art therapy services to inpatients, outpatients and their families in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders six days a week.

The mainstay of our services is the art therapy room (pictured below), a very popular place for patients and siblings to visit during their time at the hospital.  After finishing a new artwork, children and adolescents often request that their piece be displayed.   As a result, every available surface in the art therapy room is decorated with unique artwork.  When patients and family members return days, weeks or even months later, they are excited and touched to see that their artwork still has a place of honor in the art therapy room.  Just yesterday, a mother commented about how happy she was to see her son’s artwork still displayed prominently, nearly a year after his bone marrow transplant.

Art Therapy Room


The art not only provides the patients and families with a unique way to express themselves but also helps us to make a beautiful and welcoming space in the art

therapy room!  Displaying their creations in the art therapy room gives patients and siblings a sense of belonging and ownership in the hospital, and creates a sense of lasting connection with the staff members who supported them through their treatment.