New Year’s Resolution: Make More Art!

I recently spent some time reflecting on this last year and realized that while I worked hard as an art therapist, I neglected my “artist self” by not taking enough time to create my own art. As a resolution for 2013, I am going to try to make time (hopefully every day!) to engage in the creative process.

While this may seem like an easy resolution to stick to, making art is not always an easy or pleasurable task. It can be very agonizing to find the right composition, complimentary colors or to work within one’s own artistic limitations.  It takes courage to start a painting on a blank canvas, flexibility to adjust to a new art material, and confidence to know when the artwork is complete.  These are all parts of the struggle and joy that can go into making art.

As an art therapist, understanding the challenges of making art gives me an appreciation of the incredible work that I ask my patients to engage in every day. Engaging in my own creative process reconnects me to my intuition and feelings, and it often helps me to more deeply connect to my patients’ experiences at the art table.

A little space at home for art

The Art Space

The art space is a really important part of the experience of the families and patients who come to our clinic. The space helps to transport the patient from the sterile environment of the hospital into an artist’s studio; the art table providing respite from the examination table. No medical procedures are allowed in the art space!

It is also a place where patients can display their artwork- placing their own mark on the landscape of the hospital they spend so much time in. For our kids, the presence and consistency of this space, filled with paintings and pottery, can also be very comforting.  For our parents, coloring with crayons or the smell of Play-doh can bring back happy childhood memories. This space is a kind of sanctuary that makes the medical work the kids and their families do manageable and enjoyable.

One patient invented an orange “monster” called “Bob,” whose portrait hangs proudly on the art closet door. Many kids see him and create their own versions of Bob—indirectly exchanging ideas with patients they may not even know.

We discovered just how keenly aware our patients are of the art space when one of our clay pieces, a tiny green and red dragon, was taken home after living on our shelf for the past year. In the days following the dragon’s departure kids would walk into the art area, look around at the many little objects and paintings and ask alarmed, “Where is the dragon?”  Apparently, he had become the unspoken mascot of our art space! As the days passed more kids continued to ask us where the dragon was and we soon realized that we needed to create a replacement. Here she is guarding the artwork…