Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating What is Right

Clients celebration book
When I started my training to be an Art Therapist my supervisor, Llona O'Gorman, always told me to look for the light in my clients. In other words she taught me to celebrate or work with what was right with my clients.
This DVD, Celebrate What's Right With the World, shows what can happen when we stay open to possibilities, have a vision, and do what excites us.  National Geographic's Dewitt Jones amazing photography and words shows us how we can approach life with creative grace.

His principles are:
- Believe it and you'll see it.
- Recognize abundance.
- Look for possibilities.
-  Ride the changes.
- Take yourself to your edge.

Watch his DVD:

Celebrating What is Right

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Inspiration, Ideas, Instruction

The new site hosts new artists, offers tutorials for creating art, explores new exploring art techniques and lists great mixed-media books and supplies in one warm and inviting space. is owned by F+W Media, Inc., publishers of North Light Books. The site’s editor and contributors are employees and authors of North Light Books as well as other mixed media artists and enthusiasts.  Check out my blog Creative Insights where I talk about Art Therapy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Therapeutic Thursday: Vodoo Dolls

Teenagers Voodoo Anger Doll
Teenagers Voodoo Anger Doll

Of all the different age groups that I work with, I think working with teenagers stretches my creative abilities the most. A boy that I was working with this week said that he wished he could just give his anger to someone who could turn it into something else. Then we remembered voodoo dolls. We made voodoo dolls and pinned to their chests what we wanted them to work with. It was a creative and  fun way to work with something that was frustrating and confusing for him. Creating art about our struggles helps us ponder things freshly. Detachment (giving anger to the voodoo doll) paradoxically makes us more present. This exercise lead to an interesting conversation of different ways he could react when angry. I love this job!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Magic Cloth

The Magic Cloth

We went on a three hour picnic. She reminded her foster Mom for weeks ahead of time that we had a three hour picnic scheduled. She usually comes to see me for one hour, but this time it would be three. 
I bought a new cooler, all her favorite foods, packed my camera, and games for after dinner.

She so was excited, so was I. We had never been together outside of the therapy room.
We had our table set, food laid out, drinks, when a family arrived and sat down at the picnic table next to us.

I knew it was coming, it always did. “A cloth, you should have brought a cloth,” she said as the Mom spread out a clean white table cloth.

I tried to defend my lack of planning by pointing out how the wind kept blowing up the edges and they had to use rocks to keep it down. But no matter what I said I could not pull her or all the other children I work with that live in foster homes away from trying to figure out why they are not at the picnic table with the white cloth.

I wish it could be that simple. Bu is it really so different then what I as a therapist, researcher, writer does?  Aren’t we all looking for the magic cloth?
By: Karen Wallace 


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Secret Tree Festival of Art & Sustainability Feb. 17-20th

Arts for Change Workshop with Karen Wallace

Equanimity, “being in the middle” refers to balance, to remaining centered in the middle of whatever life change is happening. This balance comes from inner strength or stability. The strong presence of inner calm, well-being, confidence, vitality, or integrity can keep us upright, like a ballast keeps a ship upright in strong winds. We each move through change in a familiar and uniquely different way. Sometimes we initiate change and sometimes life throws change at us. This art experience will be working with finding internal and external balance for the changes that we are all experiencing personality, communally, and globally. Through collage, painting, and text we will work with how we can embrace, reframe, revision and inhabit change in healthy life confirming ways.

Registration details: here 

Also check out this excellent article on Nursing School blog here which lists 100 Art Therapy Exercises for your mind, body, and soul.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Therapeutic Thursday: Art Therapy for Relaxation and Centering

One of the exercises I do with clients in Art Therapy is to have them create their own Zen Garden. The philosophy of Zen Gardens is to bring health to people, to harmonize our life, and to return balance in nature. These are dry gardens using stone arrangements, white sand, moss, statues and sometimes, pruned trees. The act of raking the sand into a pattern is symbolic of rippling waves. The raking motion is meant to have a calming and centering effect on the person raking. Playing with the patterns can be a way to open or close a therapy session. The stone and other miniature elements in the arrangements can be used to represent mountains and other natural elements. Sometimes clients make stone statues out of clay for their gardens or paint special stones.
miniature Zen Garden

Monday, January 10, 2011

Featured on Arttherapy Blog

 I am the featured Artist and Art Therapist on 
How exciting! Read the post here:
 Happy Monday!!!!!

Sandtray image by client titled: "They are all happy for you!!!!"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What does Divination have to do with Art Therapy?

Human beings have always had a deep need to ask and seek the answers to
"Why are we here? Who or what controls our destiny? and/or What will
happen in the future?" One way of receiving the answers to these
questions is through divination and all cultures have different ways of
practicing divination.  Methods that have all stood the test of time are
Rune stones, I Chin, Numerology, Astrology, and reading Tarot cards.
Divination systems in preliterate times, were largely the exclusive
domain of the rulers, chieftains, sages, prophets and shamans. Although
belief in magic was practically universal up to and through the Middle
Ages, including primitive divinatory practices of folk magic, knowledge
of divination systems could not spread until the invention of printing.
Divination has always been with us and still is. Even in the Old
Testament, Jahweh uses a sacred set of dice called Uri and Thummim to
make decisions in God's name.
In my twenties I experienced several events that shook my hold on
reality. I searched for answers everywhere and then became intrigued
with the Tarot. As a visual artist, I was entranced with the images and
as a seeker of knowledge; I was drawn in by the complex system of
Archetypes and stories that each card held. Shortly after discovering
these cards we traveled through Europe and North Africa, as did many
people of my age in the late seventies. I read all that I could about
the Tarot throughout our travels and I had my cards read by many
different readers. The study opened up my eyes and mind to many other
spiritual practices and ways of perceiving reality. When we
returned to Canada I thought I would move beyond the cards, but they
just kept finding a way of being relevant in my life. Reading is not
something that I advertise or promote in myself, but it is something
that comes naturally to me and I do it. It is one of the few things in
my life that I don't question, I really don't know why or how
readings work, and for some reason I don't need to know. I also
don't know why it seems so natural for me to read. I love the world
of Archetypes and find the study deep and meaningful. I enjoy the
endless combinations and unfolding of story lines that the 78 cards
create and the fascinating way they reflect a person's life in a
reading. Why they can predict the future, reflect the past and confirm
the present I really don't know. Somehow I am detached from needing to
know. I just accept that those cards work. Not necessarily for me, I am
not good at reading my own cards, but for others. Reflecting on this I
am thinking, hmm, good recipe for life. If you want to be accomplished
at something study it hard, practice it for many years, then learn to be
unattached to your performance and let it intuitively and instinctually
unfold. In other words become highly invested in learning the art/craft,
and then get out of your way to practice it. Are reading cards really
any different than creating art? Divination for me is no more or less
magical than this, being Present, in the flow and unattached to the
finished product. It's just another art form.

Mother Peace Tarot Deck by Vicki Noble

Monday, January 3, 2011

How was your art experience in school?

Students art 
Happy 2011! I am teaching an Arts Education university course for students who are planning to become art teachers. What advice would you give students based on your elementary school experience? Who inspired you to pursue your art and why? How were you supported or discouraged by your art teachers? What would you like to tell students about how your art experience in school shaped your view and feelings about art?
 I would be most grateful to hear from you.

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