Favorite Quotes

Therefore do no worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. - Jane Austen

If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. -Mary Engelbreit

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Drawing and Journaling

Someday I may go back to school to become an art therapist. I have no background in formal training which is necessary to be accepted into a program. This summer I signed up for an intro drawing class at the local community college.
Still life for night one
Drawing from night one
A quick sketch from a different angle during night one after finishing my piece early

Practice between night one and two
Night 2 Still life: Crumpled paper bag. Much more difficult than the boxes. My instructor said this is one of the more difficult projects of the class. Logically it doesn't make sense to me that it would be the second class.

Night 2 Project. If I was not practiced in zentangling, this class would stress me the heck out. The pre-zentangling version of myself would have become incredibly frustrated with this class. As it is, I used a good amount of positive self-talk to relax and not be critical with overall success. 

My drawing instructor heavily suggested we start an art journal by offering extra credit. I already had an art journal but the instructor told us to buy a 9x12 size. I decided the collage the cover similarly to how I created the cover for my work planner.
I have been reading The Art Therapy Sourcebook and now recognize I tend to create more often when bored, lonely, or depressed. Last time Jason was deployed I should have bought stock in Michael's so I could make some of my money back. Then, I created quite a few crocheted blankets and two t-shirt quilts. Now that my interest have turned from crafty to artistic, my journal pages more often occur while my husband is underway, on duty, or deployed. Today a plan with a friend fell through and my art journal benefited. 

Art Journal Page: Melted wax creation

Art Journal Page: Created a photo collage. I had no plan on doing this but I found the pictures and went with my gut. The "deployment" will (hopefully) only be two months but while I'm in it, it feels like a long time. 

Teaching Zendalas

I have to adjust how I teach at work compared to how I would teach as a private instructor. I ran out of tiles for a couple weeks and experimented with a few alternative sessions.

One week I instructed using colored markers and white paper. The girls had a hard time focusing on it. I except too many choices led to wakening from their focus. It didn't help that I forgot to make copies of the tangle sampler paper I created in March. Note to self to take a picture and post. I noticed the girls had a lot of anxiety regarding trying to remember the tangles I had taught. The sampler sheet cut down on it A TON. After learning that lesson, I made a ton of copies of the sampler page and pass out a copy for everyone every week since they tend to lose things.

This and last week I introduced the ladies to zendalas. As an alternative to the type created by Rick and Maria (zentangle.com), I printed out mandalas from printmandala.com and encouraged the girls to consider them to be the strings. Since the mandalas are much larger than the traditional zendalas, we have worked on the same mandala for two sessions in a row. None of the girls have finished but I see that as a good thing. Recently I have been focused on encouraging my groups to draw slower and try to appreciate the process.

Below is an example I created for my groups. I have different mandala that I plan working on next week to show the ladies an example of negative space.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Making a New Work Planner

At my job I more or less have be to completely self-reliant in managing my day to day schedule. I have to write everything down because I am paranoid that I will forget a meeting or to see a residents for the allotted number of times. When I started I used a pad of paper to write by to-do list but quickly became disenchanted. After some serious comparison shopping at office supply stores I gave up on finding something better. 

When I broke my ankle last February I had lot of off time from work. During that time I decided to create by own planner. I designed some pages using Microsoft Word which would meet my needs. For the original cover, I collaged magazine pieces and then had them laminated with the harder type. I had the planner spiral bond at Office Max. It worked wonderfully. 

Below is the second generation of my planner. In my first generation, I used the backing that is provided by store but it ripped off. The only major change between the first and second generation is that the second is a laminated pieces on front and back. I used to get a lot of quilt magazines which is where I found the pictures to collage. This planner lasted me from December 2013 to mid May 2014. It held up well. 

Since the above planner is now full, I started creating the cover and backing this weekend. Below are the steps I took in the past two days. 

First I selected and ripped out pages from my art journal. I have a spiral bound notebook designed for mixed media that I create in sometimes. Recently I've experimented a lot with watercolor. 

Second, my husband helped me rip the journal pages into smaller pieces.

Next, I mod podged the pieces together on a heavy pieces of printer paper. 

The next day when the glue dried, I used black acrylic paint along the edges of each collage piece.

My most recent step was using an exacto knife to clean up the edges.

Tomorrow I plan to take two the of pieces to Office Max to get them laminated. I am happy with how they turned out. I was a little scared before I added the paint. I got the idea for the art therapist at my work. I had seen her use the technique on a couple different things and wanted to try it for myself. 

Catching Up

Since December 2013, I have more or less taught two 30 minute Zentangle classes a week. In that time, I have watching some of my residents make huge leaps in their ability to be patient and more accepting of "making mistakes" (even though I hold that there are no true mistakes in tangling). I wish I could take pictures of their tangles but I don't feel it would ethically responsible to do so. I feel artwork can be just as private as a journal entry so posting it to this forum without their permission would be not so good.

My most recent story of teaching zentangling was with a resident at my facility who had been cutting to deal with emotional pain. I had a limited amount of sessions with him so I decided to teach him about zentangling for something to do to focus his thoughts. He took to it pretty well and his primary therapist let me know he is still doing it in his free time.  I am in no way saying that zentangling will alone "cure" self-harming tendencies. I just believe art is a great way to work through emotional pain and can be used in combination with more traditional forms of therapy. Below are the tangles I created while working with the resident. Now they are taped on the wall of my office.

This is a tile I created to use as an example for one of my classes:

I struggle with some of my groups because the groups are not voluntary for the young ladies that I have been teaching. Therefore I end up managing behaviors sometimes more that teaching. While I have seen success in helping some residents silence their inner critic, I want to develop a better strategy to teaching the zen part of tangling. If you are reading an have suggestions, my ears (or eyes) are open.