Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Friday, May 14, 2010

Art Journals for Coping and Healing

Yesterday I wrote about the attitude of gratitude and suggested keeping a gratitude journal.  Another kind of journal that is fun and can be beneficial is an art journal.  One of the things that needs to be emphasised here is that you don't have to be an artist to enjoy and benefit from art journalling. In fact, sometimes being an artist can be a drawback, because you are more likely to critique your work as not being 'how it should be'.

There are a couple of different types of art journals, with very different purposes. One is a journal in which you use art (drawing, painting, collage, etc.) to express and explore your inner feelings, much like art therapy. The pages can be done spontaneously, just allowing the image to develop on the page. Keeping your mind open as it develops, you may perceive things about yourself or your issues, such as the red scribble represents your anger at your spouse, and the small blob in the corner is you, afraid of your anger.

Another way to do this kind of journaling is to begin with a question or thought in your mind, such as how you feel today, or what are you afraid of, and see what image appears. Either of these journaling techniques usually begins with a few minutes of meditation or relaxation to clear the mind, and ends with jotting down the thoughts that come to mind as you do the image and look at it afterward.

The other type of art journal is more of an exploration of art media and techniques than of the inner self. It is often a combination of different media, sometimes with a quote or other words mingled with the art. I have seen art journals with interesting found objects, such as buttons, jewelry, and lace, scraps of newsprint, photos, and pressed flowers. This type of art journal is created for its own sake, not for the message that the creator may glean from creating it.

I looked online for info on art and healing, and found Kay Porterfield's website, which has alot of good resources on creative journaling, but not necessarily about healing. Catherine Whipple has a wonderful site on healing arts with lots of projects, coloring pages, etc..One interesting website is the pain exhibit, an exhibit of art created by people with chronic pain..  Like any subject, there are lots of books on the subject of art journalling.  Here are some of my favorites:  Art and Healing, Using Expressive Art of Heal Your Body, Mind and Spirit,  by Barbara Ganim; Illness and the Art of Creative Self-Expression  by John Graham-Pole, M. D.; and The Picture of Health Healing Your Life Through Art, by Lucia Capacchione.  Art Journals and Creative Healing: Restoring the Spirit Through Self Expression, by Sharon Soneff looks like another good one, though I have not read it yet.  These books all have info about art and healing, as well as exercises to do. 

 One of my favorite types of journals has lines on the bottom of the pages, no lines on the top half. I like to draw on the top half, and then write my thoughts down below the drawing. You can use pens or pencils for writing, colored pencils, crayons, or pastels for drawing, watercolor or acrylic paints, collages of found objects and cuttings from magazines.  If you plan to paint or collage, you might want heavier paper. Size is up to you, whether you feel expansive, and want large paper, or if you plan to carry it with you, you might want smaller.  Check out some of the books and online sources I suggested, or just grab your supplies and jump in.  I have added a widget on the right side of my page that will give prompts for expressive journaling, if you need an idea to get you started.

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