It is wonderful to have some messy space to play in again. I didn't realise how much I had missed it. I don't miss the damp and the difficult access to my former studio though!
The remains of my broom stick is tucked in the corner. It's past its flying capacity. I intend to chop it in two and have some extreme knitting needles for some radical knitting.
Meanwhile the painting begun yesterday has come a little further. i had thought it was water and boats but it's more washing dishes and rubber gloves. Very kinky.
The garden has continued to intrude. i can't keep out of it and things just keep getting in. I have been playing with the glue gun. Lots of tiny easels have appeared. I have experimented with beech, fir, birch and miniature bamboo. The bamboo works easiest but the lichens on the birch lend a wonderful aged quality. Fun.
Preparation for a workshop sparked lots of other activity. After framing and hanging my dancing girls I played with foundations. I love experimenting with painted bases and then following the paint to see where it will lead me.
I don't yet know which way up it goes. That's part of the fun.
Once stimulated to play I began other painting too. I also worked on some ideas for an upcoming Christmas Fair. I haven't prepped my glass for painting. That is today's delight.
I made two little felt animals. Serious work is better hand in hand with silly stuff.
It was beautiful in the garden yesterday so I found things to do there too. Beans, courgettes, raspberries and herbs. I often run out and gather fresh herbs for tea but yesterday I dried some. A few seem to have been more successful than others but I have yet to try them. I will let you know!
Nature provided the day's perfect 'icing on the cake'. Butterflies. Wonderful.
I have been busy making a new studio habitable. It has pinboard on the walls ready for action. Working on a upright surface is psychologically important to me. My giant table packs away easily when it's not required. It's good to get space for it again.
It's a really bright room that is easy to make warm and cosy. All I need now is creative company to share the space. Who would like to join me for a light-hearted weekly session of imaginative and intuitive art making?
A little sojourn into my inner sanctum.
Recently I heard someone make a bible reference. Bible quotes usually pass directly over my head. This one hooked me in because one word struck me and resonated with an image that has become a recurrent theme in my work. I had called the theme ‘oscillation’. An angel ‘troubles the water’ of the pool at Bethesda in John 5:4 but the version that ‘troubled’ me had the angel stirring up the water. The simple phrase, ‘stirring the water’ pulled threads to connect disparate things, like a tuning fork linking through its specific vibration.
Art therapy is grounded in this pre-metaphoric equivalence of like-with-like. New meanings are discovered for images and actions that neither discount nor replace previous understandings; they deepen perception and broaden the work’s significance.
One of my journal entries last week included a zen-like shape that I had dismissed as insignificant. Strangely, a client employed the same shape repeatedly later that same day. The following day I added words to my image related to a need for the cessation of pushing myself to write an article for my webpage. It reads ‘a bowl of murky water needs time to settle – leave it alone.’
I stopped beating myself up for not writing (again...) and today I played with ‘stirring the water’ in the studio. I took some photographs. The shape morphed, becoming analogous with my actions and I was drawn back to write.
My desk faces one of my oscillation images. A woman is about to stir the still water of a deep pool. I began to look at it differently.
Christopher Day in his book ‘Places of the Soul’ mentions how the rhythmic oscillation of dirty water enhances that water’s life-bearing characteristics; a natural mountain stream is able to cleanse itself from biological pollution. Flowforms have been developed to revitalised rivers.
My exercise in stirring the water began to clarify my understanding of the nature of free-flowing intuitive art forms.
Numerous creation myths have emerged from the combination of dust with water. From Prometheus to cosmic soup, mud has provided mythical matter for magical creation. Such stories might be helpful if you are in the right frame of mind to encounter them. Most of us are however caught in the maelstrom of everyday chaos or stuck in the mud of obligation, responsibility and commitment. The dust needs to settle before we can make sense of disruptive life events.
Once the murky water settles then it is possible to revitalise ordinary life and to begin to make sense of the changes wrought through traumatic change. That’s when one might recognise the hand of an angel in the troubles sustained when life got stirred into confusion and madness.
My oscillation painting was created immediately before I began my studies. I graduated nine months ago. The dust is just beginning to settle enough for me to begin to make sense of the cataclysmic changes that occurred in the interim.
If you are in the turmoil of dramatic life events it might be useful to anchor yourself through tiny daily actions that can build a rhythmic oscillation amidst the havoc. Mindfulness meditation is invaluable but difficult to begin and to sustain. Art activities offer easier ways to be fully alive in the present moment.
Here is my mandala for today.
We all have times in our lives when our rational thinking becomes inadequate to cope with the pressures of everyday existence. That’s when it becomes necessary to ask for help.
The psychotherapeutic literature clearly indicates the importance of the person-to-person relationship to the outcome of therapy. We all need another person to break free from the limitations of a stressed mind. The same literature shows that the successful outcome of psychotherapy is less influenced by the type of therapy than by the relationship between you and the therapist. Non-conscious, non-verbal connection provides the single most potent aspect of therapy. Making art enables you to communicate via your ancient and fundamental limbic system.
By using art materials in a therapeutic relationship, a new, entirely unique ‘language’ can enable you to express deep feelings. This language is entirely your own. Manipulating colours, shapes, lines and forms can help you to articulate an embodied knowledge. This knowing is pre-verbal and may help to bring intuitive feelings to consciousness. It can provide a personal way to ‘make sense’ of your difficulties.
If you want to feel better your thinking mind may get in the way. Art therapy offers a helping hand.
What's your can-of-worms?
Mine appears to be being seen. I am finding it difficult to go public and make my blog accessible.
Pots on my window sill. Some green, some biscuit fired.
I find thinking with my hands engages the rest of my senses and is the most effective way to understand complex issues.
Today I reconstituted used clay.
It requires physical effort to knock and squash air from the clay and knead it into an even, workable texture. It was a good workout and offered me a valuable sense of being grounded once the work was finished. Now I can go and do the important work of playing with it!
This blog will have a focus on art. Not visual art but tactile art. Art that lets you see how you feel. Art offers the chance to discover a material equivalent to a felt emotion. Art helps you to get your hands on your issues and begin to change how you feel and what you think. Art can lead to an internal emotional shift. As emotional material is transformed through art so emotional matters can be transformed too and you can change your life.
Ceri McKervill PhD
Artist, researcher, art therapist, pragmatist: intent on making life changes with the help of art materials.