In my work with my art therapy clients, I'm always asking them to 'process' their work with me at the end of the session or the conclusion of a piece. 'Processing' a piece means that the creator shares the thought that went into the initial creation of the piece as well as any subsequent insight. Processing might also include a discussion of the materials chosen and why, or how the artist felt using those particular materials. Processing can be a fairly revealing ... well, ... process. Therefore when I work with clients verbally processing with me as the Art Therapist is always an option, never mandatory.
I finally finished a painting I began several months ago. I decided to share my process a little in this blog post: The original idea came from a sketch from my Art Therapy peer supervision group. In the sketch, aptly know as "My dad lives in a trailer", I drew from memory my father's sad little peach colored trailer. IRL, my dad does live in a trailer but it's in one of those nice little retirement communities, full of some of the most well kept trailers I've ever seen actually. I think the loneliness I feel for my dad comes through in my sketch. The initial sketch included a girl (presumably me) with an owl in front of her face.
When I began the painting itself the girl didn't seem to fit so she was edited out. I tried to depict a season in between late winter and early spring. I was aiming for something that was unsettled, inconclusive. I started in acrylics but then switched to oils.
I love oils. I love, love, love, them. They are, for lack of a better description, so damn expressive. Painting the owl was my favorite part. After I began to work on the owl, the vast white space of the lawn seemed overwhelming. Then, Bang! ... it occurred to me I could use spray paint and a pattern or template. That electric impulse of creativity is always a joy.
A trip to Home Depot and two cans of spray paint later, we have our 'lawn'. I added a few finishing touches and I may add a few more, but all in all, I think this painting is a wrap. Looking at the finished product, I find it to me much more positive that the initial sketch. I took out the creepy girl with no face as well as the angry "My dad lives in a trailer scrawl". In addition the final piece is more more spring-like and colorful than the initial sketch. Oh, and this is a a big painting, about 3'x3'. I look at it now and I think, "This is a beautiful painting". Oddly beautiful perhaps, still some feelings of longing and loss remain, but beautiful none the less. Internally and psychically, I feel a sense of resolution. I look at the painting and wonder "Where did the shame go?" . "What was the magical process that transformed resistance into acceptance?" I'm not sure I have the answers, but I'll make a valiant effort in answering them in PART TWO ....