The BioArtback Loop

Art Balm

Art as a balm,
a source of calm

flows through your heart,
your hand,
your arm.

The Fish with Hearts for Eyes (detail)

You paint a world.

You cook a soup.

Intermingle (detail)


You feed
the
BioArtback Loop.

Heartbeat (detail)

Art as a balm,
a source of calm

flows through your heart,
your hand,
your arm.

You paint a world.

You cook a soup.

You feed
the
BioArtback Loop.

Living with Water (detail)

I am a bit excited about the concept of BioArtback Loop. 

Tell me what you think it means…

What it might mean to you?
I haven’t yet quite put it into words.

with love, art and soul

from Sally

The Quirky Art Heart at

the Centre of the Squircle.

Yes. The Squircle.

The Quirky Art Heart at the Centre of the Squircle 1
play-in-progress
Sally Swain

Not my invention, though I do love originating words. The word ‘Squircle’ has been mentioned to me independently by several folk. It must be in the ether (the e-ther?).

What do you get when a circle of women meets on Zoom?

A Squircle.

 

Circles, curves and spirals of interconnection surrounded, but not bounded, by angles and straight lines. 

A Heart Squircle
play-in-progress
Sally Swain

What do you get when the women are participating

heartfully and artfully in a workshop-playshop?

A Squircle.

Response Art
flowers painted during and after an Art and Soul Zoom workshop/playshop

What do you get when the women connect deeply

with their creativity and with each other

in ever-evolving, respectful community?

A Squircle.

I am loving my work.

(What a lucky duck at a time in history when global suffering is intensified by a pandemic and I’m fortunate to have work at all.)
The work? Heartwrite, Creative Sustenance for Arts Therapists, Soul Bricolage and other Art and Soul playshops. Art therapy, supervision (Zoopervision on Zoom) and Creative Purpose Coaching. Facilitating creative confidence and mindful self-compassion in a grouping of wise, kind folk – holding the space for them to discover the riches of creative practice at their fingertips. I am loving it.

I might be loving facilitating workshops, but I’m not loving these little pictures – the heart squircle or the flowers.
So….rip em up and combine them.
Ha! Creative solution

I might be loving facilitating workshops, but I’m not loving these little pictures – the heart squircle or the flowers.
So….rip em up and combine them.
Ha! Creative solution

The Quirky Art Heart

at the Centre of the Squircle?

(or Squirkle, which contains quirk)
It is me.

It is all of us.

I am blown away by the depth of intimacy, warmth and authentic connectedness emerging in my Zoom groups. In some cases even more so than face-to-face. Why is this?
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
My current theory is that people are often feeling safe and comfortable in their own homes, rather than having to wear a public persona. We are all in our own environments, with personal objects visible. We are contextualised and somehow equalised. 
Does this make sense?

The Quirky Art Heart at the Centre of the Squircle 2
Swain unfinished art

with love, art and soul
from Sally

Lyrebird or Seahorse?

First up, thank you.

I express gratitude.
Gratitude that in spite of all that is going on in the world right now, I am in the lucky place of being able to sit at a computer in a cosy room in Sydney, Australia, the planet and share my creative musings with you.
Gratitude to YOU for engaging with the space of Art and Soul.

Thank. You. Here. Now.

Who knew?

The Watergrass Urn of Love and Holding
Sally Swain

Art and Soul playshops have been taking place in the Zoomosphere.

Who knew that a playshop on this platform could be

so friendly, so warm, intimate, heartful, authentic and comfortable.
And….dare I say it?

Brimming with

actual,

feel-it-in-the-chest-region

LOVE.

Please peruse the little paintings that I created during the Zooms, while participants were

arting during Soul Bricolage

or Nourish and Flourish,

or writing during Heartwrite.

Leaf Woman
Sally Swain

You might think that making art during a group means I’m paying less attention to the participants, cos I’m caught up with my own art. But no.

It’s the OPPOSITE.

Engaging in this type of small, light Response Art helps me be more present. I am tuning in even more deeply to the energy of the group, the essence of the client, the nature of the relationships between and amongst us. Art-making can help me Zoom in on an intuitive level just below the rational, trying-to-figure-it-out-linearly mind.
It’s all about Intention. If I am making art in the service of the clients, I will not disappear into my own Zone. If I do notice my attention starting to head towards my own art interior and away from Being With the clients, I quickly correct my path.

What are your thoughts on this? As a potential client? As an art therapist or creative facilitator? Do you make art while attending to others?

As Yet Unnamed
(what do you reckon a title could be?)
Sally Swain

So yeah. I share with you the joy, depth, beauty and connection of the Art and Soul Zoomospheric playshops to date, plus four little pictures they have sparked.

Lyrebird or Seahorse?

Or some other life form?

What do you see in the image below?

Lyrebird or Seahorse or…?
What do you see?
One Art and Soulie saw a lyrebird; another a seahorse. I love both those perceptions. They hadn’t occurred to me at all. I was just seeing a plant. Do you notice the word HEART is in amongst it all?

with love, art and soul
from Sally

Celebrating Women Artists

and 

Saint Greta of Earth Action
Penny Ryan
from Still/Rage exhibition

our

Two stories did collide; oyster beds
Dr Sarah-Jane Moore
from exhibition
I Know Where Oysters Lie

creative

Art and Soul
a woman creates
in Art Garden playshop

power.

bush truck
Janine McAullay Bott
from Sculpture by the Sea

What  

Continue reading

Wild Pink Flower

Houses Tiny Worlds

Can you paint grumpiness into joy?

Wild Pink Flower Houses Tiny Little Worlds

The microscopic transformations

of making one small picture

ripple through the pages of personhood,

radiating ever outwards.

Grumpy. Tired. Hyper-vigilant.

Stray shreds of tissue. Let’s make a beautiful flower with spiral centre. 

Oh no! It’s a grumpy tired spider flower.

Bright. Too bright.

Spiky. Too spiky.

Art doesn’t lie.

Can’t let the world see me like this.

Too Bright. Too Spiky.
Art Doesn’t Lie.

Paint over, paint over.

Paint pink, white, gold.

Vigorous. Begin to feel better, calmer. Practise the art of upliftment.

But it’s pretty. Too pretty. Sweet. Too sweet.

Pretty It Up

During creative community pod gathering, add pre-painted magazine page.

Viscous, white on shiny, black paper.

Define, strengthen, re-introduce the truth.

Bring substance and depth.

Friend says, ‘I can see tiny little worlds behind the petals’.

Bring in the black and white. The spine. The substance.

Later. Black fine-liner. Scribble, scrawl with restless, artful purpose.

Red oil crayon. Swirl firm spiral centre. Scrape side across the raised dry tissue texture. Feel the old skin and know what’s beneath.

Voila.

Rough and smooth.

Concealed and revealed.

Authentic layers of life.

Joy.

Wild Pink Flower Houses Tiny Little Worlds

(Here’s another Tiny Worlds post.)

with love, art and soul from Sally

Disencumbering and Strange Divinations

Does this capture creativity for you?

bird moon art therapy

Night Flying Work
Sally Swain © original art

I reckon the following quote from Salley Vickers’ ‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ is a great galumphing grandulous ode to the joy and depth of therapeutic creativity.

Anyone who has ever felt exquisitely transported by an act of creativity, please read. Art therapists or would-be art therapists, please read. Those who aspire to paint, write, moosh clay or sing rhythms for self-care, nourishment or release, please read. If you are up for a poetic description of the healing, transformative power of art-making, please read.

Are you ready?

bird boat art watercolour

Bird and Boat
Sally Swain © original art
teeny watercolour in journal

She,

in her nightdress, stood at her easel in the garden, painting birds in the flowing, dappling light. In her mind, they flew upward … ever onward and upward, into unimagined stratospheres, where time and space dissolved into the limitless aether beyond.

 

She had thrown down the burden and now the birds lifted her, out of the little doom of irrelevance, the awful terror, the state of huddle which had cramped and hurt her. Never had she felt so clear, so free of polluting distractions.

bird paint collage

Blue Bird O’Clock
play-in-progress3
Sally Swain © original art

As she painted, she found that whatever jarred she could at once paint out – and this too, this editing process, this disencumbering, peaceable eliding, which she did without thought but without regret either – it was remarkable how it seemed to be cutting the strings which had entangled and bound her, loosed her free to be whatever it was she was to be.

 

With no sense of where she was going, or what was proper to this enterprise, she followed her inclination, which was, mostly, to remove and excise, to take out.

Passionwing acrylic painting grief art

Passionwing
Sally Swain © original art

Yes, she was softly rubbing things out as she stood there, her needs, her desperations, her inclinations, all were disappearing – till she was left, footless and featureless, bodiless, almost, with only the strange divinations of the birds to speak for her.

 

The ancient soothsayers looked to birds for auguries – the birds upon the wing were the flexion of her soul.

From ‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ by Salley Vickers

bird painting Swain

Smiling Bird
Sally Swain © original art
fragment on calico

A friend brought a book along to a café, opened it up at page 219 and read the entire quote out loud. She knew it would lure and captivate me. I wasn’t even sure of the meanings of fancy words such as ‘eliding’ or ‘flexion’, but hell, it sounded good, right and true.

watercolour woman wings

Wing-ear woman
Sally Swain © original art
little watercolour painting from art journal, created while listening on the phone

And you?

{I really must figure out how to ongoingly link this blog to my Art and Soul e-newsletter. Sometimes I am stumped by the most basic tecchy stuff. Here’s an invitation to Creative Flame and Fortune on Saturday 13th July. It’d be a delight to see you there. Bookings essential.}

with love, art and soul
from Sally

bird art Swain

A Random Sally Heartbird

Exquisite Level of Care

How are you

at balancing

other-care with self-care?

Is it a bit of a challenge?

A lot of a challenge?

A Dementia Australia counsellor told me that I offer an ‘exquisite level of care’.

I breathed in the fine compliment. I breathed out a delicately complex response, including a watercolour-plus-collage artwork – a paintage.

I’m showing you the pretty bits and leaving out the grisly ones. Ah yes well. Sometimes it’s a grisly process, this caring palaver.

Exquisite Level of Care
art fragment
Sally Swain

Here’s the question of the day (or year or lifetime):

How might we apply

an Exquisite Level of Care

to ourselves!?

Last weekend I led ‘Nourish and Flourish – the Art of Self-Care’. It was my first Art and Soul playshop in a while. Why? Because I’ve been caught up in eldercare.

Nourish and Flourish was delicious.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
playshop participants
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
playshop participants
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

What sorts of things happened in the playshop?

I invited participants to consider…if their care for OTHERS had a colour, shape, texture, sound, title … for this moment … what might it be?

If their SELF care for this moment had a colour, shape, texture, sound, title, how would that look and feel?

Participants wrote or made art in response to this contemplation.

What else?

They each chose a miniature from the sandplay collection to represent their ally or companion on the journey.

We heard different individual self-care strategies. We pooled them. They range from dancing to reading with a cat on your lap; surfing to spending time with friends; saying No to having a massage.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

We did a walking sensory awareness meditation. We sipped tea. We ate chocolate. Or healthy stuff, as the case may be.

The dear participants

each made art, art and more art.

They found ways to nourish themselves

in the process of making art about self-care. 

It was a treat for me to host these splendid Art and Soulies; exploring, playing, being authentic, expressing joys and difficulties, beautifully showing kindness and insight as they offered positive feedback to one another.

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Nourish and Flourish
the Art of Self-Care
a playshop participant
making heartfelt, gorgeous, authentic art

Gratitude. I feel gratitude.


I do believe the next Art and Soul offering

is probably Saturday 13th July.

Most likely it’ll be

the annual ‘Creative Flame’ playshop.

Maybe see you there.

with love, art and soul

from Sally

Exquisite Level of Care
art fragment
Sally Swain

Easin’ the Season

red gold fabric flower art

Sumptuous             Sally Swain © art

How to name this time of year?

The season is Festive or a Holiday for some, but not for others. Do you say Happy Christmas to those in deep grief? Do you falalala about prickly green and red plants and ruddy-nosed caribou?

(Indeed I do. I find myself hosting Arty Hearty Parties in an aged care facility, singing and strumming ukulele. Anything to bring a smile to a sorrowful face.)

How to communicate swift positive wishes to all, sundry, those who are traumatised; those who give no hoots?

Swain painting

Using up the Leftover Paint
acrylic on calico
Sally Swain

It can be a

Continue reading

What grows in the garden of you?

What would you like to cultivate?

What would you like to prune or weed?

(Let’s have a jacaranda-coloured post, in keeping with the season)

small art trees Swain

The Seven Trees of Us
Sally Swain © art
very mixed media on a small strip of paper

I ting a Tibetan bowl and lead a guided contemplation for the six women participating in the Art Garden playshop.

We sit with four elements that potentially nourish the self-garden.

Soil

What’s your ground? What helps

Continue reading

Golden Thread

Grandmother, mother, daughter.

I am invited to run a creative playshop with three generations of women. My heart warms and swells with delight.

Grandmother, mother, daughter.

Not only that, but I’ve met the grandmother and mother before.

Not only that, but the grandmother, Bridget, was in my VERY FIRST EVER ART WORKSHOP in 1993 at the Women’s Academy. There’s a blast from the past.

 

Ohhh the threads run deep and golden.

intergenerational artmaking

Weaving Women’s Creativity
Intergenerational art-making

I will take this opportunity to say

Continue reading