Teacup Galaxy

Ruby specialises in galaxies.

Galaxy of Ruby Brilliant

Watercolour shapes and galaxies.

Delicate pastel watercolour shapes with fluid interiors and defined edges…

and galaxies.

Teacup and Galaxy
Jennie and Ruby
mother/child art

Niece Ruby is thirteen. She’s found her artist medium and content. For now.

The labour of love,

the neural pathway-powering concentration,

the exquisite immersion in detail.

The calm, the absorption, the creativity, the flow.

Not for her the formulaic, dehydrated art education on offer in many early high school classes.

For her, the uniqueness of it.

The specific layering of materials.

Watercolour brilliants, an aquabrush, a facial tissue, some glue, a white pen.

It doesn’t take much space to be a slender thirteen year old expanding ever-outwards into interplanetary dream play. 

Her mum adds a teacup, an earth, a teapot. Ruby decorates it.

Teacup, Earth and Galaxy
Ruby and Jen
mother/child art

I come in,

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Art, Love and Realness

We are Pod.

We are.

We.

My little Pod group formed randomly … or was it laced around some invisible design?

After Australia’s election in May, I felt a strong urge towards community, to be with like-hearted people. I sent out an email to maybe twelve creative arts therapists to get together, to lament, to make art, to see what emerged.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
Transforming Grief into Gold

Four of us turned up on the day. We bonded immediately.

We became Pod.

Pod is for grieving, expressing our true feelings, making art and, importantly, eating too much cake. We’ve now met several times. We don’t necessarily talk politics or big picture stuff. We speak whatever matters to us at the time.

ART, LOVE AND REALNESS

was

my impassioned happy-slogan

in meeting three.

Pod gathering number four begins. We have cake on our plates. We have art materials at our fingertips. We have landed.

I slap down a bit of collage. It gives me a ground; a starting point. How about a pre-painted magazine page and a paint-dabbed tissue?

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod    beginnings
Sally Swain art-in-relationship

I notice the letter W right there in the centre, on its side. Can you see it? I pause. W? What might that mean to me right now? Straight away the answer comes. It stands for ‘We’.

It stands for the ‘We’ of Pod.

It’s a reminder of community, of interdependence. It tells me I don’t have to try and figure out my life, my work, my struggles, on my own. Even as I write this sentence, I breathe out a sighhh. It is so easy to get caught up in individualism, where I think I have to solve problems in my busy head; where I have to be a self-made woman and put myself out in the world.

Do you relate? ‘Making it on your own’ is so embedded and idealised in our culture. Such pressure. Anyway, it’s a myth. Nobody truly succeeds on their own. Always, someone somewhere sometime is supporting us.

I write a little ‘e’ next to the W. We.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship

I paint a Pod. I write the word ‘We’ lots and lots of times. The word becomes weird and funny, but demands to proliferate.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
We We We We We

Gold arrives.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
Gold arrives

More white tissue beckons. Laying it down is a bit like a tourniquet. Ew. Suddenly I don’t like the picture. It looks like blood and a bandage. We-e-elll …Pod was kind of forged in blood. And a community of ART, LOVE AND REALNESS is incredibly healing.

Art, Love, Realness
in the Pod
Sally Swain art-in-relationship
Transforming Grief into Gold

I still don’t particularly like the picture, but I want to share with you the sustaining spirit of ‘We’. I want to live in the Creative Love Exchange.

(Here’s another post about seeking solace in creative community)

Along those lines, here’s a wee (We) community noticeboard.

Let me link you to upcoming offerings

of several non-Pod Sydney art therapists.

Penelope James: Sydney Art Therapy Group for Therapists in Glebe over 6 Tuesday evenings from 15th October   www.arTTi.com.au

Anne Buckingham: Art + Mental Wellbeing workshops at Lane Cove Gallery in September      info@gallerylanecove.com.au

Gabriel Lawrence: Embrace your Inner Superhero (for women) in Ryde on Saturday 14th September     http://www.into-arts.com.au

Romny Vandoros: is to co-lead one of her Artful Retreats…in Crete! October 1st to 4th.     https://www.artfulretreats.com/crete-4-days?fbclid=IwAR2nJKgrvf67-jnLhxqYK4ohJrrqz2d5MuzGl1n_isXpMX891JNJw4aTjZI

Phillipa Tayler: A Creative Look at Chronic Pain several Monday mornings in Willoughby https://www.workshoparts.org.au/course/ArtTherapyChronicPain

Roxy Taylor: The Benefits of Art Therapy in Residential Aged Care podcast  https://www.wisecare.com.au/blog/episode2

Oh yes. There’s me. Sally Swain: I have one or two spots in Creative Wellspring on Saturday 21st September in Glebe, Sydney.

We are ART THERAPY ABUNDANCE! 

with love, art and soul from Sally

How do you convert pain to gain?

How do you transform rottenness to hope?
Dispirited dillusionment to forward-looking possibility?

Why, through relational art-making.

Golden Fish Friends Find Healing and Repair
Sally Swain art

I admit. Relational art-making, or art-making all on your ownsome, is no panacea. It’s not for everyone, or for all the time. And it doesn’t always succeed in its mission of enhancing wellbeing.

But it’s a damn good tool and resource, literally at our fingertips,

that can help

with easing difficulty

and re-orienting us to a sense of OKness.

I get together with an art therapist friend/colleague to talk about possible collaborations.
But first, we need to debrief difficulties. We’ve both been in situations where we felt disrespected and we’ve both been ill as a result.

I tear up – no, not cry – though I’ve done my weepy share of that. I tear up pieces of paper. I rip a pre-painted greenish collage magazine page, a pinky-mauve sponged page and some vivid green tissue.

deliciously satisfying torn paper edges

I tear ’em up, slap ’em down. It’s a gentle kind of slap. I am aware of the torn, fragmented, broken edges butting up against each other.

Words that appear?

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Is there a name for

the one who loves to bring a group painting together?

To synthesise it? To smooth the rough edges?
To make sure each person’s unique expression has a place, a space, yet contributes to a cohesive whole?

Rainbow Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

We hold a meeting of a sub branch of the Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society. (You can click this link if you want to know what on earth I’m talking about). In other words, niece Ruby says – let’s make art together.
We are three. Niece Ruby, sister Jen and me.

Ruby prompts. I groan. Does this surprise you? Art and Soul Sally? Groaning about an art-making opportunity with her favourite (only) niece and favourite (only) sister? Whaaa? Sally doesn’t feel like making art? 

Truth be told, I often don’t feel like it. Specially at night. It’s a daylight activity for me. There. I’ve said it. Maybe this art-reluctance confession can bring something of value to YOU. Tell me if so.

I stop groaning. I say Yes. Let’s. 

Ruby suggests doing those creatures – that same pass-it-on process we did before. Each person starts a head and shoulders, then folds over the paper so the next one can’t see it till the Big Reveal.

1. Head and neck 2. Torso 3. Legs and Feet

and…Ruby’ suggests a colour theme. OK. One creature is warm colours, one is cool colours and one RAINBOW. We begin.

Rainbow Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

We continue.

Cool Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork in progress
RubyJenSal

Don’t you love how people come up with different ideas and approaches? Quirky ones? I never would have thought of a jacket made of flowers with eyes. I didn’t think of doing white galaxies on purple legs. Wow.

It’s rather rushed.

Warm Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork in progress
RubyJenSal

Everyone has a different painting pace.
That’s life.
How to express uniqueness of style within a collective format?
Hmm.
Deep. 
Profound.

Fun.

 

Not fun. Roadblocks. 
Not every one of us is happy with our work. 
Not every one of us is happy with how our work fits with the others’ work.

With permission, I attempt to rescue an area of unhappiness.

Warm Colours Creature Woman
group artwork
RubyJenSal
She’s fine. Let’s see if I can help bring her together without negating any contribution. Celebrating each expression.

Ha. That’s life. That’s creativity.

But overall, it’s fabulous. There’s nothing at stake. We play. We connect. We experiment with the media.

Ruby adds some colour washes. It’s great to see her enjoyment of the Brilliants. 

Rainbow Colour Creature Woman
RubyJenSal
wash added around the flower-eyes

Cool Colours Creature Woman group art play
RubyJenSal
the joy of watercolour wash

I ask permission to come back to each piece and ‘bring it together’. I like doing that, mostly. Synthesising the slightly mismatching, disparate pieces, soothing the awkwardness, unifying and harmonising. That’s a big part of my Leaf-by-Leaf collaborative artwork process, which I would love to share with you some time. It will need its own blog post.

Weeks later, in a seaside, light and airy place, I do that synthesising, gently nudging misalignment into alignment.

Is there a name for this role? I don’t know. Please make a suggestion.

Rainbow Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

Cool Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork in progress
RubyJenSal

Warm Colour Woman Creature collaborative artwork
RubyJenSal

The team seem happy with the outcome.

with love, art and soul
from Sally

The Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society

provided the most fun I’ve had in ages. The sort of fun that includes getting the giggles. Uncontrollably. Even if you are sixty. Let’s travel back to early January.

Five of us arrive from far-flung corners of the country, meeting at a gorgeous Sydney harbour pool.

There’s Jennie my sister, Ruby my twelve year old niece, Marg my friend and colleague and Tara her thirteen year old daughter.

creative play group pictre

The Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society
combined picture by Ruby, Tara, Marg, Jennie and Sally (in order from youngest to oldest)

The swimming’s done. It’s time for art. We have watercolour Brilliants, waterbrushes, pens and five small pieces of paper.

Shall we do a group project?

Will it be a serious reflection on the year that was, or a visioning for the new year? No. We opt for non-serious.

Tara suggests a paint-a-bit-and-pass-it-on process.

You fold your page into five sections. You start with the head of a person, animal or hitherto undiscovered creature, then fold it over so it’s invisible. The next person, uses the reference marks you made to paint the neck and shoulders of a creature onto the next fold. And so on.

creative play joy painting

The Anti Polo Melted Chocolate Art Captain Society
combined picture by Ruby, Tara, Marg, Jennie and Sally (in order from youngest to oldest)

Then

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with a little bit of bloomin’ art

It’s Mental Health Month here in Oz.

Wednesday was Mental Health Day.

Just as well, says Sally, as I was feeling super-stressed and I had the opportunity to attend Qi Gong class while watching the rain lollop down the window pane. That helped.

Art helps.

Writing helps.

Creative expression helps to alleviate stress big-time.

And small-time. That is, even if you have only a small rainy window pane to express your pain, or simply play with colour, it helps.

collaborative art children

A collaborative three-way art-play from last school holidays

You might remember Aunty Art Café. It’s one of the occasions I’ve shared with you school holiday art-making experiences with my niece. Fun.

Aunty Art Cafe

watercolour art co-creation

Upside Down Waterscape

This school holiday, my niece, sister and I had one hour. Just a little bit of bloomin’ art-making time. (please excuse the My Fair Lady song reference. Do you know ‘With a Little Bit of Bloomin’ Luck’ from another era?)

One hour. What shall we do?

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What do you see in this picture?

Delight at the Aunty Art Cafe

heart art underwater

What do you see in this Picture?

All Ingredients of Joy are Present:

Art materials (portable)
A nice cup of tea (English Breakfast)
A nice niece (well, more than nice, really – fabuloso)

A splendid location (water views)

A breeze (the bees knees on a hot day).

watercolour art co-creation

Upside Down Waterscape

I am in love

with my new watercolour Brilliants.

They are called Brilliants and indeed they are. Brilliant.
(I hope my aquabrushes don’t feel jealous. We have a longer term relationship. We are calmly companionable, my aquabrushes and I.)

Ruby and Sal begin.

Actually, I begin. With a simple blue swooshy line across the page. We are across the road from an ocean beach, so it makes sense.

watercolour collaborative art

Beginnings

Ruby continues. Swirly seaweedy

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The Joy of Making Art Together

My sister and niece visit from interstate about four times a year.

We try to squeeze an art play session in there in amongst the family events schedule.

butterfly art glitter

Ruby’s Butterfly

We let loose.

We love our shared art-making.

We are all together, yet each working on our own piece.

We coast between silent absorption and chit-chatting or singing. Sometimes there’s a drama

when the picture ‘goes wrong’. We usually get through that, out the other side and sail to the land of art-making happiness.

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