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

No smoke without feathers

Art Helps

If you can see a red-brown feather, it’s Climate Heart Art by Sally Swain. 

Climate Heart Art
Sally Swain

I buy a cushion from Vinnies.

It’s feathery, velvety, russet, very fake. Turns out that it moults – not an endearing feature. Still, I rather love it. Fragments of dyed red-brown fluff stick to the cream couch. They make themselves right at home, camouflaged, on the patterned rug, while those feathers that remain attached to the cushion riffle in the machine-made breeze of ceiling fan-plus-air-purifier in the confined indoor world of this smokey Sydney summer.

I like the riffling.

It’s a substitute

for the old-fashioned,

pre-scorched-summer activity of

going for a walk in the actual air,

enjoying leaves on trees

rustling in the breeze.

Climate Heart Art
in emergence

Beyond my little lounge room? Beyond Sydney’s inner west?

It’s been the summer of No-Return.

Fires fires, devastating fires have eaten trees, flowers, fungi, lizards, koalas, echidnas, wombats, kangaroos, birds, dogs, cats, people, paper, iron, brick, mortar, memories, homes, townships, livelihoods, lives. Once you’ve seen a photo of five burned platypus corpses on a rock, you can’t un-see it.

And that’s just me – a delicate, milksop city-slicker artist and art therapist who hasn’t had to stare a fire-nado in its deathly face.

Climate Heart Art
in emergence

Russet feathers float off the cushion. They jemmy their way into creases and crevices. For some unknown reason, I start to collect them.

I pile feathers into a miniature plastic garbage bin,

these small fluffy pieces of escaped bird, artificially coloured

in a strange new hot-house blend

of human-induced environment

and nature as we knew it.

November 12th 2019 was the first-ever declared Catastrophic fire danger day in Sydney. Hell – they only just invented a category stronger than Very High, Severe and Extreme and we got to apply it, in the Big (ahem) Smoke, even before summer properly started.

Climate Heart Art
fly, little bird

Through summer

I feel the need to soothe myself and others.

I try to paint only blues and greens; calm and watery colours.

Soothe, soothe, breathe, soothe.

For weeks, I can’t bring myself to wear any of my many red or orange clothes. My movement impro group dances for rain.

The climate cushion keeps moulting. The fires keep burning.

I am obliged to name my grief, fear, rage.

I am compelled

to dedicate my creative practice

to alleviating the suffering

of living beings

impacted by fire

and other climate crises.

I consciously begin making Climate Heart Art. Turns out I’d been doing it unconsciously for a while, with odd, hybrid survival creatures appearing. I coin the term ‘inter-elemental’ for my frogs of the air and fish of the earth.

Climate Heart Art
fragments from a magazine

 

Climate Heart Art
what will the frog become?

The feathers find their way into my art.

This is the art of emergence, of listening for respite and the possibility of new life.

The russet feathers.

Each feather, though oh-so fluffy and innocent, looks like fire. Each feather placed in a painting conjures the ever-present hot, demonically dry fire-scape that manufactures mass extinctions and catastrophic trauma.

Climate emergency? We’re in it. No matter how small the painting or the lounge room; no matter what fear you try to shut out; what peace you try to seal in, the feathers of fire are here, inside the frame.

Climate Heart Art
hybrid creature
Sally Swain

Have I pushed you away, dear reader, with the pulse of negativity; the pelt of despair? Where is that Sally joyfulness? Oh, it’s there. Lightness too, lives in the life of the feather, the watercolour, the chance to express and to support others ongoingly in their authentic expression.

And how are you going in this time?

 

I am facilitating an Art and Soul Climate Circle on 22nd February in Sydney. Kindness, respect, connection, realness.

I am delighted to offer you a safe space to be, to breathe, to gather and create from your art’s heart.

Would you like to come along?

Climate Heart Art
Sally Swain

Here are some links for your emotional/creative support, knowledge and validation:

Climate Psychology Alliance podcasts

Psychology for a Safe Climate

Mindfully Facing Climate Change

FireFeels blog

Artists and Climate Change

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  

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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

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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

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Nestle

Create a gentle resting, holding place for yourself

to digest your experience of the year and sustain yourself through Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah and New Year.
For some, this is a blessed time of year. For others it is tough.

fabric collage Art and Soul

An Art and Soulie plays with sumptuous aqua satin and rich crimson fabric fragments

I encourage you to make some space –

even twenty minutes –

to reflect on your experience of 2017.

See if a shape, colour, theme or motif

arises

and allow yourself to write or art it.

 

Perhaps you will discover a guiding image to help you flow

into your strong, beautiful soul’s dance

for 2018.

Nestle was our final Art and Soul playshop of the year.

I asked the question:

Would you like a nourishing, spacious pause
(ahhhh)
in the midst of the seasonal HurlyBurly?

Art and Soul collage writing

An Art and Soulie immerses herself in eloquent collage and writing

I invited participants to

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Washing machines and Watercolour pens

Art and Soulie Spot 10
Stories from the Creative Path

Presenting the beautiful writer:

Kerry Littrich…

I vividly recall the first creative playshop Kerry attended maybe ten years ago.
I remember her uncertainty about what was on offer. Once she felt more sure that this was to be a safe space, she gave herself 700% to the process. She let her big heart shine. She willingly shared her intricately woven fictional characters, who, over time, became as real to me as any of the playshop participants. Maybe we needed extra chairs around the table for Kerry’s living breathing human creations.

Here’s her website: Imagine365

Over to Kerry for a small adventure…

The day off

I am a writer.

I mostly write fiction but I also write non-fiction articles, blog posts and run a whimsical website called imagine365. Sometimes I write copy for other people’s sites or help them create business materials. But today I’m not going to write because I worked late last night in a different job and

I’ve given myself the day off.

            So I start propped up in bed, pillows all around me and a cup of tea to hand. My miniature fox terrier, Rupert, joins me but don’t tell my husband.

dog photo

Kerry’s Rupert

I speak to my sister on the phone,

there’s no hurry.

We catch up for 45 minutes. I spend almost an hour longer in bed meditating with a second cup of tea.

            When I do get up, there’s

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