Sacred Scribble

or the art of Intentional Doodling

Creativity for Survival and Sustenance
How’s that for a workshop title?
I mean it.
Creativity for Survival and Sustenance.


Art-making, writing, dancing, sound-making

are POWERFUL tools

to help us through daily living and topsy-turvy times.
They sure have helped me and I see them continually support others.

I ran the brief workshop for an amazing group of powerful, inspiring women
as Chat 20 of Moving Fearlessly’s series.
To learn more about Sacred Scribble and what this simple, elegant (or messy, tangled) process can offer you, go to approximately the 30 minute mark in this video recording.

Creativity for Survival and Sustenance

Yes. Me. Video recording.
After years of saying: I must get some Art and Soul guidance onto video, 2 Zoom workshops were recorded in one week.


The other one was for Carers NSW as part of their Carers’ Week program in Australia.
Nourish and Flourish – the Art of Self-Care.
My own Inner Critic is busily, loudly berating me about How I Act and Appear on Video, but I share this with you anyway.


Sacred Scribble appears around the ten minute mark on this one.

Nourish and Flourish – the Art of Self-Care

May you find soothing, satisfaction and self-care from Sacred Scribbling

with love, art and soul
from Sally

One Soul Candle

Iris Reeva Swain

(nee Denoff)

23.10.29 to 21.3.20

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

My Mother.

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

Rest peacefully,

Iris Reeva Swain.

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

Or if you don’t feel like resting,

 

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

dance, dance, dance, with

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

joy

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

and with the feeling that all is well.

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

You will not be forgotten. 

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

You are in us; all around us.

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

You are an everlasting flame

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

 in the universe 

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

of 

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

our 

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

hearts.

Soul Candle
Iris Reeva Swain

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

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?

Continue reading

When Life Gives You Lemons,

Make Lemon Art.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art
Sally Swain © art

That’s right.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art

This is my new saying.

I’ve lemon-twisted the old phrase,

‘When Life Gives You Lemons,

Make Lemonade’.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art
rip the fabric
place it on the little square canvas

The revised axiom, the paintage creation, arose from a lemony situation. Not that there’s anything wrong with lemons. Just as there’s nothing wrong with pear shapes. Indeed, I prefer lemons to lemonade…and they are so much more healing.

Let’s reclaim fruit beauty. Let’s reclaim our lives from the sour times.

(an earlier post including pear-shaped delight)

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Art
glue it down
adore the frayed threads

But if we are talking lemons as in bitter, difficult times,

Continue reading

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

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

Are you a Worry Warrior?

I mean someone who worries well and worries often.

Worry is my Special Power. 

Did you know that about me? Many people don’t guess. They think I’m calm and confident. That’s maybe because do my special intense worrying in the sleepless night and in hidden crevices of the day.

I work at being calm and confident. Do you relate to this?
{Let me assure you I will worry bigtime about sharing my vulnerability here. Especially as I’m about to be away from the internet for a few days and cannot swiftly respond to your response.}

However … as with other revealing blog posts (see How to Tend a Hurt Heart, for example) , I share my Worrisome Worrywart status with you in the hope of validating our humanly flawed experience and thereby feeding creative connection. So. Gulp. Allow me to continue.

If you need assistance with Worry-development, just ask.

Allow me to teach you the Inner-Furrowed-Brow Transmission ritual.

I can guide you through It’s-Possible-to-Worry-about-Absolutely-Anything 101.

{Declaration of worry seems to be a fitting topic for the last scraps of Mental Health month. And I have a question for you. What do you perceive is the difference between Worry and Anxiety? Are they the same thing? Does it matter?}

The opposite of worry? Trust. 

{Of course, I’m worried about whether that’s the right answer to my own question}

The opposite of Worry – the antidote –

is trusting the flow of life.

Creative practice can help.

{You knew I’d say that at some point, right? That’s my thing. That’s why we’re here together in this momentarily joined cyber zone. Because I love to sing the praises of creativity in all its miraculous, bendy applications.}

water goddess painting collage

The Water Goddess Says: Trust the Flow

I stayed in a bush

Continue reading

Art Mother

Who is she?

I want to create a blog piece for Mother’s Day without it being about actual flesh and blood mothers.

I’ve got one. A mother. I am not one. A mother.

I am, however, an Art Mother.

I create pictures.

I birth them from bits of nothing and scraps of something.

I midwife other people’s creativity.

I like that term, Art Mother. What do you think of it? Do you connect in any way?

paint collage girl

The Sad Girl has Helpers
Sally Swain

So I go

Continue reading

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

Continue reading