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

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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

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

Continue reading

How to be solid and airy

at the same time.

It’s a good elemental combo, don’t you think? Groundedness and lightness; earth and sky?

earth angel watercolour art therapy

Grounded yet expansive
Sally Swain © art

Dramatherapist Joanna Jaaniste and art therapist Suzanne Perry offer an experiential presentation to our SaAT (Sydney area Arts Therapists) professional peer group.

Ooo – I do love a bit of experiential work and play. Getting wholistically involved in interactive, participatory learning really suits me. As opposed to say, having bucketloads of facts hurled at me while I sit stiffly, bottom-jammed and angular, attempting to ingest it all.

I prefer to be

a living part of the feedback loop,

with an opportunity

to breathe both in AND out.

I prefer to be actively making meaning;

not treated as a passive receptacle of knowledge.

Talking of learning styles and preferences, I’m aware that some art therapists are hesitant to step into body movement or anything resembling the D (drama) word; while some dramatherapists are scared of the A (art) word; busily believing they can’t draw. I get it.

If I were placed

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Do you dare?

Playing with my new Brilliants

Yes, that is their name. Brilliants. Art’s honest truth. Micador watercolour round palette portable set of TWENTY FOUR.

A Heart Might Grow in a Prickly Place
Sally Swain © art

Delicious.

watercolour brilliant art

Tree Or Body?
Sally Swain © art

I’m loving them. They weren’t that easy to track down, either. A set of 12 is more common, but hey – 24 means there’s a deeply nourishing rosey crimson, a bottle green, a sheeny cream and more than one shade of yellow.

Uluru watercolour

the water in the air
the air in the earth
the earth in the water    (ooo that Uluru continues to permeate my being and emerge in unexpected moments)
Sally Swain © art

I don’t often crave an art material. In this case, I coveted my friend’s set of 24 Brilliants in the way that you might have had an aching desire for a set of 72 Derwents (coloured pencils) when you were in primary school in the 60s or 70s. Did you?

Oh. And have I told you

I am the proud owner of 24 Brilliants?

My car and house might be falling apart; care responsibilities might be denting my soul, but Continue reading

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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Second Hand Rose

They call me Second-hand Rose….

Swain painting

Using up the Leftover Paint
acrylic on calico
Sally Swain

I never get a single thing that’s new.

Even Jake the plumber, he’s the man I adore

He had the nerve to tell me he’s been married before

Everyone knows that I’m just

Second-hand Rose

From Second Avenue.

{Lalala deedoodeedoo}

Where did that song-burst come from? 

Some quirky corner of my brain stores lyrics from 1920s and 30s songs and pops them out at appropriate or inappropriate moments. Gosh. Maybe I’m more like my clients with dementia than I realised.

There is a reason.

There is a reason the Second-hand Rose fragment emerged holus-bolus.

It’s because

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