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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A Trace

What is left behind?

flower paint aged care

A Trace
Red Flower of Life
Sally Swain’s Paper Towel Art

Hey folks, be warned:

This post has a high *NVUF rating.

I’ve invented something. It’s called the Art Therapy in Residential Aged Care Evaluation, or ATRACE. Pronounced ‘a trace’. I am doing the complex, detailed, organised, dynamic, reflective work of implementing this investigative tool.

I hope one day that other art therapists will be able to make use of it, in the service of ever strengthening the work we do.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I play with painted traces in a small experiential way. I guess you could think of this process as art-based inquiry.

paint monoprint aged care

A Trace
a bit Rorschach
Sally Swain Paper Towel Art

You might have come across

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What’s with all the hearts?

Hearts

are just about the only thing coming out of my brush at the moment.

art heart paint Swain

Musical Swirly Heart
layered, acrylic paintage

Fat,

thin,
pink,

lopsided,

gold,
bosomy,

blue,

pointy,
busy,
small,

large,

soft,

squishy,

protected,

exposed,

alone,

companioned

supported
hearts.

Why the hearts?
Ah, she says mysteriously,

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Which Way Round?

Make art, even if it’s upside down

This way?

Which Way Round?
One

I am loving felt pens plus water. I’m not sure why it’s taken me fifty-something years to discover the joys of such simple ingredients, but it has.

Or this way?

art felt pen round

Which Way Round?
Two

Felt marker pens, particularly at school, were something you didn’t want to get water on. You drew or wrote with them because of their precision. You admired their clean lines. You were in control. You didn’t want to lose all that nice neatness to a soggy mush-ball.

Water brings with it an unknowing.

It brings an unpredictability and a, sometimes scary, lack of control. What joy!

This way?

Sally Swain art therapy aged

Which Way Round?
Three

Felt-pen-plus-water art-making is just the ticket for debriefing from an art therapy session in residential aged care. After

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For Humble Magic, Just Add Water

A tale of art therapy in residential aged care

Swain felt marker art

Just Add Water 1
A Humble Magic
felt marker on paper towel
Sally Swain © original art

I am delighted.

I’ve just run an art therapy group in a psychogeriatric unit.

I’ve had an unusual level of support, with two whole entire art therapist helpers.

It feels like a dance. We three weave in and out of being with different aged care residents at different times, each with our own energy, skill and strength. It is an elegant Jane Austen era dance; maybe a minuet or a quadrille.

One art therapist sits

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Sister Pools

A Creative Support Partnership

Swain art watercolour

Rosey
a Sister Pool picture
by Sally Swain

Last week, we looked at the Handala – a small mandala with carry-handles.

The Handala arose while I waited for my sister to ring for our creative conversation. An Art and Soul Space blog reader (thanks, Gallivanta) loved that my sister reads me her writings. Inspired by my dear reader, let me tell you about … ta daa … Sister Pools.

For the past year, whenever we can, my sister and I form an interstate telephonic dual Creative Support Partnership. We read each other our writing-in-progress. We talk about current glitches, hitches, joys and successes in our creative process. We divide the time fairly equally.

I paint while she talks or reads.

She writes (or doodles) while I talk or read.

I might paint a preliminary shape on one page of the art journal, then squish the pages together, forming a Rorschach-type mooshy print. (Squish and mooshy being highly technical hoity-toity art terms).

I develop each page differently. Intuitively, spontaneously, I listen to her words, thoughts, feelings and to my own art desires and intentions. It’s a type of Response Art.

Here’s what emerged

in our very first meeting.

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Restoring Wonder to Our Lives

Wonder.

Where did it go?

child artist response BIG

Ceramics in Schools
coordinated by
Kristyn Taylor
for exhibition:
Human – The Child Artist Response Project

We most likely had a bucket-load of this magical curiosity-and-amazement stuff when we were children. The world was an intriguing place of potential. A cardboard

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Lateral Grieving for

the Queen of Blobbage (pronounced in the French way).

Lateral Grieving.

lateral grieving watercolour art

Lateral Grieving
for the Queen of Blobbage
Sally Swain © original art

Who’s heard of it?

Not you. Not me before now, because

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