The healing power of art and how it informs us

Ancestor Guide

It seems so simple: write an intention, make art, and journal. It may appear to be an easy practice – so easy that you wonder, “Why do it? What could I possibly get out of it?” Well a lot!

I am grateful to author and art therapist Pat Allen for teaching me this particular method called Studio Process and I want to share what it is and why it is great!

1) Just creating the time and space to focus on your Self is profound! To make art and write about it can be life changing. Responsibilities and dependents can keep us from self-care that is so important so we can keep going and be the best we can be.

2) Making an intention, before art making, means we are open to receiving information from our inner wisdom and Source about a chosen topic right now.

3) Through art making we are accessing the “technology of the sacred” as Pat Allen, author and art therapist, calls it. We get to choose which materials and process is best for us, be it sculpture, collage, assemblage, painting, or drawing. Anyone, no matter what age, or level of art experience, can do it.

4) Art making with intention is like meditation for many. It is a way to get into our bodies and emotions, and out of the head. In this art process it is about connecting and revealing through the making, not so much about creating a perfect product.

911 Seeping In

5) Often surprising images, colors, shapes arise from our unconsciousness. Recently I was doing this process on the eve of 9/11. I hadn’t spent any time with any of the media coverage about the anniversary of the disaster. I hadn’t let myself think about it at all. My paintings started with a lot of red, and then transitioned into red and blue and white over discarded pieces of paper. I realized I was stressed and feeling the collective anger and sadness on this anniversary. Lastly I added a large, evil-eyed owl to the painting – a sort of ominous overseer.

6) Emotions can change through the process.
After 3 paintings of textured red, I moved to a painting of blues and greens. The soft coolness of those colors completely altered my frame of mind. I even went back into a previous painting and by adding blue to the red I was changed the painting into a purple scene, transforming the mood.

7) Witnessing and dialoging with your art is not something many people do. It may seem strange, and time consuming, AND this is where the juice is. Taking the time to really look at what you made and acknowledge it by asking it what information it has for you – well it can be profound. Your inner wisdom selected these colors, these images for a reason.

Nature Nurture

My intention recently was, “I commit to be kind, even when it is difficult.” In other words, I want to be conscious of how I am communicating, and in most cases would like to do it in a nonaggressive manner (unless it is warranted). What my art told me was that consciously and unconsciously, I have been in very aggressive and stressful situations lately and to be aware of how those circumstances influence me. Also that I need and want retreats in peaceful and natural environments. I need relief and time for self-reflection – that’s what the blue and green painting said to me.

8) The power of group witnessing can be nurturing, scary, invigorating, and fulfilling. Often our intentions and issues are also those of others we are making art with in the process group. As each person shares in the safe environment, we silently give support and attention, and are grateful for lessons, information that is revealed in each person’s story.

Weekly Studio Process Classes
I facilitate Studio Process classes once a week at my Kitsune Community Art Studio in Half Moon Bay, CA. Please email me for more information at Judyshintani@yahoo.com

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One thought on “The healing power of art and how it informs us

  1. Ii really enjoyed the way you presented this…….it was very familiar to me and such a true process..congratulations to you for bringing this to HMB… for me instead of putting it out visibly on paper or whatever else….my process becomes singing!!!!!!..

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