STILLNESS THROUGH ART
Stillness Through Art welcomes you to its meditative drawing odyssey. Below are offered a series of activities tha tlast between 5 minutes up to an hour. You don't need any drawing skills and the material used is kept to the essential. Parents can (and should!) shared these activities with their children.
Enjoy a restorative session and see you on the LPG forum with your piece!
Jenn Clark worked in education as a primary teacher for many years before moving on as a school program manager in an organisation supporting asylum seeker. Nowadays, she works at Northcote Natural Therapies. She joins LPG to share her passion and knowledge of plants.
Jenn Clark encourages children and adults alike to observe plants. Watching them grow offers a rare moment of stillness in our busy life. For this exercise, you will need an indoor (alive!) plant. Peace Lilies are great to have around.
Open your journal on a new page, write down the date, time and location. Look at your plant and find it a name starting with the same letter than your first name.
You are about to write a letter to your plant. It is a love letter in which you will thank your plant for all the goodness it is bringing in your life. If you live in an apartment or in a drought affected area, it might be the only greenery you have in your immediate surrounding... how precious!
Your plant's presence is life itself and every time you look at it, it reminds you to be present in the moment, to acknowledge the joys as much as the hardships that are paving your journey. Write all the goodness that your plant makes you aware of. Detail as much as you can all the benefits and joys you get from being in presence of your plant.
Once you finished writing the letter, read it out loud to your plant.
When was the last time you showed gratitude and love towards yourself, the way you just did when writing the letter to your plant? You are not much different from it: you too need care, healthy food, quiet and sunlight to thrive. Each time you see your plant, remember to look after yourself as well as your looking after "her".
Herbal tea DIY
Candace Borg is a gift of nature. She is a vegan naturopath, a natural fertility educator, a BioMedical Scientist and a hypnobirthing practioner, she also happens to be the owner of Northcote Natural Therapies, One Leaf At A Time (organic tea blend business) and Purely Vegan (natural, palm oil free skincare company).
Candace shares an herbal tea to be made from fresh ingredients that will get us started with a new mediative drawing activity. Look at the recipe here and put the water on the boil. Then, in your journal, write down the date, time and state of mind you are in.
WHILE PREPARING YOUR TEA
Open your senses and observe quietly the texture and aroma of each ingredients. Do they feel warm, cold? Are they dry, grainy, soft? Do their aroma reach you immediately or do they reveal themselves slowly? Which aroma do you smell at the nostrils level? Which one do you smell deeper in your throat? When pouring the tea in your cup, how is the sound of the water? Is it soothing, joyful, neutral?
Smell the tea, and in your journal using the corresponding colour, draw or paint its intensity.
When holding the cup, how does the heat emanate and feels in your hand? Draw or paint the sensation with what you feel is the right colour.
Now take a sip, change colour if needed, and draw/paint the sensation of the tea in your mouth.
Take another sip and draw/paint using the appropriate colour, how far down in your stomach you feel the heat of the tea.
Rest the cup back and draw/paint the overall change of sensation in your body.
Revisit each step until you finish your tea. You can overlap your drawings or work towards a composition.
With over 20 years of experience in the field of art, health and wellbeing, Dr Barbara Doran is known for her pioneer work as an artist, researcher, mentor and educator.
Barbara investigates drawing and repetitive activities for their calming effects. Drawing is also known to help us tap into our memories. As you engage with this meditative drawing activity, notice how your hands feel, what your breathing and muscle tension is doing, the memories that arise and anything new that comes up.
Open your journal on a new page, write down the date, time and location. Use a biro or an ink pen and follow the following steps:
Find a different textured paper – could be newspaper, card, a magazine, wrapping paper... anything different!
Cut out a shape that fits into your notebook – maybe something organic like a tree or flower or rock form
Fill this shape/cut out with cross hatches
Upon completion, glue or tape this into your book
Not sure what to do? Check this cloudscape example
What do you notice?
How worried are you about being precise?
Are you inclined to stay neat and concise or do you go with the tiny interruptions of chance and fine motor wobbles?
(There are all kinds of artists some are precise and other more gestural or messy).
Mandala your way within
Rachel Hiskins is an Art Therapist based in Melbourne. She joins LPG to guide you through her favourite mandala art and wellbeing practice.
Rachel considers mandalas to have the capacity to delve into the unconscious parts of oneself and to make sense of the experience you want to explore. Invest time into your emotional wellbeing through this creative, reflective, self soothing, and meaningful practice.
Open your journal on a new double page, write down the date, time and location. Follow the following steps on one page, take notes as you go on the opposite page:
Draw a few circles with a compass and gray lead pencil. All circles start from the same central point (you will erase them later)
Choose the grey lead circle closer to the centre and create a simple shape, free handed. Work inside out
Feel each emotions, float in and out of your thoughts
Follow the grey lead circle, repeat this simple shape until you reach your starting point, turn the page as you go to avoid smudging. Keep going with different shapes, texture, quality of lines, tones, cross hatching, scale... for as long as you want/need to
Reflect on the opposite page, write key words, what does the image reminds you of?
Make meaning, what would the mandala say to you if it had a voice?
Address the themes which might be coming up for you
Before starting, organise your drawing space with the necessary art material. Once you are set up, put your phone on silent and sit down comfortably. Take a moment to soften your eyes and rest your hands on your lap. Feel the contact of your palm and their warmth/coolness. Breath in and gently press your hands onto your lap. Slowly release for the duration of the exhale. Repeat for a minute or two.
In your own time, tingle your fingers softly and open your eyes.
In your journal, write down the date, time and state of mind you are in. Then, contour your hand, palm up. Look at this document for a little help.
THUMB - Fill in the space of your thumb with a colour that translates how engaged you feel with life. Add more or less pressure on the colour pencil to highlight its intensity
INDEX - If you were the sea, how would you describe yourself right now? Would you be quiet and still? Would you be agitated, explosive, joyful, hectic? Invent a symbol that represents that state and draw it inside the index space
MIDDLE FINGER - Inside the middle finger, write three different key words (one for each phalanx) that best describe how well grounded you feel in your life
RING FINGER - In the top phalanx of the ring finger, colour in how warm and kind you feel towards yourself. In the middle phalanx, towards your loved ones; in the bottom phalanx, towards your friends
LITTLE FINGER - In your pinky finger, number how fluid your breathing is if 1 is shallow, short, high upon your chest and 10 is deep, smooth and your belly rises gently as you breath
PALM - Reflecting on what you have created so far, take a moment to write a short poem or a prayer inside your palm. It might be something encouraging and supportive you want to say to yourself
WRIST - At the base of your hand, in the wrist space, draw who you are as a person, what your life philosophy is and what keeps you going
Take a few minutes to contemplate what you have created. Can you explain the meaning of the colours you used, your symbols, drawings and poem? Avoid judging yourself, let what has been created be and become the silent watcher of your emerging thoughts.
Diarising your breath
At the intersection of cardiac coherence breathing and colour mapping, this is a 5 minute exercise (or longer if you wish so) to recentre yourself. It can be used as a one off stress relief or it can be integrated in your creative ritual, on a regular basis.
Open your journal and on a new page, write down the date and time, location and your emotional state. Looking at the emotion colour wheel, pick up the colour according to your mood.
Once you are ready, breath in for 5 secondes, and breath out for 5 secondes.
breath in: draw or paint a line from the bottom of the page up
breath out: draw/paint a line down
Do so for 5 minutes, the lines will create a sort of zigzag from one page to another. They can be as tight or spread out as you wish.
Observe when the pencil/marker/brush gets into contact with the journal page, when you lift it up
Appreciate how much pressure you apply on to your tool
Smell the paint, the marker, even the pencil's scent
Listen to the sound your tool creates with the paper
How does your breath influences the quality of each line?
NOTE: if you have synaesthesia, the wheel might not match your sense of colour. If it is the case, follow your own vision/taste.
image: Sofie Dieu, extract from Calling for Rain journal
Touch - Smell - Sound
Journaling is so therapeutic that soldiers who write in their journal before going on a mission, wording their concern and fears, show more resilience once back at their basecamp. Let's see how journaling, in the context of every day life, isolation and the threat of corona 19 can help us.
Open your journal on a new page, write down the date, time and location. Select an object that holds your attention, either something at home or from the garden/park. Answer the following questions on the left page of your journal and draw on the right page.
How does it feel under the touch? Is it heavy? is it smooth or rough? Is it angular or rounded? How would you describe its texture? Is it velvety/damp/spiky/wooly/grainy?
What shape would you give it? Draw it as detailed as you can "see" it
Does this object have a scent or is it odourless? Is the smell strong or delicate? Does it linger or is it sharp? If it had a colour, what would it be?
Fill in and around the shape with that colour
Is this object hollow when you tap it or does it sound full? How long does the sound last for? Is it rounded/metallic/powdery/liquid? If it had a meaning what would it be?
Write down its meaning under your drawing and look into a dictionary about the etymology of this word. You might learn a thing or two about your current state of mind
The space in between
Artist Rachel Whiteread has made negative space a key concept in her art. She highlights objects by showing their surrounding, in this case, a house*. For this activity, we will use negative space drawing to show the space that lies in between each breath, as this is where reside stillness, and peace.
Open your journal on a new page, write down the date, time and location. Choose between abstract or figurative drawing options. Allow about 15 minutes.
Close you eyes for about a minute. Quiet your mind, focus on your breath. What shape does it take? Is it vertical as it travels down to your lungs, or does it spread horizontally in your chest? Is it long and deep or is it short and shallow? Is it angular, rounded, smooth? Does it have a colour?
Draw its outline and fill in the space around it. The texture, colour, line work represent how your breath feels. Go back to your breath every 2 minutes or so.
Hold in your hand an object from your immediate surrounding. Soften your gaze, look at your object (1 min). Without engaging in an inner dialogue, look how still the object is. Observe "in silence" its contour: is it detailed or simple in shape? Does it feel warm or cold? Does it have a scent?
Draw its outline and fill in the space around it. The textures, details and colours represent how you perceive the object as a whole. Every 2 minutes or so, stop drawing, and quiet the mind.
NOTE*: If negative space is still unclear, look at further examples in this document. It will speak for itself.
image: Rachel Whiteread "House Study" 1992 (Grove Road)
Which art movement are you?
Designed for children, this quiz is also for adults! Created by the Tate gallery, have some fun and discover who you are as an artist. Answer a few questions and find out which art movement you belong to. It might also give you a lead where to look for inspiration.
I am an Abstract Expressionist, which artist will you be?
If you enjoy this online learning adventure, you might wish to pursue your adventure with LPG.
Here is a class about the colour blue.
Give it a try, this session is free.
How easy is that?!
Image: Y.Klein, L'Accord Bleu, 1960