"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Art Therapy

"The process of art therapy is based on the recognition that man’s most fundamental thoughts and feelings, derived from the unconscious, reach expression in images rather than words." (Naumberg 1958: 511).

It has been a long and very busy week including seeing around 30 patients between my two locations, working on my taxes, and all the joyous exhaustion of parenting my two daughters. This was made slightly more complicated this past week because their father had (successful) surgery. EG is pictured here, having a tea party, outside my shower.

My mom is home from the hospital and doing better, and she will probably be able to visit this weekend. My sister will drive her here, with my niece, and if I'm lucky a brother or two. I have left the Christmas trees up, with gifts beneath, and am ready to finally celebrate with my family. This week promises to be almost as hectic as last and I am attempting to start it off with peace, mindfulness, appreciation and joy.

I want to blog about a sustaining force in my life and in many others' lives. Art. Art is essential, I believe, to the human spirit. For many, creating is therapeutic. Many psychotherapists I know regard it as a critical, tangible part of their lives - to create something visible (or heard), in contrast to the very private, confidential, and often intangible work of psychotherapy.

My friend, Ken, who I've mentioned before, does amazing photography. He took a National Geographic cruise/tour around Alaska with his wife for their 50th anniversary, and he spent a lot of time with the photographers, learning new techniques. When we were together at a conference recently, I grabbed him, our cameras, and a taxi, and we headed off to Siesta Key, near Sarasota, where we rented bicycles and rode for a few hours, stopping for lunch, riding on the beach, and taking pictures. I stopped suddenly in the middle of the road making Ken think something was amiss, and I quietly pointed him to a great white egret, nearby.

He got his camera ready and started shooting - catching this:

Over the years, for me, my art therapy has assumed many mediums. I have mentioned playing the bassoon. And, obviously, dabbling in writing and photography are important to me.

I have painted, oil on canvas, giving most of my paintings away to other psychotherapists. Here is a photo of one of my favorite paintings now owned by a friend/colleague whose name includes the word "Fox".

I love gardening - creating an ever changing flower garden where there was just dirt, weeds, rocks. The ground becomes a canvas, but the process is dynamic, taking many years to get to its full glory. Here are some photos of my garden at my last home:

And the beginnings of one at my current place.

My children create a good bit, too, and my breakfast room serves as a gallery for some of their creations:

The girls make music with piano, lap harps, harmonicas, recorders. They love to dance and sing, and the 9 year old, MG, has recently been taken with acting.
She narrated her school play this year and had a small role in the high school's production of Julius Ceasar.

Here is a photo of the stuffed elf MG made for me - on my new, and very comfortable, bed in my DC room. The place is feeling very cozy. It is so nice to now feel at home in both places. The Big Sur art in the room is beautiful, too.

Another friend and colleague agreed to contribute to my blog several photographs of some of his recent work: below are dancers and a standing long jump:

He writes regarding the works photographed below: "Somewhere I heard the quote; 'A good artist borrows and a great artist steals.' In this iteration of the quote these figures were inspired by my 86 year old aunt who has developed the habit of stealing forks from every restaurant that she and my uncle have gone to in the past two years. When she said she did not know what she would do with them, I asked if could make her a gift of love. Her favorite pastime is to play her Steinway which she does with passion."

"Working with the forks has deepened my appreciation for the process of human perception. We can see nothing into which we cannot project our best aspirations, most tender feelings or our worst fears. These simple pieces of bent tableware only come alive when we imbue them with the music of our own souls." EGSharp

Time to finish up and get on with the less artistic chores of laundry and bills. Again, reminding me of how essential it is to creat something lasting. Talent doesn't matter so much (though maybe I'm just saying this to make myself feel better :) It is the impact it has on you . . . Make something!!

Here are two more of my creations, made about 15 years apart:


  1. Glad your Mother is doing well, that has to be a relief. I love the egret picture, but the best is the one of the bassoon and your daughter. Priceless as they say. I have always found music to be therapeutic. And impressionist art. Very calming.

  2. Sis,
    You are full of beauty AND you create beauty.