Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great week! Yesterday, I went to my sister’s house for my niece’s third birthday. It was the first time I was able to see them since last March (thank you vaccines!) and I was so happy to play with her and her older sister. At one point, while we were outside, my niece came over with a little journal and a pen so that she could draw with me. She drew a cat, and then she asked me to draw a dog. Then, she drew the head of a cat, and I drew the body. We kept doing this, switching off drawing different parts until we had a whole animal in front of us. She liked sharing her art with me and getting to do it together, and, as the designated ‘Art Aunt’, I loved seeing how much she enjoyed it.
Doing this reminded me of a game her mom and I used to play when I was little. My sister is about 12 years older than me, and when I was young I used to visit her and my brother-in-law during the summers at their apartment. We would always play this drawing game: we would both have a sheet of paper and an assigned colored crayon, and we would scribble for about 30 seconds. Then, we would switch papers and try to find an image in the scribble and draw it in to see who could make the best or coolest drawing. This semester, I learned that this is a technique often used in Art Therapy sessions. I thought it was funny that this game I used to try to beat my sister at could be used in my future career – it’s almost ironic. How could either of us have known that what I was doing at seven would be useful years later? I realized, however, that it makes perfect sense.
I think people often forget about art. We often find other paths that we excel at, whether it be math, science, music, or athletics. We focus on perfecting those skills and forget about how much fun we had making art. I’m no different – I chose to follow art, but I gave up music, which I loved, and I don’t write as much as I used to. We let go of things we used as a form of expression to focus on a career path. But art is something that is universal. I believe that everyone has an inner artist, a reflection of their youth filled with coloring books and popsicle stick creations. For Art Therapy, having a client scribble forces this inner artist out, and could be a pathway to remembering a love they may have forgotten. Through art, even simple scribbles or drawings of cats and dogs, we can find a bit more happiness.
Recently, I did something similar to the scribble game my sister taught me. I used a straw to pick up watered-down acrylic paint and placed it on the paper of my sketchbook to create blobs of color. Once this dried, I looked for shapes in them. I found myself creating an underwater scene, full of fish and turtles, whales and sharks. I had no plan going into this – I even picked the color of paint by closing my eyes and picking out a tube! Even though the animals aren’t necessarily anatomically correct or proportional, I think that was the point. I wasn’t going for something that would be hung in The Met, I was doing something fun. I was letting my mind wander and create what came to me. I think that’s the beauty of children’s art: they don’t have rules for what is considered good art, they just create what they want to create.
So, that would be my challenge for all of you. Make a crayon scribble and find an image in it. Spill paint or even tea and make the splashes into animals. Doodle flowers on your notes. Just simply express yourself. For so long, I wanted to make art that was perfect – realistic, proportional and finished. I’ve slowly learned that while some people find their passion here, and make incredible pieces in this style, it isn’t for me. I much prefer making art that feels expressive. I like seeing where I go with a piece, rather than be concerned with what the final product is (more on that next week). I would rather adopt the mind of a child because they are no rules. That used to scare me, but now I find it liberating. There’s only me, the canvas, and an endless array of materials.