When I Discovered Art Therapy

I had always been aware of art for most of my life. I mean that fabulous finger painting drawing at age 5 was a priceless piece of work… until we moved and needed something to cushion my doll’s head in transit.

Through the Grass

I took photography in high school, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth in the form of dial up internet and we had these things called pagers. Yes I know I’m giving myself away here.

I always considered myself a writer and that was my art form. That and cooking, baking, and anything else to do with food. I could at times draw a stick figure but why waste trees on that, it wasn’t art. But, gasp, here it comes, one day, many eons later in the land of a friend’s Facebook page, she posted a picture of her painting. And I’m like OMG, I didn’t know you could paint. Apparently, neither did she; she had gone to one of those paint and drink events where you could have fun and learn to paint in 3 hours. So I gave it a whirl, completely terrified out of my gourd and understood why it was called ‘paint and drink’. I ended up painting a few sunflowers on a hot pink background (the red acrylic paint went bad and the hostess improvised). Suddenly, I was hooked and I didn’t need anything but patience and caffeine.

Told a close friend and native of my beloved city of Philadelphia. He surprised me that year for a birthday gift of a paint kit with some small canvas (4 x 4), said have fun, enjoy, create, and God Bless!

I. Had. So. Much. Fun.

Moodi Gras

Until one day, it was a really rough day, I painted this as I was dealing with my struggles with food addiction. Took it in to my therapist and we talked about it. Took them to my support group and the folks there said I captured what addiction and abstinence looks like. (6 x 8)

Then I got really brave and went larger (18 x 20) in my paintings…

Phoenix

…or really small (3 x 3) for a loud statement.

Making Music

Finally, one day after much praying and meditation, I felt it was time to get back to school and learn some skills that my body could handle, as I am disabled with a few disorders. I talked with my friend Ginger and how I struggled whether to go into the arts or into mental health as I feel called for both. She said “why not do both, go for art therapy?”

 “Wait, that’s like, a thing?” She just laughed.

So I did some research, and whadda you know, it’s true I tells ya, it’s all so true.

Then I did even more research in Northeastern PA and found there was not only a need for art therapists but Marywood University offered a program in this field and I booked a tour. The rest, as they say, was history.

Turns out, I had been doing art therapy for myself for quite some time and didn’t know it. I had been doing free association painting. It let me channel the emotion safely out of me, it let me express what I was feeling when the words wouldn’t come for my diary, and I still find use for it today.

So remember, don’t drink the paint water!

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