Archive for October, 2012

New Art Therapy Student’s Artist’s Block

Who is an artist when she is not making art?

This is a doodle, not a painting.

In September my partner and I packed everything we owned to move from the Southeast to the Southwest. It was very cathartic to consider everything we had and decide if and why we wanted to continue hauling it around. Back then, I was only considering stuff like candles, coats and cookie cutters- the things in my house. Now we are settled in our new life and I am becoming aware of what else I am carrying- in my head.

One of the heaviest notions I carry is my ideas about myself as an Artist. A professional artist. A lifelong artist. An art teacher. An expert. Trying to be all that is exhausting! What if I give that up? Not the art but the “Artist” part.

Who am I if I am not that?

Since I have started studying Art Therapy/Counseling at Southwestern College in Santa Fe I have been presented with hundreds of challenges in the realm of self discovery. I have set my artist self on a shelf for a month. I come home from school and look at my watercolor brush, paint palette and stack of blank paper and get nothing. No urge to paint! What is this? It is as if my artist spirit is sitting in idle while I explore these other ways of being.

It feels as if so many brain synapses are firing in so many directions, there is just no clear channel for my creative energy to flow. I feel the roiling, the incubating, the stir of something, but it is not ready to come- not yet. Perhaps when the intense processing of all the new stimuli settles down, wondrous visual things will emerge.

I am open to new thoughts, revelations and new directions. And so I want to set aside preconceived ideas, even such basic ones as who I am and what my life is about.  I will always paint. But maybe I don’t want it to define me-anymore.

October 18, 2012 at 1:32 am Leave a comment

Australian Aborigines and Art Therapy

Leah Jeffcoat and Amy Hautman Bates with Art Therapy student’s cave art

We brought a taste of Australia’s Aboriginal people to Southwestern College for our History of Art Therapy class. We couldn’t find any kangaroo meat, swollen abdomens of honey ants or witchetty grubs, but shared other Bush tucker foods like macadamia nuts, cranberries and Damper (bread/doorstop). More importantly, we discussed Dreamtime creation legends of this rich civilization. Unlike our American culture, the Australian Aboriginals do not separate physical and spiritual, past and present, man and nature. They are all interrelated parts of a whole. They believe their ancestors are born again in the form of plants, animals or humans making everything sacred. How comfortable it must be to feel no more or less important than the ground you stand on. The dream stories give the people a sense of order and connect them in mind, body and spirit. This is why we make art and one of the reasons art therapy works as a healing practice.

Dreamtime stories are passes on through the generations solidifying their sense of identity and informing the social structure of the community. This telling of one’s personal story is another empowering component of art therapy.

Maybe connecting to themselves and their world is how the Aborigines have survived 40,000 years in spite of the European’s 200 years of enslaving them and stealing their children. That’s a blog for another day.

October 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm 2 comments

AUTHOR Amy Hautman Bates M.A, LPCC, ATR-BC

After being a professional painter for 30 years, I broadened by scope from making art for personal edification to using art to promote health and healing in the world. I work as an Art Therapist with children and families in Santa Fe, New Mexico, witnessing  them tap into their creative energy to gain greater emotional stability, resiliency and peace.

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