Posts tagged ‘Art Therapy’

“Bosque Afternoon” Therapy for the Therapist

30x40 Oil Painting by Amy Hautman

30×40 Oil Painting

In October I rinsed my mind with a hike among the autumn trees along the banks of the Rio Grande. Here in New Mexico is some of the cleanest, clearest air in the country. It feels good to breathe. This large oil painting began that day. Now snow covers the ground and the Aspens are bare but I finished this canvas with memories of the vibrant warm colors and fresh air. Standing in front of this piece takes me right back there.

January 4, 2015 at 3:02 am Leave a comment

Creating a Vision Board with Collage

For Career and Life Development we made our version of the vision boards popularized by Oprah and Martha Beck. Webb Garrison kicked off the project by leading us through a meditation where we walked into a forest  and came upon a treasure chest.  We opened the chest to see what was inside. These dreamy treasures gave us insight into what we wanted to include in our future.

I came out of the mediation with only a few clues but used the relaxed, open state of consciousness to try and clarify ideas about my dreams.  I pictured a cozy little green office where I could see myself practicing therapy. I imagined a large open loft studio where I could lead workshops exploring the magic of the creative process.  I could see myself writing a book about Art Therapy one day.  I like being with people who are expanding their minds.  So, maybe I would like to teach.  With these fantasies floating around in my mind, I flipped through magazines looking for images to concretize these imaginings and create my vision board.

vision board 2014 I wanted to use the collage process to help clarify my goals, involve the subconscious and then orient myself to the life I want to create.  But none of the job related ideas appeared in the magazines I had in front of me. I found a new refrigerator and a cute puppy, but the rooms I wanted didn’t show up. I clipped here and there but I was struck by how few things I wanted that I don’t already have.  The glamorous bodies, luscious lips and sleek cars just didn’t excite me.

Mostly, I gathered pictures of beautiful places that made me breathe deeply and feel grateful. That feeling of gratitude is connected to a sense that I have enough. So, instead of what I want, or what I am lacking, I focused on what I already have but want to grow.

So now I have the background full of pictures describing the states of being I want to maintain and cultivate.  And, I am keeping an eye out for images of cool spaces that might hold my future. It might be some idyllic reteat in Dwell magazine, or it might be a For Rent posting.  The visionboarding practice will help me recognize “it” when I encounter “it.”




February 3, 2014 at 11:07 pm Leave a comment

Art As a Way to Make the Unreal More Real

Hawk Oil Painting Sometimes a concept flashing through my mind can be made clearer when I paint it. I grab the “thought” and infuse it with all the feeling and sensation that exists beyond words. I stir it around in the paint and lay it out on the canvas.

Here is an example of using my art to make something more real. After my dad died I had a dramatic experience of a beautiful hawk swooping down and landing on a branch in front of me.  I felt it in a deep, deep place that only the greatest grief has taken me. “Knowing” it was my dad, in some form, gave me great comfort.  Since then, hawks have come to symbolize his presence.  When a hawk sails overhead, or perches on a branch, I stop completely in the present magical moment, and let myself feel the powerful mystery of life and death.  I feel my dad’s love.

A hawk has been hanging around the Southwestern College campus this summer.  He is one of hundreds of Santa Fean hawks just looking for his next meal. Students debate whether it is a red-tailed or a Cooper’s and lots of people are certain it is one or the other.  But to me, it’s dad. You won’t find him in Sibley’s Guide to Birds. So I painted a picture.

The hawk’s presence reassures me that I am in the right place at the right time and this painting helps to ground the experience and make it more tangible.

What kind of hawk do you think it is?  Red-tailed, Coopers, or my dad Tuck?




24×30 Oil Painting


October 1, 2013 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

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

What is the Opposite of New Mexico?



After practicing as a professional artist for a very long time, I thought, “Enough of me”. My own painting has always been my personal therapy, and watching people  learn to paint made that art – therapy connection even more obvious.  I decided to go back to school to become an Art Therapist?  I explored graduate programs all over the country and settled on Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Not only have deserts always been magical places to me, but Southwestern College was completely different than the others. They used words like “transforming consciousness, intentionality, awareness and experiential learning “. These people spoke my language. I wanted to go there!

Step #1.  Applied…. got accepted.

Step #2  Figured out how to pay for it.

Step #3  Talk my wonderful partner, Rog Bates,  into uprooting and moving across the country.

Step #4  Made sure our two adult children didn’t freak out when they heard about this plan which didn’t revolve around them.

Step #5  Dealt with the house.
When the home we had raised our family in and nested comfortably in for 14 years sold in five days I freaked out a little. I didn’t expect it all to go so fast and smooth.”Hey!  Hey!  Hey!  Wait a minute!”  I’m driving this train and not sure exactly where it’s goin’.

to be continued…

September 28, 2012 at 12:41 am 1 comment

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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