Our lives are filled with things that compete for our attention and interfere with our ability to focus on what is important to us, leaving us feeling depleted, overwhelmed, irritable and stressed or anxious. This is true for both youth and adults as we navigate social expectations, daily responsibilities, social media, academic or work performance, peer relationships, parenting dynamics, and the list goes on.
I believe we need to normalize caring for our emotional health in a way that is meaningful and connects with our individual experiences. This is where Therapeutic Art comes in. Therapeutic Art uses mark making as an opportunity to validate your current experiences and nurture yourself moving forward. Mark making is about making marks on paper rather than focusing on creating something that looks good, any creative ability can feel comfortable to participate. Therapeutic Art is an experience that is effective in caring for, understanding, and expressing your feelings and experiences in a way that words aren't always able to.
I chose to become a Therapeutic Arts Practitioner because I believe in the value mark making has in supporting our emotional health providing space for us to show up as the amazing individuals we are despite the busy world that moves around us. I specialize in working with youth, individuals who work with youth, and mothers.
There are many ways to engage in a therapeutic art experience. Sometimes you may begin with a topic or situation that sets the stage for the process, for example, a current challenge being faced or a hope for the future. The participant may choose to allow the journey to unfold by trusting their intuition to lead the way without a topic or situation as a starting point.
The image above is a collage journey that was lead with step-by-step guided invitations that encouraged a creative response and action. It included the creation of a poem that helped to deepen the experience. The materials used were; magazine images, pens, watercolour, and coloured pencils.
Our bodies are amazing vessels that are strongly connected to creativity as an outlet for what words are not always able to express and share. This is true for everyone, even individuals who do not identify as creative people. As long as you are willing to open yourself up to the process and experience. You never know what you may discover or the healing that is possible.
Happy New Year!
When I look back on 2023 I realize it was a turbulent year for me that included some really challenging moments and some very happy memories. By the end of the year I was feeling I'd lost focus and felt like I was floundering.
With the beginning of each year I like to reflect on the year that has passed and think about what I hope for the year ahead. A vision board is one of the things that helps me with this process. I am really excited about what Liz McCurdy Therapeutic Art has in store for 2024.
Our lives are filled with things that compete with the attention we give to our emotional health, things like social media and social expectations. This is especially true for our youth as rates of anxiety increase at an alarming rate. When we work with youth to build skills that will support their emotional health, the tools they gain will last them a lifetime. This is true to ALL youth. While I will continue to create with adults, mark making with youth will be come more of my focus.
Stay tuned to hear about upcoming workshops with the Town of Bridgewater and Chester Art Centre. I will also be in a few schools and at South Shore Autism. One-to-one work is available for youth age 10 and up. Reach out to learn more.
We underestimate the healing power of nature. Many of us know the value of being outdoors and breathing in the fresh air. Take it a step further and connect with nature to gain clarity, connect, and learn about yourself.
Step outside. Take a breath. Slow down. Look around you. What do you notice? What is your eye drawn towards? Explore. Be curious. When we bring our awareness to nature with intention we feel grounded, heal, discover, and gain perspective.
In the fall I was walking along an old set of railway tracks and noticed the railway tie pictured in the bottom right image. I was drawn in by it. I stopped, explored, became curious, stood on top of it, noticed how it felt, thought about what I might put inside of it, and I journaled about it when I got home. It opened doors to some healing I didn't realize I was looking for.
As we move into the warmer days of spring I am ready to connect with people through nature based work both in private sessions and Connect & Create opportunities. Sometimes art materials are involved and other times they are not. Creative work in nature brings increased clarity, increased energy, and a sense of calm.
There are two great things about collage paper:
1. It is a lot of fun to make them.
2. It using them brings enjoyment along with therapeutic benefit.
Let's start with the fun of making collage paper, there are many different ways to do this. You can use any kind of paper from newspaper, pages from an old book, white paper, old receipts, or even tea bags. Once you have chosen the paper you will use then make marks on it; a pattern of circles, lines, drops & splatters of ink, stamps, finger prints....the options are endless. Another way you could create collage paper is use a Gelli Plate like I did to create the ones you see here.
Next is how you can use the collage paper, the list is endless, I'll share a few tips and tricks to get you started. First tip - ripping paper is very therapeutic and causes a response in the brain and helps you feel grounded. I rarely use scissors when working with collage paper, I like to rip it! Try this: Choose a piece of collage paper that you are drawn towards, rip it into 3-5 pieces and glue them down on a plain (or other) piece of paper, then give it a title. Doing this activity is grounding and you feel like you accomplished something. Once you are finished you can either set it aside or you can sit with it for a minute, what do you notice? Art activities like this have a way of connecting to our intuition in ways that talking isn't always able to. Collage paper can also be a helpful starting point when you aren't sure what to put on paper or you believe you can't draw. Try this: Choose a mark making tool and scribble a line with your non dominant hand. Choose a paint colour that you are drawn towards and add some paint to the paper with a few brush strokes or a block of colour somewhere on the page. Then, choose a piece of collage paper that you are drawn towards and rip it into a shape then glue it on the paper. You can leave it like this or add more to it, do what feels right.
If you are looking to try more then watch for an upcoming Make Your Mark opportunity about Collage Paper. Join the email list and don't miss out, scroll to the bottom of this page to sign up.
Layers of emotion exist within us when we experience grief & loss. When my grandmother died I was feeling a lot of different things. I lived with her contributing a lot to her daily care during her final years and we became very close. When she passed I wanted to take care of my mental health and talking to a therapist seemed like the right thing to do...unfortunately, it ended up not being the right fit for me. It wasn't until a few years later that I learned about Therapeutic Art and through my training learned about the value it offers to individuals experiencing loss. This would have been exactly what I was looking for when my grandmother passed. I needed to express and explore I was feeling.
The image above is of a piece I did when I needed to release feelings of grief in response to a community tragedy, the experience helped me move through what I was feeling. Recently I was doing some creative work with someone who lost her mother a few months earlier. After working together she shared that she was able to release some of what she was feeling and holding inside. This is the same thing another client shared after we did an expressive activity together, she said, "it felt like releasing my grief and that some of the pain had melted away."
Grief and loss show up for different reasons; maybe you have moved away from a community you love, left a job unexpectedly, your child moved out of the house, or the passing of a loved one. Creative Work could be of great benefit to your healing, especially if you don't have words to express what you are feeling. If this sounds like you reach out to book a discovery call to see if a private session is right for you.
2022 is coming to a close and it is a good time to prepare for 2023! Vision boards are a great way to get focused on what you want to see happen in your year. Whether you are an entrepreneur who wants to stay clear on the direction of your business or someone who wants to make the most out of the year ahead, this is a tool that is fun to create and can make amazing things happen. Use your vision board to manifest an amazing and productive year. There are a lot of videos and tools out there to give ideas on how to create yours. You can also join a group of people all working on their vision boards together in a room with exciting and motivating energy.
Make 2023 a Fantastic Year!
(Upcoming Vision Board workshops)
PS - the image above is to help get inspired and energized.