Whatever comes to mind

April 21, 2014 in art journaling, art therapy, creative tools, inner wisdom, inspiration, intuitive painting


To direct or be spontaneous that is the question . . .

Detail of Crone in an intuitive painting.

Detail of Crone in an intuitive painting.

When I was training  to be an art therapist some 20 years ago I was taught to use a spontaneous approach. Simply put, it means encouraging clients to draw what ever comes to mind. It’s meant to get at what is currently needing to be addressed.  The assumption is that ones’ inner wisdom will show the way via the art.

My own approach to my art has been similar: I paint or draw whatever wants to come out in the moment. I don’t actually think about it in the whatever comes to mind sense, but rather I allow what ever movement my hand wants to make and choose whatever colors I am attracted to in that moment. – a very intuitive and mindful approach I think.

Give me a directive on the other hand and I over think it. I have to take the suggestion in and let it seep in, then I just begin and see what happens.  It can be a bit nerve-wracking at first, especially if you are one to focus a lot on outcome.  Of course the process is just as much a part of the “outcome”  but that is the subject of another post.

Some people struggle with a spontaneous approach, uncertain of the “Unknown” their imagination will possibly expose.  Or perhaps anxious  to get to the heart of the matter.  Using a directive (“draw or make a . . . .”) in this sense can help lower anxiety for clients in art therapy  when they are uncertain as to where to begin. But the directive needs to be tailored by the art therapist to the needs of the client.

With the art therapists in training I teach it tends to be a mixed bag: some shrinking away from a spontaneous approach, finding it a little too anxiety provoking, even overwhelming at times.  While others welcome a spontaneous approach as a refreshing change from their art school days when constantly being told what to make.

So what is the advantage of a directive other than to lower anxiety for some? It’s a place to start. You dont’ have to over think what is being asked but rather think of it as planting a seed.  The directive is spoken, there may be a brief moment of panic (“how am I going to express that? What if it doesn’t turn out? What if it reveals too much?”) but then you can “forget” it, as it has been has taken it in on some level by your unconscious.  Then you can let it go and see what surfaces.

"Savage Mirror" lesson 21 SECRETS  (Work in progress)

“Savage Mirror” lesson 21 SECRETS (Work in progress)

When you are doing directives on your own, not in the context of therapy, it can be feel less intimidating to have a starting place for your art.  And if you do still find it difficult to follow someone elses’ prompt, just acknowledge the  intention and begin, your inner wisdom where lead you where you need to go.

It really comes down to a matter of preference.  I know for me I have learned to embrace directives a little more enthusiastically, particularly through art journaling.  They can help me focus and get down to the task at hand of expressing myself and challenge my vulnerabilities to just the right degree.  When I am working on larger art, outside of the art journaling I like to take a more intuitive and spontaneous approach.  But that is just me.  Everyone needs to find their comfort zone and step outside of it just a little bit to see what works for them.

If you would like to have a lot of starting places for your art journal you may want to check out 21 SECRETS Spring 2014 for some really awesome guides on art journaling.  If on the other hand you would like to explore or strengthen your intuitive side, you may want to get on the Painting With Your Muse e-course waitlist or if you are in the Toronto area, join me for a live one day workshop.

Need some guidance on how to get started with Art Journaling? Join me online or in person for Art Journaling.  Click below to find out more!

 21 secrets SpringVJJ 300squarePWYM2014Toronto

To Write or Not To Write

April 13, 2014 in art journaling, expressive arts, inner wisdom




Some people are happy to express themselves through their art and leave it at that. Which is perfectly fine. The process of creating after all is such a release of inner self, often that is all that is needed. Words cannot capture in the way that the images can.

When I create and express through art sometimes I like to just sit with what I see take it in visually feel it in my being observe its effects on me without words, after all a picture is worth a thousand words right? Cliché I know but there is some truth to that.

However there at other times that when I look at my art afterward I’m left with more questions than I began with. There is a feeling of incompleteness that I am left with, even though I have a deep sense that the piece I’ve worked is done.


It is at these times that I feel the need to write about my experience of my art. I might focus on one part and begin to write what comes to mind in a free associative fashion reminiscent of Freud. I just write until I feel done. Or until I feel satisfied that I have a better sense of the art I’ve created.

Of course, it’s not always about interpreting my art but more so finding meaning of the overall experience; not what does it mean but what does this mean for me. Exploring this way may point me to next steps. Writing becomes a way to help me clarify what I see. It can help me bring closure to my experience by connecting me on a deeper level.

There is no one right way. It’s up to you to decide for yourself what helps you enhance your creative connection and expression of self.


Need some guidance on how to get started with Art Journaling? Join me online or in person for Art Journaling.  Click below to find out more!

 21 secrets SpringVJJ 300square

Preparing To Create

April 6, 2014 in art journaling, inner artist, inner critic, inner muse



Yesterday in my Visual Journal Journey workshop I introduced participants to art journaling and getting their art journal ready for expressing themselves in.  For many of them it was their first art journal entry ever!  The blank page was daunting to say the least.  Knowing where to begin was difficult but as the two hours of this first part of the 4 part workshop flew by, they realized that it was not impossible to begin to fill the pages with their own creations.


Sometimes we can talk ourselves out of beginning for fear of “spoiling” the pristine pages of the new art journal.  I remember a while back in one of my ArtTherapist.ca e-courses, one of the members confessing that she had bought a cheaper art journal to start with even though she already had a perfectly good art journal.  She had convinced herself that it needed to be saved, fearful that her mucking about in it while expressing herself would ruin this more “fancy” art journal.  Of course the newer one brought it’s own resistance with it to start, for it too had neat, pristine, blank pages.  Once she realised this she laughed at herself and took a chance by making a mark in her journal.  Not just any mark, it was her mark.  And so her journey began.


This is the journey, we need to make that first mark, trust in ourselves that we are not only capable but are worthy of taking the space to create and express ourselves.


Sometimes it helps to just quickly make your mark, without thinking, without judgement.  Yesterday Visual Journal Journey participants were in full swing doing just that.  Preparing backgrounds quickly so that they may also have some ready for throughout the week to play with.  This was an important step; getting past the inner critics and that urge to be perfect.  It also meant that they set the stage for more creative expression through the week with partially begun pages that are less daunting.

Are you in the Toronto area?  Great news! I will be running anouther round of Visual Journal Journey in May-June.  Check it out!

VJJ 300square

And the Winner is . . . . .

March 30, 2014 in art therapy


Artsy Collage

Last week I opened  up a draw for one lucky winner to get a free spot in 21 Secrets which begins on Tuesday April first.  I would like to thank all of you for stopping by checking out my video and sharing the draw and entering to win.  Alas, I can only pick one winner today, but before I announce the winner I would like to point out that each of you took the time to enter because you have faith in your creativity and the importance of nurturing it.


I encourage you to keep feeding that creative fire by taking time whether it be daily, weekly or monthly to keep that spark alive and burning.  You deserve it!  If you are not sure how to make the time, I have some tips for you here:

(from the video archives):

If you feel like something gets in your way try viewing my video on creative Vampires.

If you doubt that you are creative, check this out.

I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of not feeding your creativity with the time and space. I encourage you to find a structure that supports your creative process, whatever that may be for you.


If you are able to join us in 21 Secrets art journaling online course then by all means please do, I have had the chance to peek at all of the wonderful offerings from the other 20 teachers and it is amazing!  If you want to be kept in the loop for upcoming posts, inspiring videos, and get my Free e-course Free Your Inner Child, then please sign-up for my newsletter here.


Okay, so the winner is Patricia Lacoix.  Congratulations Patricia! I will be passing your e-mail on to Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio will be in touch with you with details, so keep an eye out for an email from her!



I have 21 Secrets to share: Giveaway time!

March 23, 2014 in art journaling, contest

21 secrets Spring

I have a spot in the Spring 21 Secrets Art Journaling Course to giveaway to one lucky winner.



Here is a sneak peak into my Inner Art Expedition 21 Secrets workshop:

To enter the giveaway, please share  this post via your social networks; on your Facebook timeline,  Twitter account, or pin the image to Pinterest, using the share buttons at the top of this post (please tag @drawingselfout on Twitter or @arttherapist.ca on Facebook  if you can)  or simply copy the link to your share in the comments below.  Be sure to let me know what excites you about 21 Secrets.


Remember, share this giveaway post as a link or use the share buttons at the top or bottom of this post and then come back and leave a separate comment for each share for up to 2 entries.
Finally, please be sure to leave your email address when prompted so I can contact you when you win!! Deadline to enter is Saturday March 29th, 2014 9pm EST.


The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday March 30th, 2014.

Good luck everyone!

Dialogue with Art

March 16, 2014 in art journaling, creativity, expressive arts, inner wisdom, inspiration, intuitive painting


fear is a state of mind


Today I thought I would share with you an entry that I made in my art journal a while back. I was flipping through and reviewing my journal and came across this dialogue I had with one of my journal paintings.
To be clear, I don’t always write about my art. Often the dialogue that takes place happens in my head as I am going through the process of making art. I check in with my creation to see what it needs and in doing so am checking in with myself and what I need in that moment.  Sometimes my process is quick and when it is done I may find questions popping up. This is when I engage my painting in dialogue.
Reading over again can give me inspiration and important reminders from my inner wise self.    The one I share today is something I think most people can relate to; the subject of fear.

A page from my art journal . . .


She sits with one arm outstretched to the night sky, the other rests carefully on her lap. Moon shines its golden light down on her and the earth like blood supports her and keeps her grounded. Head turned away ball balancing on one knee. Green sky nourishes. Eggplant earth cushions, relaxes.

Me-Why do you look away?
She-I am looking out into my surroundings -night sky -facing the darkness.

Me- Aren’t you afraid?


She- Fear is a state of mind, I once was afraid  and then I took a chance and realized that facing darkness helps me find my light.


Me-That sounds promising but are you really ready?


She- We never are totally ready, sometimes we need to just jump in and explore without hesitation, without thought of what might be.  Sometimes we just need to chance it if we are going to have a chance.


Me- Why do you balance a ball on your knee?


She- The ball is there to remind me to pay attention to my inner response- my body’s response to all that is now. It reminds me to balance fear with my inner knowing

Want to learn different ways of art journaling to connect with your inner artist and inner wisdom?  Join me and the 20 other fabulous teachers for 21 Secrets beginning April 1st!

21 secrets Spring

Are You Ready For a Creative Expedition?

March 11, 2014 in art journaling, creative tools, creativity, inner artist, inspiration, Nature

21 Days Until 21 SECRETS


There is still time to register!  Join me for my Inner Art Expedition workshop along with 20 other spectacular art journaling workshops beginning April 1st.  But you have lots of time to get through all of the wonderful offerings since this year 21 Secrets has been complied in a downloadable PDF and you will have unlimited access to the videos! Forever!

When I was planning this workshop I wanted to put something together that would support each individual’s creative process without interfering with it.  A strong believer that we are all creative beings with an inner artist waiting to express, I have designed this workshop so that your creative intuition is strengthened.  I know it is sometimes difficult to get started though.  So often people turn outside of themselves for techniques or step by step ways of approaching their creative expression because that blank paper can be intimidating.  In Inner Art Expedition I have designed plenty of starting places that support your creative process without dictating it.  I hope you can join me on this wonderful journey into self!

Let nature be a stepping stone to beginning your own creative art journaling practice in a very special Inner Art Expedition!



Creating Fearlessly

March 10, 2014 in creativity, expressive arts, inner artist


This weekend I went ice-skating outdoors with my family on Saturday and Sunday,  (yes it is still cold enough here for ice).  Let me start by saying that I am an average skater, perhaps less, I am not good with stopping and I cannot go super fast, and my ankles get sore on one side from turning (moving in a circle around the rink).  I don’t really take risks when I am skating.


I was however amazed to see all the little ones zooming by on their skates, confident and determined.  They would fall down (padded by their snow pants) and get right back up.  They were fearless.  It was their fearlessness that allowed them to keep trying, to keep learning, and to keep enjoying what they were doing despite all their falls.


When I looked around the rink I noticed that there were many who had that same apparent fearlessness, including my 13 year-old son, but also many were a bit more reserved.  What was the difference between those that were older and fearless and those who were not? Confidence.  Yet the littlest skaters had confidence as well.  But their confidence was not based on their acquired skill, it was based on their willingness to let go and trust the process.


This made me think about creativity, and how often people give up on their own creativity at a young age because they don’t feel their art is “good enough”.  The education system fails our creativity in that sense because of it’s focus on “technical skill” in order to be graded rather than expressive ability.  And here lies the crux of  the issue.  The ability to express one’s self through art does not have to be determined by skill but rather it can be determined by desire and a belief that one has the right to experience joy.  Unfortunately this desire and connected confidence is often tied up in our beliefs of whether we are skilled enough.  And if we are not “skilled enough” then there is a belief that we do not have the right to be spending time on our creativity.


I get so many e-mails from people who inquire about my workshops for someone else, not themselves because they are “not creative”.  Yet we are all creative beings.  Children know this, or rather they feel it and don’t question their right to express themselves through art based on their ability.  They approach their art with a fearlessness that allows them to let go and express and enjoy the process.  We can learn a lot from them.  Somewhere inside we have this knowledge and have experienced this fearlessness of letting go.  It’s a matter of allowing yourself once again the permission to express through art.


Are you ready?

 Join us is Toronto for the next Painting With Your Muse on May 10th 2014


Journey into Self

March 2, 2014 in inner artist, inner critic, inner muse, inner wisdom, intuitive painting, Painting with Your Muse


Last weekend I guided some muses in exploring their inner wisdom through intuitive painting.  Many were uncertain that working on one painting for the duration of the workshop was possible.  The blank paper staring at them brought out a host of insecurities and of course voices of inner critics chimmed in.



Guided visualization was used to open the doors to their inner creative.  Inner critic ramblings were shelved.


After getting into our bodies with some expressive arts warm-up exercises participants began to break past barriers blocking them. This was the hardest part; to begin.  Perfectionism and a need to be in control likes to interfere.  Often an over-riding fear that there was no turning back is experienced and can paralyze the process.  Fear that mistakes will haunt them and they will be stuck with a painting that they don’t like, or worse that reflects back to them their imperfections.


But what are we but imperfect beings? Is it not our uniqueness and our individuality packaged with these idiosyncrasies that make us beautiful beings?


This is not easy for most of us to except.  We have been trained to believe that mistakes are failures rather than opportunities.  We have been taught to ignore our intuition and look outside of ourselves for the answers.


Our intuition is a tricky thing, it sometimes gets muddled by our thoughts, expectations, and wishes when really it is an inner knowing – sometimes our inner critic interferes with this inner knowing and confuses us- for example the critic may tell you “you are hopeless”, “you are not doing it right”, or may even tell you not to listen to your “intuition” for fear of being led toward the “unknown”.   Our inner critic likes to be in control because the unknown can be a scary place.


For the day I guided these beautiful beings through process painting, staying with the process and not the product.


The painting is of course a gestalt of all it’s parts, the layers of paint, emotions, thoughts, struggles, acceptance, letting go and release that brings it to an end point and finished painting.


The painting is much more that what is seen in the end, it is more than the sum of these parts.


This was the dance that they engaged in.  This was the process they struggled through but in the end embraced.



It was a journey into self.


The next Painting with Your Muse Workshop in Toronto takes place on May 10th, 2014.  Not in  or near Toronto? Get on the Painting With Your Muse e-course list to be notified when early bird registration opens for my online course.


Circle of Art

February 21, 2014 in Circle of Art Prompt, inspiration


Today and every Friday, I invite you to join me in creating a response to the quotes I post, using the arts: visual arts, photography, music or song, dance (video please!) prose or poetry, it’s your choice.

Big Yes
I will be sharing a quote here weekly and inviting a response from others to the quote in the form of visual art, photography, poetry, dance, music, (video)- whatever art form you would like to express through. You will have the opportunity to share directly on ArtTherapist.ca or through a link up to your blog or site if you have an online presence.  You are welcome to share your links to your responses below on your blog or if you wish, join us over at the Virtual Art Circle and share them there.  If you are not already a part of the Virtual Art Circle on Facebook and would like to be, just follow the link and request to join and I will add you.

To share a link please put a direct link to the post your prompt response is in, all other links will be removed.


Early Bird Registration for the next round of Painting With Your Muse is OPEN!
PWYM5WkBannerNO eye