Connecting Through Art

Connecting Through Art

The thing about doodling that I like so much is the spontaneity. That is the secret. I never know what I am going to get and were the doodle is going to take me.  Sometimes I don’t like my doodle. But that’s ok.  I don’t see my doodling as a way of producing art, but rather see it as art-making.  Art is a form of self-expression. Process plays a big role in my expression, so the more spontaneous the better, at least for me.  Other times I succumb to my desires to make something decorative, with repetitive lines and designs.  This too serves a purpose.  It soothes me at the end of a long day.  It helps me refocus my mindset from work to play.

On Wednesday I presented a workshop  (part talk, part experiential) to the Ontario Medical Association: Beyond Doodling, Using Art for Self Expression and Self-Care as part of their self-care series for GP psychotherapists.    It was wonderful to present to such a diverse group of practitioners; some were GP psychotherapists, some wer social workers, medical interns, GPs, retired GPs, psychiatrists, and even surgeons.  A few of the participants felt out-of-place in that they did not feel doing art was beneficial for them (though they identified that making or listening to music was a self-care outlet for them).  Many participants shared with me after that they gained some insight into a stressful situation through art making and found it useful to explore their feelings in this way.


For some the idea of making art was daunting at first.  And as I always do, I emphasized that artistic skill was not a requirement.  What they drew did not have to look like anything.  Self-care is something that we all need to do a little more of, whether in a helping profession which takes a lot out of you emotionally or you are dealing with a lot of stress on a daily basis.  Here’s why I believe art can help with self-care:

Art-making can be a way of releasing feelings after a difficult day or situation so that they don’t stay pent-up inside.  In this way art-making allows for self-regulation, a chance to get in touch with how we are feeling and the way it may be impacting us both physiologically and psychologically.

Art-making promotes self-awareness.  When we make art for self-expression and reflect upon it, we shine light on our inner selves, fears, and aspirations. In this way we can begin to connect with ourselves on a deeper level.

Art-making can be a way of shifting gears after a long day, rather than reflecting on what has happened, focusing on the here and now and making art as a kind of meditative practice.  Mandala making, crafting something visually pleasing, drawing from memory or drawing something that is front of you are some ways that art can be meditative.

Of course in order for it to benefit you actually need to do it.

Next week we will look at exactly how one can establish a sustainable self-care practice using art.


In the mean time, keep doodling! If you haven’t already joined in on the #DoodleADayJourney there is still time with the final week of November coming up. Why not just jump in?  For some tips on how to get started you may wish to read: Doodling Paves the Way and Begin Where You Are


Begin Where You Are

Begin Where You Are



#DoodleADayJourney 2015


Sometimes beginning is the hardest part.  We set intentions to do a practice, promise ourselves that we will begin something, but then it just does not happen.  Something seems to get in the way:

Our self-doubt, judgement, fear.

Sometimes it’s a fear of failing, but more often than not it is a fear of the unknown or perhaps a fear of what we will discover.  That is the thing about journeys, we never truly know where they will take us, but that’s ok.  It’s not the destination after all but the journey itself that can bring us to a place of discovery along the way.  Process. Not where we are going but how we get there.  And there are so many interesting and meaningful paths.

Today when you sit down (or stand) to doodle, remember to stay with the process.  Don’t worry about how your doodle turns out.  Enjoy the journey but most importantly just begin.  There is no one right way on this #DoodleADayJourney . No one path.  Let your doodle lead you.

Checkout last week’s post for some loose guidelines: Doodling Paves The Way

Follow the Challenge and Share your #DoodleAdayJourney!

I will be posting my doodle a day on the website and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to join in, you can share your doodle over at the Virtual Art Circle or post it on Twitter tagging @drawingselfout with #doodleadayJourney or via Instagram with  #doodleadayJourney and tag @petreaadamidis


Doodling Paves the Way

Doodling Paves the Way

doodleaday journey 2015


To me, doodles are a wonderful way to access your personal symbology and inner world because we don’t have to think about doodling.

Last year in October 2014 I started a “Doodle a day” challenge on this blog.  I had so much positive feedback and enthusiasm from those joining the challenge that I have decided to start another Doodle a day challenge beginning November 1st 2015.  You may have heard that doodles are a wonderful way to engage your creative brain for thinking and for retaining information that you take in (see news video below). I often encourage my art therapy students to doodle during my lectures because I know it helps them stay focused. But did you know that doodles can also help you connect with your inner wisdom? How is that possible if it is just a doodle?

Sometimes the biggest barrier to getting started with using art for self-expression is our own self-judgement.

Doodles, because they are so spontaneous, usually quick and done without too much conscious planning have the ability to let us loosen up and express ourselves without the interference of the judging mind.  Now that is not to say that the critique will not interfere by  passing  judgements or with discouraging feedback, however something about the spontaneity of the doodle allows you to bypass most of that interference, because after all it’s just a doodle.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to getting started with using art for self-expression is our own self-judgement.  When we already have in mind that what we are going to do or we  have a specified end result, we can sometimes become distracted and even paralyzed by those expectations.  Doodles by their very nature are spontaneous, quick, unplanned, often “messy” and usually there is no end product in mind.  Most people do not doodle with the intention of framing it afterwards.  Doodles are process oriented, and the act of doodling gives us some pleasure. They are something that we can do while we are engaging in something else (think long boring meetings) or squeeze in as a 5 minute “rest” from the day.

Self exploration through doodling will work best if you let go of end results

To me, doodles are a wonderful way to access your personal symbology and inner world because we don’t have to think about doodling. And thinking too much can be a deterrent to creating authentically. Now before you get all excited and start planning to join me on November 1st for the Doodle a Day challenge, let’s get a few things straight. Self exploration through doodling will work best if you let go of end results, in other words don’t expect to find deep truths via all your doodling. Sometimes a doodle is just a doodle. Doodling can serve so many purposes, one of which simply is being present. The nice thing about doodling is that it is easy to do, and once we start putting too many expectations on this simple act we complicate it, which usually means we are thinking too much about it. In which case, we might as well openly invite our inner critic to the party, along with self-doubt, creative blockers and other censors to self-expression. Get the picture?

One last important note, instead of calling this a Doodle a Day Challenge as I did last year, I propose we call it a journey: the Doodle a Day Journey 2015. If you can join in each day fabulous! If you can join in every other day, fabulous! if You can join in once a week that too is Fabulous. Whatever makes sense for you to do is up to you. The main thing is that you follow your doodle where it takes you, let it lead you rather than trying to direct it and see and accept what unfolds, whatever that is.

#DoodleADayJourney Loose Guidelines:

  • Stick with the doodle (you can come back to it) until it feels done to you.
  • Not all doodles will be done in one sitting.
  • Not all doodles will have colour added.
  • It can take as long or as little time as you wish.
  • It can be as small or as big as you wish.
  • It can be drawn on any paper. You may find it easier to sustain your practice though if you to choose a journal to directly draw your doodles in or to place your doodles in.  This way you can track your doodles and if you choose to do the optional free writing about your doodle (see below) you can write about them.

Remember to doodle  until your doodle says its done. Do what you can and share it online as a way to keep you focused on taking this doodling journey and even for some accountability.

An optional part of the doodle challenge:

For those of you who would like to use the doodles for self exploration you can take it a step further by free writing about your doodle after making it. Describe what you  see and then reflect on any metaphors or symbols you notice in your written response.

Follow the Challenge and Share your DoodleAday Journey!

I will be posting my doodle a day on the website and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to join in, you can share your doodle over at the Virtual Art Circle or post it on Twitter tagging @drawingselfout with #doodleadayJourney or via Instagram with  #doodleadayJourney and tag @petreaadamidis

One more week and we will begin! Until then make sure you choose something to doodle with and on.

Stoke Your Creative Fire

Stoke Your Creative Fire



inspire yourself

Spring is here and I’m full force in creative mode.  Between planting seedlings, capturing my dreams day and night, dropping off creative deeds, and connecting with my muse, sometimes there just doesn’t seem like enough time to do all the things I want to do. But I know in my heart, I feel it in my being that creating must continue. It allows me to connect with my true self, be who I am, and be ok with not getting it ALL done.  After all, there is always more to do right?

My head sometimes spins in anticipation of all the new things I will be involved in now that warmer weather is just around the corner.  Gardening, a creative endeavor I take on each spring reminds me ever so clearly of the creative process and its ebb and flows. I hang on to this metaphor, with its powerful reminder that even when I am not creating art, I am still an artist, even when I am not painting, I am a painter.  A story told by Clarissa Pinkola Estés speaks to this: an artist is sitting down in his backyard seemingly doing nothing and his neighbour approaches him and comments I see that you are resting, and the artist replies, no I am working.  The next day the artist is painting at his easel and the same neighbour comes and says, ” oh I see you are working today” and the artist replies “oh no, today I am resting”.  

Creating is not just about what is produced, it is about process. Sometimes the process may seem like it has nothing to do with creating at all, like those times when you seem to have hit a dry spell and are not creating at all, but just like the garden whose seeds have been planted and are germinating underground where we cannot see them, so too the creative process is often germinating out of our sight.  And if we forget this we can sometimes go into panic mode and think that all is lost.

Sometimes our creative process  needs a little help though.  Just as the garden seeds or perennials may lay dormant until the right conditions and environment exists, so too can our creative process.  Sometimes the embers of the creative fire inside need some attention, a gentle blowing to ignite will suffice, too strong and we may become overwhelmed by its power.

Simply put creative practice needs to be fed by engaging in it.  When we create for the sake of creating rather than for the end result the creative fire is stoked. When we forget about it or put it off, it dies down, and sometimes can go out, the same as if we forget to water seeds planted.


Here is what you can do to keep your creative fire active:


But there lies the problem for most right?

Protests from the critic say, “there is not enough time” or “its frivolous!

Here’s how to counter these notions:

Schedule it in.  Scheduling does two things:

  1. It gives your creativity due respect and importance.
  2. On the practical side, it sets aside time that you may otherwise dwindle away on worrying about not having enough time to create.

Be Prepared:

  1. Make sure others know you have set aside this time for your art.
  2. Have a space dedicated for your creative process:
    • whether it is a room,
    • a wall in a hall,
    • a desk or table or
    • simply a toolbox with all the supplies you need on hand when its time to create.

Commit to Take Creative Action:

Don’t confound yourself with projects that don’t make you happy, create from your heart for your self. Creating is an act of self-expression. Allow your process to unfold in a supportive environment, whether it is with trusted friends, at a workshop or through an online course which respects individual process and expression.  When you create in community you are often more likely to act on your creative impulse.  Community can support: it reminds you of the importance of creating and holds you accountable to take action because you are making a commitment and dedicating time for your art.



Inner Wise Self or Inner Critic?

Inner Wise Self or Inner Critic?

Trust Your Wise Self

From time to time my inner critic states her opinion on the task at hand. In the past I have given in, giving up on what I was doing as a result.  Then I became pretty good about listening to her without judgement for the most part and letting it slide.  Still these critical voices would come back and interfere with whatever it was I was trying to create in my life. Who would have thought that after all this time I would still be taking her opinion seriously right? But what if that was the point, what if there was something there that I needed to take a serious look at?

Let’s look at the role of the inner critic. Is the inner critic simply an annoying voice that makes us feel bad about our selves and doubt our abilities? Or does the inner critic serve some other function?

If we unravel the concept of inner critic it is derived from the Freudian concept of the ego or even the super ego. A part of ourselves that has internalized the expectations and values from our families and society at large. The judge who looks at what we do compared to these internalized expectations.

But somewhere a long the line the inner critic has shifted out of the original protective role of keeping us in line or at least aware of other’s expectations. I say “protective” because if we continued to act from an egocentric place as very young children and babies do, we would have difficulty over time relating to others, putting ourselves in their place and having empathy.  Following expectations to an extent is an important part of being human since we are relational beings.


The inner critic can be seen as an imbalance within the ego whose role it is to make sure we follow the rules of our family and the bigger society. The inner critic takes criticism too far, putting us down and degrading our sense of self.  So it is easy to see why many people think the best thing to do with those inner critic scripts is to ignore them.

But lets take a closer look at this. If the original role of the critic is to bring our attention to something that needs to change, then if we ignore the inner critic messages entirely we may be missing out on reflecting on an important message from or unconscious.  I’m not saying that we should accept the undermining tone of these messages, but rather that it is important to take a closer look to see what exactly might be going on.


There are a few ways of viewing the inner critic:

  1. We can shun these critical voices as malicious and not noteworthy, scripts we’ve picked up from our childhood that no longer serve us. Or
  2. We can embrace the inner critic, looking at the true intention behind its misguided or improperly presented criticism.

I think that it all depends on the situation and what messages we are getting.  If the general message is “I am not worthy” then ignoring this message may seem like a good thing to do.  However, if we do not replace it with an alternative message then we may find ourselves in constant ignoring mode which can consume a lot of emotional energy.

Instead of using one method over the other I prefer to use both: explore the hidden meaning or message of the inner critic, recognize where it may be coming from, past interactions with others, present fears, and then replace it with a more appropriate message that will support us. This is the embracing of the true intention that I am talking about, recognizing when we are feeling stuck and why, accepting these fears or doubts (that everyone experiences from time to time)  and moving forward with a message of believing in ourselves despite these fears or doubts. Sometimes reminding yourself of times you have succeeded, despite being fearful or uncertain can help.


Here are the steps needed to gain insight from those inner critics:

  1. Identify the messages you have internalized. What are they? Where did you pick them up? How have they been reinforced over time?
  2. Release the critical messages. Acknowledge these messages, any good intentions that may have originally been behind them as well as not so good intentions and let the old messages go.
  3. Examine if there is something you can glean from the message(s) that will give you insight.
  4. Devise a helpful message to replace the critical message. In order to be able to release them they need to be replaced with  new messages. What is it you need to hear for support in your particular situation?
  5. Move forward and create, reminding yourself of past successes and times you were able to move through or with the stuck.

Next time you find your inner critic interfering, step back and take a look at just what exactly going on and then take action!

Creative Determination

Creative Determination



This past Saturday I had the pleasure of guiding a group of muses in my Painting With Your Muse intuitive painting workshop. Each time I do this workshop I am in awe of the amazing muses who join me. If you don’t already know the muses I’m talking about are the inner muses of each participant at the workshop. I believe strongly that we all have what we need inside and it follows that rather than have a muse outside yourself that inspires you, that creative wisdom and inspiration comes from within.


After warming up with some drumming and setting intentions to follow their own internal rhythm, came the task of facing a blank sheet of paper. Inner critics were busy trying to argue and scare the muses away from using their true voice. Luckily the muses were prepared!


It was with pleasure that I watched the creative voices in the room be expressed through the painting. For some it was a constant battle, but they persisted to follow the process rather than self-imposed expectations. “Mistakes” were welcomed, “Shoulds” were ignored. Inner patterns observed and reflected on to make room for stifled parts of self to express. Risks were taken.




It was hard work for those muses as the incessant inner critics kept trying to come back into the room and douse the creative fires inside. But the room kept glowing with creative determination.





There is something about being given permission to notice and let go of the scripts which no longer serve us that allows one’s creative spirit to shine. There is something about coming into your body and out of your head that opens the doors to one’s inner muse. And the watching of this as it unfolds before my eyes- stunningly beautiful. Their courage and persistence to create despite all the roadblocks reminds me of the power of creativity.



I’m an Art Rebel

I’m an Art Rebel


live outside the box


The other week when I was dropping of some creative deeds for #creativedeed365 project, I left several around the restaurant we were eating at.  I figured the restaurant was full so why not? My eldest son laughed at me and called me an “Art Rebel” like some kind of Marvel superhero. At the time he said it, I had to laugh too: there I was sneaking around public places looking for just the right spot to leave a creative deed for an unsuspecting person to stumble upon and perhaps make their day, maybe even inspire some of their own creative power to shine through.  Yes I felt like an art rebel for sure!


It also felt rebellious to be doing it without trying to take credit for it – quickly placing them in spots where others could find them but not while others could see me do it- anonymously. I am an Art Rebel!


In the grocery store . . . 


Where I teach . . .




At a senior’s building . . .




Then I started thinking about the idea of being a “rebel”.
The Merriam Websters dictionary defines a rebel as: “A person who opposes a person or group in authority : a person who does not obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior, dress, etc.”.


While this definition is a little more extreme than what I mean by Art Rebel, one thing that stands out for me is the “does not obey rules or accept normal standards” part.  Not so much in the act of leaving creative deeds for others to find, but more in the way that I create these little creative deeds. Like my usual process they have been spontaneous, intuitive, and free-flowing without a particular plan to them other than following the constraints of the cue card I use as a base. I add a message, but don’t make my art around the message instead the message finds a voice in the art and once I see this I add the verbal rendition of this message in. Sometimes I use quotes that I stumble upon that fit with what I’ve created. Sometimes it’s seemingly disjointed words which begin to make sense when I place them together with the imagery. There are no rules perse, only unlimited options for expressions.




To me this is not just what an art rebel is it is what following your creative muse is about. Many people don’t identify themselves as creative or artists because they measure creativity by artistic skill.  As a result their inner artist is trapped inside, without permission to come out. But what if you were to see art in a different light and rather than judge it by standards of professional art view it as a creative expression capable by anyone willing to take the courage and express themselves. An art Rebel doesn’t allow inner critics or outside judgement to silence their creative voice. An Art Rebel does not follow the rules of conventional art. An Art Rebel creates their own standards of expression and recognizes when these too may hold them back.


I’m an art rebel and I’m proud!


Creative Deeds for Me and You

Creative Deeds for Me and You



CreativeDeeds WIP

I have been making  little art offerings to give away as random acts of kindness as part of Gretchen Miller’s  #CreativeDeed365.  Though January has proven to be too busy for me (I’m doing one extra day of clinical art therapy, plus teaching and extra class for the Toronto Art Therapy Institute) to make these daily, I have been making batches of them on the weekend or on evenings when I have some down time.  They have become somewhat of a meditative practice for me; flipping through magazines and picking out words or phrases that entice me as well as textures or photos that inspire and putting these together in ways that seem right in the moment.

Live Life

They have been relaxing to do, and fun to leave in places where unsuspecting by passers might spot them and pick them up.  This has actually been challenging, since I really don’t want to be “caught” leaving them somewhere for others.  I like the mystery of it all, yet my critical self starts second guessing if anyone will find them or more specifically pick them up.


Anais Nin quote

So far I have left these little messages of hope in washroom of restaurants, yoga studios, bulk stores, public transit, community centres, an ATM

Trust the process, trust the process, I keep reminding myself.  It has become my daily mantra.


What is this process anyway? By committing to make these little art offerings I am also committing to making art more regularly. The nature of these means that they are very in the moment and spontaneous driven. They are process oriented, yet there is the structure of a message that seems important for me to share at the time that I make it.  I follow my intuition.

Look in the mirror

Another part of the process is the placing of them in public places where they will be discovered by someone who will enjoy them.  There is of course the process of letting go.  Some of them I start to feel attached to in that I might like one more than another. Though I take pictures of each one, leaving them for someone else allows me to practice the act of releasing, letting go and non-attachment.  I don’t need these cards, but because I created them sometimes it feels like I should hang on to the ones I like. Letting them go helps me stay true to the process of creating for the sake of creating rather than for a product to hang on to.




I will keep you posted as I continue to leave these little art offerings for others.  Who knows maybe they will inspire the finder to make some of their own.  Maybe it will inspire a journal entry, or some art making in response.  If you would like to follow along and see the cards that I am leaving for others you can follow me on INSTAGRAMTwitter Pinterest or Facebook .

If you really want to challenge yourself, you can make your own art response to the messages on my creative deeds in your art journal.  And of course you can make your own creative deeds to share with others- whenever you want (no rules). 

Embracing Your Creative Self

Embracing Your Creative Self


Photo on 2011-04-11 at 13.42 #5


“The thing that is missing from your life is you”  Guy Finley

Sometimes we spend a lot of time looking for things. Things to make our lives better, things to make us feel better, look better, be better. We seek change to happen to us. We seek change or transformation as if it’s a commodity we can purchase. We get sucked into the notion that there is always something better out there that we need to be, better as if what we have or what we are is not enough.


This searching for something more only serves to reinforce any feelings of insecurity or not being enough.


Do you see where this is going? The striving to be or have something more or better ends up making us feel less than we are. It preys  on our insecurities and makes us seek outside of ourselves even more.


But what if we began to believe that all we are is enough? What if we accepted ourselves as we are and basked in this revelation. Even if we are not perfect.  Even if doesn’t meet our expectations?


You Are Beautiful CeativeDeed


I’m not saying that things should just stay as they are, but the idea that we need to change to improve is misleading. When we  begin to accept ourselves for who we are we open the door to our full potential, not trying to change who we are but rather expanding the notion of our Selves outside of the preconceived restricted notions we may hold about who we are becoming.  The  way I see it is that we are constantly growing and evolving.


This opening to acceptance is essential. Rather than looking at self as something broken in need of fixing we may look at self with compassion. And when we have compassion for self we can connect better with self.  When we are more connected with self we are more of who we really are – the possibilities that exist inside flourish in that kind of attitude and environment.


What kind of environment are you fostering for your self to grow in?


Here are some tips that I have found helpful for opening to my inner possibilities:

  1. Start the day with a clean slate: I spend 10 minutes in the morning (most) sitting in silence just noticing my thoughts and going back to my breath.
  2. Do something you enjoy each day, whether it is 5 minutes of dance, doodling, art journaling, playing with your kids, or yoga.  Just give your self permission to do it, expanding the time as it becomes more comfortable for you to gift this to yourself.
  3. Notice what is, there is beauty everywhere, recognize it within yourself and name a strength of yours.
  4. Find something to celebrate about your day: the way you handled that conflict well, that the sun was shinning, the infectious laugh of a child you crossed paths with, the smile of a stranger, whatever it is notice it and celebrate it.
  5. Use affirmations to remind yourself of your worth.


Witnessing the Unfolding

Witnessing the Unfolding




This past weekend I witnessed the beauty of women connecting with their inner wisdom. This is one of the many things I love about my work: holding space for the unfolding of the creative process as it guides  people back to their inner wisdom. In my clinical practice this happens as well but often over a longer period of time. There is something about the workshop process that allows participants to engage their inner wisdom at a quicker pace and in ways that pleasantly surprise them.   I feel honoured to be a witness to this.


Each woman was unique in her process with separate but overlapping intentions for participating. Each came to the workshop with their own ideas and goals for participating.  Their willingness to explore and share their journey simply by being present was inspiring to me.


We laughed, their were some tears, expressed desires and intentions. We released old patterns form 2014,  shared new intentions and visions for 2015.




Each woman knew they wanted to be there, but not necessarily why. Their original vision of what they would accomplish shifted in ways that empowered them connecting them to their inner wise woman.


I was in awe of their strength, their willingness to open to vision. Each board reflected their uniqueness, beauty and power. These strong women embraced their heart’s desires, ripped through pages and pages of magazine in search of a connection with their intentions in visual form.


No two vision boards were the same. They were as different from each other as they were different from what each thought their vision board would look like. And that was the point. Sometimes we think we know what we want but it is this very thinking that  gets in our way of our true desires. If we allow ourselves to feel our way toward a vision for ourselves, the outcome can be miraculous.


I share this here to remind you that you too have the answers inside. There is no need to over think the answers. For they will come when you are ready to open to your vision.