Thursday, March 03, 2016

somnambulist art therapy

I should be writing about 5/5. I need to write about 5/5 - to decompress and debrief and detach myself from it (I still wake after 5 hours, thinking my sleep allocation is up - although it's much easier to fall back asleep now than it was a few days ago. I still run lists in my head, I retain a persistent feeling that there's something I should be doing ...).

But instead I'll write about yesterday evening's ASTAR art workshop, and how it aided my decompression in a way I'd not realised I'd needed.

My friend Wendy qualified as an ASTAR facilitator last year, and I've been keen to join one of her workshops ever since. I signed up for this one as soon as 5/5 finished, champing to do something creative, something for me.

On the way there I thought back through Wendy's blog posts on her ASTAR process, and her recurring discovery that the 'message', the meaning of her exploratory pieces often only revealed itself after she'd completed her evening's work - and then how often it made uncanny sense in terms of things happening in her life, or thoughts. I was excited.

I was also tired.
I knew that ideally I shouldn't have planned an evening excursion so soon. I am acutely aware of not operating on full strength yet and am paranoid (possibly overly so) of the risk of repeating last year's burnout.

But I needn't have worried. It was so gentle, so quiet. The dappled studio light softly gave way to night as Wendy's calm voice guided us through a process, my fellow students worked determinedly on their own pieces, and the guy I shared a table with was just energetic enough (dropping pastels and jumping to his feet to deliver particularly broad strokes) to inspire me.
Fueled by creativity and normal tea, I had a wonderful time.

We covered a big blank page in words. Words which resonated, inspired, or had a particular relevance to us right now. We used crayons and inks, feathers and brushes, working the words over and over until our page was textured and wet.
We had tea and let it dry.
Then we stuck our pages up on a wall, stepped back, and looked for pictures.

Instantly I found faces. Faces and expressions, eyes and mouths - my whole page was full of them.

The next hour was spent detailing them, finding loops and circles from the mostly hidden words to turn into eyes and noses, mouths and brows.

Tired and depleted at the end of it all, we were given a blank page and asked to write down the thoughts we'd had while completing the work.
So many people the last few weeks - so many egos and personalities and needs and wants. So much at stake for so many and me in the middle managing them all, taking it all into account, balancing the wants and the needs with the cans and can'ts. Pushing myself to provide it all, standing fast on my boundaries of where I cannot. People's faces searching for me in the room to solve the problem or answer the query or provide the info. All the people, all the time, asking all the things - of me. 

It's not a thing of beauty, it won't adorn my walls. But it helped me process a major aspect of the last few months, more importantly it was fun, and most importantly, it was for me.

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