While I’m fascinated by all forms of black and white line art, the Zentangle® Method uses structured patterns to create its own style of abstract art. It allows entry into a relaxed, meditative state, making for heightened intuition, as well as a sense of well-being and timelessness. It’s been a springboard for my launch into all kinds of art and creativity.
Art has changed my life since 2014, and when the opportunity arose to take the 6-week Train the Trainer class on Healing Through Art offered by California State University Institute for Palliative Care a few months back, I immediately signed up. The fundamental concept is that there is something inherent in the creative process which makes us feel good!
This is not art therapy. It does not require a therapist. The person who makes the art, makes their own meaning. The art itself acts as the “therapist”, allowing people to find healing through the process of creation.
All creative processes, regardless of whether they involve painting, drawing, music, food, entertaining, dancing, photography, gardening, arranging flowers, rearranging the furniture, crafting a scrapbook, or writing anything, allow us to express ourselves, and when we do, we feel better. The creative process helps inform us, and others, about our internal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It gives us a way to express that which is inexpressible, causing us to learn more about ourselves and to find peace in the soothing process of creating. The process itself is therapeutic. It facilitates new understanding, both informing and transforming us!
“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” ~John W. Gardner
One of the class requirements was responding to classmates’ online posts. This turned out to be one of the most valuable exercises of the course. People who might have been drowned out or intimidated by speaking out in class, used these posts to go deeper. Several of the professional artists talked about their fear of having a piece turn out badly (and I thought it was just me). One said that a lot of what goes into making a good painting is problem solving. So true, and I would never have thought to express it that way. It’s a perspective I intend to develop.
One of the joys of abstract art is that it’s generally not required to look like anything in particular, so only the artist knows when a piece isn’t what was originally intended. Seeing what emerges is one of the exciting parts of creation. According to Zentangle guidelines, an eraser is never used because life itself doesn’t come with an eraser (that’s part of the Zen aspect). If a ‘mistake’ is made, we look for a way to incorporate it, and just tangle on.
And just as in life, transforming a ‘mistake’ is often where we learn the most. While I’ve often characterized my life as a work in process, it’s only recently come to me how the ‘work in process’ is the whole point. If we’d been aiming for perfection, there would have been no reason to leave our non-physical state to join the physical world. It’s all about the mistakes, the experiences (good, bad, and ugly), meeting the people you meet, being in process, embracing the journey…
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
Other Great Sites: