Creative Art in Personal Development

Creative Art in Personal Development

Creative Art in Personal Development

By Esther Watt - LifeWorks Personal Development Trainer

Creative Art in Personal Development
"A picture is worth a thousand words"

We have all heard the phrase quoted above, and it is perhaps nowhere more true than in a Personal Development session that utilizes the Creative Arts. Art itself is a powerful tool for self awareness. Used in conjunction with Personal Development programmes, it often brings insights that we could never have got to with only words; a colour or an image will somehow express subtle levels of meaning we were not previously aware of, or sometimes simply having a visual representation of an experience just makes it easier to talk about.

We think in both words and images. Words are used to communicate, so they usually need to be put into rational, logical order to make sense to others. When we find ourselves thinking in words, it is most often to rehearse something, to comment on something, or to convince ourselves or someone else of something. This type of thinking requires us to adapt to a shared sense of reality. However when we think in images, it is usually more personal. It does not follow logic but our unique associations. What makes us unique is more easily expressed in images.

There is of course a blending of the two types of thinking, most notably in art forms such as drama or poetry. Similes and metaphors are not tools of directed thinking; they transport us to the world of associations and feelings -

Hope is the thing with feathers?
That perches in the soul,?
And sings the tune-without the wordsÂ…
(Emily Dickinson)

What happens in a Creative Arts Personal Development session?

Contrary to common expectations, when art is used as a tool for Personal Development, it makes no difference whether a person has any talent as an artist; the process works regardless. It focuses on inner experience, so it does not require that the client can draw objects from the outside world.

Art used this way does not seek to analyze or diagnose; instead, we are assisted to create a visual expression of thoughts and feelings, perceptions and imagination through specific guidelines, and then we explore the process and talk about sections of the art work. If we have insights we wish to keep to ourselves, this is fine. The process works just as well. And it works for any issue.

Creative Art in Personal Development

So a creative arts session may include painting, collage, clay work, sand tray work*, or simply looking at images and forming our own associations. It may also include poetry or stories, to enhance and deepen the feelings being explored. There is no requirement to create any written work unless of course we wish to; we simply read what others have written, and feel it.

In summary

  • - you may choose to draw, paint or make something with clay
  • - you may look at images and create your own meaning from your personal associations
  • - you may be given a poem, and asked to talk about the feelings that it brings
  • - you may be given a story to read and asked to relate it to your own life
  • - you may be invited to create a symbolic version of your story in the sand tray, by selecting and arranging small figurines in a tray of sand and talking about what they signify to you.
  • Art offers powerful methods of accessing what is happening on the mental and emotional levels, but it can also look further, into cultural and spiritual dimensions, using symbols that have specific significance to the artist. As a client, you will never be asked to produce art work unless it is something you choose to do.

    If you create an art work, you are the expert on it. It will never be used to analyse or diagnose you and you will not be asked to disclose anything about it you don't wish to. You may take the work home, or leave it at LifeWorks.

    Here are a few exercises anyone can try at home:

    Creative Art in Personal Development
  • Have ready a pencil (preferably 4B or 6 B ) or charcoal and some paper. List some emotions you experience from time to time, both pleasant and unpleasant ones, e.g., sadness, anger, timidity, rage, joy, excitement, Choose one, and feel the emotion in your body. Then pick up your drawing implement and let the energy of the emotion be expressed on the paper, using the appropriate force and speed inherent in the emotion. Give your drawing a title.

  • Try the same exercise using colour, with crayons or paint. The chart at the bottom of the page suggests some common associations people have with colours.

  • Find a piece of music that evokes particular emotions or ideas that are important to you at this time. Play it, and paint to its rhythms, using colours and brush strokes that express the quality of the music.

  • Take yourself on a weekly 'artist's date'. Go somewhere different and give yourself a new experience you can later incorporate into creative work. Allow yourself to be fascinated by what was once ordinary, as if you're seeing it for the first time. The world becomes alive!
  • Try:

  • - A morning at the spice souk, buying spices of interesting colours, fragrances and textures. Put each into a plastic or paper bag and snip the corner off to create a funnel. Make patterns with the different spices.

  • - An hour at the beach, walking on the sand, scooping up handfuls of sand and collecting and counting the tiny shells you will find in each handful.

  • - a walk in familiar areas of your neighbourhood, taking close-up photos of surfaces, shapes, colours, and angles.

  • Some Common Colour Associations

    - adapted from C Malchiodi, The Art Therapy Sourcebook

    Creative Art in Personal Development

    Red - birth, blood, fire, emotion, warmth, love, passion, wounds, anger, heat, life

    Orange - fire, harvest, warmth, energy, misfortune, alienation, assertiveness, power

    Yellow - sun, light, warmth, wisdom, intuition, hope, expectation, energy, riches, masculinity

    Green - earth, fertility, vegetation, nature, growth, cycles of renewal, envy, overprotectiveness, creativity

    Blue - sky, water, sea, heaven, spirituality, relaxation, cleansing, nourishment, calm, loyalty

    Violet/purple - royalty, spirituality, wealth, authority, death, imagination, attention, excitement, paranoia, persecution

    Black - darkness, emptiness, mystery, beginning, womb, unconsciousness, death, depression, loss

    Brown - fertility, soil, sorrow, roots, excrement, dirt, worthlessness, new beginnings

    White - light, purity, moon, spirituality, creation, timelessness, dreaminess, regeneration, clarity, loss, synthesis, enlightenment

    What clients have said -

  • "Nothing terrifies me more than having to be creative on demand. However the skill of the facilitator made the whole experience easy and very enjoyable !"

  • " This is powerful. Everybody should do it!"

  • " A single art process took me deeper than thirty sessions of talking with a counselor."

  • If you would like to add a touch of fun to your Personal Development Training using the Creative Arts, contact Esther.

    Esther Watt Lifeworks
    Esther Watt - Personal Development Trainer

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    From Creative Art in Personal Development back to Esther Watt LifeWorks Trainer

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