Category Archives: art therapy

Reflections Of A Lost Girl

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This is a famous painting by Pablo Picasso called “Girl Before A Mirror” painted in 1932.

From the website http://www.pablopicasso.org, it describes this painting in the following way:

When you look closely at the image, you can interpret many different symbols within different parts of the painting. The woman’s face for one; is painted with a side profile and a full frontal image. One side shows the day time where she seems more like a woman, dolled up with her make up done. The other side with the rough charcoal texture portrays her at night. When she takes off the mask of makeup, and is more vulnerable as a young lady. One way of interpreting the painting is when the woman looks at herself in the mirror; she is seeing herself as an old woman. From the green discoloration on her forehead, darkening of her facial features to the lines that show that her young body has been distorted, and gravity has taken its rightful place. Another way of viewing the painting is that she is self-conscious, and she sees all the flaws in herself that the world doesn’t see.

As I’ve said before, some days I would go into art therapy not knowing what to work on, feeling upset, angry or confused about what has happened in my life.  So one of those days, my art therapist gave me this challenge.  She showed me the picture of “Girl Before A Mirror” and said that she wanted me to recreate this painting in my own way with my own meaning.  When I did my version of this painting, I had not even read anything about the painting.  I honestly didn’t even really look closely at the painting until I started sketching it out on the Masonite board I was using.  But once I started sketching, drawing my own lines and conveying my own interpretation of Picasso’s work, I realized what this picture was.  It was me.  I was looking at myself in the mirror, I was seeing my flaws, but I was reaching out to myself, offering comfort.  I didn’t copy what Picasso had done, but I did use many of the same lines, images, details and colors…but I just added my own style, flair and meaning.  The girl in my mirror has a tear flowing from her eye, running down her cheek, just as I have had so many times in life.

I didn’t go into this project thinking that anything amazing would come out of it, but when I allowed myself to just go with the flow, to just let my feelings speak through my paint, something amazing DID happen!  Not only did I end up with a super cool painting, I also ended up showing how I really feel.  And I ended up with a work of art that I am very proud of.

So here is my version, titled “Reflections Of A Lost Girl”

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Sometimes the Crazy Comes Out

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I always feel like I’m going crazy. I don’t always let it out and most people who know me wouldn’t even know that I feel this way because I’ve created and perfected a great mask of looking like I have it all together. I’ve worn this mask since I was 5 years old. I’m a great actress, I probably deserve some Academy Award or something.

But ya know what….sometimes I just have to let all that craziness inside of my head come out.

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This is how I feel when there’s craziness coming out of my head. I’m normally pretty well put together, but this little sculpture represents how those crazy feelings just swirl in a bunch of commotion as they come out, as represented by this lady’s hair.

Even though it doesn’t necessarily feel good, it’s good to get those feelings out and feel crazy. The more I keep them stuffed inside of my head, the more they grow and get keep getting crazier, to the point of becoming toxic to my safety and sanity.

That’s what my art is about. Getting this shit out. That’s what this blog is about. Not keeping the truth hidden, being honest about my pain and struggles.

It’s all about getting the crazy out!

Drift Away with the Smoke…

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“You can never hurt me,
And you will never cause me pain
Cause you’re made of fire,
And I’m the heavy rain.”
― Ghaith Salloum, Burning Innocence

As much as I wish I could magically make my past disappear, I can’t. No one can. The truth is, it happened and now I have to learn to live with it, heal from it, learn from it and continue to live my life to the fullest.

People have always told me that I need to “let go of the past” and “just move on with life”. I never understood how that works. How can one just not remember the torture that happened to them as a once innocent child? How can one not feel the stabbing, burning, physical body memories every day? How can one not feel the emotions: the fear, the anger, the sadness?

But there is a way I can symbolically “let go”. One idea my art therapist suggested was to make a ceramic bowl, pot or container that I can burn things inside of. She shared with me about the first time she did a burning like this and how much it helped her let go. And in explaining the whole “letting go” part, she said that letting go doesn’t mean that you forget or act like it didn’t happen, but you control your life now, not the memories, not the past. So to her, when she did her burning, she said that watching the smoke rise from her bowl and disappear into the air was symbolizing how those things (the things she was burning) weren’t controlling her thoughts and emotions anymore. She said that there have been things in her life that she’s had to burn again and again and that the process is continual for her.

So after thinking about it for a bit, I decided to have an open mind and just try it. I decided to use red clay draped over a big coffee canister for the basic shape of my pot. Once the clay had slightly hardened, I removed the coffee canister and smoothed out all the bumps and ridges. I thought that I would be done at this point. I was going to use glaze to decorate the outside of the pot, but somewhere along in this process, my mind changed. I decided to carve designs on the outside of the pot. I wanted the designs to be smooth, curling, flowing, swirling….like the smoke as it it would look as it rises from the pot. But I also wanted the designs to be jagged, rough…not perfect. Because I am not perfect. I have a lot of jagged edges and a lot of rough spots.

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So this is how it came out. I used a rough ended carving tool and started scratching and carving the curls and swirls into the clay. Artistically, something I struggle with is knowing when enough is enough. I’m never quite sure if a project feels finished. As I looked at my pot, wondering if I should keep carving or not, I realized that it doesn’t matter if it’s finished or not.

There is never a “finish” in recovery and healing.

I wanted this pot to represent that.

Burn Pot After the first firing in the kiln, I put a thin layer of a greenish-teal colored glaze on the pot. I wanted a thin layer so that the natural, earthy red color would show through a little bit.

Burn Pot 2So this is the finished burning pot.

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As you can tell, I haven’t burned these things yet. I’m not sure when I will, but I’m sure I will know when the time is right. Some of the things I have in this pot are words and phrases that describe the shame and guilt I desperately want to rid myself of. There’s also a few photographs, one of my abuser when I was at the age the abuse was happening and one current picture of him and his wife that I found on his Facebook page after he contacted my father several years ago.

“What is to give light must endure burning” – Viktor E. Frankl

So here’s to burning, to the curls of smoke rising to the clouds and to only the bits of ash that remain.