This week's blog post is written by local artist Colleen Patricia Williams.
Coloring books are no longer reserved for children. They are a great way for adults to relax and ease away the stress of the day. Research shows that coloring can be beneficial to the health of the colorer, that it can be as beneficial as meditation, as well as being a way to engage in the creative process.
Coloring books come in many different choices; there are small pocket-sized coloring books, there are large coloring books and there are coloring books that tell a story as the book goes on. These books can be colored with pencils, crayon, watercolor and markers.
The designs also range from animals and flowers to mandalas, the Tibetan designs that assist in meditation. There is an interesting side note regarding the mandalas; there is a certain religious belief amongst fringe Christians that coloring mandalas will call up demons. The mandala is a beautiful repeating circular design that most of us love and that has a long tradition in Tibetan Buddhism.
In Tibet, mandalas are often drawn with colored sands, in painstaking details. But the beauty is ephemeral; when the mandala is done, the monks then sweep it away, to demonstrate the fleeting nature of life and beauty. To watch one of these being created is a joy; the monks use their hands to dribble out the colored sands to create these intricate works of art. The colored sands on the bare floor of the temples seem to glow before they are brushed away.
While we can’t recreate that special glow, we can use the coloring book to create our own mandalas, but lasting images that can be framed or left in the book to look at later. The act of creating that mandala is the fun part!
The other designs that these coloring books come in are abstract designs, as well as designs that include flowers, birds and other animals. Coloring books make great gifts for kids, teens and adults that are hard to buy for. Include a set of watercolor pencils and the gift has the best of both dry and wet media! Watercolor pencils allow the coloring of fine details and then later, a brush with a damp paint brush to create watercolor blending and other watercolor effects.
Here at Artistic Portland, we have coloring books as well as individual coloring sheets that come with a marker for that ride home on the Max. We have different designs with more to come!
This week's post is written by June Martin of Moth & Twig.
I am a therapist. I am an artist. At times I have been able to combine art and therapy in treating clients. The outcomes were often quite successful. But why?
By definition, art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. You needn’t be a Rembrandt to participate in art therapy. In fact, when I suggested the modality of art therapy to clients I was sometimes met with, “But I’m not artistic. I can’t even draw.” That statement alone is a whole other blog! I usually respond with, “It’s ok, you needn’t know anything about art to create and express yourself. This is about you and your unique voice. Through art, we can bring out that voice.”
In my work I have witnessed how the creative process helps people see things about themselves that they may not otherwise have understood. I have especially seen how art therapy is beneficial for children since it is sometimes difficult for children to express themselves using words. Art therapy can help people process their emotions so that they can begin to heal. Art therapy is also used to help alleviate anxiety and stress.
Do you need an art therapist to help you experience the benefits of creative arts? While certainly an art therapist can guide you and help you explore and gain insight through creative expression, I think just about anyone can benefit from doing art on their own, whether it is to relieve stress and/or anxiety, discover something new about yourself, or use it in a way to connect with others. Art is powerful. Whether you’re creating or viewing, art can touch your soul like nothing else can. It is important to note that art is not limited to the visual arts. The concept of art spans many varied disciplines.
The next time you’re in a gallery, museum, or a cool, local artist co-op (such as Artistic Portland), take a moment to reflect on the art you’re drawn to. How does it make you feel? Why do you think you were drawn to that piece? Let the art be interactive. The artist who created the piece you are drawn to most likely experienced emotions of their own while creating the piece. I know for me, creating is a highly therapeutic process and each piece I create has a story. Though the buyer will most likely never know that story, and I may never know what compelled the buyer to purchase the piece, it is enough for me to know that SOMETHING about the piece spoke to them and it is always my hope that each time a piece is worn, they are reminded of what that piece means to them. Art is powerful and often therapeutic.
This blog post is brought to you by fiber artist Sherry Bingaman of Neuva Vida.
To paraphrase a quote from Gene Fowler, “Making art is easy: all you do is sit staring at your materials until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”
I recently read—actually re-read--Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland and can’t stop thinking about this amazing little book. I want to share some of its ideas and encourage all artists to read this gem. We tend to think that as artists we all face unique problems that we must suffer through alone, but actually we are all in the same boat. Here are a few of the themes and excerpts from this life-changing book
Great art does not depend on great talent.
“Making art involves skills that can be learned…. In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive…. Even talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.”
Those who demand perfection end up with nothing.
“To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do, away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to NOT work is to not make mistakes. To demand perfection is to deny your ordinary (and universal) humanity….yet this humanity is the ultimate source of your work.”
Your work is your guide.
“The seed for your next art work lives embedded in the imperfections of your current piece . . . The lessons you are meant to learn are in your work. To see them, you need only look at the work clearly—without judgment, without need or fear, without wishes or hopes, without emotional expectations. Ask your work what it needs, not what you need. Then set aside your fears and listen, the way a good parent listens to a child.” Reading this part was like an explosion in my mind—I now look at my “failures” and “mistakes” in a whole new positive light!
Opening our work up to criticism by others.
“Courting approval, even that of peers puts a dangerous amount of power in the hands of the audience. Worse yet, the audience is seldom in a position to grant (or withhold) approval on the one issue that really counts—namely, whether or not you’re making progress in your work. They’re in a good position to comment on how they are moved (or challenged or entertained) by the finished product, but have little knowledge or interest in your process. Audience comes later. The only pure communication is between you and your work.”
The value of quantity over quality.
“The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. One of the basic and difficult lessons every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential.” Oh, these last word hit me with such a force! In other words, JUST DO IT!
The only way you fail is to stop trying.
“What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears continue; those who don’t, quit.”
I will end this post with a few more quotes:
“Computers are useless. All they give you are answers.” -- Pablo Picasso
“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.” --- Oscar Wilde
“Artists don’t get down to working until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.” –Stephen DeStaebler
This week's blog post is written by Co-op member and painter John Stephenson.
I have found that music is often an experience that adds excitement and helps form ideas to some of the images I create as a painter. This is rather mysterious and hard to pin down in many ways; but it makes sense to me as someone who greatly appreciates and is moved by many forms of music. The emotional intensity and excitement that music brings often helps me break out of the “static cling” periods when I get too caught up in overcautious or too detail-oriented painting - or when I am tempted to depend on some form of copying what I see and lose the imaginative aspect of image making.
Stop by Artistic Portland any day of the week 10 am - 6 pm (noon-5 pm on Sundays) to see and purchase John's work in person.