Monday, 3 December 2007

Explore Yourself Through Art - Reviewed

I've been working through the book "Explore Yourself Through Art (Creative Projects To Promote Personal Insight, Growth and Problem Solving)" by Vicky Barber. I thought I would now share the work I have made doing the projects and write a short review of the book. Hopefully someone might find it interesting or useful - if you have thought about trying the book.

Colour Exercise - Depicting a sentiment through the choice of colour. I chose "Creativity" which I painted as yellow. This often reoccurs in my paintings when I want to depict this emotion or feeling. The use of strong yellow and white is consistent and it is also significant to me when I leave out or block these colours. I suppose its my own kind of short hand when I'm communicating mood and themes. Its just how I picture these moods in my head.

Line Exercise - Using line to capture a mood or state of mind. The feelings I drew were boredom and being uninspired - the opposite of what I did with my first task on creativity. I used lots of rigid, strong dark straight lines which crossed over one another creating a cage or net shape.

Looking To The Future
Shape Exercise - Choosing one shape which sums up the way you are feeling at present. I am thinking optimistically about the future. Onwards and upwards - and I've attempted to convey that with dynamic triangles, striving upwards and in bright vivid colours.

The Scribble

The Scribble Exercise - Probably my favourite Exercise of the book. See my prior post Fun & Games for instructions on how to try this - its great!


Name Exercise - The activity here is about understanding personal identity. I thought about my name and drew images I felt were relevant to who I am at this moment. The things that go in to making up me - The thoughts and feelings I have. I've also put in some elements of the past which I think affect who I am now.

Mandala One - Me

Mandala and You Exercise - This is the first time I've made a mandala. I've seen them before but didn't really know about them. This activity in the book introduced me to the concept. In the first mandala the aim was to think about specific aspects in my life at the moment. Choosing colours and shapes to represent these things, thinking about their size and the way they affect one another in the circle. Again this is a positive mandala for me all about creativity, optimism and resilience.

Mandala Two - Problems

Mandala and Problem Solving - Here I've used the mandala to look at areas in my life that I feel need attention. I chose to concentrate on one particular aspect of my life in which I feel unsatisfied at the moment. Wanting to move out of my current house and set up my own home. There is also the desire to forge my positive yellow path through all the doubt and confusion, one which will hopefully lead me into a happier place.


Dream Exercise - I chose to draw a nightmare I had the night before. I'm often troubled by nightmares and I hate them. I hate the awful feeling of unease and distress that hangs around me all day when I get up. I feel like I can't shake off the feelings I had in the dream. So twice now I've painted dreams and I've so far found it to be quite helpful in getting rid of that feeling. I feel that by putting the images down on paper I can get them out of my brain and forget it. I'm going to keep trying this.

My review

I hope you found the exercises I've written about interesting and maybe you might feel like having a go at some of them. I also think it is a great introduction to the topic of art therapy. If it is something you are interested in, you can't go wrong with this book.

The exercises are interesting and not too daunting to experiment with. The activities gently ease you from your comfort zone and before you know it you've made some really insightful, personal and meaningful art. The book is really successful in doing what it claims - promoting personal insight, growth and problem-solving. Its a great way to take stock, do something refreshing and positive. Great too if you're having a creative block.

The exercises are easy to follow and there are examples in the book of other student's work with analysis. This really helps you to look at your own work in an insightful way, picking out feelings and thoughts which concern you at the moment.

The only criticism I would make is that I feel it is unlikely people will do some of the exercises - like the full body mask, carnival costume or making a medicine wheel.

Overall though I would highly recommend the book. I think it is well worth purchasing. I've got so much out of it - even in just the exercises I've shown here. I also think its a book I will keep coming back to, if I feel the need to loosen up or do a bit of mandala problem solving!


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