My first big painting. I will always remember. There is something sacred about your first big painting. I had contemplated painting something big years before putting paint to canvas but just needed that little push. As an expressive arts therapist, I was even more thrilled to do what I always encourage clients to do, listen to your heart and take a leap of faith. And my SoulBird was glad I did!
If there is something I have learned from my studies of Expressive Arts Therapy, it’s that the value of making art doesn’t have anything to do with notions of “good” or “bad.”
Rather, it’s the experience of making art where the value lies. And there is nothing more satisfying than experiencing the healing power of watching an image unfold, digging deep into colors, and following that impulse to make the next stroke.
My first big painting turned out to be more than I bargained for, in a good way. I spontaneously enrolled in a 6-hour course to create my SoulBird. I knew that it’s all too easy to not set aside a dedicated chunk of time to really get into an art practice, and I felt I had needed it for some time. When I discovered the SoulBird course, I was an immediate yes!
As I prepared for the day, I could feel the joyful anticipation. Selecting the paints, brushes and additional materials was like getting ready for a half-marathon that I had been getting ready for over months. I felt so ready.
I truly believe in the healing power of the arts. Language is limiting, as is the capacity of the “thinking brain” to solve problems, get to the root, and allow the inner clarity and wisdom to surface. Not to mention, allowing creativity to flow simply feels good. We are all creative souls with an infinite capacity to express if given the chance, guidance, and encouragement.
As an expressive arts therapist, I was not only trained to commit to an art practice but also truly believe it’s essential for expressive arts therapists to have their own art practice as self-care. As we care for ourselves, we nourish the capacity to care for others.
This creative self-care practice has no set rules. Rather each person finds their own muse and follows that internal impulse to create with their medium of choice. By finding a creative outlet to move energy, externalize emotion, foster self-awareness, and engage in a free and playful state, the art therapist embodies the same process that they encourage the client to explore.
As I engaged in SoulBird, I was also embodying these teaching I always encourage in clients; let go of the outcome, follow your greatest flow, and listen deeply to what wants to emerge.
SoulBird was a co-creative process. As I deeply listened, the image metamorphosized. One step at a time. Encouraged to take risks and remain unattached, our SoulBird mentor invited us to cover up what we created to allow the SoulBird to evolve and come to life in an unexpected way.
When you are engaged in creating something you like only to cover it up, add to it, shape-shift it in some way, you are confronted with the discomfort of unattachment and letting go. Yet, the gifts of allowing letting go of attachment far surpass the comfort of holding on.
As my SoulBird emerged further, I felt more and more excited. I found it hard to even take a break. Covered by a tapestry of colorful paints, I felt the sheer joy of unabashed flow. It was a relationship. My soul bird and I. She eventually emerged, as a hummingbird in flight with the message of “Free Your Self-Expression.” The SoulBird journey was a true act of self-love.
These moments of self-love, where we truly give our creative muse the nourishment and time to emerge, are available to us all. If you are curious about what your SoulBird or creative muse holds for you, I encourage you to sign up for a free consult today.