As I indicated in my first blog, I have continued to make art. Not all of it has been profound. Sometimes it's just play- which is great. How often do we stop to play in our lives? The pieces that follow had a deeper impact on my awareness. I conceived them as a series that would have common elements that would let a story or idea unfold. I didn't know what the story would be, nor even what elements would be consistent. What I knew was that I had a strong sensation to connect deeply and let the colours of my depth reveal themselves. Like unmasking at a costume ball, I imagined that there could well be surprises. 
Some surprises are welcome. 

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Three canvas boards. All different sizes. Each one holding possibilities. I looked at them and wondered what possibilities they might hold for me? In what ways would these three empty spaces allow me to go deeper into self- awareness. How could these three small canvases facilitate my knowing, my ability to be compassionate, my healing?
I felt open.
I had no preconceived idea of what needed to appear. I had no image, just a felt sense that I am still uncovering the layers; looking at each from different angles. 
My intention as I approached my art session, was simply to let the media guide me, to 'trust the process'. With this in mind, I  chose materials that appeal to me for various reasons: oil pastels because I can really feel them adhere to the surface as I apply them. I know I will have a visceral sensation of hard work. My big tub of gesso- because you just never know when you'll need the properties of gesso. A small selection of watercolours- because I love them.

The smallest of my three images was  possibly the most impactful, at least for for me. The lesson was carried throughout the rest of my art making experience. I started with crimson oil pastel, and then added black; hard lines that couldn't be broken. I knew that the characteristics of watercolour would not cover the oil pastel. I painted over my lines with brown watercolour, only to find that I was being buried alive... swallowed whole by the process. 
What I KNEW was wrong. 
I had the dawning realization that this was a metaphor for old beliefs, lies that I had absorbed, as if in my DNA. I had created an in the moment experience of changing my beliefs, or, at least, recognizing how my old thoughts clung to me, like an odour I couldn't wash away. 
While this may seem very simplistic as a process, as my awareness was open and ready to shift, it just made sense that the old thoughts and messages that I have held onto for my whole life just might possibly be untrue. I still live with the fears that what is deep within me is bad and ugly, and that saying the words is fraught with danger.
So I CHANGED the image!
I scraped away the paint, so the underlying 'original' was visible.
I moved to the next canvas board immediately. I felt emboldened by my shift and was anticipatory at the thought of what the next piece would hold. Without hesitation I picked up the crimson oil pastel, and then added, what I had come to think of as its alter ego, the black. The black pushing hard against the surface felt right in my hand. It was like I was pushing back against the deep blackness I had encountered in many corners of my life. I added a perpendicular line of black and covered it all with thick gobs of gesso. 
Without letting anything dry or settle, I covered most of it with a great swirling, blue and yellow sun.
The image felt complete. 
It seemed like the perfect balance of layers uncovered, texture and warmth overlaying all. This seemed like balance to me- what I aspire to.
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My third image in this series was a more cognitive piece that the first two had been. It was a matter of applying what I had taken from the experiences of art making. Out came the crimson and black- bold lines that bordered the experience, providing a safe buffer for what was to come. Adding grey pastel, it turned itself into a tree.
As I worked, and added a thin line of dark blue pastel I decided that it could be a boundary. I decided that there could be a more harmonious blending of colour and media, that they could share the space. Blue and white that hold spiritual elements for me, and a bit of yellow at the top for warmth.
And then the door. A portal to...?

This was an art experience I came to with readiness, and willingness to explore what my unconscious mind would share with my more cognitive aspects. In my willingness to let the forms shape themselves, to let the colours move where they needed to be, I let my innermost thoughts, ideas and fears appear. Subtle though it may be, there was movement from the fear, but great desire to reveal the underlying self- secrets and all, moving to an image of warmth and expansiveness and finally coming to a negotiation with that which has previously buried me, covered up the innermost. I came to a conclusion that is comfortable for now. I re- visioned the dark strokes of red and black into supportive backing that could support growth- metaphorically, the tree. A balance of covering and blending, revealing and holding close appeared in my felt sense of this work that I had done. 
In terms of my current struggle with healing past hurts that have caused pain and subsequent unhealthy coping, this session of art making is a step towards recognition and ultimately acceptance of a reframe of the past, yet again. 
There are always layers to uncover, and wisdom to be gained as I delve deeper into my central core being. Understanding of 'un- learning' useless, hurtful lies, and my power to transform my experiences into growth is what I see here today.

As always I welcome responses, and share, share, share...
namaste
 
 
I am fifty- six years old.
And I still battle inner demons, taking the form of anorexia.
I thought I was done with this 10 or so years ago. But I find that there is still more to do. More stories to tell, more wounds to heal.
So here I am- AGAIN.
I thought very hard about publishing a picture in this blog: a picture I took of myself a couple of days ago. It's a scary picture. I talked about it with a few trusted friends and family, and came to the conclusion, that although a picture is worth a thousand words, it would not serve to use it just now. It would be a reminder to me of the work I must do now, and also the long way I have come. It would remind me that I am committed to this project of healing myself through my art. But it would not serve the greater good. Since this is a blog that addresses eating disorder, and since I know that the eating disordered brain can be addled by ideas that are simply not true (like "I need to be that skinny...), I also know that a person with an eating disorder might really hurt themselves with it. Plus- it's really not pretty. So I will just tell you that I look old, and haggard, and very, very skinny in this photo. I don't look like the grandma I am about to become with great excitement and anticipation. I look anorexic.
I took the picture of myself in a bikini because, true to the anorexic mind frame, I am not able to see my own image clearly. I know in my rational brain that I am too thin, however that doesn't really translate adequately to understanding. When I took the picture, I was far more able to see what other people might see- and I scared myself into action. 
My purpose here is to chronicle my healing process through art. It is meant to be an inspiration, or even a demonstration of the healing power of the creative beauty that dwells within all of us. 
This is NOT a blog about trauma- past or present. It is about healing from trauma, and the ways in which I reframe my experiences so that they may become of service. I am committed to diving into my art as a way to express both the turmoil that has existed, and to create the unfolding of the next part of my healing path. My intention is to create art every day, as a barometer of my healing process. I will post my pieces from time to time as a very public statement of my commitment to this action I am taking. I hope my commitment will have a positive effect on any who need the encouragement to undertake their own healing journey.


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I decided that instead of the very unflattering image of myself, I would give any readers a reference point of where I am right now. I painted this picture over the course of six or seven weeks. It is about nine layers of different kinds of art media; it went on in layers and then I sanded and scratched each layer with muscle and grit, until it was shaped and moulded into this image. It transformed itself almost daily until it told the story of the chaos I have been feeling, trapped in the lines that are all around me. There are images and metaphor hidden in every aspect of the finished painting. There are old, dirty, ugly places and a bridge to new ways of thinking. As I look at it, I am satisfied with the complexity of it all. I also am wondrous at the simplicity of putting paint on paper and releasing a story, previously untold.
It feels, to me, like it tells the story of how I landed here once again- knowing that it is as simple as eating- and that it simply isn't that easy at all.


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What is impossible to see in the finished product, are the layers that transformed markedly from one day to the next.
The first image is one of the early under layers. It is lighter- testing the colours and paying attention to the actions of painting and sanding. 
The second image is much more chaotic, there is a change in colour, imagery and suggests loss of control, OR letting go of controlling. 

This process (thank you to Lenore Walker Art Therapy for guidance), was a raw, tactile experience of the pain and confusion that took my life by storm once again, catching me unaware, erasing the ability to manipulate the tools I've used for years to keep moving forward. 
My deepest hope is that transformation from the heavy way that I am holding my current stuck- ness will be evident in the art making process. I believe it goes both ways: as I imagine growth and how that needs to look on my paper/ canvas, I am able to experience a lightening in my body. AND as my feelings become less burdensome my art making moves with them.

I welcome feedback on my process- the rah rah kind and critique as well. Also art invitations from any of you Art Therapists out there.
yona