Monday, December 16, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #32 - Create some Serotonin.


"Secret Wonder" collage by Lani, face from ArtTeaLife and textures by FlyPaper.
All of us have a type of chemical in our brains that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another, neurotransmitters called serotonin, which is totally tied to mood.  If serotonin is being absorbed and produced at the right levels then we feel good, we have a feeling of happiness, joy, peace, contentment, etc.  However, if our serotonin levels are low then we may struggle with some negative feelings like anger, sadness, loss of joy, tiredness, anxiety, stress, exhaustion, etc.  While blood levels of serotonin are measurable, we still don't know for sure if the dip in serotonin causes the negative feelings, or if the negative feelings cause serotonin levels to drop.

But when a person receives a compliment, or when their work is recognized and appreciated, it feels good, and the serotonin levels are balanced.  The person giving the compliment also has a serotonin related positive feeling.  When we are in an encouraging and positive environment we are generally more satisfied and happy than when we are in a neutral environment.

So try a daily dose of recognition and appreciation for all you do for yourself.  This is where an art journal comes in handy, you can always review the pages you have finished and find something to compliment yourself on.  This is always possible even if it's some small aspect of a piece.  Try it out!

For this challenge, review the pieces you have done so far with these challenges or as part of your daily practice, and zoom in on a particular aspect you really like.  Give yourself a complement or two and as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play and complements on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  (With the above collage, I was so delighted with the glasses and party hat and overall happy expression that I can feel the serotonin balancing every time I look at it!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #31 - Gifts of Light and Inspiration

"Here comes the Sun" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Over at 14 Secrets we are celebrating the coming winter solstice and return of the sun with virtual gifts of light and inspiration from the moderators.

Day 1 was a video Gena took of a street performer in Paris.  It is so lovely!  I had to do some research on this kind of performance and I found a performer in Taiwan!  So here you are:




And of course we want to have some interesting, inspiring quotes as part of our gifts of light and inspiration so here's the gift from Day 2: Here’s the sexy white hot truth about creativity. It’s a religious experience. It’s a transcendental adventure. It’s the losing of the daily self and entering the magic kingdom. You come back bigger. You come back satiated. You come back sweeter. You come back with wings and fins and new toes that seek for higher ground. You never come back the same. by Tama J. Kieves

And my favorite Winter Solstice Celebration is the one that occurs at St. John the Divine in NYC. If you ever get the chance... oh my...


So here's the challenge. Create an art piece as a gift for yourself or someone else, that has something to do with the return of light and inspiration.  And as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #30 - We Are Loved

"We are Loved" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Our unconscious minds are very funny and powerful things. They can be extremely helpful and our greatest ally in working towards goals or using affirmations, but if we use the wrong language in creating a goal or affirmation our unconscious minds can sabotage this goal or affirmation. For example, I love this statement: "We are loved beyond our ability to comprehend."  Or maybe I should say that's why my unconscious loves this statement. It will recognize the truth in the feeling that it doesn't always comprehend that I am loved. It says, yes, that's a true statement. But when it absorbs the statement as quite true, it's also absorbing the idea that it is loved. So it ends up feeling quite jolly and lovable when it reads that statement. And if my unconscious feels jolly and lovable, then so do I.

So here's the challenge. Create a love note / art piece for your unconscious. Use this statement if you like or some other statement that will make it feel jolly. If the unconscious is too abstract of an idea, then try creating your piece for a child, perhaps even the child you once were. Take note of inner responses to this activity.

And as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.   

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #29 - Resonate with the beauty of the Universe

"Life is Exquisite" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This challenge comes from FaceBook friend Beth Pastore (you can see her Pinterest collections here).  She's been documenting the simple everyday beauty that's all around her, the beauty that hides in plain sight.  Well, lets go for it, let's open our senses and find the simple beauty and joy that is hiding all around us in plain sight.  If we do that, surely our hearts will beat with the heart of the Universe!

And as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #28 - Surprise others with humor and goodwill

"Fun City" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This little challenge comes from an awesome deck of inspiration cards, Plant Seeds and Pick the Blooms, by Lynne Franks, gifted to me by Gretchen Miller (thank you Gretchen).  And actually if you click on the Plant Seeds link above, you will find a pretty inspiring website, well worth the trip.

The idea with the deck is to pick a card and use it as your inspiration for the day.  So I picked "Keep humor and laughter as vital ingredients in my life."  On the back of the card there's some explanation and a suggestion for action.  The explanation was that basically humor is a resilience strategy, that if you can keep a sense of humor especially in the tough times, that can reduce tension and also keep things in perspective.  The action for the day was to make an effort to be playful, surprise others with humor and goodwill, do something that will give you joy, remember to laugh.

So I thought why not make it an art directive, surprise yourself and others with an art piece which combines humor and goodwill.  And as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The I-know-it's-not-Monday Challenge #27 - What does YOUR light and shadow look like?

"Re-kindling" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
During our workshop at the Summit, Gioia Chilton and Rebecca Wilkinson and I were talking over something that had come up in one of our workshops.  Dan  Tomasulo had been taking about Jung's idea of the shadow and it's opposite.  Dan had us play with the idea of both positive and negative projections and how it might be a very good idea to recognize both the shadow and the light!

Rebecca and Gioia were remembering an art directive where you were to create a self portrait as a source of light.  And I was thinking what if you created an art piece which had elements of light and shadow?  What would that look like?

“To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand ... between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the Self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.” —C.G. Jung

And as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #26 - Enjoy the Subversive Qualities of Intrinsic Rewards

"We love our exciting and mysterious life" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

I believe there is nothing that promotes freedom, independence,  and a sense of self worth better than the realization that we have the power to create our own inner satisfaction and intrinsic rewards.  Because intrinsic rewards are way better than extrinsic, they come from within, they belong to us, no one can take that away from us.  They'll liberate us and I believe that is why art and creativity are such wonderful playgrounds and why art therapy is so awesome.  In a nut shell.  Of course the powers that be (those folks at the top of the power pile) don't like intrinsic rewards.  It's the most subversive thing going!  They would prefer you look to them for your approval needs and rewards.  But hey, we are artists, why should we do what is preferred?

Edith Kramer first sparked my curiosity about things that provide inner satisfaction ( art, puppets, more art, beauty and warm fuzzy animals) and curiosity about the part of the super ego that is kindly and care-taking, that kind, wise inner-grandmother. Searching for an understanding of these things has been the best adventure of all. And long may it continue.

So for today's challenge, create an art piece that includes appreciation for things that might not necessarily bring you external rewards like money or fame, but that surely bring you inner satisfaction.  And then once the piece is complete practice Rick Hanson's technique of "taking in the good" (it's good for the neural pathways, believe me) and sit with it for a minute, appreciating it, enjoying your ability to appreciate things.  And as always have fun with this and feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #25 - (It's Tuesday I know) Found Photos and Quesions

Photo found at Midway Airport, Chicago
So many wonderful things to think about from the Illinois Art Therapy Association conference.  So rich in stories.  In my free time I wandered about a bit and I found the StoryCorps office in the Chicago Cultural Center.  They had a great list of questions painted on the glass of their rooms, which is also here and great for promote storytelling.  For today's challenge a favorite found photo and a favorite question and try creating an art piece based on the combination.

GREAT QUESTIONS FOR ANYONE

  • Who has been the most important person in your life?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What are the funniest or most embarrassing stories your family tells about you?
  • If you could hold on to just one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
  • If this was to be our very last conversation, what words of wisdom would you want to pass on to me?
  • What are you proudest of in your life?
  • When in life have you felt most alone?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for what the future holds?
  • How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • Is there something that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?
  • Is there any message you want to give to or  say to your descendants when they listen to this?

Have fun with this and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #24 - Adventure Supplies

"Adventure Supplies" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.  
I'm heading out on the road for a bit, first of workshop and keynote in Chicago!  Hooray!  And then a workshop for the Summit in NYC and a smaller workshop for NYU.  So the prompts here will be shorter.  Here's the first one.  This collage was created with the idea of what I might bring, metaphorically speaking, on a big adventure.  Of course I would like for my adventure supplies to be somewhat offbeat, perhaps an umbrella, a sense of humor, and an elephant small enough to travel?

What would your Adventure Supplies look like?  Would they be memories, things that connect you to your roots, would they be tools for understanding a new environment.  Have fun with this and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #23 - Self-Compassion Art

"Self-Compassion" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This challenge is based on Germer and Neff's self-compassion research (you can download the paper here.)  Their belief is that we all have something about ourselves that we don’t like; something that causes us to feel embarrassment or just not “good enough.”  Of course we know it's part of being human, to be imperfect, but we often get swallowed up in our feelings of failure or inadequacy and forget that it is part of the experience of being a human so we berate ourselves.  We may imagine this will motivate us to work harder, do better, and fail less but Germer and Neff's research demonstrates that the exact opposite is true,  and that there is actually a high correlation between self-compassion and psychological flourishing and a reduction of depression and anxiety. After an 8-week training program in mindful self-compassion they found participants demonstrated a significant increase in self-compassion, mindfulness, compassion for others, and life satisfaction and a decrease in depression, anxiety, stress, and emotional avoidance. All gains in outcomes were maintained at 6 months and 1-year follow-up.  In fact, life satisfaction actually increased significantly at the 1-year follow-up, demonstrating a willingness to continue the self-compassion practices which in turn enhanced the participants' quality of life over time.

Enhanced quality of life sounds pretty good.  So I looked at the exercises Gemer posted on his website.  One of the  exercises was writing a compassionate letter to yourself (the exercise is here).  I thought why not create Self-Compassion Art?  Their research showed that repeating the exercise daily over a week was very helpful.  So I thought why not create "little Lani" collage elements and use them to create collages for a week, with the idea of expressing self-compassion in the collage.

So here's your challenge.  Use an image of a younger version of yourself and create an art piece with compassion.  You could try this exercise for a week, making it a part of your daily practice. Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #22 - Collage Fun

"Animated with Hope, Gradually" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Today's challenge comes from Christine Mason Miller.  In Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World Christine mentions a fun little "make your own inspiration deck" exercise.  So take this challenge as far as you like, from one fun collage to an entire deck of inspiration cards. 

Christine created a series of small collages to celebrate her most important values which she keeps in a bowl on her desk for inspiration.  Here's her simple methodology. 

Supplies:
Index cards, magazines for imagery, glue stick, scissors.  Pretty simple, right?
Her collage formula was equally simple and if you look at the above collage, you will notice it's pretty close to my "formula".  One image for the background (or interesting papers for the background), one or two images for the focal point (vintage photo and elephant in my collage), and one word or phrase (I often put a few words together).   Collect words that inspire you and then find images to go with them. 

Of course I add a layer of Photoshop and Flypaper Texture Fun to my work.  If you are interested in adding this sort of depth and fun do click here to see my Fotoshop Fun Zine (It's the last one if you scroll down).

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #21 - "Your Place"

Photo of Prospero in Prospect by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This one comes from the art journal "Chill and Spill"

Think about a place that is special, a place where you can be safe, a place full of the "best things" or "precious things".  It can be a real place or it can be something you make up right now!  Take some time and create an art piece based on this place.  How do you feel when it's done?  Try a neuropsychology technique, put your hand over your heart as you examine and appreciate your art work and "Your Place"!  Give yourself some "taking in the good" time.   Ohm!

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #20 - Eudomonic happiness (I know, read on though)



There's a great (short) blog post on how our genes respond to different kinds of happiness.  It mentions a study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which looks at patterns in gene expression within the cells which fight off infection etc. (Fredrickson et al., 2013).  They also looked at two different types of happiness:
  1. Feeling good or hedonic happiness: the kind we get from a good meal, or buying a new car.
  2. Doing good or eudemonic happiness: the kind we get from working towards a "noble" goal and creating a meaningful life.
What they found was that people experiencing different mixtures of both types of happiness felt equally happy. For conscious experience, neither type of happiness beat the other.  But quite a clear difference emerged at the genetic level. In those with higher levels of ‘doing good’ happiness, there was a stronger expression of antibody and antiviral genes, while people with higher levels of feeling good happiness had weaker expression of antibody and antiviral genes.  Interesting no?

The lead author, Professor Barbara L. Fredrickson, suggests that:
“We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ‘empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically. At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”
So I thought why not make this an art challenge.  Create an envelope or container of some sort that can fit in your bag or purse, and in this keep ATC's (there are a few posts right here on ATC cards), simple moo cards, or even simple inspiring quotes on card stock.  Then when you are in some public place you can leave a gift, a bit of guerilla art, or a random act of art kindness.  You will be creating the happiness of doing good art, AND you can create genetic changes with your Eudomonic Happy Art (Guerilla Art).

For some major inspiration, see Keri Smith's Guerilla Art Kit  and also Gretchen Miller's blog is full of awesome, artful, generous ideas and in particular the post on Operation Random Acts of Creative Kindness is super inspiring.

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #19 - How do you grow your wings?

"How do you grow your wings?" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This was from another favorite round robin from 14 Secrets Yahoo group.  We altered some children's board books picked a theme for them and sent them around.  I was looking for new ways to "grow wings" or to feel the "flow" that happens when artistically everything falls into place.   When my altered board book returned to me, it was full of artistic inspiration and advice on the growing of wings.  Perfect.

So here's your challenge, create an art piece about how you grow your wings or get into an artistic flow.  If you want to do this with others, create an art exchange or round robin, and make this the prompt or theme.

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  See how others responded to this prompt and collect new ways to grow your wings.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #18 - A Scavenger Challenge

"Happy Feathers" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

This fun challenge is from Keri Smith's very fun book, The Pocket Scavenger.  (I do love her books and will enjoy posting some more challenges based on her work!)  So in this book she has us search for specific little everyday objects which we can then add to our book; things like feathers, circular things, leaves, transparent things, currency.  She has a page for you to adhere your objects and a page to write about these objects, and finally at the bottom of each page there's an additional art directive.  So here's your challenge.  Choose an object to find from the A list and choose a directive from the B list.  Combine them in one art piece.
A.
A Found Note
Something That Was Part of a Tree
Something That Was Discarded
An Image of an Elephant
A Postcard
B.
Turn it into a Pattern
Make it REALLY Funny
Add Tape
Add Eyes
Turn it into a Funny Character

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.

For an additional Scavenger Challenge see the Art Therapy Scavenger Hunt Art Challenge.

Post Script - If you are working with a group you can create your own "Pocket Scavenger Book" with a blank book, art directives on each page or two, and suggestions for alterations on the bottom of the pages.  Keri suggests you flip through the book and take a alteration prompt that suits you.  There are simple book structure instructions on my blog here.  We created "Wreck This Journal" Journals just like this in our 14 Secrets Yahoo Group and mailed them in a round robin.  That was definitely one of our favorite round robins.  It was lovely. 

Post Post Script - This collage was created with found feathers and the prompt to turn what I found into a funny character.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #17 - Bravery is...

"Bravery is..." collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
This challenge came partly from Alison Fox's blog Art For Health, Julie M. Elman's Fear Project 
and the magazine BIG.

Alison says that everyone deals with some kind of fear, and gives us two examples of artists who get fear out of the mind/body and onto the page. She gives good reasons why making art helps, and also suggests some simple ways to use art as a way of shrinking fear and making it easier to face.  Very nice!  Thank you Alison!

Julie Elman illustrates other people's fears. She works with and from their words, trying to visualize how those fears might look.  She lets her intuition point the way, and then posts her pieces no matter what she feels about them. "It's a good way to get over any fears I have about the creative process.
Fear not, I keep telling myself. Fear not."  Take a look at her project, really neat!

Then there's issue 4 of BIG Kids Magazine, Into the Dark.  The magazine is all about Bravery, Imagination, and Generosity, BIG.  It features collaboration between big and little artists and is absolutely awesome.  Anyway, in issue 4, there's this art challenge about fear.  All of our fears live inside of our bodies, so why not create a portrait of your fears within a portrait of yourself?  For example, suppose you have a fear of the unknown?  What would it look like?  (maybe a murky monster?) and where would it live (maybe in your stomach?).  The cool thing they suggest as the next step is to help your fears go away by drawing new sweet little homes for them and an nice path from your body to the new home.  Cool, right?

But I was thinking as a general topic for a "Fun" Monday Challenge, maybe fear by itself is a little heavy and not what you would call fun.  So what if we started with moments of bravery, our own, or someone else's?  These moments would include fear but would also speak to facing fear, which of course I like a lot.  So here's the challenge, try any of the suggestions of ideas you find above if they sound like fun, or create a piece based on moments of bravery, your own or someone else's.  And appreciate the bravery you find in your work!

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #16 - Vision Box by Catherine Anderson

Camera case collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper,
Our own Catherine Anderson has a great prompt for us which she calls a Vision Box which will contain answers to questions that your Soul wants you to think about.  She starts with an old leather box, like an old binocular box or old camera box, and decorates it with photo transfers and letter stickers.  (Mine is an old camera case that I altered in a Michael DeMeng class.)
Then she takes her camera, her Vision Box and these questions out for a field trip or two:
Who am I?
Where am I happiest
What does my greatest joy look like?
What makes me smile?
What nurtures me?
What does my secret dream look like?
What does my soul look like?
Catherine says "The Soul speaks in images, and sometimes we have to make time to let our Soul show us what we need in our lives."
For best results answer the question with photographs, letting your Soul find its subjects. 
Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool
 
download the PDF

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #15 - Teesha Moore's Art Journaling Style (adapted)

"Once Upon A Time" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper,
These loosely adapted Art Journaling "instructions" come from Teesha Moore's zines, workshops and website (what a fabulous inspiration!).  Your challenge today will be to use what you find here to create your next art piece.   It's all about layers.

Layer 1. Color.  Create a canvas of color; acrylic, water color, pastels...  Just get the color down.
Layer 2.  Collage.  Find elements that can be your focal points, boarders, surprises.  Try arranging to suite the inner artist.
Layer 3. More Color.  Teesha uses bright colorful crayons at this point, accentuating certain elements, highlighting others.  Blending, shading, adding depth.  Let it be fun.
Layer 4. More highlights, now with gel-pens.  For examples try a google image search of "Teesha Moore Art" !  Whew!
Layer 5. Here's where Teesha does her actual journaling, filling the empty spaces with words, but she tends to do this like doodling, sort of free association, but also with some effort to create something visually FUN!  She also likes to incorporate quotes at this point.

Have fun and as always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

For extra fun, try using elements from Kolaj Magazine's contest.  They have a pdf for you to download and all you have to do is use their elements and scan and return to the magazine.  So easy.  Here's my entree.  The contest deadline is 25 September 2013.
"Treasure seeker" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper,

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #14 - Appreciate your art even before you get started...

Collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
This  one comes from the Inner Canvas again. (Got to love that blog!)  Lisa says, "In art making, appreciating your art in advance can have powerful implications. Rather than setting yourself up for disappointment or unwarranted judgment in response to the end product, if you actively appreciate what you make in advance, you are absolutely committing to a creative act."

Lisa also feels that if you treat your work as an art form, the possibilities of appreciating in advance can expand the way you approach every project (in a very positive way)! She suggests trying appreciating the participants of a workshop or group before they arrive, and watch your relationship with each participant shift.

So here's the challenge: before sitting down to your next art journal page, or your next painting or piece of pottery, try appreciating the experience you are about to have.  And if you like that experience, try it before you meet your next group or client.  It may change your life!

As always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool

Monday, August 5, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #13 - The Open Ticket

"Renew Inspiration" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper,
OK, I love Gretchen Miller's 365 days of revo'lution making project, and the one that got me playing today, the one that renewed a feeling of inspiration and excitement for me, was the "open ticket" of day 213.  Imagine if you had an open ticket to a destination of your choice...  How exciting that would be.  You could come and go as often as you liked.  But isn't that what we have with our ability to play with art materials?

So here's today's challenge, create an open ticket for yourself.  Where would it take you?  What are you longing to explore?  As always feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wee Mandala Tutorial from susanna suchak

Posted on under Just wondering

How I Create a mandala from a photograph with Photoshop Elements 11

Image
This is a simple 4 quarters mandala; I call it Feather Mandala.
We will be working in Photoshop Elements 11. To begin pull in images that are potentials for a mandala.
Make copies of each photo so that you don’t accidentally change your original image permanently. Just a reminder, please check what kind of file you are saving. PSE wants to save anything as PSD which is their own proprietary format. However, we need to save all files as j_pegs; so please note that and choose jpg format each time you save, resave, or save as. And all will be well.
Work only with these copies, not your original photos. In fact, once you’ve saved copies, just close your originals.
Step 1: Find an image that you captured with your camera, iPhone, cellphone, iPad or tablet. It must be your own photograph or it will not have the same kind of meaning for you when you meditate on it. This picture is a pair of owl feathers that I keep in a little rock with a hole in it.
Image 
Step 2: Really see (not just look at) this image. The best mandalas are composed of radiating lines. These lines will draw your eye inward and back outward. There should be a centre point also called a bindu (Sanskrit for “the point where creation begins”); it is very subtle in this particular mandala, but there is a sense of concentric circles and if you enlarge this you can see a small circle right in the centre.
Image

Step 3: Usually you will want to crop your photo to limit distractions to your mandala. In this crop I’ve used the spine of the dotted feather to pull in the eye to the centre point. This will become the top left side of the mandala. Save as a new image file. Close your original cropped image in case you change your mind or want to begin again. Close the new cropped image. When PSE asks if you want to change say no. You will still have your changes because you already saved once.
Step 5: Pull the cropped image into Photoshop Elements 11 (you “saved as” once you cropped right?)
Step 6: At the top of your screen you will have 3 options: “Quick” “Guided” and “Expert”. For this next step you must choose “Guided”.

Image

Once you have chosen guided, you will have a new menu bar on the right of your screen.
Touchups (click on the arrow to close this one)
Photo Effects (click on the arrow to close this one)
In Photo Play you will have a few choices.
 Choose Reflection by clicking on the word. Now you have new choices.
Click 1. Add Reflection. Pause, it takes a second or two.
You will see a faint image below your original image in reverse! Ta Da!
You want it to be as close to your original though, so now you choose 2. Eyedropper tool and choose one of the darkest areas of your image. Click!
Now choose 3. Fill background. And watch the magic. Click Done.
Step 7. “Save as” a new file for this image. I usually name it left_side.jpg It won’t stay the left side but it’s helpful for visual thinkers because that’s what it looks like now.

Image
Step 8. Close this file, using “save as” and choosing a new name e.g. “left_side.jpg”. But don’t save the old one with a different name.
Step 9. Now open the “left_side.jpg” file.
Step 10. Rotate it to the left or right depending on where your focal point is. I like to play and try it both ways, just always remember if you do to choose save as so your original file will remain intact.
Step 11. Make a reflection of your “left_side.jpg” file. “Save as” a new file with mandalabase as part of the name. This one would be feather_mandala_base.jpg for instance.

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Step 12. Pull the mandala base file into PSE11. Switch back to Expert mode. Using your Eliptical Marque Tool scribe a circle like so…

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It might take some practice, but you can always “undo” these circles until you get it the right size. Also you can move the circle once you’ve scribed it, even if it goes off the picture…
Step 13. Use the “Cut” option to cut the circle out of this image.

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Step 14. Open a new blank document.

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Step 15. Choose “transparent” for the Background Contents (bottom choice box).

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Step 16. “Ctrl V” to paste your cut circle into the new document.

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Step 17. Save as your final name. e.g. “Feather_Mandala_Final.jpg”
Step 18. Print on high quality paper and frame! Meditate on this image frequently and bask in the glow of accomplishment.
Tomorrow I’ll share how to achieve a similar effect using only Picasa and Word. You can download Picasa (free!) from Google … here: http://picasa.google.ca/

(Feel free to share your results on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.)   

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #12 - Appreciation for Yourself

Collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper,
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Lisa Mitchell
, of the Inner Canvas, suggests that we celebrate everything!  When we let people know we are grateful for them, when we celebrate them, we let them know they matter. When we celebrate our creative process, we are letting ourselves know we matter. Small creative celebrations add up to very big surprises.

What if we dove into our art journals without fear! Even our "mistakes", can take us to remarkable places.  A daily art practice is a way to keep track of and celebrate our creative efforts.  Lisa says celebrating like this takes energy and intention.  "Think of a toddler who has just learned to use crayons.  Every time he puts a mark on the paper he celebrates!  
Think of a baseball game.  Every time someone gets a hit, we celebrate.

Think of a gardener.  Every time his roses bloom, he celebrates.

Think of an artist.  Every time she puts paint on her canvas, she celebrates.

Each little thing is worthy of a teensy cheer or party."

When we give these little celebrations the energy they deserve, we are totally empowering ourselves to move into the next adventure. We are rekindling our own flames.

Over at Bliss Habits, Kylie Bellard suggests that we surprise ourselves.  She's got several great ideas of how to do that.  For today's challenge I would like to combine this idea with Lisa's idea of celebration.  Kylie suggests that we find a way to surprise ourselves with a gift, enlisting the help of a friend who will take some money, buy a gift and send it to you at some future date.  Neat idea!  She also suggests planting encouraging, playful messages in special spots where you will find them, like in your calendar or day timer.   You can also place inspiring quotes and photos in your art journal where you will find them.  She also suggests if you keep an electronic calendar, to do the same there as well.  
So here's today's challenge.  Create an art piece that celebrates and appreciates you!  Create copies of it if you can and place them in places where you will find them later. 
Fill your life with as much delight, celebration, and appreciation as it can hold!  And of course share this delight widely!  (Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.)   


Lisa Mitchell suggests that we celebrate everything! When we let people know we are grateful for them, when we celebrate them, we let them know they matter. When we celebrate our creative process, we are letting ourselves know we matter. Small creative celebrations add up to very big surprises. What if we dove into our art journals without fear! Even our "mistakes", can take us to remarkable places. A daily art practice is a way to keep track of and celebrate our creative efforts. Lisa says celebrating like this takes energy and intention. But "think of a toddler who has just learned to use crayons. Every time he puts a mark on the paper he celebrates! Think of a baseball game. Every time someone gets a hit, we celebrate. Think of a gardener. Every time his roses bloom, he celebrates. Think of an artist. Every time she puts paint on her canvas, she celebrates. Each little thing is worthy of a teensy cheer or party." When we give these little celebrations the energy they deserve, we are totally empowering ourselves to move into the next adventure. We are rekindling our own flames.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting ready for the digitalized photo mandala tutorial!


This is from susanna suchak:

From susanna suchak

In preparation for the digitalized photo mandala tutorial ... over the weekend go over some photographs (or take some new ones). Find those with a distinct feature and/or 2 strong lines meeting at a point. Spend lots of time with those photographs. Turn them around and spend at least 5 minutes (you heard me right 5 minutes) with each rotation. Get to know these photographs. Make sure that you really love them. And Tuesday I'll be back with step 2. Have a great weekend!

My first digital mandala (by Lani)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #11 - Mandala challenge Part 2


Mandala Challenge by susanna suchak
For the second part of the mandala challenge think back to a time when you travelled a certain route on your way to work, school, the grocery store, any place you went to often and where you were used to going along a certain path. Driving works better for the purposes of illustrating my point because we often go into auto pilot. I think it’s because we are moving so quickly.

Here’s a story…(apologies as I cannot find my source or I would give credit, it may have been in The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram)

A North American person (who happened to be a man, let’s call him Dan) went to a remote area in the continent of Africa to work with the indigenous people. He loved the stories and especially the way his assistant told them as they travelled from village to village as they walked along together. They developed a close relationship to the point where he felt they were truly brothers.

One day Dan’s supervisor arrived and Dan brought along his assistant (let’s call him Shaha) to the city to pick him up at the small airport. Wanting to showcase the musical storytelling skills of the people he felt were his adopted family, he asked his assistant/brother to tell a story that he remembered as they approached the village.

However, he could hardly believe his ears. Instead of the melodic retelling of an ancient tale, he heard a breathless, stream of words. Was Shaha nervous? Embarrassed to be asked to perform for a newcomer?

After they had settled the guest in his quarters, the two sat with a cup of tea and Dan asked his friend why the story had sounded so different this time around. Shaha raised his eyebrows and smiled widely and said, “My friend that story is a walking story; it belongs to the land and you were going so fast that I could hardly keep up! You see as we pass the large standing stone, I must be “here” in the story and then as we pass the Bayobab tree I must be saying “this” … the jeep didn’t listen to the story, but ran along, raced along. Next time we go walking you will hear the story properly.
A mandala should tell a story, but it takes time and some deep listening. We have a tradition in contemplative practice called visio divina which means seeing deeply, seeing in a divine way.  A flower is often a mandala all on its own.

Here’s some places where you might be inspired to produce a photograph that can be manipulated into a mandala.

David Booker works through a multitude of serious physical ailments and maladies by using photography. If you’d like to be inspired you can visit his site for more inspiration http://www.davidbookbinder.com/
For more manipulated mandalas you might want to visit Kathryn Tisdale’s blog http://themandalapattern.com/
Especially for Barb St. Jacques I happened to find this human mandala project video where folks made mandalas from their bodies at Burning Man… http://humanmandalaproject.com/
My idea is similar to this project (which might appeal to those of us who use art as a therapeutic tool) http://www.bee-it.co.uk/Guidance%20Docs/Becta%20Files/Schools/Curriculum/Art%20and%20design/10%20Inspire%20Me_Photographing%20mandalas.pdf

Whether or not you took the time to visit any of these sites you are ready for my part of the challenge. Pick up your camera, or your cell phone, or your iPad … whatever you have that takes pictures and/or has a lens to look through.

Composing a photograph is a lot about what you leave out so the lens finder of even a toy camera will be enough to assist you in the process. The camera’s lens will focus your seeing so that it is not just a quick look and snap.

Photography is … at least for me … more about learning to see (not just look). Get really into a small piece of some image that draws you in; please use something that is familiar and try to see it more deeply, differently, without labeling it as they say to us meditators.

Now take many photos from different angles. I’ll post what to do with them by Wednesday. You can use Photoshop Elements or you can just use Word … You can save the final mandala as a jpg in Elements or as a doc in Word. See you soon…and have fun seeing in a whole new way.

Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.   

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #10 - Mandala challenge (Part 2 Next week)

Mandala collage by Lani
Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle" and in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form.  For thousands of years spiritual practioners have created mandalas as an expression of what they hold sacred, and have often use circles in ritual and art making for the purpose of transcendence, mindfulness, and well-being.

To create your own mandala, you only need your favorite art materials; paints, drawing materials, crayons, pre-cut circles in oak tag or water color paper (something heavy to take what ever you can put on it).  Trace a plate or container lid the size mandala you would like. 

Once you have the size circle you would like to work with, choose some colors you would like to work with as well.  Close your eyes and breathe gently, listening the sounds of your breath coming and going out.  Imagine what symbol you would want to place at the center of your first mandala.  What colors would you use?  Once some ideas have emerged in your mind, see if you can put some of them onto your paper, always allow for evolution of imagery, of course.  Think of your mandala as sacred and work consciously from a quiet place inside yourself that contains your goodness and compassion. Try turning the mandala as you work on it and see what that feels like.  Art therapist, Cathy Malchiodi suggests if you feel stuck to try making a heart image central in a mandala.  This mandala can be the beginning of the exploration of your heart’s capacity to give and receive loving-kindness.  

Of course you can take the mandala challenge out into nature, around your house, or where you work.  Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  
Mandala from Ram Dass FaceBook page

Mandala from Ram Dass FaceBook page


 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #9

"Mystery" collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
This challenge will be super fun and may last longer than Monday.  First of all I got interested in the FaceBook page Artist's Journal Workshop.  There's a lot of good material there to inspire a daily art practice and of course Fun Monday Challenges.  One inspiring post had a title EDM # 6 and it was of a box of crayons.  So I scouted around and found the source, which is on Danny Gregory's website.  He's got great drawing prompts and a link to even more drawing prompts, all of which of course can be turned into art prompts.  So EMD #6 was to "Draw your favorite well-loved object … or a childhood toy" and I thought about this and decided to create a kind of art/shrine to my childhood imagination and love of mystery, art, wonder and curiosity.

So here's the fun Monday challenge, create an art piece based on childhood loves.  OR check Danny Gregory's or Karen Winter's lists to see if there's another prompt that jumps out at you.  Fun, eh?

Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.   

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #8

The Fun Monday Challenge, Staying on the Path, is provided by susanna.  Take a look.  Gorgeous!

Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.   

Friday, June 21, 2013

There may be a break in regular programming...

"We are made whole" collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
I'm heading off to the AATA annual conference, this year in Seattle, so challenges may be harder to post.  But the conference should be super fun.  Susan Anand and I are collaborating again, on pre-conference course and a presentation, on using fiber arts in culturally sensitive art therapy.  There will also be a panel on a collaborative effort between the American Art Therapy Association and the US military, of which I was a part, so I'll be on that panel as well.  Also there's the Art Market which is always a lot of fun.  Come stop by my table and say hi, if you have a minute.  (There will be a few art journals, sock monkeys, altered dolls, and some jewelry.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #7

"Share Hope" collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
Create a piece of art today that will totally reflect for you a sense of peace and relaxation.  Think back to a place where you felt copletely relaxed.  It could be anywhere, but for me it would be a beach in Bermuda.  What does this place feel like?  What is the light like?  Sounds, colors, textures?  Incorporate these elements into your piece and when you are done, place it where you most need to see it!

Want special bonus relaxation hints for an extra fun Monday?  Tonight, 2 hours before your normal going-to-bed time, light some candles and turn off the regular lighting.  Make some herbal tea, put on your bathrobe and snuggle into your couch.  Perhaps some Baroque music with the rhythms of mother/fetus heart beats would be a bonus.  This rhythm should put your brain into an alpha state which has a relaxing effect on the amygdala which of course is a very good thing!

Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #6

Angel Eggs by Lani
This prompt comes from Brenda Swenson and the Artist's Journal Workshop via our own susanna suchak.  Wander around your house, yard, community, or job site and pick up 3 objects.  Put them together and discover what funny, mysterious, or delightful story might unfold.  Brenda Swenson used drawing and painting to tell her story.  I used my iPad and Hipstamatic app.  But really, you could use anything.  Want some psychology behind this process?  The mind likes to mull over issues and worries, endlessly.  One way to put that endless tape on pause is to create questions for yourself.  Dutch philosophical counselor, Harm van der Gaag, says "You just keep going round in circles.  You can break the pattern by asking yourself questions..."  What are these three things doing together, make up a story.  See what happens.  Let your mind release worry and anxiety.  Play.


Angel Eggs #2 by Lani
Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #5; Finding treasure, creating delight



I adapted this challenge from Christopher Germer,  a clinical psychologist who specializes in mindfulness- and acceptance-based treatment.  Dr. Germer is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a founding faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy.  (His website Mindful Self Compassion is mindbogglingly good, by the way.)

Would you like to experience self-compassionate joy for 20 minutes? Take a 15-30 minute pleasure walk outside.  This works best if you can take the walk in nature but any walk will do. The idea behind the walk is to notice as many pleasurable things as possible, slowly, one after another. Use all your senses—sight, smell, sound, touch...maybe even taste.

Collect as many happy, beautiful, or inspiring things as you can, with a camera, cell phone, or with your mind's eye. Do you enjoy the fresh air, the warm sun, a beautiful leaf, the shape of a stone, a smiling face, the song of a bird, the feeling of the earth under your feet?

When you find something delightful or pleasant, really study it.  Enjoy its shape, texture, scent.  Feel a tender leaf or the texture of a stick. Give yourself over to the experience as if it were the only thing in the world. And when you are ready to discover something new, let it go and wait until you discover something else that is pleasurable and delightful to you.

Be like a honeybee going from one flower full of nectar to another. When you are full with one, go to another.  Take you time and enjoy!   Come back to your art space with your treasure and create delight!

For extra delight here's a link Gretchen Miller found: http://thequietplaceproject.com//index.php?page=&lang=

Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

With A Piece of Chalk (JuBa Films) and Embrace the Shake - Ted Talk

Life is hard, but we have our art!  (Thanks to Gena Lumbroso for sharing this!)
Or maybe the day comes when you think you can't do your art any more. Just watch...
 (Thank you Gretchen Miller for pointing this out!)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun Monday Challenge #4



"5 New Things" collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
This challenge is based on Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer's idea of Mindfulness, which is quite simple:  Notice new things.   Just notice new things, even about what we think we already know everything about, notice something new, that you haven't noticed before.  Immediately this puts us in the present, it also makes us aware of context and perspective, and (she feels this one is most important) it reveals to us that we don't know that thing as well as we thought we did.


We know everything changes.  Langer believes we try to hold things still with our minds until we come to the point where we think we know the thing (or person) perfectly, then we treat them mindlessly.  But when we are mindful, we can see the newness and the changing that is happening before our eyes. 

“Virtually all the world’s ills boil down to mindlessness,” she says. If you can understand someone else’s perspective, then there’s no reason to be angry at them, envy them, steal from them.  ... “Once you’ve seen there is another perspective, you can never not see that there’s another point of view.”
(This quote is from the article: "The Mindfulness Chronicles; On 'the psychology of possibility'” - by Cara Feinberg in the Harvard Magazine.  A copy of the article is here:
http://harvardmag.com/pdf/2010/09-pdfs/0910-42.pdf

So here is the challenge:
Go out your door and find five new things, or find five new things about the person you are closest with (or the person you are least close with).  This should result in interest, excitement and elevated positive brain chemistry. 

Try working these new things into an art piece.

For a gorgeous description of this "beginner's mind" or mindful attitude, check out the article on stargazing here:
http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/3048/
“Where’re you going?” I ask.
“Pleiades,” she says. “You want to come?”
Feel free to share your work or play on Instagram by adding #14SecretsChallenge to your description, or by adding your photo to our Flickr pool.