What Ought to Be: On Untangling and Putting Fragments Back Together with Art

Earlier in the week I was reading a post about what daily meditation can do for your creativity and wrote down these words that the author, Mark McGuinness highlighted: Focus, Patience, Calmness, Clarity, Insight, and Perspective with the intention to reflect on the state of my own mental clarity and what McGuinness described perfectly as “getting tangled up in thoughts”.

As the week went on, I lost track of this intention. What did follow was lots of tangling and static coming from many sources and by the end of the week, my mind felt like it was in tight knots unable to make sense of anything or what to do next.  Except for one thing: to make art.  When I am having a hard time understanding what’s happening around me or within, art-making usually helps me start to untangle everything and invite many of the qualities listed in McGuinness’ post.

This past week in particular, I was really thinking about themes related to shattering, fragmenting and scatteredness… feeling this within and wanting to do something constructive and meditative to make these pieces more containable and start to put them back together for my sanity and my ability to keep moving forward with fresh eyes, a clearer head, and creative mind.

Fragments of Me: What Ought to Be

I used several square and rectangle plastic “Fragments”  from Tim Holtz’s idea-ology and adhered the words I wrote down from McGuinness’ list and others important to my untangling process.   Holtz’s “Fragments” are small clear tiles that can be embellished by adhering patterned paper to, inking, or gluing on printed paper for creating “a concept or thought developed by the mind of what is desireable or ought to be“.

Fragments Box

I also collaged a box to hold and contain these fragments of “what ought to be”.

Fragments Contained

Developing and containing these fragments through this process reminded me (again) of my core intentions, purpose, and helped “untangle” most of the “thought knots”, as well as put back and contain all the little pieces of me that were scattered everywhere and ought to be paid attention to for continued creativity, energy, and collaboration.


Published by

Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC

Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, ACTP: Registered Board Certified Art Therapist, TLC Certified Trauma Practitioner, Art Therapy Community Organizer, Artist...

10 thoughts on “What Ought to Be: On Untangling and Putting Fragments Back Together with Art”

  1. Your post intrigued me when I read that it had something to do with meditation and creativity. I started reading a meditation book and have done a creative journal which includes meditation. Meditating on these words and doing art based on how to fit them in my life peeked my interest. I would like to get some Holtze’s “fragments”.

    I would like to learn more about meditation and creativity.

    I love your box and the concept of containment of fragments. I have been working on organizing and containing fragments and finding missing fragments. for the last month. Each time I look for something I start to clear out and reorganize. I think it is time to stop looking, cleaning and sorting and do something meditative that will allow me to create and express myself.

    One method I used recently was from the book, Right Brained People in a Left Brained World. (Not sure if that is the correct title.) Using a string soaked in ink and pull it across the paper.
    Look at it and create a picture. Write 3 adjectives and a narrative or a free form poem. Do this 3 times and by the third time your issue will resole itself. No discussion or verbalization required. I tested this theory and it worked for me. So much anxiety resolved in such a short period of time.

  2. Oh, I love this! Thanks SO much Gretchen! I’ve seen those fragments and felt a little clueless about what I might do with them. Now I know.

  3. Yes, this is wonderful! I love the 3-D, hands-on aspect of this. My problem sometimes is if I don’t see something, I forget about it. This would be a good way to be reminded of this organization process.

    SO relevant for me. My word this year is synthesis and it is amazing to see the different ways this is playing out!


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