Posts Tagged ‘altered art’

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain

January 13, 2016

When I was a senior in college (1994), I joined the American Art Therapy Association. As a member, one of my favorite benefits was receiving Art Therapy: The Journal of The American Art Therapy Association. As a young student getting to know this profession, reading the literature inside was always inspiring. I also really enjoyed seeing what art graced the cover. Often the very first thing I would do was open the issue and look for the masthead about the art and what art therapist created it.

So a few months ago, it was a huge surprise and honor to have the opportunity to contribute my own art for the last issue of 2015 (Volume 32, Number 4). In particular, an image from 2012 My Beautiful, Altered Brain series, which is super dear to my heart.

This week, I was able to see and hold this issue in actual print while mine is still in route- a copy I received from the current President of the Buckeye Art Therapy Association (thanks Molly!).

Wow! A very surreal moment on lots of different levels!

Volume 32, Number 4 (2015) | Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association

Volume 32, Number 4 (2015) | Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association

Artist Statement: My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain (2012) | A few years ago I came across the art and story of Elizabeth Jameson and was so very moved by her work, research, and interpretation of taking her own medical imaging and brain scans as a personal expression and inquiry to understanding and coping with her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, as well as help others with the disease and educate the medical community through her art. Jameson put a call out for people living with brain inflicted illnesses to “feel how ugly it is and how beautiful it is”, and this invitation, in addition to personal communication with Elizabeth inspired me to explore my own experience with the same disease. In 2012 I started to use my own MRI films & brain imaging collected over the last 13 years to create digital art, mixed media, and altered book art as a way to process, manage, and share this health related journey.


I have been working on some new digital art, after having another MRI done this summer of my brain and spinal cord. While standing barefoot in my thin medical gown after my testing was over, I enthusiastically explained how I make art with my imaging, its purpose, showed some examples on my phone, and inquired about how to get these new images. The radiology staff was super helpful and eager to supply me with a CD on the way out of my appointment!

I was excited to start working on some new images and taking control of my illness again through this form of art making. So empowering and affirming to do in response to such an unpredictable and frustrating disease. I first converted my MRI imaging into JPGs.  Then I did some digital painting using ArtRage and photo editing with PicMonkey:

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion


New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion


New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion

New Gifts & Lessons Inspired by My Beautiful, Altered Brain | creativity in motion

My experiences with this chronic illness in the last couple of years has taught me new lessons & gifts around patience, vulnerability, openness, and to respect/listen to my body’s voice. I’m also so thankful for the kind support I’ve received in response to this series and the loving presence and understanding that surrounds me everyday.  🙂


twentyfourteen revo’lution lookback

December 27, 2014

twentytwelve revo'lution review | creativity in motion
The end of year calls for an annual revo’lution reflection!  ‘Tis the season!

The 6 intentions I choose for 2014 were grace, tranquility, mercy, blithe, soul, and openness… and with the help of the revo’lution altered book I created at the beginning of this year and inspirations from my revo’lution making Pinterest board, here’s a lil’ twentyfourteen lookback:

“To accept grace is to accept the vow to give it…”  ~Max Lucado

Grace | creativity in motion

i believe in grace & choice

Finding calmness in creativity….

Tranquility | creativity in motion

Tranquility and Creativity

“Let our hearts be led by mercy….”

Mercy | creativity in motion

Mercy FTW

“Openness is a virtue, and this virtue will set you free.” ~ A Flourishing Life

Blithe | creativity in motion

Fresh Air

“Whatever is good for your soul… Do that.”

Soul | creativity in motion


“Carry a sense of openness and wholeness within you.” ~Barbara Ann Kipfer

Openness | creativity in motion

Open <3’d

I continue to find this creative ritual so very valuable… and year #6 is no different…  I treasure what each intention has taught me & inspired throughout 2014 with life affirming lessons in hope, renewal, choice, and acceptance.

What were some of your 2014 intentions and how did they inspire your year?


Related Posts:

Prepare > Intent > Create > Transform: ready for revo’lution [2014]

2014 Creative Planning

Creative Chain Reaction

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming

October 1, 2014

My interest in destruction as part of the creative process for transformation in therapy first started as a new art therapist over 15 years ago, when I worked in a boy’s residential treatment center. Not only was creating, building, & constructing an important part of the work they did in the art room, but so was the undoing, breaking & pulling things apart to in turn mend, re-build, and put back together into a new form, with a different meaning and perspective.  I loved witnessing the creative process of  this chaotic discharge contained in the safety of our session and the pieces of this becoming the seeds of something new.

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming | creativity in motion

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming | creativity in motion

Sometimes this was done with tearing up an old, unwanted, or emotionally challenging art expression into bits & pieces and then using these remnants to create a new image full of possibility and discovery. In my art therapy work with women survivors of domestic violence, this same concept has taken the form of pulping/destroying past journal entries, unsent letters written to their abusers, or notes to their “old me” selves to create new handmade paper as a symbolic act of freedom, new beginnings, and personal transformation.

Destruction & Transformation in Art & Therapy: Re-Framing, Re-Forming, Re-Claiming | creativity in motion

Inspired by these experiences in my clinical work and its value in the therapeutic process, I am looking forward to dedicating an entire day to explore this topic in a Master Class I’ll be co-teaching with Art Therapist Mindy Jacobson-Levy next month.

Join us on November 6 at this year’s Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC to creatively examine concepts & themes about the therapeutic role of creative destruction and the reparation of images to foster self-repair and personal growth.  As part of our exploration, participants will spend the day working on an altered book as well as deconstructing objects of personal meaning into new forms and understanding.  I can’t wait!

If you’re in the NYC area or making plans to attend this year’s Summit, I hope we can make some art together here! 🙂


Related Posts:

The Altered Image: Ready to Create & Fly

Exposing & Altering Vulnerability

[Buried Treasure] What Ought to Be: On Untangling and Putting Fragments Back Together with Art

In Words & Images: Self Expression and Healing

September 30, 2013

This past Friday & Saturday, I attended Ohio’s Buckeye Art Therapy Association Annual Symposium, Self Expression and Healing. Since I’ve returned home, I continue to work on art that I started over these two days:


Sacred Chest of Dreams

One is a small wooden chest that was given to our group after the paper, Grace, Creativity and Breakthrough: Saint Hildegard of Bingen, presented by Ursuline College’s Master of Art Therapy Program Founder Sister Kathleen Burke Ph.D, OSU, as a takeaway art-making experience to celebrate awakening moments, our creative gifts, and honor our dreams. I painted and stained my treasure chest with lots of green: a color symbolizing life, growth, and vitality that St. Hildegard defined with the word viriditas. Inside the chest I added tissue paper with a variety of gems, seaglass, and some of my previously created fragments.  We were prompted to write down/about our own dreams and awakenings to also include inside this special chest.

Another art-making experience from the Symposium I am continuing to work on is inspired by Art Therapist and Author Dr. Harriet Wadeson‘s keynote. Dr. Wadeson’s keynote address and workshop focused on using creative self-expression in the face of illness.  Her own personal experience and journey with cancer and described in her book  Journaling Cancer in Words and Images: Caught in the Clutch of the Crab, was the foundation for what she presented over the Symposium’s two days.  It was very powerful to see and learn more about the altered book pages and emotional expression Dr. Wadeson created in response to and cope with her cancer.

During Dr. Wadeson’s workshop, we were prompted to reflect on illness or a major crisis/time in our life and how this experience impacted or perhaps changed our sense of who we are.  The suggested prompt was to create a “before” and “after” self image to represent this reflection.


From my Smashbook

As I worked in my smashbook in response to this art directive, I was humbled by the power of art (again) to help sustain us through difficult and challenging times.  The making of altered books or working within a journal has been a particularly safe space for me to do this, using both written words and images, to provide a container for those emotions, thoughts, and moments hard to put into verbal language.


“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe


Related Posts:

My Beautiful, Altered Brain: Altered Book

MRI Digital Art for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

My Beautiful, but Altered Brain


Small Resources = Big Possibilities Matchbox Art

March 18, 2013

I recently accepted the creative challenge to transform an ordinary matchbox into some altered art for the Naropa Community Art Studio-International (NCAS-I)’s 2nd Annual Matchbox Art Auction Gala inspired by the theme Small Resources = Big Possibilities.

This event is an art-based fundraiser to help raise money for a group of art therapy students and their professors who will be traveling to Cambodia in May for a service learning project. Their team will be providing art therapy services with various organizations working with Cambodian women and children impacted by sex trafficking, exploitation, abuse, and neglect.  You can view some of the photos from last year’s trip and the 2012 team’s work here.

NCAS-I Small Resources = Big Possibilities Matchbox Art  Beginnings

NCAS-I Small Resources = Big Possibilities Matchbox Art Beginnings

Jessica Eves from the project’s Fundraising Committee sent me some basic materials for getting started: a matchbox of wooden matches in a muslin drawstring pouch, as well as a handmade paper bead, and a swatch of colorful fabric for some extra inspiration.

Playing with alcohol inks on my matchbox

Playing with alcohol inks on my matchbox

I started to do  a little creative brainstorming with some of my favorite mixed media materials: paper from my idea-ology stash, distressed ink, and discovered with delight that on the glossy parts of the matchbox, alcohol inks worked super well!

Fragment bits for  inside my matchbox

Fragment bits for inside my matchbox

For the inside of the box, I lined the bottom with some of the available wooden matches and then used distressed stain and metallic paint over them. I also collaged four square fragment bits to place inside the box, along with the paper bead.

"On Becoming" Matchbox Art

“On Becoming” Matchbox

On the outside of the box, I collaged this quote around its sides:

“And when that object is used to create a piece of art, it becomes a message for the future. A way to say,  “I was here.  I have something important to tell you.  Listen to me.” ~Lesley Riley

The top of the matchbox also includes another collaged fragment bit that inspired the title of this piece, “On Becoming”.

Check out some of the other matchbox altered art that will available at this year’s Art Auction Gala which will be held on April 12 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.  Best wishes to NCAS-I for a creative, matchbox bidding night and for their trip & work this spring.  It’s great to be able to support their cause this way!

Interested in discovering more matchbox art inspiration?   Check out these resources and posts: (or add your own!)

Spring Forward Art Making

March 8, 2013

There’s been lots of art-making happenings right about now with the anticipation & energy of spring starting to grow!  It’s almost time to “spring forward” with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time this week-end and to begin breaking out of winter hibernation.

Creative Pay It Forward: March

Earlier this week, I sent off March’s Creative Pay It Forward goodies to Erin, a paper stash of colorful and printed papers for her to play and create with! I also recently joined in on a Spring It Forward Mail Art Exchange organized by Art Therapist Christine Scott Hudson, focusing on the theme of spring to “flower power” our mailboxes this month.  A dozen participants signed up for us to make art for and in return, we’ll receive art back.

Spring Forward in progress

I decided to use a collection of old library book cards I received in a paper stash last fall (thank you Amy!) for the foundation of mixed media art I created with distress ink, stain, and magazine photo collage (including some from Lani’s Creative It Forward uppercase magazine art seeds I received last month- TY!).

Spring Forward

Creating these cards for this exchange was very fun- I experimented with using my bottles of distressed ink as a media for stenciling the circles around the cards.  I also used my SMASH stamp to currently date each piece, just like the various cancelled inked dates already stamped on the card.  I hope each one arrives safely to their new home in California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, and Colorado.

Spring Forward Mailing Art Exchange

There’s a couple of more artsy projects in the works for the rest of this month as winter continues to slowly thaw out.  I also have one more opening left for anyone who would like to participate in the 2013 Creative Pay It Forward fun we’ve been having!  Check out the link to claim your spot! Spring It Forward with some creative goodness!

Inside & Out: Slide Mount Accordion Book [How to]

January 20, 2013
Slide Mount Accordion Book Cover

Slide Mount Accordion Book Cover

A year or two ago I remember seeing Quinn McDonald‘s awesome 35mm Slide Accordion Journal on her blog, as well as this mention about her slide mount journal being featured in the premiere issue of the Cloth Paper Scissors’ art journaling mag Pages.  Great idea! Making my own has been on my creative to-do list ever since and I finally spent some time creating one.  The process was lots of fun!  It’s also a great way to re-purpose any old, unused, and unwanted slide mounts into a miniature book!

Supplies: Accordion Slide Book

Supplies to get started: Plastic slide covers & tape

Supplies I used to get started were some empty plastic slide mounts, paper tape (as well as masking tape), and a variety of miniature images, collages, and words to glue inside each mount.  Using some of my Lost and Found idea-o-logy paper stash came in handy for the background because each page is doubled sided and could be seen on the front and back in the mount’s center.

Slide Attaching

Attaching slides together with tape: Front and back

Using some paper tape on one side and masking tape on the other (just to experiment), I attached each individual mount together. The tape created a sturdy, flexible binding between each slide for the book’s accordion style.  I then used a variety of my favorite alcohol inks to add color to each slide.  The plastic, smooth texture of the mount’s surface made working with the alcohol inks super easy and left a nice look that dried really quick.  With some sandpaper and a sharp metal tool, I distressed some areas of the book after applying the alcohol ink.  I also accented the mount edges and in between each page with a gold paint pen.

Slide Mount Accordion Book Finished

Inside & Out: Slide Mount Accordion Book Finished

I think I’ve made my first Creative Pay It Forward gift to send to someone on my list in 2013! Yay! Thank you to Quinn for the inspiration to try this out. I look forward to making a few more!

2012 revo’lution in reflection, 2013 in creation begins

December 1, 2012

my 2012 revo’lution

Throughout this last month of the year, I’ll be spending some time with my annual practice of reflecting on my 2012 revo’lution, as well as starting to create my new revo’lution for twentythirteen:

2013 revo'lution brainstorming

2013 revo’lution brainstorming

 Ready for some revo’lution reflection & creation! I’m looking forward to posting more soon….

The Altered Image: Ready to Create & Fly

September 3, 2012

I was super inspired by a 6 Degrees of Creativity 2 community chat hosted this week-end by Australian art therapist Fiona Fitzpatrick to finally begin working on my art for her workshop The Altered Image: Hands On Photo Manipulation. Fiona’s offering focuses on changing the surface of a self photograph by hand (instead of digital manipulation) through a variety of altering techniques and media.

I was excited to use watercolor crayons I had received as a gift years ago (but haven’t used very much lately) from the material stash of Katarina Bruner, an ATR supervisor who always reminded me about the importance of making our own art as art therapists.  I also remembered Katarina’s own interest in the richness of self-portrait work for reflection and awareness.

Instead of loose sandpaper, I used a nail file for distressing the surface of the photo which worked well. The rounded edge of file was also great for going back into the image to create more texture. I also used some of my alcohol inks, which was a really nice combination with the watercolor crayon and the photo’s glossy surface:

My intention was to create this altered image with light, growth, strength, and lots of positive energy. After some altering, creating, and stepping back from the image, I was also delighted and surprised by the lines and movement behind me & around my shoulder that reminded me of wings and the permission I have to FLY!

This photo is 7 x 5 inches, which will fit really nicely in one the file folder pockets of my 6 Degrees of Creativity 2 gluebook. Fiona suggests that this image technique can also be great to use with visual journaling.  Many thanks to Fiona for the inspiring idea of altering photos this way , introducing the 6 Degrees of Creativity 2 to this process, and community members for their encouragement. I look forward to seeing more that develops from this workshop!

Find Inspiring Creative Territories

July 22, 2012
“Be brave enough to live life creatively.”  ~Alan Alda

find inspiring creative territories

I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with my alcohol inks on Inkssentials’ glossy coated artist trading cards as pocket goodies to stash inside a new file folder gluebook I’m gearing up to start about the inspiring ideas, community, and adventures of 6 Degrees of Creativity 2.

It’s only been a few weeks since this new round of workshops, instructors, and creative energy started, but so much fun already!

The paper stash swap for my workshop Creative Goodness with Gluebooks is quickly approaching and I can’t wait to incorporate what I receive in this exchange into my new gluebook theme. I also hope to share some of the gluebooks and themes that community members are creating and working on in future blog posts, so stay tuned for more gluebooking inspiration soon!

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