3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop

I had a great time at Lani Gerity‘s workshop this past week-end at the Mid Atlantic Play Therapy Institute: Visual Art Journaling for Teens and Adults in Treatment: Creative, Messy, and Contained.

creativity in motion

The day was an artful exploration of resilience building, flourishing, intention setting, strength reflection, and lots of creative goodness to fill our handmade art journals that we made from hanging file folders, basic manila file folders for the signature pages inside, and a simple pamphlet stitch to bind it all together.

3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop | creativity in motion

I really enjoyed using the various supplies I brought in my mobile art stash– as well as sharing them with my tablemates so they could experiment with them in different ways. It was very inspiring to work in this community. We even did a table exchange of mini art in the form of artist trading cards, index cards, and craft tags to honor the concept of art as a gift, one of Lani’s prompts to explore practicing kindness and sharing joy with others through our art.  I was lucky to be gifted this art from Mary during our table exchange:

creativity in motion
Art as a Gift

 Upon returning home, as I was unpacking my supplies, handouts, and art from the workshop, I reflected on Lani’s teachings from the day prior and the power of art making to help us cope in distressing and challenging times.

This reflection also prompted me to summarize a list of 3 good things (so many to choose from!) from content introduced during the workshop- and ways to help instill hope, gratitude, and self-care into our lives:

  • Three Blessings Exercise– Dr. Martin Seligman suggests this practice as a way to foster well-being and decrease depression.  This exercise encourages us to make note of three things (for one week) what went well throughout our day and to reflect on why they went well (i.e. “why did this happen?”). According to the research of Dr. Seligman, focusing (and dwelling) on our blessings (what is good, going right with life) helps increase our well-being and decreases anxiety, depression that dwelling on bad events can actually make a lot worse. Lani puts an art-based spin to this exercise by suggesting to create art about three good things (collectively in one image or in separate images).  In one of Lani’s Happy Artist’s Life Workshops a few years ago for 6 Degrees of Creativity I even made a Pinterest board to collect images and content inspired by things that made me happy.  Re-visiting this board made me thankful that I created it— and maybe it is a good time to start adding to it again.
  • Daily Creative Practice– Citing the work and practice of art therapy pioneer Edith Kramer, Lani shared that creating art everyday helps guide skillfulness (mastery). This type of practice has a direct connection to nurturing our resilience, regulation, and inspiring us to be and do the best that we can.  I love that this reminder was included as part of the day’s offerings- and very much agree with these findings!
  • Sensory Relief Art- This prompt (originally to create an image representing a mini vacation and to incorporate the senses) inspired a collage that was connected to the importance of self-care, focusing on the here & now, and finding refuge & breathe in this space. I used a photograph of an old collage I created, pieces of torn (blue) magazine pages, distressed ink, and paint pens. Lots of relief in this image!
3 Good Things Takeaway: Creative, Messy, Contained Workshop | creativity in motion
Self-Care © 2016 gretchen miller

Thanks to the Lani, all the participants I met at the workshop, and the small group of fellow art journalers that I worked with throughout the day.  I look forward to incorporating content we learned into my groupwork and adding it to my art journaling ideas and inspiration.

Related Posts:

Happy Artist’s Life Art Journaling (VIDEO)

The Art of Emotional Resilience

Journey to Resilience: Takeaways and Creative Offerings





Have Art Supplies, Will Travel: Summer 2016 Mobile Art Stash

I am starting to put together some supplies that I want to take with me as I prep for an upcoming workshop I am attending soon and other on the go adventures. It’s been awhile since I really assessed my traveling art stash situation. This was a good excuse to restock materials, get some new ones, and organize/re-discover existing creative goodies I can use while on the go.

This month Lisa Sonara also shared this inspiring post about art supplies and journals she packs when traveling and it gave me some great ideas and new suggestions to consider.

 In June I am looking forward to attending an art journaling Master Class facilitated by Lani Gerity. I was excited to receive her list of suggested art supplies to bring to compliment the basic supplies that we’ll be using.

Have Art Supplies: Will Travel | creativity in motion

I took one of the tips that Lisa offered about using a cosmetic bag for art supply storage. I usually pack my art supplies in my carry on so I tend to use pouches and organizers that can easily go in my bag, won’t weigh a ton, and I can use in the airport or on the plane. I was super surprised what I was able to put into the little black pouch above!

Have Art Supplies: Will Travel | creativity in motion

During the workshop we’ll be creating our art journal from basic office supplies, so I tried to include some of favorite materials also in this same category. I also included some materials that I use in my art therapy groups with teens and adults or in my own creative work. Here’s what I got in the bag (with a little room to spare!)

-Crayola’s Glitter and Metallic Markers (a favorite material of choice in my groups- available at Target!)

– Various blank artist trading cards, index cards, craft tags, smash pad papers

– Alcohol prep pads (love to use these for smudging and distressing)

– Double sided tape dispenser, glue sticks (of course!), liquid glue tube, mini wite out dispenser

– Glitter glue, plastic junk mail card (for spreading paint, glue)

– Various colored ink pens, MÅLA felt markers, white ink pens

– Black cotton cord and twine, thread & needle

– TSA approved scissors (important!), jet black StazOn ink pad (must have!)

– Washi tape

Have Art Supplies: Will Travel | creativity in motion


I also re-discovered a collection of mini ink pads that are perfect to bring along (one of my most favorite materials to use in my own art journaling), but will probably put them in their own small ziploc bag that will go into my suitcase!


I am still working on gathering collage material that I want to bring. I have a ton of magazine photo collage stuff and different textures and patterns of paper that I could choose from. It was suggested by Lani to look for images that are connected to the population we work with.  Of course I’ll also be bringing my stash of dictionary pages and rub on transfer letters to use as well…..

Excited to discover what develops from this workshop!  🙂

Related Posts:

14 Secrets Challenge: Adventure Supplies & Guerrilla Art for the Soul

Twentythirteen Creating on the Go: My Mobile Art Stash

Everyday Courage: Artist Challenge Coins

This week’s 14 Secrets Challenge from Lani Gerity inspired the theme of my Artist Challenge Coins (ACC) for an upcoming 6 Degrees of Creativity workshop swap.

Lani’s challenge encouraged readers to create a medal for others and I thought Courage ACCs would be great to make for this prompt:

Courage Artist Challenge Coins | creativity in motion
Courage ACCs

On my wooden circle shapes above I used a combination of watercolor, glitter glue, dictionary words, ink, and metallic paint pens.

I also came across these epoxy clear domes at the craft store a couple of week-ends ago and they fit perfectly on top of the round 1 inch surface.  Each dome is also adhesive, so it was super easy to attach.  I can’t wait to exchange these five ACCs with members from the Creative Mail Art Collabs and Challenges workshop this spring!

While focusing on this theme for my ACCs, I also kept thinking about a favorite children’s book I enjoy reading in art therapy when also exploring this theme: Courage by Bernard Waber.

Waber reminds us:

There are many kinds of courage.

Awesome kinds.

And everyday kinds.

Still, courage is courage whatever kind.

Back in 2011 when I took Lani’s 6 Easy Lessons for a Happy Artist’s Life workshop during the first round of 6 Degrees of Creativity, I remember using Waber’s reminder on the below art journaling spread.  It was part of Lani’s second lesson: Showing gratitude to our strengths!

Courage :: circa 2011 6 Degrees of Creativity
Everyday Courage ACC
Everyday Courage ACC

Nice to re-visit this theme again and create more courage related creative goodness!  Many thanks Lani for the inspiration this week… 🙂


Related Posts:

February Warm Up With Winter Fatigue Art

Creative Goodness Alert: Spotlight on 6 Degrees of Creativity Workshops

Mail Art & Dictionary Inspiration

Artful Adventure Treasures from Chicago

It’s been a week since I returned back from Chicago to attend the Illinois Art Therapy Association Conference- What a great few days!

Chicago’s Beautiful Landscape

So here’s a little bit about my adventures while visiting one of my favorite cities:

Before the conference festivities launched, I spent some of my time on the streets of Chicago leaving some of the art messages I made with my adventure supplies inspired by this recent 14 Secrets Art Challenge. I also kindly left these artsy messages in books where I was staying in the city. Lani also contributed to the stash with very cool “You are Here” stickers and typed up phrases that I adorned with washi tape.  One of these messages was even gifted to our dinner waiter as a little something extra with his tip….  🙂

Distributing these handmade & artful notes into the universe was an amazing joyful release of gratitude for me, as it helped share & finally pass on these messages of hope, unconditional love, & kindness.

To get started on your own Guerrilla Art adventure, check out this Cloth Paper Scissors guide.

Guerrilla Art for the Soul

Following these art adventures, I visited the Adler School of Professional Psychology and lucky me got to drop into the end of Lani’s workshop with IATA members where they created paper puppets & paper houses as a tool for storytelling…It was great to hear about and see what everyone created!  Following the workshop, I attended the kick-off for the conference, also hosted by Adler and its art therapy students, which was an evening of intention setting, art-making, networking, and convo good for the soul.

Healing Narratives & Rekindling

The following day the IATA conference was officially here at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and included a day full of inspiring art therapy presentations, workshops, panels, and presenters. Before getting started with the keynote presentation we all participated in a lighting ceremony led by the Conference Committee to set our individual intentions for the day, which I loved and thought created a collective positive vibe!

Below is the awesome keynote presentation given by Lani, which is filled with lots of treasures intersecting art therapy, positive psychology, neuroscience. and healing narrative:

You can also read Lani’s End Notes from the IATA Conference here for more good stuff!


During the conference’s afternoon, it was an honor to offer a workshop on Art Journaling’s Visual Voice for Trauma Intervention, as well as explore art journaling as a way to process a trauma therapist’s journey related to self care.

Art Journaling as a Visual Voice for Trauma Intervention | IATA Conference
Art Journaling as a Visual Voice for Trauma Intervention workshop @ IATA Conference

Download the handout from the workshop here:

Art Journaling as a Visual Voice for Trauma Intervention | Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, CTC-S

I am looking forward to also doing another workshop on this topic this week at the Expressive Therapies Summit in New York City.

Chicago Smashbooking

And lastly, from all the creative goodness & treasures I collected along the way during my visit, I did a new spread in my smashbook to honor my experience and adventure!


Related Posts:

14 Secrets Challenge: Adventure Supplies & Guerrilla Art for the Soul

Self Care through Creative Practice & Intention

twentythirteen on the go

Notes on The Fine Art of Elephant Training & The Happy Artist

Yay!  My copy of Lani Gerity’s Elephant Training and the Happy Artist arrived this week!


I was super excited to re-visit Lani’s Elephant Training lessons from her blog transformed into book form. This time I took notes while reading each chapter! 🙂 The 24 chapters include lots of Lani’s inspiring art, reflections,  links, and take aways from the teachings of Christine Carter, Christine Arylo, Rick Hanson, Kelly McGonigal and others.

Elephant Training and the Happy Artist focuses on many helpful and encouraging ways to develop or strengthen your creative (or overall well-being) practice from a positive psychology, reward driven and neuroscience lens. Reflections on self-compassion, mindfulness, willpower, and gentle ways to cultivate motivation & change are presented through Lani’s narrative, as well as creative prompts you can use to explore these concepts in your own art-making.

These writings from Lani have been a huge support for my revo’lution manifesting this year, including my 365 project, which continues to focus on the intentions simplicity, stillness, service, trust, honor, light, and simplicity.

Here are only a few of the Elephant Training and The Happy Artist gifts from Lani I found valuable to remember (and re-remember):

  • The process of change– i.e. transformation of what we do (or what our brains do) takes time & practice (lots of practice sometimes) to re-wire- and it’s okay if it’s “super hard” and to appreciate that making even the smallest steps toward this change is just as important.  (small change –> leads to big change  (page 12)
  • The act of rewarding yourself and creating a reward driven system to keep giving yourself a regular dose of motivation, dopamine and not to underestimate the power of simplicity when trying to create change…  for me, this has become visible in my 365 project… (page 12)
  • Value your strengths and incorporate them into your reward system- Yes! (page 17)
  • Simplify:  Let go of what creates distraction & spend your focus and energy freely on what contributes to what you love to do (page 36)
  • Practice, practice practice: Learn from your mistakes, show patience with yourself, and find small ways to help strengthen your practice towards revo’lution making (page 23).

There is sooo much more!

You can order your own copy of Elephant Training and The Happy Artist here.  It’s available in paperback, as well as in an electronic format (easy to access to all the links!) via lulu.com.

Below is my daily practice of 365 revo’lution making: Day 117…. Dedicated to the fine art of Elephant Training!

365 Revo'lution Making- Day 117

Creative Pay It Forward’s Paper Stash Surprise


I responded to Lani‘s Creative Pay It Forward request last month and as part of this fun mail art activity, I just received an inspiring paper stash surprise from her with these instructions on the package:

1. Spill Contents

2. Play with Glue and Scissors

3. Have Fun!

I did very well at accomplishing directive #1 which also already started to put accomplishing directive #3 in motion.  I sat with much wonder and excitement as I started to look through the spilled contents.  Some of what was included:  images of natural and neon light, calm landscape scenery, earthy & sacred objects,  modern & retro-esque print sheets, and… lots of  butterflies…which made me smile inside and out (lots!) when thinking about the future idea of using them in my collage work.

Little Butterfly

The contents of this Creative Pay It Forward delivery are all wonderful ingredients for more 2013 revo’lution making!  Many, many thanks Lani… So many possibilities here!

On to directive #2 and more of #3:  Time to play with scissors and glue!  I also need to start working on my second Create It Forward goodie to send out this month to someone on my list.

Today’s SMASH Booking: 6 Words to Discovering My Ikigai

Earlier this week Janet McLeod shared an inspiring post about Ikigai on her blog Positive Art Therapy.  Ikigai in Japanese connects us to the purposes or intentions that get us out of bed every morning to help bring happiness and meaning to our lives.  To learn more about the concept of Ikigai and how it can be applied to our daily life, career path, and relationships, check out this posting via the WorkLife Group.

Janet described a prompt she participated in that explored her Ikigai through identifying six intentions that described it in only five minutes.   After creating her list, Janet went a step further and created a file folder gluebook dedicated to her Ikigai— what a great idea!

Over at Lani Gerity‘s blog and also inspired byJanet’s post, Lani created some of her own art Ikigai art and a list using the same prompt. Lani also encouraged us to contribute to our collective Ikigai through taking five minutes to make our own list of six words.

This morning I woke up with Ikigai on the brain and put these six words on this list in my new SMASH book:

I think these six words (I know a couple are two!) are what gets me going and up every day, despite the challenges life can bring.   I believe Hope, Creativity, Loving Kindness, Growth, Inspiration, & Meaningful Connection are essential driving forces in my day to day life, the work I do, the choices I make, my well being, and in my relationships with others.

Thank you to Janet and Lani for sharing their experiences and Ikigai good vibes!  I would love to see more Ikigai!

Ways to Stay Creative

I’ve created an abbreviated list of my ways to stay creative inspired by this week’s 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist‘s Life blog post:  30 Secrets to Stay Creative  and Lani’s prompt for #30 on the list:

Ways To Stay Creative List- July2012

Here’s a top 10 list that I created in my SMASH book:

1. Play!   In my creative making, I enjoy doing this through experimenting with new art materials, techniques, and programs…. I think most of what I have discovered I love has been through trial & error and having fun with the process!

2. Connect with your passion and what inspires you.  For me, being creative is lots more fun when I feel a connection!  I try and discover new or re-connect with existing  inspirations and motivations that will help cultivate these creative connections on an emotional level.

3. Start over. Starting over, from scratch, going back to the “drawing board” or beginning again and again often brings new discoveries for me!

4. Practice random acts of creative kindness.   It’s fun to create stuff for others- either for something special or for no reason at all!

5. Take pictures.  Of people, places, & things!!  I especially enjoy checking out my Instagram feed to see images of what creative friends & colleagues are currently working on in the moment, new projects, daily intentions, or for inspiration.

6. Make time and space.   Physical, emotional, and virtual at home, work, and on the go.

7. Enjoy breaks.  Enjoying the breaks I take are important to keep my creative flow going.

8. Create with others & collaborate.  Sharing ideas, working on projects, and inspiring one another. I like being able to take some time for an art making meet up or gathering with friends.

9. Try new ideas and things.  Art materials, music, places, experiences, and more that help me grow.

10. Keep a journal.  Art journaling, gluebooking, smashing & stashing for list making, collaging, note taking, visioning, imagining, and more!

On my SMASH book spread I also included some of the things I currently enjoy creating and have inspired much activity in my recent creative life!

If you haven’t seen the 29 Ways to Stay Creative video out there, take a look- it’s one of my favorites!

14 Secrets Permission Artist Trading Cards Arrive!

I just received my Permission Artist Trading Cards from the 14 Secrets Permissions ATC swap organized by Lani Gerity.  I couldn’t wait to open up this creative delivery and behold the permissions that have been generously granted to me!

Contributors from the 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist’s Life Group who signed up for the swap were prompted to create artist trading cards that offered permission to do and be whatever we wanted to send out into the universe and for other Permission ATC Exchangers to receive.

 I thought this was an inspiring and creative way to turn the  moments, messages, or perceptions we face from ourselves, others, our surroundings or situations that are sometimes weighed down with not being “allowed”, “authorized”, or “having permission” into artful messages that are positive, validating & affirming.

I am grateful for all the ATCs and permission messages I received in my batch- Thanks to Susan, Lani, Petrea, Theresa, and Susanna for the ATCs you each created below:

I love that Theresa used the language “Permission Granted” in her artist trading cards!  Such calming colors and texture too!

Petrea‘s artist trading card was a nice, mindful allowance!

Susanna’s artist trading cards authorized  creative clearance  for travel, escape, to leave & visit!

I was really drawn to Lani’s Permission ATC to “create umbrellas for the rain”

Very important permission reminder by Susan!

You can check out and print out all the inspiring artist trading cards created for this Permisssions Swap with this awesome eZine download from Lani.  Lani suggests that you can use the eZine to have your own permissions, use as art prompts, or in your art journaling!   Great idea and resource!  Permission for everyone to enjoy!

Acts of Creative Blessing: Permission ATC Swap

This week I joined the Permission Artist Trading Card Swap being organized by Lani over at 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist’s Life.  What a great idea: swapping art and inspiring messages with one another in the form of a mini creative blessings!

Here’s the first batch of ATCs I have been working on to contribute to the exchange:

Permission to: Shine, Fly, Feel, Create

And my second batch…..

Permission to Grow, Follow Your Heart, Be True

Interested in joining the exchange too?  There’s still time-! Learn more information about how to participate here.