Hello Expressive Arts Therapy
This year I was drawn to an
artist who is teaching a form of art or she calls "Brave Intuitive
Painting". Her name is Flora
Bowley. I was drawn to this process at
first because of the name, 'brave intuitive painting'. I know it takes a certain amount of bravery
to approach a blank canvas, and to release your creative spirit. So, I wanted to see what this ‘brave
intuitive painting’ was all about. So, I
joined this online painting e-course by Flora Bowley. She calls her painting
trainings Bloom True and affectionately calls her tribe of painters,
“Bloomers”. So I bravely jumped in and
became a Bloomer.
Expressive Arts Therapy, does
not focus on the art PRODUCT (the visual quality of the painting, drawing or
mask etc.), but rather focuses more on the healing PROCESS of the or art-making
experience. In expressive arts we aim to
use the art process to get to deeper internal experiences, feelings, memories
which may be within our conscious awareness, or still lurking in the
unconscious realms of our psyche. Also,
in Expressive Arts we are not concerned with a ‘formula’ to making art. There IS NO FORMULA. You do not have to be an ‘ARTIST’ or trained
in any method or technique of art making.
What we want to do in Expressive Arts is to EXPRESS, to use the creative
process to express our inner experience.
Another aspect of Expressive
Arts Therapy is to open up to self -rust.
This is a tricky thing in art. We
are all guilty of self-criticism. We all
have experienced that inner voice we call the INNER-CRITIC. That nagging voice in our head telling us
that we are not artists, we are not creative, we can not paint, draw, dance,
express. This is a crippling voice. But
through the development of self-trust comes self-acceptance, and through
self-acceptance we are freed. Our energy
is free to flow with creative inspiration.
With creative flow also comes a joy and passion for life. As we are immersed in the creative process,
we allow that critical mind, that inner critic to relax allowing for solutions
to problems and issues in our lives to come to the surface.
Open to the mystery. To be open up to the mystery also requires
that we have self-trust. We must be open
to allow whatever is within us to come up from the depth of our inner soul. This requires much bravery. When we attempt to freely express our
internal experience through our art, through color, form and image. We strive to be surprised by the mystery of
what is within us that yearns for expression and acknowledgement. Those internal expressions that wish to be
heart and understood and supported. Most
of my creative experiences are a discovery to me. I am constantly discovering
myself through my art. This is what is
means to be open to the mystery. We seem
to develop an observing “I”. Our egos
become the observer of this process that is being prompted by a much deeper and
wiser part of our being. And when we
come to completion of a creative endeavor, we are in awe of the messages that
emerge from taking part in this process.
Developing a visual
vocabularyis a new awareness for me. A visual vocabulary is a book of images that
have meaning to you. Things you may see
in your daily life that brings you joy, or expresses emotions, bring up
reminders. For this you need an unlined
art journal. You simply add simple
drawings to this journal when inspired.
This will give you a vocabulary when you are in the midst of a creative
project. I love doing this. As children we speak in images before we can
speak in words. Therefore many of our
early experiences cannot be spoken in words and image is the only language we
have for those experiences.
OH, did I mention
movement? Well, in Expressive Arts
Therapy, movement is also an important element.
We move our bodies to move the energy.
Our memories become trapped in our bodies and our bodies become the
memory-bank for our emotions as well.
When we move our bodies, we move the energy and the memories. We move those things that become trapped in
our bodies so we do not have to deal with them.
Through the act of moving or bodies, we move the blockages. We free up our body/mind and ultimately our
spirit to be free and to experience more joy. In an expressive arts experience
we will put on music and dance and move our bodies. We can move out fear, sadness, anger, paint
and trauma and make room in our bodies for love, joy, and passion for life.
So, let me get
back to my discoveries as a new ‘Bloomer’.
I was pleasantly surprised as
I embarked on this journey of brave intuitive painting that many of the
concepts that Flora Bowley was using in her teaching technique were so in line
with Expressive Arts Therapy. In her
workshops she teaches about movement and music to increase the creative
flow. Flora encourages her Bloomers to
move to music, dance and do yoga. All
this increases the life force energy that flows through us. Through the movement process we are better
able to bravely and freely face the blank canvas or paper.
Another concept that Flora
teaches is, “There is NO FORMULA”. No
have-to’s to follow, no rules to paint by.
You simply allow color to flow through you. This is brave indeed. Color flows intuitively from your pallet,
through your arm, then your body onto the canvas. One layer of paint after another applied to a
canvas. One mark after another is applies without any need to control the
images or colors or shapes. This of
course is a PROCESS. It is something you
have to experience to really understand.
As you intuitively layer colors and forms to your surface, you begin to
have all these internal experiences arise.
Yes, that inner critic appears, and yes your fears emerge, but your
allow them to flow as well. The flow
into your painting and become released through color, marks and splashes.
Through this process, one develops a sense of freedom and self-trust. You begin to see your creativity starts to
flow, your passion for life returns to you and you begin to envision new
positive possibilities for your life.
As an Expressive Arts
Therapist and a teacher I was very glad that I had discovered Flora Bowley’s
Brave Intuitive Painting and that I became a Bloomer. I will incorporate this process in my own
teachings of Expressive Arts Therapy because I believe that it is a process
that encourages self-trust, self-acceptance and stepping out in a new bold way
into your life experiences.
If you would like more
information about this process, you can find Flora and her Bloom True Tribe at:
All Artwork by Yvette Lyons,