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Insight by Art Therapists

November 10, 2010

Sacramento just hosted a convention of Art Therapists.  Claire Bailey of the Art Complex organized an art tour for them.  I had the opportunity to chat with several of them during the evening at the Kennedy Gallery and actually came away with new insight into my own art.

For many years I felt that art was therapy.  It has helped me work through grief, the wonder of a beautiful flower or sunset, stress, etc.  My work streams from the events and encounters of life as it is played for me.  I did a ‘Series 11’ a dark and moody response to the loss of a best friend, the son of a close friend and 9-11.  It was a year of trauma that certainly showed in my work.  I discussed this with the therapists to get their insight and to possibly  help them to understand art from an artist’s perspective.  They shared methods they incorporated in helping people sort out things through art.

One very interesting thing I learned about my own art is the symbols I’ve used in my paintings.  One woman asked me if I understood the symbols I used.  I had to have her explain what she meant.  She pointed to 5 painting hanging at the gallery and showed me how I consistently used swirls.  She said, you even wear them pointing to my ring and earrings.  Coincidentally just the week prior I had been discussing symbols with Larry Carnes for a post I did on his work.  He said the swirl has been universally used by people throughout time.  It sometimes means circle of life or eternity.  This leaves me looking at my work with a new perspective.  It also makes me consider the famous painting by Vincent Van Gogh entitled ‘Starry Night’.

If you are an artist I’d like to ask if you find symbols in your work.  What are they?  How do you interpret them?  I am still trying to understand what swirls means to me…makes me a bit dizzy!

[Earings made by Margaret Garrington of Ashland, OR; ring is an Ammonite that lived in the Jurassic Period along the coast of Madagascar according to the jeweler]

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