Expressive arts therapy is the process of using our imagination through the arts in all their forms, dance, drama, singing and visual arts, to express our innermost emotions, thoughts and fears. This type of expression has been a part of our civilisation since cave paintings and traditional story-telling and forms the basis for modern day Art therapy. Expressive arts therapy is unique to every individual and can be incredibly healing. It can bring forth the emotions and fears that lay deep within our subconsciousness to resolve issues in a fun, imaginative and positive way.
Paint is often considered the preferred medium in art therapy practise for many reasons. The properties of paint allow for a multitude of applications, from creating thin defined lines, to thick strokes, splatters and dribbles, using watercolours, pastels, acrylics and oil paints. Plus... almost anything can become a tool for painting, from sticks, sponges, bubble wrap to straws and traditional brushes. This allows us to express emotions in a variety of ways.
From my own perspective, expressing myself through paint has allowed me to heal and move forward in my recovery journey. One of the most enjoyable (and healing) paintings I did was in response to a self-portrait activity throughout my art therapy studies.
This is how my painting transformed in stages...
My first photo shows my portrait as a quick finger painting. The use of yellow in the eyes reflect how I was feeling at the time. They look sad, torturous almost, reflecting my feelings of guilt and as I came to terms with my behaviour in active drug addiction.
The second phase of my painting (done over the top of the finger painting), still shows those yellow eyes. But now there is a background of green, collaged over the top, which represents growth. So whilst the red tears represent some unresolved anger towards myself and my abuser, the overall theme is of hope and optimism for the future.
The third part of my painting (once again done over the top) involves collage as well. This painting is titled 'Weary Soldier' and I guess it may look negative (it is a bit dark), to me it represents strength and survival in overcoming the greatest obstacles in life.
As the last words in my book say...
I now know how strong I am. That nothing will break me.