Friday, April 29, 2011

New eCourses starting on Monday!

"Imagine an Open Heart" by Lani

I can hardly wait!  Monday is the day.  The Collage and Fotoshop folks are already playing with some pre-course material and what they are coming up with is amazing.  The Resilience Art and the Art and Self-Care eCourses are ready.  I've already opened one "classroom" and I'm just heading over to open the other.  In these classrooms we have plenty of extra materials, links, and files to keep everyone happy while waiting for their prompts.  

Here's a little secret I have discovered, the more I study the connections between resilience, happiness, self-care and art the happier, more resilient, and more cared-for I feel.  Pretty neat, eh?  Oh, yeah, and do you want a discount?  Check the column to your right.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Art and Self-Care

"Dreaming" by Lani with the help of  FlyPaper Textures.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes working with art materials can be a lovely, sensuous, soothing experience?  Have you noticed that after those times your creative work has a burst of energy?  Have you ever found yourself stumbling into artistic "flow" moments and not know why or how to recreate them?

I have a theory about this (of course, lol, just call me Dr. Lani).  I believe that some art materials and art activities trigger very good things in our brains.  I think at these times we set our day to day anxieties aside and are able to get a lot of good work done.

What I am currently working up is a 12 week eCourse with art directives that will address the anxious "fight or flight" part of the brain before requesting higher functioning of it. My idea here is that we will find it soothing, supportive, fascinating and also applicable to everyday life, whether we are artists, art educators or art therapists. 

The course will include a blog and yahoo group with a reading room full of articles on current brain research as it applies to our work.  To reserve your spot see the paypal drop-down menu to the right of this post.  Prompts will begin on May 2.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Collage and Fotoshop eCourse coming soon!

Collage by Lani with the help of  FlyPaper Textures where they have a NEW collection with spring colors!!!

 I'm getting ready for the next round of "Collage and Fotoshop Freedom."   This eCourse involves playing with photo-manipulation programs and collage.  The "class room" is a learn-while-you-are-having-fun kind of place for players, photographers, artists and non-linear learners.  This is an eight week course with two lessons a week, one on collage and the other on photo-manipulation, using the collages you create during the first part of the week.   The new course will begin on May 2.  But if you sign up now you can join the yahoo group right away and have access to the "Fotoshop Fun Zine" with all of its introductory type prompts and tutorials to familiarize you with photo-manipulation.  You also have nearly 24/7 access to support and coaching for all of your photoshop questions.
Photomanipulated little shrimp and bean sprouts with the help of  FlyPaper Textures.

My approach is definitely non-linear.  I don't learn in a linear way, I love experimentation and play, so that is also the way I love to teach.  I have found plenty of good, solid, linear type tutorials and links for those who would like that too, so no worries. 

 Photomanipulated shrimp, tofu, and crispy noodles with the help of  FlyPaper Textures.

One thing I have noticed in my exploration of various art techniques is that if I start with images and objects I really like, the learning is much easier for me.  So that is the key to this course.  We will be using the images  and objects we love (like crispy noodles).  My intention with this course is that we get inspired by what we find and that our inspiration will lead us to learn more techniques with greater ease. 
Mask from my favorite restaurant with the help of  FlyPaper Textures.

 As part of the course we have a blog, a yahoo group which allows us to discuss our struggles and triumphs in real time, and we also have a flickr group where we can share images easily.   Join now and get the free zine with extra introductory type prompts and 24/7 access to support and coaching for your photoshop questions.

Hope to see you in the course really soon.  If you are interested there's a TOP SECRET discount button for blog readers over on the column to the right.  (The new Resilience Art class and Self care and Art class will be starting at the same time, so you can sign up for one, two, or three at a huge savings!)

"Looking for color" with the help of  FlyPaper Textures.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This spring's resilience workshop tour

Morning collage inspired by Natasha Reilly and Gretchen Miller at the 21 Secrets marvelous workshops!  Textures by FlyPaper Textures.

So my spring tour is finished, bags are unpacked, clothes washed, dogs walked, cat scratched, hubby hugged and life is good!

As promised here are some useful links and ideas for the folks who attended my workshops (and anyone else interested in the topics discussed).   Most of the workshops had to do with taking power in your life, becoming your own resilient hero or heroine.  How did we give up our own power?  There are many ways.

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any."
Alice Walker

Try this, think of your art making experience from the workshop (or if you didn't attend one, then think of the last time you attended an art party with friends and lots of materials to play with), think about how colorful and hopefully inclusive your experience was.  Now compare this with the Jane Elliott ‘Brown eyes, blue eyes' exercise.  See the video for that experience here. Look for the point where the children started agreeing with Jane Elliott's premise that one or the other eye color is superior.

I truly believe what Glassman wrote:  "...Diversity is...the world of form in all its infinite variety of textures, colors, contrasts, and differences."  Glassman, B. (1998).  Bearing witness New York: Bell Tower, p.53.   

I believe as artists we need diversity; it helps us grow, it keeps our work surprising, and it can bring us joy.   

In some of the workshops we talked about anomic depression, which is culturally based and occurs when a traditional cultural structure disappears, when an individual's group experiences deprivation while seeing others' abundance, and when there is confusion about socio-cultural identity.  If you want to read more about anomic depression see Wolfgang Jilek and  Mathieu Deflem.

We reviewed compassion fatigue, which occurs when we are in a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, when we have a lessening of our ability to cope with our environment, and when we have high levels of stress in our daily lives (something that can happen to art therapy students very easily at the end of a semester and program).  For more on this topic see Christina Maslach and Charles Figley.

To counter both of these situations we need resilience.  Here are "Lani's Fourteen Secrets for a Resilient and Happy Artist's Life:"

1. Connect with others, take care of your relationships.
2. Take charge of something in your life.  
3. Pay attention to your goals, wishes and dreams.
4. Look for the good things in your life and in the world.  (As problem solvers we may be practicing looking for what is wrong.  This is fine, but make sure you have some balance)
5.  Believe in yourself.
6. Take time for insight.
7. Be generous and kind.  Notice how you feel when you are kind to someone who wasn't expecting it.
8. Take time for creativity. Make more art, it will feed you!
9. Practice your sense of humor.
10. Develop your moral compass.  This will help you make decisions for yourself.  If you don't make decisions for yourself, then someone else will and you will have given up your power to that person.
11. Take care of yourself as much as possible; mind, body, and spirit.
12. Keep a journal (an art journal if you are an artist).
13. Take time for meditation or some other spiritual practice.
14. Study resilience and well being.  The more you study the better you will feel.

This list was mostly compiled from Figley, C. R. (2005), Five Ways to Well-Being, Lyubomirsky, S. (2010), and The Road To Resilience (from the APA).  

Do you feel as though you would like more creativity and resilience in your life?  There's a new round of the eCourse "Resilience, Transformation, and Art" starting May 2.  For information look at the column to the right of this text.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Brain Fitness: A Prescription for Successful Aging

"Make What You Most Need To Find" collage by Lani

I attended a fascinating talk this week in Chester, Nova Scotia. Dr. Gail Eskes and Dr. Ivar Mendez from the Brain Repair Centre in Halifax spoke about prescriptions for successful aging, and a peak into the future of neuroscience.   We learned how the brain is affected by aging, how our cognition changes as we get older and what factors can speed up or slow down this process. Their “prescription for successful aging” highlights exercise and “cognitive activity” as well as social interaction that together can enhance brain fitness and optimize quality of life.
Here are some links if you are interested in Successful Aging and Neuroscience!
Here's an interesting article by Eskes:
Contribution of physical fitness, cerebrovascular reserve and cognitive stimulation to cognitive function in post-menopausal women.
She cites various authors like Charles H. Hillman, Michelle Carlson, G. M. Edelman, Donald Olding Hebb, and Christopher Hertzog on "Resilience in the face of cognitive aging."
Brain fitness type programs:
Happy Neurons
And there are more links here!

The consensus from the talk was that social interaction, exercise, and a great deal of cognitive activity over a wide range of interests will serve us well in the future.   With that in mind the Chester Art Centre will be hosting a program called "Brain Fitness: Lifelong Learning Through the Creative Arts."  There will be free workshops in jewelry making, painting, photography, book binding, collage, papier
mâché, monoprinting, and clay.  See you there!
For more information contact the Chester Art Centre, 60 Queen Street,
Chester; phone 275-5789; e-mail; or check for details on their website at