Art, Art Therapy, and Illness (Researched)

Art is a way of relaxation for many people, so why not use it as a form of therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is overlooked by a licensed art therapist, and uses various forms of media and its processes, as well as the finished masterpiece to further explore emotions and managing said emotions, help make one self aware, help with behavior and addiction management, help encourage positive social skills, improve “reality orientation”, decrease anxiety, and promote self esteem. You don’t need to have artistic talent to be involved in art therapy. It can be used in multiple facilities such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab, and doctor’s offices, just to name a few.

Mental illnesses are too often overlooked in society, getting little recognition, not to mention the stigma around mental illnesses and people living with them. One popular way to cope with mental illness is through art. Art therapy provides freedom of expression and empowerment, as well as improving perception. In my own experiences, sometimes it is very hard to explain how one feels through words, and it is often much easier to express one’s feelings through imagery. Art provides the artist with an experience that frees the brain and relaxes them, allowing them to “escape” the real world and focus on nothing but the movement of the art materials. One way which art can be used as a coping tool for people with bipolar disorder. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), “Art is an incredibly emancipating activity that helps with the release of pent-up emotions and may help someone to better understand these emotions. During manic episodes, art may be both a therapeutic tool and a tool to document certain activities.”

Art therapy has also been noted to help soldiers and veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. Melissa Walker, an art therapist, specializes in helping these soldiers create their own masks. Walker works with active-duty soldiers with with combinations of blast injury and mental health issues. When asked why she thinks her work is effective, she replies with “Someone who has experienced trauma has a block that keeps them from verbalizing what they’ve been through. There is a shutdown in the [convolution of] Broca-the part of the brain responsible for speech and language. The mask gives them a way to explain themselves. The concrete image of the mask unleashes words. It reintegrates the left and right hemispheres. Now they can discuss their feelings with their social worker or psychiatrist.” The class does not include art critique and scoring, and focuses solely on emotions and healing.

Art therapy has also been used with cancer patients. Art therapy allows cancer patients to cope with fear, grief, anxiety, depression, and the change of their body images, as well as unlocking hidden emotions and allowing them to feel free and confident. A survey was taken in 2013 among adult patients who had engaged in art therapy, and 92% claimed that it had a positive effect. They stated that the therapy helped them cope with cancer, improved their communication skills, allowed them to express their emotions, gain new perspectives, and provided them with a healthy distraction.

Overall, art therapy is a wonderful form of therapy that can be used for many different people, no matter what it is that they are struggling with.

Sources

 

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2016/How-Art-Can-Help-Monitor-Bipolar-Symptoms

http://www.arttherapy.org/upload/aatafactsheet.pdf

https://tinleyparkpsychologicalcounselingservices.com/archives/1846

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150213-art-therapy-mask-blast-force-trauma-psychology-war/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/art-therapy

 

Art Dump #5 (No Correlation)

In this Art Dump, these photos have nothing in common and there is no theme, I just have lots of different things that I liked!


This is Garrus Vakarian, a Turian from the Mass Effect series. I did some experimenting with this one and use colored pencils only, and I am pretty happy with the result! He likes to calibrate things, hence the caption.


In this image, I also avoided the use of normal pencils. This is Yolandi Vi$$er from from the hip hop group Die Antwoord and probably one of my favorite pieces.


This is a portrait of a grey dragon.


Here is a portrait of Siouxsie Sioux, the pioneer of the ’80s goth movement. This is the first realistic portrait I’ve done so it’s not the best. I like the hair but I think her neck is too long


Here is a painting of the album cover from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, by My Chemical Romance.

A little something different….

Usually I would post about art, but today I wanna break away from that. This has been a very troubling month for me and many of my friends due to the unfortunate election results. So I wrote a little thing about how I feel. (Also it’s 3:00 AM and my mind is ON A ROLL RIGHT NOW.)

I believe in equality for all. Since the election, America is in a state of panic. Racism and bigotry has run rampant in the streets in the weeks since the 2016 election. Sexism and misogyny is a daily part of the American woman’s life. Millions of LGBT+ individuals are living in fear of what will become of them. How do we agree that “normal human beings” must share the same traits? How do we even believe that a “normal human being” can exist? We are different. Our differences are what make us human. Despite out differences, we still manage to be one and the same. We are humans.

I believe that we are one and the same. I believe that there is no reason to hate. I refuse to hate. We are all humans. Nobody can help being the person that they are. We are the race that went to the moon and back. We are the race that builds nations that stand the test of time. Progress is slowing, and until we accept each other for who we are, we will go nowhere as a species.

This is a dark and scary time for minorities, and we must come together to lift the oppressed up.  America is the land of the free. A democracy. A land where your voice can be heard. But there is no “American Dream.” Perhaps there was, but not anymore. If your skin is a certain shade, you are thrown into an endless cycle of bias, with society discriminating at you so much that it is a struggle to pull yourself out of the cycle. If you are born a woman, you are paid less for doing the same job as a man. If you identify as a gender other than the one you were born with, or if you love someone who is the same gender as you, you are not only declined and fired from jobs, but you could be forced into conversion therapy and tortured until you become someone else.

We are all the American people. We are a nation that must stand together. We are the land of the free. Being free should include the freedom to be who you are. These differences are only skin deep. We are humans. We are one. This I believe.

Finding and Keeping Inspiration

 

A lot of my inspiration comes from my passions and interests. As much as I love to create my own art and works, I find more pleasure in creating fan art images and drawings based on some of my favorite characters. Lots of my subjects are based around video game characters or some of my favorite musicians. Some subjects I have drawn in the past include Red XIII from Final Fantasy VII, Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko, and Yolandi Vi$$er from the South African hip hop group Die Antwoord. By creating art from existing fields, you rarely run out of motivation, can have multiple reference images, and can find pleasure in seeing your own interpretation of the person or character come to life, as well as putting a character in a situation that you would like to see. (For example, drawing a picture of Severus Snape from Harry Potter baking cookies in a frilly hot pink apron).

When I run out of inspiration and motivation to create art, I like to find new interests and forms of media that I think would be fun to make art of. I also look at online tutorials of things that I struggle with and try to refine my art style (something I am still struggling with is making my art look consistent and make it seem like it was all done by the same person). Recently, I have made a Pinterest account and it has helped me so much with artist’s block. I have several reference boards. One for clothes, one for tutorials, one for possible drawing subjects, and one full of art that I find beautiful to look at when I lose motivation and to inspire me.

To help me stay motivated, I make sure that I am in a comfortable place and mindset before I start on an art project. Forcing myself to draw or paint when I am in a bad mindset often leads to me putting myself down. It’s actually kind of difficult for me because art is a favorite past time of mine and is somewhat of a form of therapy for me, but when I draw when I am upset, I am guaranteed to be unhappy with my work, even if it looks good. To combat this, I will take a break and look at art tutorials and practice certain skills as opposed to creating a new project. Another thing that I will do when I am trying to draw with a negative mindset is I will multitask while I draw. I often put on something lighthearted and humorous to have on in the background while I draw. This can be anything from watching fun fact videos on YouTube or starting my millionth time re-watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. These are things that are always guaranteed to cheer me up, and are very easy to follow and require very little brainpower, allowing me to watch these things while retaining my focus to my art. This method is something that I do in other areas too, like cleaning, organizing, and doing homework and I always find it to help my “study stamina”, allowing me to work for longer periods of time, as long as I make sure that I stay on task.

Another thing that I find that helps me stay inspired is to just dive in. Hesitating, over-thinking, and second guessing the subject does nothing to help you. Planning the piece can even get in the way. I always start my subjects with a simple gesture drawing and nothing else. Adding too many bells and whistles and spending too much time thinking about the final product does not help either. I find it best to just jump in and wing it as I go, and let the inspiration come to me as I start to see the piece come together.

Over working yourself does no good either. You need to realize when you have overworked yourself and when too much is too much. After a certain amount of time, our brains lose focus and start to act inefficiently. Whenever I struggle with anything, be it art, academics, or even a video game; I take a break for a period of time and when I come back to try again, I always have an easier time and effectively execute whatever it is that I am doing. It is so important to take care of yourself and push your limits without breaking yourself.

Overall, there are so many things that one can do to find inspiration, whether it be something from watching TV, listening to music, to making Pinterest boards. To keep inspiration and motivation from fading away, it always helps to take care of yourself and to never give up, and to just start without hesitation. Anyone, not just artists, should know their limits and make sure that they are succeeding without causing damage or harm to their self-esteem or mental health.

Art Dump #4 (Final Fantasy)

In honor of Final Fantasy XV being released today, I decided to make a post inspired by the iconic gaming franchise!


Here is a collection of moogles.


Here is Tifa Lockhart, one of the leading women in Final Fantasy VII.


Here is a chocobo, as they appear on Final Fantasy X.


Here is an acrylic painting based on the Final Fantasy VII logo.


Here is Yuna, the protagonist in Final Fantasy X.

Art Dump #3 (Color)

zizzy
abstract piece of my cat, zizzy. medium: acrylics, oils

This is a painting I did of my cat, Zizzy. The background is done with acrylic paints, the black corners are a mix of oil and acrylic, and the cat is a base coat of acrylic with oil paints for detail.

abstract vases
medium: acrylics

 

This is an abstract piece of jars. I did not use a paintbrush for this, I held the paint bottle over the paper and moved my arms to make the shapes.

andy
painting of my horse, andy. medium: oils

This is an oil painting of my horse, Andy.

alien space deer
original design. medium: acrylics, oils, wax and blowtorch

This is one of my favorite pieces. The background is oil, the subject is acrylic, and the drip is wax that was altered by holding a blow torch underneath the wax.

bird at dusk
medium: acrylic paints, magazine

This is a multimedia piece of a bird done with ripped up magazine strips and acrylic paint.

self-portrait
medium: acrylic paints

This is a self portrait done with acrylic paints.

Art Dump #2 (Dragons)

dragon with beard
medium: sketch

This is just a simple sketch of a  bearded drake.

dragon wings
medium: sketch

This is a sketch of dragon wings. I was studying how wings are shaped and the textures they have.

dragon over rock
medium: sketch

This is another dragon sketch. In this piece, I studied the cross hatching process more than anything.

dragon eye
medium: linoleum block print

This is a linoleum block print of a dragon’s eye.

red drake
a red dragon flying. original design.

This is an oil painting of a flying dragon. I used a pallet knife to make this, and I focused on movement, mark making, and shape.

What is Considered Art?

When people think of art, they often think of traditional art forms like painting, drawing, sculpting, pottery, etc. But let’s look at the dictionary definition of art. According to Merriam-Webster, art is “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.” The definition of art is very broad, and with this definition, art can be anything from a gorgeous oil painting of a waterfall, a hand crafted wooden chair, or even a little flower made from colored pipe cleaners.

One example of an under-appreciated art form is graffiti. While most graffiti is considered vandalism and “ugly,” sometimes including hate speech and hate symbols, graffiti may also contain valuable messages advocating a stance on an issue, or a beautiful abstract piece, the size of a bridge. Banksy is an example of a mainstream street artist. While very controversial, (why he is controversial is another story,) his influence on street art is not arguable. His images have blown up so much that people may not even realize that the political image they are looking at is considered graffiti. His art has blown up so much that his work is often the focus of “edgy” Facebook memes, and you can buy his prints at Walmart (which is somewhat of a contradiction but that is to be discussed another time.)

Another less appreciated art form is body art and tattoos. Many people look upon tattoos and think that they are “ugly” or “unprofessional,” but the tattoo artists put hours and hours of work into this beautiful ink. Tattoos can be of anything, from a simple cross to an intricate portrait, or colorful abstract piece. There are many different types of tattoos too, from white ink, to red ink, to watercolor, the possibilities are endless. (click here to see more about tattoos!)

Photography is another example of a less appreciated art form. Lots of people believe that photography should not be considered an art form, because you “press a button and you’re done,” but this is not the case Taking the perfect photo can take ages, from setting up the shot to waiting for the perfect lighting and moment. Editing the photo is another process in itself. Editing one single picture can take just as much time, if not more than setting up the shot itself. But in the end, just “pressing a button” is creating something nonetheless, therefore it is art.

Art Dump #1 (Black and White)

In these posts, I will post 5 pieces of my art with a corresponding theme and describe the process and materials. 

This is a cyborg inspired piece I did for AP Studio Art. I took inspiration from sci-fi movies and games. I focused mainly on expressing shading in this piece, and every cable-like “hair” was individually shaded cell by cell.  I started with the woman on the left, and used a light box to mirror the outline on the other side, then shaded the new woman. 


This is also a piece I did for AP: Studio Art. I started with the feline in the middle, then copied it onto the left and right using a light box. I then shaded the two felines on the side, leaving the middle one blank. 


Another piece for AP: Studio Art. For this piece, we were required to do a piece involving the pointillist style, and my subject was a koi.


A piece of fan art from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, with the character Aela the Huntress as the focus. I had a difficult time shading this piece, since it was my first realistic portrait. I hope to improve upon this image. 


A piece of fan art from the movie Donnie Darko, featuring the character Frank. This was more of a just for fun piece and I didn’t try to practice and improve my skills with this. 

Cosplay! (Picture post with explanation!)

 I started cosplaying when I was in 9th grade. My best friend was very interested in it and influenced me to pick up the hobby as well. I started out with a very simple costume, L from Death Note. L’s outfit consisted of dark pants, a long-sleeve white t-shirt, a black wig, and lots of black eyeshadow. I got into costume and took lots of different pictures,most of which were lost.

Except this pic!

My second cosplay was a lot more difficult than my first one. I decided to make a costume based on Sollux Captor from the webcomic, Homestuck. Sollux was much more different from L because his outfit consisted of grey jeans, a black t-shirt with the Gemini logo, black and white shoes, a styled black wig, 3-D glasses, and last but not least, grey skin and four candy corn colored horns. The horns took many tries to master, and I used modeling clay and acrylic paint. The costume did not look very good but I got practice and skill from making it

(I have no images of my Sollux costume thank God)

The first time I went to a cosplay convention was July of my Sophomore year. It was a very small convention in Asheville with very few people. I went as Terezi Pyrope, another character from Homestuck. Her costume was very similar to Sollux’s in the fact that I needed grey body paint and candy-corn horns. I looked like a hot mess on the convention floor, but my skill has improved greatly since then.


Yikes

Cosplay is an art form that has always been dear to my heart. Cosplay has encouraged me to be self-confident and creative, as well as helping me problem solve. I am not a perfect cosplayer, but I am improving and making work with the materials that I have. I will be adding a section to this blog dedicated solely to cosplay, and I will post my cosplays and the creative process I went through while making them.

My most recent costume! This is Aerith from Final Fantasy 7 (minus the coat! I have absolutely no sewing skills and not enough time to practice). This is probably one of my favorite costumes I’ve ever done 🙂 Below is her official art for reference! I don’t have her staff either, but she is often seen and associated with flowers, since she is a flower merchant, so I carried a flower basket instead.

aerith-gainsborough-full-212774

Art Theft

What is and isn’t considered art theft is a hot, controversial topic. Art theft is a nasty thing, and is a much more touchy subject that many artists don’t seem to realize. Many non-artists seem to take art for granted, and don’t take time to appreciate the amount of effort placed in a piece of art. Depending on the detail, a single piece of artwork can take anywhere from two to hours to even several days combined of work. Not only does the artist pay for their work in time, but the prices of art materials and supplies are very expensive. Non-artists think of art supplies, and brands like “Crayola” and “Roseart” come to mind, but worthwhile materials from brands such as Prismacolor and Winsor and Newton can be quite pricey.

Many people don’t realize that they’re stealing art either. Art theft can be as complicated as breaking into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stealing a masterpiece off the wall, or as simple and thoughtless as posting a picture on your instagram and not crediting the artist. Before I was an artist, I really didn’t understand the anger and rage behind not crediting artists, but now that art has become one of my favorite passions, I get angry even at the thought of someone posting my art without crediting me.

Another common issue regarding art theft is that people do not understand commissions and even refuse to pay for an art request. With art commissions, many times an artist does not care for the subject and does not gain anything out of creating the commissioned piece, and it is merely a waste of the artist’s time if they don’t get paid. In one case, I commissioned a piece for a “friend” and after the piece was completed, they refused to pay me when we agreed that I would be compensated for my time,and they merely said “Why can’t it be a little favor as a friend?”

It is often debatable what is and isn’t even considered art. Many people think art is paintings and drawings, and nothing else. However, art is considered as anything that is created, whether it is photography, tattoos, woodwork, pottery, or even an idea. Seeing an image online and recreating it and calling it your own is a very serious form of art theft.

Believe it or not, a very common form of art theft can be found in the tattoo industry. Majority of tattoos are ideas found online and copied onto their skin, and are not unique. Not only does the original creator of the art have no idea what their art is being used for, and not get anything out of the tattoo, but the tattoo artists are making money of off someone else’s art! A severe contributor to this are “scratchers”. A scratcher is the name for a cheap tattoo artist that uses cheap, bad ink. Scratchers are usually found in strip malls containing a Walmart Cato, Sally’s Beauty Supply, and other stores found in strip malls. Scratchers benefit off of other people’s art and don’t have a specific style-just the style of those that they steal from. They use bad ink that is often blotchy and harmful to the skin, and their tattoos do not heal well either. To avoid scratchers, come up with an original idea of your own and find an actual tattoo artist that uses higher quality ink and has their own defined style. If you wish to use someone else’s art as a tattoo, please please please ask them for permission! Most of the time they will say yes, and probably even be honored that their art is loved enough to be permanently placed on your skin!

In the end, art theft is thought to be a grey area when in reality it is very black and white. Not being an art thief is as simple as crediting an artist whenever you post their image. I hope that more people become educated on the subject of art theft,and that the rates of art theft decrease in the future.