Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Healing Power of Art


Yesterday, my husband and I decided to take advantage of some free classes at our local library. We'd looked through a list of upcoming courses and had chosen one we thought would be enjoyable. I've loved art since childhood and thought it might be fun to introduce my husband to the healing power of art. 

I've loved art since childhood and as a self-taught artist, have grown exponentially in using different mediums throughout the years, but had never participated in an art journaling course, the one offered for this session.

We arrived at the library about 15 minutes before class began and introduced ourselves to other members of the class. There were only 10 of us and after talking, we found out 3 of us were neighbors. 

When the door was opened and the instructor came out, we were surprised to find she was very young. None of us were greeted or given instruction of any kind, so we just walked in and found a place at the long table in the center of the room. 

We waited for Bailey, the class instructor, to start but she never did. Noticing a table with some art supplies on it, I got up and walked over to see what items were available. There were markers, a few stencils, some rubber stamps, torn papers, and some magazines. Not much in the way of art supplies, I thought. Taking a few of the items I went back to my seat and waited. Others soon followed suit. 

Bailey passed out some 4x6 blank notebooks and told us to just get messy. That's all she said and then she sat down to work on her own art journal. Everyone in the group looked bewildered. They had no idea where to start. 

On the table were small pots of Mod Podge, some glue sticks, and some plastic cups of water. My husband looked at me and said, "What do we do?" I told him how to begin and then started to put some gesso on my journal pages. The ladies around watched and began to do the same thing. 

The room was quiet as people began to glue items into their journals. Occasionally, I walked back up to the supply table to get more items and as I did, I'd glance to see what others were doing. One lady had taken a red marker and written the word, "SUCKS," boldly across her journal page and underlined it several times. I assumed she meant the class sucked, which it did. 

We were all discouraged but no one said a thing. I told my husband I could have taught the class easily and if given the opportunity, I would have instructed the students on step by step procedures to build their pages. 

Bailey must have been fresh out of high school or in her first year of college. I'm not sure if she was timid or just had no idea how to teach a class. In any event, what basically happened was a group of 10 adults sat down and pretended to know what they were supposed to do. It was very sad. 

The class would have been so fun to teach! I would have introduced myself (which Bailey never did, we only knew her name from her nametag), then I would have passed out the journals, and had taken time to talk about the various mediums and supplies available. Then I would have had the students take a few moments to think about what they might want to do. Did they want to focus on a feeling, an experience, a word? And if so, how might they like to express it? Would they want to paint? Scrapbook? How would they want to convey their thoughts? I'd have also talked about the possibility of layering items for my depth and interest. 

The class was slated for an hour and a half. During that time, I completed 2 journal pages and got to know my neighbors well. Phil struggled to get one page completely done and the women across from me struggled as well. 

If given an opportunity, I'll leave a detailed review for Bailey. I hope it will help her in the future. If she's planning on getting a degree in art or art therapy, she's got a long way to go. 

Art should be a beautiful tool for  self-expression. I think Bailey needs to understand that. 


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