I am keen to create a framework of activities that inspire dynamic change and raise self-esteem. I am also interested in combining art with narrative writing as part of a ten week journaling project, which participants could then continue with in their own lives, moving forward. I always welcome feedback and suggestions from people who use this resource.
1. Turn over a leaf for happiness
The symbolism for a leaf is 'happiness'.
1. Go with your group to a park or wooded area to collect a batch of leaves. You might want to introduce mindful walking as part of the activity, which will help people focus on their search for the right leaves.
2. For this activity spread black acrylic paint on the vainy side of the leaf and then burnish/press it down onto a sheet of white A4 paper. Use newspaper to press down on and burnish the leaves.
3. Do exactly the same but this time using white acrylic paint on a sheet of black A4 paper.
4. On the black piece of paper, write down all the thoughts that are troubling you around the leaves you have printed. Do the opposite with a black pen around the black leaves on your white paper, writing down all the positive/happy thoughts you have about your life.
5. As a group discuss what you have created and which thoughts you might want to focus on more from this point.
As an extension activity we used pine cones to mark-make on A4 using black acrylic paint. You could also use coloured paper and paints. Here's my example below:
2. A modern palette-knife piece
For this activity you do not necessarily have to use a palette-knife. You could cut up some square sections from a cardboard box and use these to put the paint on your surface. I used some pieces of wood, normally used for stretching canvas on a box frame.
To build up the effect below scrape on one colour of acrylic or poster paint, let it dry and then do another and repeat until you are happy with the result.
I came across these words (above) as a title for a poem and thought that it would make a great title for an activity and piece of work.
1. Put down as many words as possible that you associate with 'old man tree' on a piece of A3 cartridge paper. This could include sentences or paragraphs about whatever these three words evoke, whether they are ideas, mental images or memories.
2. From the words/sentences you have written create a tree around them in a way that works for you.
My example is a simple black and white representation but you could use words cut out from a magazine, Letraset, hand drawn lettering, typed copy or a mixture of all of these.
3. Old Man Tree
You could use other titles that will offer people inspiration for their creativity. Other examples might be 'A River Runs Through it' (Norman Maclean), 'Mother earth, Father sky', 'Over Sea, Under Stone' (Susan Cooper), 'In the eye of the storm' or 'a blot on the landscape'. These titles lend themselves to combining art with writing.