As featured in
The New Zealand Listener & Sussex Life magazines
C r e a t e d b y
Richard K Potter
BA Hons PGCE MA
Activity 1: jam jar glass painting
1. Use an old jam jar to create a piece of glass art, using glass paint and an outliner(s).
If you wanted to create a flower design for instance, you could make a template by drawing them on a piece paper and sticking these designs on the inside of your jar. Don't forget to incorporate a title on the outside!
2. Each day, try to find one thing that you appreciate or are thankful for, jot it down on a slip of paper, and add it to the jar. Try doing this for at least a few weeks or even for several months.
Increasing awareness of the positive things in one's life can help to shift mindset and combat negative thinking.
You could jot your ideas down on labels and make a piece of mixed media art out of each one.
I have always been interested in 'training the mind' in positive thinking or, as the Dalai Lama puts it, cultivating the 'The Art of Happiness'. Neuroplasticity shows that the nature of our thoughts create our reality. Focusing on things to be grateful for everyday is a good example of changing the mind.
Activity 8: gratitude mandala
Each group member could work on a section each using watercolour paint and Caran D'Ache crayons to hand letter/write down what they are grateful for.
Using a mandala lends itself to group work, like making a mandala quilt.
Activity 9: making a gratitude tree
1. Collect a bundle of small branches.
2. Put these branches into a mason jar filled with sand, stones, glitter, and other fun bits.
3. Using some textured scrapbooking paper, cut out leaves and punch a hole in each of them.
4. Use embroidery thread to thread through the leaves then tie them so they can hang from the tree’s branches.
Idea from Gretchen Miller.
*Your leaves could also be attached to a piece of string with clothes pegs, as an
Activity 2: butterfly wings
2. Get hold of a large fallen tree trunk/branch and stick the wings to it as part of an environmental group project.
The Monarch butterfly migration is in great peril. Photograph by Kim Smith.
The patterns on butterfly wings are often stunning and the butterfly's journey is one of hope, renewal and rebirth.
1. Use the template below to create a mixed media piece and then back onto cardboard.
Activity 10: memory jug
This activity could form part of a celebration of a person's life, as a way of working through the grieving process.
You could use a ceramic pot from a charity shop or make your own clay pot, fire it and then decorate.
The first memory jugs were made by African Americans for grave adornments. Memory jugs are mosaic vessels covered in mortar and encrusted with pictures, shards, shells, and various personal and found objects. They were popular in Victorian times as Folk Art but the idea is believed to have originated from African mourning vessels. “ These were memory laden mosaics: three dimensional scrapbooks.
Idea by Jessica Cumberbach Anderson.
Activity 11: gratitude wheel
This simple idea uses clothes pegs on a circular wire frame, made up of three rings.
Idea from Kristin Smith.
Activity 3: prayer wall for peace
A lovely inclusive group activity:
How about doing the same but as a mobile installation where people could hang their written pieces on labels from a piece of string?
Activity 4: make a positive calendar
All too often calendars are jam-packed with chores, obligations and responsibilities, making the coming days a point of stress more than solace.
Try making a DIY advent calendar and instead of giving yourself a chocolate each day, treat yourself to a compliment, a doodle, an inspiring quote or an encouraging mandate such as "eat breakfast in bed today."
Activity 5: make a forgiveness box
1. Decorate a papier mache box on the inside and outside while thinking about a person or a few people that you would like to work on forgiving. It could be yourself!
2. This activity could be combined with clients writing a letter to someone they wanted to forgive. The letter would not be mailed to the person, but could be used as a cathartic method for addressing and processing feelings of anger, hurt, and disappointment.
*Papier mache boxes can be purchased from a good craft store or online or you could use an old cigar box.
Activity 12: activity leading with a quote
Another idea is to base an art activity on a quote. Got any ideas for this one?
'A blessing is a circle drawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen.'"
Activity 6: support looks like...
A good activity for those with physical or mental illness to consider what they feel they need.
1. Start the activity by writing 'support looks like' in the middle of your page, canvas or material.
2. Spanning from the centre in different directions write down all the things that you think support you and others who are experiencing the same.
Activity 13: coping cards
Making your own portable 'coping cards' is a useful way to get through the tough times and keep the mind buoyant.
Idea from Petrea Hansen-Adamidis.
You can make these cards using old playing cards, pick up a deck of cards from the Pound Shop.
Simply glue your images on one or both sides and add words (optional) cut out of magazines, hand printed or typed and printed up from your computer.
They can also be pasted into your journal when you want to replace them.
'What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.'
Activity 7: letting go...
Create these two circles and fill them full of 'things out of my control' and 'things I can control'. It will help put things into perspective.
'If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?'
Activity 14: seek out the joy
1. Create one of these line drawings shown below.
2. Fill it with things you could do to increase the happiness in your life.