Monday, December 20, 2010

Underpainting. I'm looking at snow and realize the snow is not white, but rich with color. It reflects sky and it displays shadow. Blue or pink, orange or purple, the snow is only sometimes, intermittently, white. And when it is – the white is blinding! Dazzling!

But it's the shadows and reflections that make the snow so interesting and give it form.

I've been using chalk pastels to lay out an underpainting on Strathmore charcoal paper. I must confess the paper I have is ancient paper. I inherited it from my former husband's grandmother in the early 1980's. It was old then, before she passed it down to me! It might have been purchased in the early 1970's. Yes. Well, now you know something about my weakness for accumulating art supplies. I have lived in six different homes in four different states since acquiring those art supplies from John's grandma. Those supplies have traveled with me, dwindling with use, all the way.

I have a (new!) box of Prismacolor pastels and a new tin of denatured alcohol. Laying down a bold underpainting color for sky and foreground with my Prismacolors I fix it to the paper using denatured alcohol and a bristly paint brush. The denatured alcohol dries quickly, sealing the underpainting so I can get right back to creating the local color without the worry of it getting stirred up and bleeding through.

But you know me. There's more to making art than technique. It wasn't long before I started thinking about the metaphor of underpainting. There's the person we see and there's the underpainting that makes that person so interesting. It's the shadow and reflection that gives meaning to a life. It's what makes us what we are. What is the underpainting in your life?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I am having SO MUCH FUN!

Long time no blog. I've been a busy art therapist and artist.

<-- Here's some of what I've been up to:

I have a new painting on exhibit in Austin TX. This juried exhibition is called “New Directions,” and will be displayed September 16-October 25, 2010. My piece chosen to be included in the exhibit is an abstract acrylic painting titled, “Salt Marsh Dawn.” I can't get there to see the show, but I hope you will be able to. My art can be seen in person at the Dragonfly Gallery at Rosedale, 4007 Marathon Blvd., Austin, TX 78756.

I am proud to announce that the book, Visual Journeys: Art of the 21st Century, is now published and again, I have art included in it. Compiled by The Society of Layerists in Multi-Media, this is the third SLMM book to showcase my art. For this publication I provided a tea with pen and ink piece titled: “Tea Dream Animals.”

Three upcoming events in southeastern Michigan of note:

October 17th an Art Therapists meeting in Southfield, MI. Join us for peer supervision and art making from 4:30 to 6:00 PM. Contact me for more information.

October 23rd, Transformation Paper-Making Workshop at Center for Creative Growth. You should attend! Come to 2311 E. Stadium Ste. 216 from 1-3 PM. Open to the public, cost is $45 at the door.

Happily, my private practice is thriving. There is a new art exhibit including art made by some of my art therapy clients. Exhibit runs October 11 through Nov. 19. “The Art of Recovery” is on display in Ann Arbor, MI, at U of M's Taubman Health Sciences Library, 1135 E. Catherine. On Nov. 4 from 6-8 PM you can meet the artists and stay for a hands-on art therapy experience. It's all free – with free parking after 6 PM in the structure across the street from the library (free parking from 5:30 on Nov. 4 for the event.) Sweet.

I hope I see you soon!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stirring Things Up

I got in Big Trouble at the traumatic brain injury rehabilitation center where I work by talking with the Behavior Analyst. I was all excited about Dan Pink's book, “Drive.” I had sent the B.A. a link to information about the book and a cute video about it. He took offense to the very idea that “reinforcers” could be interpreted as “rewards,” or worse, as “carrots and sticks.” "That's insulting," he told me. Since he holds some power in the organization, I felt it necessary to backpedal and cover myself by suggesting that perhaps I misunderstand his program, because that's what reinforcers (as implemented among our clientele) look like to me.

Interestingly, he seems to be avoiding me ever since. Perhaps he is motivated to do so for some reason.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

East Coast Road Trip

On my way to New York tomorrow after work. If you want to see me (in Long Island, Redding, CT, or Brooklyn) call me. I want to see you, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

time flies

Time flies. It gets away from me. I went to Spokane (well, Cheney,) WA last month to visit my daughter. It was wonderful to see her and her wife and my granddog again. It's impossible to express how much I miss my daughter. She is beautiful and smart and has a big big heart and crazy humor. She works hard and loves deeply. She is creative and quick, with quirky interests (blacksmithing, soil biology) and a memory like a steel trap. She is a wonderful daughter and a wonderful partner to her sweetheart. The world is better for having Elizabeth in it.
It's hard to fathom that it's already more than a month since I was there and I'm just getting back to the blog. Since returning I have been busy with my private practice, my part time gig, and I'm back to making art and writing again. I have a new phone, a new
office with a studio, a garden replete with all the smells, sounds, colors, and textures of summer. ahhhh
The lavender is humming with bees again like a kazoo band, the poppies and the peonies have already faded, delphiniums, campanula, and coreopsis are all abloom. The tomatoes have flowered and begun to set fruit, and the basil is taking hold (better late than never).
Next up: a road trip in July to visit the East Coast branch of our extended family in and around New York. I am so glad to have that to look forward to. As fast as time is moving, it won't be long at all until then. I will see you there.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is Art Therapy and Why is it Important to Work With an Art Therapist?

What I know about art:
art is fun
art can be messy
art surprises
art tells a story
art can keep a secret
art is curious
art is poignant
art saves lives

What is Art Therapy and why is it important to work with an Art Therapist?
Art Therapy is making art with a person who is educated about how art and your psyche relate. Working with a real Art Therapist (there is a master’s degree and nationally recognized credential for this field!) makes a difference. Because art making is so powerfully transformative, huge shifts can come very quickly. It is important to know how to contain big feelings as they come up. Some of us need containment and some of us are so numbed out and our feelings are so shut down that we need help to become MORE expressive. You might not be aware that some art materials could be triggering to those of us that are carrying scary memories.

Q. What art skills are necessary for art therapy?
A. The simple answer is none. Art therapy requires no artistic ability. The art therapist offers guidance and support and the opportunity to explore issues of concern using simple art materials. Art can be used to help you express your feelings in a safe way.

Q. If I don’t even know what I’m feeling, how can art help me?
A. Some art materials can give you more energy and some can calm you. A good Art Therapist will know what materials and interventions are appropriate for you as you work together.

Q. What kinds of results can I expect from Art Therapy?
A. With art therapy you might find dreams changing. You might become more aware of your surroundings during the day. You might find your relationship with yourself and with your past, with the important people in your life, is changing. This is noteworthy: as you gain more control in your art you may find you gain more control in your life, too.

My personal philosophy about art making is this: I believe that we are made of the same creative stuff that created the universe. The energy of creation is in every molecule of us. Therefore, when you stimulate creativity in one area of your life (by making art, dancing, writing a poem, knitting, etc.) other parts of your creativity are also stimulated. When we do something creative we begin to heal in thousands of unseen ways because we are tapping into that original creative source from which we are made.
There is much more information about Art Therapy out there. Please visit my website.

My name is Susan Boyes, and my practice is called Center for Creative Growth.
I am a Registered and Board Certified Art Therapist working in Ann Arbor, MI.
I have a fan page on Facebook that will help you to keep current on what's new in Art Therapy, globally and locally.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about art therapy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

As I Suspected

Having done an exhaustive search of my emails with the book editor it is clear that I never signed over my rights to ownership of my research. My attorney will happily draft a letter clarifying my ownership of my original work and agreeing to license the publisher non-exclusive use of it in perpetuity. But it appears to be mine to do with as I wish. [insert raspberries here]

Monday, April 5, 2010


I just removed my research, formerly available, from this blog and from my website. I was not asked to do so by anybody, but I chose to do so as a courtesy to the person compiling a book that will include it. Although I had asked for copyright clarification and received no response (other than a vague, someone will get back to you kind of answer), I found myself confronted today with the threat of "legal sanction" and a note that offering my research to the public for sale "is not permitted." Seems like I could have been notified sooner, like when I asked about it 6 weeks ago. So there you go. If you want my research you will have to wait for the book to come out and buy it from someone else. I'll let you know when that is. Or call me and we'll talk.