Flight of the Dragonfly tells the metaphorical story of the merging of my professional artist and teaching artist identity with my graduate studies and working internship of an art therapist.
As an artist, self discovery has been very important to me over the years to mature as an artist and learn how to tell my own story. Some artists can do that so eloquently without any schooling at all, although for me, when I first started my graduate art therapy program I was in fact learning how to face emotional issues through art which I considered very daunting.
Coming from a landscape painting background in which I championed the environment and felt most at home painting in and about nature, I soon learned how to create works of art that were metaphorical. For example, one of my first assignments was to ask myself, if I was a tree, what type would I be? After drawing the tree, I was to write why I was that type of tree. And, so the journey of self discovery through symbol and metaphor begins.
For anybody out there interested in art therapy, I would advice checking out a beginners guide to art therapy at your local library and do research to find out if it is for you. For me, I was at the right time of my life to want to explore self discovery since I have examined my creative life and relationships to others on my own for many years.
Beware if you have unresolved emotional issues from the past, art therapy will bring them up and you will have to work on them but it will also lead to creative ways to understand and forgive yourself and others and move forward to continue writing and illustrating your own story.
This is where I am at now. After three years as an art therapy graduate student and one year as an art therapist intern, I am able to both go back and paint an outer landscape same as I was able to before I started the program but now I can also paint my inner landscape.
Using Metaphor and Symbols
From imagining oneself as a certain type of tree to tell one’s story to learning about Carl Jung’s use of Active Imagination to help one play through the arts to go on a journey of discovery, I have come to enjoy my inner landscapes!
The painting above is titled Flight of the Dragonfly because of the dragonfly imagery that appeared using part of active imagination through abstract painting. Painting abstractly until images start to show up in one’s work is very similar to part of the technique Carl Jung used to activate his imagination. To do this, one has to simply play with line, brush strokes and color, shadow and be willing to let the flow lead you into a place where you start to see a line or shape of an image that might appear.
For me, I saw the line of a dragonfly wing and thought, hmmm why would a dragonfly come up in my life?
Spending time with clients who sometimes do not want to try painting, sculpture, sketching or other media choices in therapy has lead me to learn how to be flexible and change the art intervention in a moment’s notice. The dragonfly has the ability to change flight direction very quickly due to the four wings and ability to hover. As I hover over the media choices, the client learns to have freedom to pick and choice media choices that soothe his or her soul.