Category Archives: psychology

Coloring Book Fosters Emotional Healing

Adult coloring bookCan art help heal the emotional wounds of adults? Specifically, does color possess the ability to act as a healing agent to the human psyche?

The short answer to both of these questions is yes.

Art therapists and other medical professionals are well aware of the amazing ability art and color have to minister healing to the unseen injuries inflicted by emotional trauma. An increasing number of universities and colleges are designing degree programs that enable students to pursue art therapy as a profession. Art-based therapies are becoming commonplace in hospitals, and are often integrated into treatments for behavioral health patients.

Psychologist Ellen Lacter took art-based therapy into a new and exciting direction when she created a therapeutic coloring book aptly named A Coloring Book of Healing Images for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse.

Coloring Book May Resolve Abuse-Related Issues

A Coloring Book of Healing Images was created to assuage the hurts that result from abuse. Author Ellen Lacter, who has been an art therapist since 1977, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor since 1998, and clinical psychologist since 1986, designed this coloring book with results in mind. Lacter brought nearly 30 years of experience into the creation of this coloring book, packing it with tools that foster self-care and can bring healing and resolution to abuse-related issues.

This very special coloring book consists of 17 chapters. Each chapter details a facet of healing; examples of chapter titles include Acceptance, Self-Love, Hope, Joy and Play, and Healing Abused Parts of Myself. Included in each chapter is a description of a particular aspect of healing, as well as plenty of ready-to-be-colored illustrations.

Illustrators Robin Baird Lewis and Jen Callow helped the author bring the curative coloring book to life by composing its images. “As the reader applies art media to the images, their meaning can be deeply internalized to tap into the survivor’s infinite internal resources and to pave a personal path for healing.”

Color Your Way to Healing

The memories of child abuse have a way of seeping deeply into the subconscious and expressing themselves in ways that negatively alter a person’s life. Individuals who live through child abuse are true survivors. A Coloring Book of Healing Images for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse is a resource designed to help people go from merely surviving to thriving.

Coloring books are no longer just for kids. If you are an adult survivor of child abuse, Ellen Lacter’s healing coloring book could be a steppingstone on your journey toward emotional wholeness.

Read more about A Coloring Book of Healing Images for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse here.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

Art Therapy Treats more than the Heart

Why Is Your Favorite Color Your Favorite Color?

“The Pixel Painter”

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“Morbid Curiosity”–A Chicago Cultural Center Exhibit

The Chicago Cultural Center opened a very unique and intense art exhibit in January called “Morbid Curiosity.” The exhibit is truly unique because it showcases the work not of a singular artist, but of a collector. The art exhibit is extremely intense because its theme is death.

Richard Harris has spent twelve years collecting pieces of art that convey the many themes of death. The Chicago Cultural Center has over 1,000 of Harris’s pieces on display–they include artifacts, photographs, and decorative objects.

Surprisingly, this is only a portion of the pieces that Harris has collected over the years. His entire collection of death-related art totals more than 1,500 pieces. The museum’s curators, alongside Harris, created a replica of the Cultural Center in order to choose which pieces should be included and how they should be exhibited. Several practice runs led to the many-roomed “Morbid Curiosity” exhibit.

The goal of the exhibit is to address the many facets of death. One entire section of the Chicago Cultural Center is devoted to Mexico’s Day of the Dead. This portion of the exhibit contains a funeral procession of death-related artwork including altar paintings, drawings, and photography.

Another room offers a religious perspective on death. Christian and Catholic artwork provides a foundation on which to examine the common fate we all share in our relationship with death. Artistic images are used to relate the concept of death to the individual.

One room in the Chicago Cultural Center has been affectionately dubbed “the war room” and contains pieces of art that reflect the toll that human action, particularly war, can have on human life.

The exhibit also includes a 13 foot chandelier made of 3,000 plaster bones, 50 photographs, dozens of skulls, real and artistic representations, and Japanese pieces of art made from bone.

Be warned–this exhibit is not for the squeamish. However, “Morbid Curiosity” is perhaps the most suitable name for this exhibit. After all, death may very well be the single thing we all have in common. Richard Harris, along with the Chicago Cultural Center, has afforded us the opportunity to examine how different cultures, religions, and individual actions relate to death. The exhibit ends in July.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-0126-museums-morbid-20120125,0,7002015.story

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Artistic Characteristics of the Right Brain and Left Brain

Do all artists use the right side of their brains? As the region of the brain that hosts creativity, imagination and art awareness, it seems so. However, more people are finding their inner artist can be awakened no matter what side of the brain dominates.

For a long time, humans believed we only used one side of the brain. Today, most people know about the stereotypes between the right and left sides of our brains. This is because thousands of studies have been conducted on the human brain and the way it works. While we still don’t know much about its vast complexities, we do know a lot more than we used to. For instance, we know that the brain communicates between its two halves and its many lobes.

What connects the halves of a brain are bands of fibers that serve as electronic information paths. In most cases, we use both sides of our brain, but typically one side is dominant. This is not the case for some individuals as is true for people who struggle with autism, wherein both sides of the brain have no fibers connecting the two halves.

Where do you fit into this complex picture? Do you know if you’re a right brained or left brained artist?

Here are some strengths and characteristics of right-brained dominant and left brained dominant people…

Left

  • Mathematics
  • Analytical thought
  • Speech
  • Writing
  • Logic and reasoning

Right

  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Identifying with emotions
  • Philosophy
  • Art awareness

After reviewing this list, you, as an artist, may want to gravitate towards the right side. It makes sense right? (Pun intended!) Do these qualities seem to manifest them into yourself as an artist?

WARNING: Don’t be so quick to assume that all left brained thinking is cold and analytical, and the right is all creativity and ingenuity. Some incredible bodies of work and research explain that, due to the nature of our brains, it is impossible to be pigeonholed into one type of thinking per individual. There are always exceptions, and the flat out truth is that almost all of us blend the use of both sides of our brain.

So how does this affect your artwork? Take the opportunity to research some of your favorite artists and their works, and research what type of thinker they were.  While you’re at it, explore articles about some of the many other characteristics of the right and left sides of the brain. You just might be surprised.

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Art Therapy Treats more than the Heart

Sergio Calatroni Art Room in Milan have customized a wheelchair for Italian art director Fabrizio Sclavi.

Therapies that use art have been popular for many years. One notable practice is color therapy. Colors have a strong influence on the human mind and encourages action in addition to guiding reaction, speech, and even attributes to higher-than-normal test scores.

But did you know that art therapy treats more than just the heart? It can help the body too. There are a number of creative activities, crafts, and art projects that stimulate the human body and result in a better functioning person.

People with disabilities know this is true. While having a disability can be challenging, its intensity is drastically lessened when people change certain behaviors that replace negative circumstances with positive action.

Having a bright outlook and light heart can take a disabled person to a new level of personal success. These qualities are available to anyone with or without a disability through the wonderful world of arts and crafts. This is because it keeps the mind engaged and encourages creativity, confidence, and basic motor skills.

Here are some arts and craft ideas for people with disabilities:

Painting

Painting is one of the best craft ideas for anyone with a disability. Because there are a variety of painting techniques available, one is destined to find a form that fits their capacity. Included in this group are, but not limited to:

  • oil painting
  • faux painting
  • canvas painting
  • acrylic painting
  • watercolor paintings
  • fabric painting

Painting can offer relief from the mental and physical pressures of having a disability. In the subjective nature of art, every piece created is beautiful, especially the pieces done with full concentration and dedication. A beautiful work of art also makes a great gift.

Make Greeting Cards

Creating greeting or thank you card is a craft that serves multiple purposes. This is a way to stretch artistic abilities and show caregivers and family members appreciation.

Cards can be made by using these materials:

  • colored paper
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • sketch pens

The efforts of creating a beautiful card is beneficial to the artist and he or she who receives it. In addition, it gives purpose to doing the craft project, which encourages the individual to see it through to completion.

Writing 
People with disabilities often have vibrant minds. Writing fiction short stories, full length novels, and even articles about living with a disability is a fantastic form of expressive art. It does not require any physical stress to the body and engages an individual in a long term, focused endeavor.

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Paint by numbers has always been a therapeutic activity. It engages the mind and body to work in harmony and guides the creation of an artistic masterpiece. They are not difficult to complete and as an individual nears the finality of the picture, an edifying masterpiece begins to emerge.

Seg Tech is a virtual paint by numbers program. This means that a disabled person is able to create masterpieces without having the physical capabilities of a non-disabled person. All they need is an adaptive mouse (if necessary).

Virtual paint by numbers merges the properties of number and color recognition in a way that stimulates the mind, while encouraging the individuals to commit themselves to completing a work of art. This offers people with disabilities 3 constructive qualities: Challenge, purpose, and a therapeutic outlet. It emphasizes the artist in each individual and encourages a sense of wellness only art therapy can provide.

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4 Reminders Why Art is Important

Art is important. It is of the highest value to our individual selves and an intrinsic part of culture. However, in the 21st century, we often find ourselves taking art for granted. This is why it is important to be reminded about just how important art is to us.

After exploring the history of art and opening ourselves to the reality of its importance, we’ll take a look at 4 reasons why art benefits everyone.

Why do we take art for granted?

Think back to the first time you walked into an art museum. Remember how magnificent everything appeared, with the halls full of paintings, photographs, sculptures, mosaics, and so on? Large spaces set up with exhibits allowed art to tell a story, highlighted an artist or explain a segment of history.

But when was the last time you entered an art museum and experienced breathtaking art up close?

In the past century, the introduction of technology has brought fine-art into our homes. This only advanced with the evolution of technology, computers and the internet. It also allowed another branch of art to form — digital art.

However, the only way to advance art from the point we are currently at, is to look back at the history of art and acknowledge what it has always done for us humans.

4 reminders why art is important

Art is individual

Art appeals to the senses

Art is collective

Art is ritualistic

Individual— Art has the ability to evoke special feelings inside of an individual.  The fact that art makes people feel special is undeniable and relates directly to every human’s need “to embellish, decorate and personalize,” writes Cathy Malchiodi. In her recent blog post, What is Art For? The Restoring Power of Imagination, she explains how important art is to an individual because of our unique taste for aesthetically pleasing design and appealing imagery.

Sensory

The reason why people have different tastes in art is because art has the ability to stimulate our senses. It is believed that art practices, in general, came about as a health-giving behavior. This means that art makes people feel good; it encourages them to be lively and brings playful qualities to difficult circumstances. Before visual art, humans used other forms of art to stimulate their senses like rhythm, story telling, order, pattern, natural color, and body movement. Nevertheless, all art forms, with an emphasis on visual art, give humans a sensory experience that can lift the spirits of any individual.

Collective— While art does wonders for an individual in the sense of growth and sensual stimulation, art is actually a community experience. After all, it is most often created to be enjoyed by others — not just the artist. It speaks to a time and place, and engages all who relate to it’s message. Even though reactions to art differ, coming together for the purpose of art has been, and always will be, a center point of human community. It is where we can gather to celebrate or grieve life’s most important events and issues. Not to mention, in the 21st century as all times before, it gives people reason to come together.

Ritualistic— People who gather together to create and critique art have more unifying interactions and ceremonies than groups who don’t. A evolutionary ethologist, Ellen Dissanayake, makes the point that historically, people who came together for the purpose of art “…were able to survive longer than those who did not engage in using art.” Art rituals have been part the human experience since its beginnings. In fact, much of history reflects that people have always come together for the purpose of art. Do you remember studying Tibetan sand paintings? Or Native American totem-polls? These were sacred rituals for cultural groups at certain times throughout history. Malchiodi points out how these rituals were founded in human survival-instinct because “they help us make meaning of life as well as reduce life’s inevitable stresses.”

Hopefully, these 4 reminders refresh your memory as to why art is important. It is likely that you have personal reasons why you appreciate art. Segmation wants to hear about those moment. Comment below and share with us about why art is important to you.

Top image made available by Torley on Flickr through Creative Common License

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Optical Illusions Create Art and Provoke Thought

Art is subjective. Individuals find themselves attracted to a certain artist, style, or theme when looking for art to inspire positive thought and decor. Upon finding the piece they consider, “just right,” one may seek to understand more about the particular picture or genre of art. However, they contrive their thoughts from a combination of what they already know, research, and see with their own two eyes.

In the early 1900’s this thought process was used to develop a new kind of art — completely subjective in form. It received the title, “op-art,” or optical art. This fresh form of art, not seen before the 20th century, used paint to create an interaction between a lively illusion and a picture plane, which is the flat canvas. Much of the art first produced in this genre (and some of the better known pieces) use only black and white paint or ink. As the art form expanded throughout the century, other elements of color and design were added.

This genre quickly evolved but remained true to its core: op-art is a perceptual experience that derives from manipulating typical visual functions. By painting an illusion onto a flat canvas there is a juxtaposition between what the eye expects to see and what it actually takes in. This is known as the figure-ground relationship.

Such a relationship exists because of edge assessment. For instance, when the boarderlines of one shape can be applied to both the outside of the shape and inside of another, an illusion is created. When placing this illusion on a flat, two-dimensional material, like a canvas, a human’s eye is especially baffled and the individual is likely to see the painting from more than one perspective.

But not all optical illusions are works of art. When an artist strives to deliberately challenge an observer’s eye with this figure-ground relationship, op-art is the goal in mind. In fact, the foundational elements of creating an artistic illusion are simple lines and patterns. With the use of color, op-art expanded because it used certain colors to change how the retina perceived an overall image.

This did not happen until the mid 1900’s, even though many artists trained in the op-art technique showed interest in applying color to their contrasting figure-ground paintings much earlier. Artists like Josef Albers, Bridget Riley, and  Julian Stanczak were eager to implement this element. Some time after color was introduced to op-art, photographers also became determined to produce op-art, in black and white, and in color photographs.

Op-art photography became popular in the 1970’s. However, this form of digital manipulation (that became easier with technological developments) lacked the foundational elements most important to op-art: Lines and patterns. For quite some time there was not enough subject matter for photographers to produce artistic illusions; lines and patterns were much easier to paint than capture.

This simplicity is what makes op-art a stroke of genius. It cannot be overlooked that the founders of this art, German artists who studied constructivist philosophy, believed thought provoking art could positively influence society. At the school of Bauhaus, where op-art first originated, great thinkers like Josef Albers developed a new way of seeing the world; by looking on both sides of the same line.

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Colors Change What is Beautiful

What is beautiful? The term is a bit subjective, don’t you think? After all, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

It most certainly is, but one undeniable quality about color is its ability to make all things beautiful!

This is why color-field painting, with its abstract merging of vivid colors, is responsible for some beautiful works of art.  In this post we will look at how color-field painting evokes emotions and has the ability to change an environment.

By now we know how color impacts art and also stirs emotion in people. Recent posts discuss color therapy, known as chromotherapy and the psychology of color, offering insight into how color can impact an individual.  As artists, we know the emotional impact art can have on us. Vivid colors can stir emotions and hold an observers heart once they pass.

Sometimes, color makes beautiful what was not beautiful before. This is the case of color-field painting; color, shape, composition, proportion, balance, style, and scale change a blank canvas into a brilliant work of art.

This style of art is very abstract and those who are best known for its development are considered Abstract Expressionists.  Color-field painting emerged in New York in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It was a type of art inspired by European modernism and made popular by artists like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.

What sets color-field painting apart from other types of abstract art is the artist’s regard for paint.  With the main focus being color, shape, composition, proportion, balance, style, and scale, there is less emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and consistent actions that create form and process.  In fact, the entire work of art is created by the artist who determines what elements he or she will add to convey a sense of place, atmosphere, or environment. In other words, what makes color-field painting beautiful, is its subjectivity.

Like most art, the beauty of color-field painting is in the eye of the beholder.  These colorful pieces are nice accents for decoration and fun to paint too! But don’t let the look of simplicity fool you.  This style is not easy to perfect and contrary to how it appears, cannot be replicated by a 6 year old!

Have you splashed your art palette with color today?  Try it and see how color changes what you see as beautiful.

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