Art Therapy

Art, chakras & self-inquiry, oh my!

Oooof, what a year it's been so far, huh? For me, lately it's been more essential than ever to stay grounded and in touch with my body -- to listen deeply, to be nourished, and to express (literally meaning "press out") what I am feeling and carrying within. That's why this new offer comes at a perfect time for me, and I hope for you, too. 

I am thrilled and honored to be among the soulful artists and teachers in the next cycle of the inspirational 21 Secrets online workshop which will explore the theme: EMBODY. I am one of 21 teachers you'll hear from in this course, each offering a uniquely artistic approach to embodiment.

In my 21 Secrets segment, you'll join me on a colorful journey across the rainbow bridge of your chakra system. Oooo, one of my favorite topics to study and teach! We'll walk through the chakras as a developmental timeline, from womb through adulthood. You'll gain insight into how each chakra's qualities manifest in your life, and express your findings through art! Healing, honoring, and celebrating your body in your own artistic way will help to keep you connected to and caring for yourself in a time when it's imperative. And you all know how I feel about self-care!

EARLY BIRD SALE starts TODAY! Here's what's included:

  • A downloadable 150+ page eBook that contains 21 art journaling workshops packed with videos, photos, templates, and clear instructional content that is yours to keep and refer to again and again. This will be delivered to your inbox on March 27th at 9am Pacific, and it'll be yours forevermore.

  • Unlimited access to all workshops at once! You pick and choose which ones you do and when. There is no time limit or deadlines to meet — these workshops are yours to keep.

  • Membership to the private 21 SECRETS Facebook community where you can share, be inspired, and receive warm, supportive feedback.

  • The opportunity to learn a variety of art journaling approaches and techniques from the comfort of your home/studio.

  • Belong to a supportive online artist community that has been growing strong since 2010! 

Pretty awesome, huh?

The whole package is priced amazingly at $98, and you early birds can get $10 off using the code: emBODY when checking out between now and midnight Pacific Friday, February 11th.  

For more information & to register, click here.


Working with dreams

Dream images are a lot like art images in that both come to us from our unconscious mind to teach, reveal, heal, or process something. Today I'm sharing three easy ways to engage with your nighttime dream world in your waking life. First, if you are a person who has a hard time recalling your dreams once you are awake, it may help to add a peaceful ritual to your bedtime routine, whereby you turn off the lights, light a candle, and set an intention to bring your dreams into waking consciousness the next morning. You might even invoke a dream at night by asking for clarity around an issue in your life. In the morning, set aside about five minutes of quiet (even if this means waking before the rest of your household) to scribble down any notes or doodles about what you remember from the night before.

Ultimately dreams symbols are unique to the dreamer. For example, one person may think fire is destructive while another might find fire to be cleansing. Dream decoder books totally run with the idea that one thing equals another, which drives me bonkers because it doesn't empower the dreamer to interpret her or his own dream. In my view, the meaning the dreamer assigns to each symbol in a dream is the most important place to begin the exploration. After the dreamer's associations have been explored, it may then be enlightening to tap into what the collective unconscious views these symbols to mean, to see if it lends any wisdom. For that second phase, I like to look at archetypes, symbols, and cultural associations.

Recurring dreams often happen when we still have not addressed the issue being presented, so they come back to us, calling louder and louder for us to pay attention. With recurring dreams, sometimes the story or symbols in the dream can shift, but the emotional intensity, quality, and often the overarching meaning stay the same.

Three simple ideas of working with your nighttime dreams:

1) Tell  the dream to your therapist or a trusted person from start to finish without interruption. Re-experiencing the story in the present moment while it telling can allow you to gain mastery over it and give you a new perspective on it. This can happen with a therapist guiding you to be alert to your body's responses and wisdom during your retelling, and by having a compassionate witness for the process.

2) Express the dream non-verbally through art. You might choose to make a book or cartoon panels about the story or perhaps set up the scene in a sand tray, with the supportive presence of an art therapist. You don't always need to unpack the meaning of each literal dream symbol and bring it into consciousness necessarily; working with the emotional quality of the dream may be quite helpful in itself. You can bring out "loose" art materials -- meaning ones that are really formless and open -- like watercolors, fingerpaints, or clay -- and trust that what needs to be expressed will be expressed through the art. Loose art media allow the spirit the opportunity to process unconsciously. This involves a degree of just trusting the process since it won't always look like it's directly accessing the dream content or characters. You will likely experience shifts in the dream or your response to the dream as you engage in this process.

3) Take the dream further in your waking life by asking yourself what happens next. You might imagine what you would have needed in the dream in order to solve the obstacle in the dream, if it did not play out in your sleep in a satisfying way -- maybe a tool, a shield, a magic power, a special uniform, or a vehicle, etc. Enjoy creating this item as an art project, as it directly accesses your inner resources and allows you to spend time creating your own solution. You can get creative with ways to further the dream and access all of the things your waking mind has at its disposal. After accessing resources in some way, you can tell the new story with its new ending, either by journaling or retelling it to a trusted person.

Wishing you rich, juicy dreams tonight!

An art therapist's favorite art supplies

I am often asked by clients, colleagues, and friends which art supplies are my favorites. I've not met an art supply I don't like, but I do have some standouts that are in heavy rotation in my studio. I believe in presenting my clients (and myself) with quality materials that foster positive, satisfying experiences. I display them in an attractive way, much like setting a buffet table for a most important dinner guest. I prefer natural light, beeswax candles cleanly burning, sometimes diffusing essential oils into the air, and in some cases, playing appropriate music. Creating a safe, pleasing sanctuary is part of the ritual of making art in my healing studio. This is not an exhaustive list of art supplies, by any means. It's just a sampling of a few staples in my personal studio stash. You can click the orange links in the body of this post to find these supplies on Amazon (affiliate links) or on other non-affiliated sites.


First, it's important to me to offer yummy paper. For basic drawing, I use this white sulphite drawing paper.  When watercoloring, I like 140lb cold press watercolor paper. I make a 12-15 sheet pack of watercolor paper last by cutting or tearing it in half or into fun, small sizes.  (I actually prefer tearing the paper against a metal ruler because it leaves a pretty, raw edge.)

Making marks:

Sharpies are a go-to art supply for me - I like to Zentangle and make zendalas with Sharpies. I also draw with them and then apply watercolors because these permanent markers will not run.

When it comes to colored pencils, I have two favs. For a standard, fine point, you cannot beat good ol' Prismacolors. Sure, they're more spendy than Crayola, but quality over quantity counts so much in art supplies in setting yourself up for a successful, easeful, richly expressive experience. I also love the luscious softness of Ferby Lyra colored pencils. I recently found these woodless colored pencils, and I'm hooked on them.

I always love creamy oil pastels and materials like them. I offer these oil pastels in my studio, as well as these thicker, creamier color sticks, which have a lipstick-like consistency but allow for satisfying broad strokes when working large. (I love the metallic set, too!)


Wet-on-wet watercoloring with liquid watercolors is one the most soothing activities for me personally, and for many of my clients. Mmmmmm! These are my favorite (and inexpensive!) liquid watercolors. I present them ceremoniously in these wonderful jars with these great wooden boards in my studio, and super-soft brushes aplenty.

Cake watercolors are old standbys for me, too. I prefer the palettes, vibrancy, and smooth application of these by Loew Cornell.

For 3-Dimensional Creations:

Because I don't have a kiln in my studio (yet? hmm..someday!), I rely on air-dry clay. I'm partial to the terra-cotta colored self-hardening clay. I also like white and gray tones, depending on the project. It's surprisingly strong when it dries, and can be easily painted with acrylics or inks.

I'm a fan of washi tapes of all colors and patterns. I stock baskets of yarns, ribbons, silks, cloth scraps... I offer wool roving, beeswax, buttons, and collage materials. I also love to keep natural wooden objects in my studio, such as wooden peg people, eggs, and Matryoshka nesting dolls. I get many of them at Casey Wood, but the basics can often be found on Amazon.

Most of all, I love art materials that are freely acquired from our abundant momma earth -- natural materials. I have stashes of sticks, driftwood, shells, stones, acorns, pinecones, feathers, leaves, garlic peels, twigs, moss, etc. that lend themselves to all sorts of art projects. They're free, gorgeous, and allow for such open-ended creating -- easily my favorite part of my studio.

You can check out some of my favorite supplies by clicking on the links to them in the text above and in the Amazon box below (scroll thru 5 pages in box) where you'll find extra goodies.

Happy creating! You can shop the list of my favorite supplies in my studio here.

Extending the invitation

Today feels like the day to revisit this Oriah Mountain Dreamer poem I've loved for years, so I've posted it below. Authentic connection and being truly present with another person is what I love the very most about my career as a therapist -- that is the purpose of this work I feel so honored to do.

The Invitation    

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. 
I want to knowwhat you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know 
if you will risk 
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are 
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you 
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know 
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone 
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

~by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The many varied expressions of art therapy


Throughout the month of June, the Art Therapy Alliance is featuring a different art therapist each day in a blog hop. I am so honored to be included among such inspirational healing arts professionals, as today is my day to be highlighted. Please visit the Facebook page for my practice, if you've not already done so, as I post daily inspirations and relevant articles, as well as updates on my offerings.

Please do follow along on the "hop" to learn more about 30 different and beautiful expressions of art therapy around the country and world. Let's celebrate this profound healing modality and so many of my awesome colleagues!