Canada Dreams
Thomson, Martina. On Art and Therapy: An Exploration. London: Virago Press, 1989.
This is a beautiful description of a life spent in the field of art therapy. The reminiscences are filled with timely tips, insights, and many pivotal points for future study.
Originally of Austrian nationality, she first studied art therapy under E. M. Lyddiatt in England; then with this inspiration, she went on to explore the many corridors of the field. Lyddiatt instilled a deep respect for the therapeutic value of the creative process. In her book Spontaneous Painting and Modelling, she said about art therapy, "I always feel that being with people who are painting is like feeding birds. One moves cautiously lest the 'gift' of painting may vanish." Much of the rest of the book is spent defending and expanding this woman's simple yet elegant methods. Thompson worked and studied under some of the foremost innovators in the art and art therapy field. There is even a little frank criticism here of people who are a little stiff, dogmatic, and wooly (vague). I like the quotes by famous artists. Cézanne said, "that is the great thing to make oneself free of school and indeed of all schools."
On page 66 she quotes John Layard a Jungian who asked a Trappist monk about will power, and who taught him that there are two kinds of will active(male) and passive(female). When you access the feminine will you are drawn towards God or the unconscious. These are thoughts that validate the seemingly undirective nature of the creative process, especially 'creative imagination', which goes to show how completely overridden we are by the patriarchal need for defined goals.
As far as my own study is concerned there were direct references to sand and water in the therapeutic process. There is a quoted case of an anorexic woman who could dawn nothing but sand, yet as her therapy progressed water bubbled into her pictures flooding them with storms which subsided into calm revitalizing pools.
There are also references to choice in colour and materials with case studies to illustrate their results.
I could write a book twice the size of this personal exploration to explain it, but I think I am further ahead to take the theme to heart and get back to my own creative process. Thomson poignantly puts it, "Matisse is said to have commented that anyone who wants to dedicate themselves to painting should first cut out their tongue."



 
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