Risking Taking One More (Art) Step

It's always risky to take one more step with an art reflection that already "looks done." But sometimes there's just a sense that something is missing; that the story needs one more piece added to complete the telling. One of the reasons I take pix along the art reflection journey is so I have a photographic record to use as needed. An equally important reason is to show myself the evolution of the art/reflection journey. I can see where I stopped too soon or when, perhaps, I went one step too far. Of course the "right" stopping point is totally subjective! I think it's better to take the risk and do one more step rather then to do fear-based art and stop too soon. (Hmmmmm...perhaps there's a direct parallel here to living life risks and all or stopping short and playing it safe?!)

I thought I was done with this final/fourth step, but it looked a bit empty. I like to end with a strong/bold symbol or two that finishes the reflection with a flourish. I added a two-color heart stamp (I wish I'd chosen a darker shade of purple) and pinched butterflies. The two together signify mother-son, and the single butterfly the independence of the son flying free as he grows into who he is. 

Looking at these symbols I'm mindful of an embroidered wall hanging my sister gave me when our son was born: The two greatest gifts we give our children-one is roots and the other is wings. 

Step 4: It is for Freedom that Christ has Set us Free

Galatians 5:1 is the perfect scripture verse to express the freedom that Christ offers. In Paul's letter to the church in Galatia so long ago he was intending freedom from legalistic rituals and his words have been taken to mean literal freedom from what binds he in this life. 

The final step in the layered art is to identify and write out a scripture which resonates with the reflection during the art process, and write one or two words bug and bold which encapsulates the message received. Embellish the background with one super-sized bold stamped image and/or cut paper in symbolic shapes. 

Step 3: Hopes & Dreams

Building on the layers of stenciling which include symbols of hope for a new future (see earlier post), the next step is to choose a silhouette of a woman or a child to symbolically represent yourself or your child. There are 20 choices sized to fit the 8x11 paper. 
The sample shown represents my son and the hope and prayer that I've always had for him: that he could and would run with freedom. Take a piece of carbon paper and place it face down on the art; position the silhouette on top. Use a #2 pencil and trace the outline of the silhouette. (Remove tracing paper.) Use tempura or acrylic paint and fill in the silhouette. 

Laying Symbols of Hope

Step two of a four-step art reflection for immigrants inside a detention center includes layering stencils which symbolize hope for oneself and one's children. I chose a city skyline with a church to signify a safe city to raise a family where the church is at the center of community life. 

The butterflies signify freedom and the flowers new life. Blue and purple are the favorite colors for myself and my son and the yellow is for a bright and happy life with sunshine. The woman's face is content to look upon the scene unfolding of her happy life. She is content. 

Prayers of the Women

The art reflection to write prayers emerged out of previous visits working with women inside a family detention center. The goal of the mixed media exercise was was to help the women identify their prayers and then make the art as a way of releasing their anxiety over to God, trusting that God would make the way clear and answer their prayers.
 I always have slips of printed scripture verses that the women can include in their collage if desired. Some will use only one; others find creative ways to include several.

Prepping a 4-Step Teaching Sample

The tedious part of prepping a four-step sample is the first/written layer because it gets laid down x all four boards. I finally figured out the best process: type the English instructions; drop into Google translate to get the Spanish; transfer to Word. 

Size text and send a font that resembles handwriting; push print. Then sandwich a piece of carbon paper under the printed "handwritten" page and use a pencil to copy over the text. Repeat x all four boards. Paint the written layer with 1-2 layers of watercolors. Voila! The first layer is done x all four. 

Timeline Reflection inside an Immigrant Family Detention Center

It is very frustrating for women in a family detention center to wait and wait and wait, wondering and worrying if they will be released and allowed to continue on to family (already) waiting for them in the U.S. or if they will be summarily deported back to the horrors of their homeland.It is particularly frustrating for those waiting while a family comes and goes but they are still waiting. The art reflection project I developed for the women was created with this frustration in mind. For the timeline project, their goal was to see how short their time is in the detention center compared to the big picture of life.
They wrote their story on the bottom layer of the art about their experiences in the detention center: what activities they and their children did, what their living arrangements were like, classes they attended, school, etc. They are locked up and waiting, but there are many interesting and even fun activities to do for the others and the children. The point was to name the blessings amidst the waiting.

They then painted over the words with watercolors and added stencils of symbolic shapes for their life (past, present, or future) using tempura or acrylic paint. The timeline is a piece of pretty art tape and it was placed halfway to represent the medium or average experiences in life. I asked the women to estimate how long they thought they would live and to put that number on the far right of the timeline. Most said they expected to live to age 100; a few said age 80. The average age of the participants was 22-25, and the timeline helped give the perspective that there is much more of their live to live before them then what has already been lived. In the big picture of life, "now" at the detention center is very short.

They put dots above the taped middle line for events in their lives that were good, and dots below the taped line to indicate event that were unhappy. They could add words to explain those dots or they could leave them blank. A stencil or stamp of a mother and/or a child to symbolically added their family into the art. They could glue on the Serenity Prayer and a scripture verse of the "fruits of the Spirit" if they wanted. The final touch: write the "fruit of the Spirit" that you most need to help you through this time of waiting. PATIENCE was the popular choice!

Timeline: Mixed Media Reflection on the Big Picture of Life (Bilingual)

Primero: Utilice un bolígrafo o un lápiz y escribir cuente su historia de estar aquí. ¿Cuándo llegaste? ¿Cuántos días llevas aquí? ¿Cuándo se espera que salir? Lo que ha estado sucediendo han estado aquí? ¿A qué te dedicas? ¿Qué hacen tus hijos? ¿Qué es un día típico en esta lista? En el panorama general de la vida: ¿Cuánto tiempo has estado aquí en comparación con la cantidad de tiempo que pasará viviendo GRATIS tu vida? Escribe tanto o tan poco como desee. Luego pintar el fondo con acuarelas. Añadir 1 o 2 colores de acento.
First: Tell your story of being here. When you came? How many days have you been here? When do you expect to go? What has been happening have been here? What do you do here? What do your children do here? What is a typical day like here? In the big picture of life: How long have you been here compared to the amount of time you will live your whole life? Write as much or as little as you like. Then paint the background with watercolors. Add 1 or 2 accent colors.

Segundo: Elija una plantilla y usar pintura acrílica o tempura para cubrir el fondo. En la muestra, los árboles simbolizan la dificultad en ver (a través de los árboles) para el futuro. La misma plantilla se repitió cuatro veces. Limpie la plantilla con una toallita de bebé. Utilice el secador de pelo para secar la pintura.
Second: Choose one stencil and use acrylic or tempura paint to cover the background. In the sample, the trees symbolize the difficultly in seeing (through the trees) to the future. The same stencil was repeated four times. Clean the stencil with a baby wipe. Use the hair dryer to dry the paint.

Tercero: Use cinta bonita para poner una línea de medio campo por el centro. La línea representa la media. Por encima de la línea es buena; debajo de la línea es mala. Calcule cuánto tiempo esperas para vivir. (La muestra pone a luz en el extremo izquierdo y 80 años de edad en el extremo derecho.) Crear una línea de tiempo de los buenos y malos momentos en su vida desde la infancia hasta el presente. Utilice una pluma de tinta y escribir los buenos y malos momentos de su vida desde la infancia hasta la actualidad y luego conectar los puntos. Piense acerca de cómo Dios ha estado presente en su vida.
Third: Use pretty tape to put a line halfway through the middle. The line represents average. Above the line is good; below the line is bad. Estimate how long you hope to live. (The sample places birth on the far left and age 80 at the far right.) Create a timeline of the good and bad moments in your life from childhood to the present. Use an ink pen and write down the good and bad moments of your life from childhood to the present then connect the dots. Think about how God has been present in your life.

Cuarta: escritura pegamento y / o la Oración de la Serenidad. Añadir plantillas o sellos para representar a usted ya sus hijos. ¿Qué fruto del Espíritu Santo que necesita para ayudarle? Escríbelo. Añadir sellos y figuras de papel cortado.
Fourth: Glue scripture and/or the Serenity Prayer. Add stencils or stamps to represent you and your children. Which fruit of the Holy Spirit do you need to help you? Write it down. Add stamps and cut paper shapes.

Stamping on a Layer

When my available (free) time to do art is cut short I find something to do...however short & simple (& sweet). Tonight I added a simple stamp to the pages I had sprayed with watercolors last night. I had recently bought a few new "people stamps" and my 15-minute art window was just enough to press each stamp...a quick look at the fun before me when I have more time to devote to art. 

Background Prep: Spray Bottles with Watercolors + Stencils

It is too fun to take a stack of stencils and a few spray bottles filled with water and a hefty squirt of watercolor from a tube and spray away. 
I used three colors: magenta, vibrant yellow, and viridian green. I randomly sprayed a bit with each color. 
This one has a serious tie dye look. Others are much more subtle. 
Sometimes I used only one layer with one (or two) stencils. Other times I added a second layer of stencils. 
The end result is 7-8 background pages ready for the next step in art journaling...whatever that may be.