The third Monday of every month is Art Therapy Day for a small group of us. We’ve been doing this for a few months now, taking a day where we get together and play with art stuff, eat a potluck lunch, drink wine and coffee and have chocolate. Really, what more could you want?
One of the most valuable things about Art Therapy Day for me is the whole play aspect. I’ve spent so much of my life as an artist doing production for sale. I’m in the habit of thinking I need to produce, that a day in the studio without two dozen whistles at the end of it is a wasted day. This is a very good attitude when you have orders to fill and shows to do. It’s not a good attitude when you’re playing and trying out new things.
At Art Therapy Day I feel free – and safe – to fool around with stuff and fail at it, to learn and to create in a way that allows for me to not have to produce. This month I assembled four books in my annual collection of short stuff that I do around Christmas every year. (You can see how seriously I’m taking my deadlines on this by the fact that I still haven’t finished the whole edition, and it’s already April!)
The best thing about this edition is that I decided to give myself room to play around by decorating each book individually with different rubber stamps. This means that after I’d made four books, I got to page through them and decide where I was going to add a stamp, and what it would be, and what colour ink I’d use and just generally fool around a bit. I have a sizeable collection of rubber stamps, and seven or eight different colours of stamp pad. I make a lot of rubber stamps myself, so if I decide I need a turtle or a crescent moon or whatever, I get out an eraser and my craft knife and make it. This is also fun of a fooling-around sort, and it keeps me in touch with my printmaking skills. (I want to go back to printmaking, too.)
After Art Therapy Day, I feel renewed, inspired, happy and fortified to face a week of being pecked to death by ducks – which is how my day job can sometimes feel. My friend Sandra Hodge says that you need to make time every day to do one thing you absolutely love, and I’ve started making a little bit of art time every day. A little bit of art tides me over; a whole day’s worth renews me, especially when I can do it with other kindred spirits. I wish I could have an Art Therapy Day every week. There is, alas, not enough time in my or anyone else’s schedule for that. I’m incredibly grateful, however, that there’s time for one every month.