Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Creative Practice Wk1 - You Paint Me Round, Round

Recently, I came across some images of painted stones.  The painter created a mandala pattern using white acrylic ink and a quill pen. Just looking at the painted stones made me happy. It created a desire to own something like them. With the knowledge that there has been research on how therapeutic drawing mandalas could be, I thought I would try creating my own painted stone. The initial reaction was fear –fear of creating something ugly, fear of not knowing how to create a perfect circle.

Once the ink touched the stone, it was commitment time; it was time to let go of control. I found myself calmer, more focused on trying to get the ink onto the rock. My brain ended up telling my hand to create certain patterns before I completed the previous pattern. It felt good watching the patterns gradually form.

Though this was my first mandala, I can see that my hand-eye coordination will increase and the patterns will become more creative with practice.

Materials Needed:
  • Round Stone
  • Acrylic Ink - Any Color
  • Quill Pen or paint brush

Create your pattern on the stone, starting from center working your way out.

Final product.

I decided to do some art vandalism with  my painted stone by placing it in a planter with other rocks.

This rock is in a planter at a hospital. Hopefully someone who needs a blessing for the day will find it. They will only see the blessings if they flip the rock over.

Monday, April 13, 2015

ZenTangle Auraknot to ZenTangle

Every Tuesday nights for the last 14 weeks, I have been teaching ZenTangle to cancer survivors at a community center.  The easiest way to explain ZenTangle is by telling everyone that it is mindful doodling.  Once people hear that, they usually are intrigued, because they are so used to mindless doodling while they are on the phone or in a boring meeting.

Mindful doodling is creating repetitious patterns with an end result of something beautiful to display or offer as a gift. Most artists have been applying this method for decades, but they never had a name for it until the Founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas turned it into a business where you can get trained and certified as a Certified ZenTangle Teacher.  The best part about ZenTangle is how easy they made it for everyone.  It is easy-to-learn patterns; it is relaxing, and extremely fun. Your time will fly and before you know it, you have a beautiful image in front of you.

Most of the participants I have introduced ZenTangle to have constantly stated, “This is a lot more fun than I thought it would be.” Please visit if you are interested in learning more.

During our Tuesday night sessions, I usually show a new pattern that could seem complicated, but most of the time, I show the simple rules of how to start. You use a 3.5” square tile and draw a border lightly with a pencil. Then inside the border, you take your pencil for a walk to create a freeform shape. Within that various sections of the freeform shape, you draw patterns using a thin-nib Sakura Micron pen.  For most in-depth details, please visit:

In the following YouTube, I used the Sakura Micron pen, size 02 to teach the AuraKnot pattern.  I learned that creating this video could be a form of creative practice as well. My laptop is 8 years old so the process took at least 5 hours, but if I had a new MacBook, I believe I could have made a more creative video.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video and that it will inspire you to try your own ZenTangle patterns.

Music by Brain Crain, “Halellujah”

Monday, March 2, 2015

Art Journaling: The Journey in Words and Images

Seeing people at the park writing in their journal or painting on their canvases usually left me with a sense of envy. What I envy most was watching how they block out everyone around them as they get into their creative zone and staying in the present with nature.

I started my own journaling, but felt it was lacking so I drew in it. [see image below

Then in 2014, I discovered what they call “Art Journaling”.  It looked like so much fun with bright colors, tons of layering, very complex work. I watched videos of how-to’s on Youtube and still did not feel confident it in. However, I was told by many people who have done Art Journaling how rewarding and therapeutic it is for them.
For most of my life, I realize that I am a visual person –I have to watch how things are done. Once I think I understand, I then believe I can do it even if I have never done it before. Well…. until the time comes when I have to do it and teach others how to do it; then fear of being called-out sinks in.

As I volunteer with Cancer Survivors by teaching them art. I found that I wanted to teach Art Journaling, because I believe there is joy in writing your thoughts down and there is strength in art-making.  As a facilitator, you have your insecurities of doing something wrong, but I remind myself that I am an artist, and each artist has her own way of creating art -there are many paths that lead to the same destination. How I instruct may be different from how another person instruct, but the end result is the same – to help the participants find inspiration, relaxation and meaning in their work. To help give extra guidance, I give prompts, such as their favorite song/poem, their secret wish, their favorite symbol, their inner goddess, etc.  What is most rewarding for all of us is that once we try our first Art Journaling page, we realize the artist in us.

Basic Art Journaling Supplies

·         A journal (I use Dylusions Large Creative Journal by Ranger)
·         Watercolor/Color ink spray
·         Crayons/oil pastels
·         Scissors (or ruler)
·         Glue
·         White Gesso
·         Markers/gel pens
·         Pencils (colored and regular)
·        Old magazines for collage or photo copies of your favorite images
·         Stencils/stamps
·         Ink Stamps
·         Hair Dryer to dry your paint faster
·         Wax paper

Here is an example of how I create one of my pages. This was a 25 minute clip and I had to learn iMovie to cut it down to less than 10 minutes and then I had to learn how to upload it into YouTube. Forgive me for the amature quality.

Here is the final result along with other samples I've done.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Creative Process Wk 7 - Let's Tangle!

Today, I wasn’t sure what other creative practice I could do. Book Art is what I like. There wasn’t anything else I was interested in so I thought I’d doodle to open my mind. People who doodle have told me that it relaxes them and they would “space-out” for a bit. Then they are able to come up with a solution to their problem.

Well, that’s what did it for me. I did a search to see what kind of healing arts that has to do with doodling. I found Sacred Doodling with Carol Edmonston on Web Talk Radio. Edmonston is a breast cancer survivor who found healing through doodling. “Edmonston began doodling by chance while anxiously sitting in a medical waiting room shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then doodling has become a creative and meditative practice and the spring board for a new beginning for her life.”

You can learn more at and

Another site is

Zentangle is about making deliberate patterns, deliberate focus, rather than random scribbling. At the end, it looks like art you want to keep and displayed. “It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well-being. You discover that not only can you create beautiful art; you also can increase your focus and create a different mood and state of mind. As you make a deliberate pen stroke on your Zentangle tile without concerning yourself of what it will look like when you are done, that very act of putting your pen to paper focuses your attention in a special way. As your eye follows your pen strokes your attention shifts to a state that allows fresh thoughts, new perspectives, and creative insights to flow unhindered by anxiety or effort.” (Zentangle)

This seems like the perfect art form for a patient with high anxiety. Using a black paper and a violet gel pen. I created my own Zentangle following some of the examples at  Their tag line is “Anything is Possible One Stroke at a Time”. And it is true. I highly recommend it to anyone. Here is my piece. I do not like it, because I’ve seen samples of amazing Zentangle drawings and mine looks amateurish, but I still like it. It helped me to feel accomplished and focused enough to start my mini needs assessment project.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Creative Practice Wk 5 - Carving out time to say 'Thank You'.

This week, we focused on cultural competency and what it means. In a hospital, there is a diverse group of culture and we need to be sensitive and respectful of people’s individual culture. Sheha Kilay gave us 4 tips on cultural competency with different cultural background.  1) Observe first and mirror the body language, 2) Appreciate the differences, 3) Don’t stereotype, 4) Be patient. These tips are great, but I was wondering what would be a universal in all culture.  Saying ‘thank you’ is a universal way of showing appreciation and respect.

Most patients feel grateful and want to give back to doctors, nurses, staff members, family and/or friends.  Some hospitals have a ‘conflict of interest’ clause by preventing staff from receiving monetary gifts from patients. One way for patients to show their gratitude is by making cards. Card making can brighten the day of someone else. Making a ‘Thank You’ can be therapeutic and fun. The therapeutic aspect of card making comes from relaxing, being productive, and keeping busy while spreading good cheers to others. It provides an outlet for creative expression which release important feelings or thoughts, allowing patients a voice to move forward. Making and giving cards is a great art form for connecting with people in the patients’ lives.

Instead of using store bought stamps and using stickers, I thought that patients would like to make their own stamps. Stamp making is easy and doesn't require toxic supplies. Here are the supplies needed: 1) A slab of SpeedyBall speedy carve, 2) SpeedyBall lino-cutters, 3) A pencil and a drawing to transfer onto the Speedy carve, 4) Ink to stamp the final product.

It is fun carving chunks out of linoleum because it takes you into a zone and makes you forget your worries. To start, you want to keep in mind that your stamp will print in reverse. Transfer your drawing onto the speedy carve and start carving off the areas you don’t want. I made a quick video for an example. Remember that anything raised will stamp so do a sample stamp on an old paper.  I made a card that states ‘you still give me butterflies’. 



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Creative Practice Fall B Wk 3 - Rhythmic Movement

With the concept of being productive while confined in a room or while waiting for news from doctors, I recently started a knitting program at my hospital to provide an alternative to waiting, loneliness and/or boredom. This program is an opportunity for patients to take back control by choosing how complex or simple the project should be with varieties of patterns, colors, combinations and textures.
I have been told by many people that they find knitting fun and that they enjoy making wash clothes as Christmas gifts. I have been told that knitting is a therapeutic art that uses the rhythmic movement of the knitting needles to bring relaxations to the mind and body. I have been told that it helps relieve stress while being productive. I have been told that the repetition contributes to a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.
This week, I sat with the knitting facilitator to learn how to knit. At first, I was very excited. I was told to start creating a wash cloth, but I didn’t want to waste time making a wash cloth. I wanted to learn how to make knee cuffs to go under my boots. Little did I know how hard it would be!  It was really hard for me. First, the facilitator is left-handed so she taught me backwards, then she tried to show me the opposite way so I can knit right-handed. That just got me really confused. She started me off by casting the first row for me. Then I had to work on the second row on my own, because there were others waiting to learn. As I tried knitting on my own, somehow, I turned into a Tourette patient. My mouth was spewing out the ‘F’ word left and right. The last time I used the ‘F’ word was at least 9 years ago. I noticed my shoulders tightening up, my fingers choking the knitting needles and me holding my breath. It was stressful because I wanted to know how to knit instantly. I have been told that it’s relaxing! It wasn’t! It was stressful.
Two days later, after watching a YouTube Video, I had to learn how to cast my first line on my own, because I kept frogging it (ripping it out) and starting over. This photo is of my 7th attempt. I still feel like I am doing it wrong, but I have noticed that I am more relaxed and my fingers are starting to knit by itself. Maybe when I am not such a perfectionist, I might truly be able to enjoy knitting. In the meantime, I will just take patients’ words as to how therapeutic it is for them.

Here is the YouTube video I watched:
After 7 Attempts

My Aspiring Final Product

Friday, October 24, 2014

Creative Practice Fall B Wk 1 - Button Book

This week, we are learning about well-designed care environment.  After observing a friend’s studio and her creative practice, I fell in love with Book Art.  This last week was the Annual Book Art Jam were over 50 artists display their work.  The location was at a historic community center made of red brick and a beautiful landscape of trees, flowers, wooden benches.  I believe it was a well-designed building to offer care and support to the community. The event was buzzing with treasure hunters and bargain seekers. Books of all sizes were sold –some as small as a button, but most were the size of your mini iPad. Some books were going for $5 to $500.  Fascinated by a button book, and affected by the visual beauty of the environment, I purchased the button book in order to replicate it at my studio.

The artist, Ginger Burrell ( used decorative card stocks and a deep-orange color ribbon to connect the circles together. She also wrote a quote on the circles, “Butterfly, not quite bird and not quite flower.” The colors used are chocolate brown and deep-orange.  

To start off, I wondered if the ribbon was one long strip or many tiny strips, since I couldn’t feel the ribbon in the center of the circle, I decided to use on long strip because it would be easier. The next was to figure out what I wanted to create that was visually appealing. I ended up with a Zentangle pattern (, because I was not able to create my button book at my art studio. Lack of transportation, I had to work on it from my sister’s home. The environment was chaotic. Her children’s clothes and toys were everywhere; the television on full blast and the husband is playing video games on the flat screen with the Bose speakers on loud. If I had my chose, this was not my ideal location for creative practice.  I was frustrated, but had no right to ask everyone to be quite, because I didn’t have transportation at the time. Instead, I used my brother-in-law’s computer room which was a little less noisy.

Once I decided to at least start on the project, it seemed that the noise and chaos fell away – as if the lights went out of the whole house and everyone decided to take a nap.  By using one of my niece’s block toys, I used as a template for my circle. Then, I wondered how Ginger was able to get the circles cute so perfectly. Well, it turns out that she used a circle die cutter, which I do not have. Out of frustration, I use a pair of scissors to cut the circles and glued the pieces together to form the button book. It did not look professional and I was not happy with it, but I was happy for the initial attempt.