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Responsive Art Making 

When things get busy, how do you find ways to move out of stress mode, and get into a playful, creative or curious space again? One of my favourite ways is through making art work in response to a painting.


On an individual level this can be wonderful to relax, wind down and playfully explore shapes, colours and forms in a non-judgemental or outcome focused way. It can be when connected to that explorative and open state that innovations can happen, or things can simply be seen from another perspective. Because the source artwork is already there, I might choose an element I find interesting, like a colour or shape, and use that as a starting point for my own art making. Sometimes a theme in the artwork might resonate with me and generate an idea for what I would like to make in response. Handling materials like paint, pastel or 3-D materials like clay can also have a soothing effect on the nervous system through engaging our sense of touch. 

In groups, exploring an artwork together in a supportive and boundaried environment, and then making art in response can create a safe space for group members to share their feelings and thoughts. This can help develop empathy, and allow for creative and playful ways of relating to be fostered. What is wonderful about the art making is group members can share as much or as little about what they have made as they like, and speaking through the art work in this way can create a deeper feeling of safety as the focus is not on interpreting anyones artwork. 

Within a workplace group, by using artwork, thoughts and feelings about experiences at work can be explored through metaphor and and symbolism, and time within the group working together yet non-verbally can allow these experiences to be processed in a different way. Reflecting together can open up conversations which deepen understanding of each group members unique perspective 

If you were unable to attend the initial trial session, during which the group made artwork in response to Marc Chagall's painting 'Paris through the window', you may wish to have a try yourself and see if making artwork could be a resource to help you relax and experiment creatively on a personal level. If this activity resonates with you, feel free to explore the video and still image here for a few minutes then gather your favourite art materials and make a start on your own piece. 









































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For those of you who would like to continue exploring and making artwork for your own personal relaxation, here are some websites that I like when I'm searching for art and looking to find new sources of inspiration:



National Galleries


Tate Modern Museum

The Guggenheim collection 

Art Institue Chicago

Contemporary Art Daily


Victoria and Albert Museum 

Would you like a refresh on session 2? Link to my mindful movement, grounding and regulation video here

Elle Gilbertson is committed to inclusivity and welcomes people of all ethnicities, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and people of all ages. 

The information on this website is for informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical or psychological assessment and treatment. 

Please note that I do not offer a crisis or emergency service. In such situations, if you are living in the UK I would recommend that you contact your GP during clinic hours, attend your local Accident & Emergency department, or dial 999 in an emergency. If you are from outside the UK please have a look on the befrienders website for crisis support in your country. and

All images and content on this site are ©Elle Gilbertson 2020 -21 and may not be copied, published or used without permission. 

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