Three art & wellness activities to jumpstart the new year

The year 2022 has begun with yet another pivot for those who live in Ontario as health restrictions ramp up once more. As we at the AGW are currently closed in accordance with these restrictions, we know how hard this time is, and continues to be, for our community and beyond. As we await the time we can safely reopen and welcome you back to the Gallery once more, we wanted to share three art and wellness activities from our 2021 sessions of Taking Care: Where Art Meets Wellness, facilitated by art therapist Ainslee Winter. We hope that these activities can provide a little bit of solace in these continually uncertain times!

1) Being There for Yourself and Others

Activity created by Ainslee Winter
This session explores the bubble of love, which is the environment that fuels your immune response. You will discover what needs to be put in place in order to restore your energy and take care of yourself and others.

Suggested Materials:

  • Found objects (At-Home Items/Natural — That Help Support Well-Being)
  • Pencil
  • Drawing Materials (Marker, Coloured Pencil, etc.)
  • Paper (Drawing, Water Colour, Cardstock, etc)

Process:

  1. Gather objects that support your healing process or wellness practices.
  2. Use a pencil or marker to trace a large circular object, such as a plate or bowl, in the middle of your page.
  3. Use your pencil or markers to trace the contour of your found objects inside of your circle, creating repeated patterns. Play with shapes and lines. Flip your objects in different directions. Create layers.
  4. Add colour to your work. What colours are you drawn to? What do those colours represent to you?
  5. When you are done, take a moment to express your gratitude and to reflect on your piece as well as the found objects you chose. What do they represent to you? How do they support your well-being?

2) Compassionate Care Cards

Pink, yellow, and blue abstract watercolour image.
Pink, yellow, and blue abstract watercolour image.

Activity created by Ainslee Winter
Create a card that exudes the warmth and gentleness that you may need. It is always a nice gesture to offer kindness and warmth to others, an act that is greatly accepted by our society. Yet, how often do we offer the same loving-kindness for ourselves? During times of transition, it is important to carve out space to offer oneself self-compassion and warmth.

Suggested Materials:

  • Paper (The thicker the better! Ie. cardstock, watercolour, drawing, paperboard from cereal/bar boxes etc.)
  • Optional: Pre-cut paper into card like sizes, feel free to use recycled artwork as the base of your cards as well
  • Mark Making Tool (Paint, pastels, markers, ink, etc.)
  • Mixed Media (Magazines, old photographs, books, fabrics, stamps, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Process:

Art-Making Option #1:

  1. Create a card for yourself to celebrate who you are.
  2. Fold your paper in half and decorate the outside of your card with colours, lines, and images that celebrate you. Express your love, gratitude, and congratulations with every mark.
  3. Inside the card, write a note to tell yourself how much you love and appreciate yourself. Don’t hold yourself back. This is a chance to say something to yourself you wouldn’t normally say.

Art-Making Option #2: Intuitive Card Making

  1. Listen to a variety of songs that match your current “felt sense”.
  2. Respond to the music by creating marks using colours, lines, and a variety of techniques.
  3. Look at the design created. Notice if a specific symbol, pattern, or design wants to emerge.

3) Healing Through Poetry and Song

Black ink pen sitting on top of a handwritten letter, with purple flowers to the left of the frame.
Black ink pen sitting on top of a handwritten letter, with purple flowers to the left of the frame.

Activity created by Teajai Travis: Executive Director, Artcite Inc., Artist Activist & Community Builder
Learn how poetry and song can help us transform struggle into meaningful parts of our narrative.

Suggested Materials:

  • Pen
  • Pad of Paper, or 3 sheets of paper
  • Small percussion instrument or noise maker of some kind (drum would be perfect but you can use pots and pans, a tambourine, a plastic container with rice… Use what you have at home and get creative!
  • Optional: Old picture of a relative, ancestor, or elder

Process:

  1. Think of a song that moves you or that holds a special place in your heart. Think of the lyrics, the melody, the tempo…
  2. While thinking of your song, on your first sheet of paper, represent the song visually. Let the song guide your creation: draw, scribble, create…
  3. Close your eyes. Invite the voices of the ancestors, or the people who contributed to your life story. What are they trying to tell you? What message do they want to convey through you? What would they tell you today?
  4. On the second sheet of paper, make a list of words that represent those messages.
  5. Reflect on the music, the words, and the work you have created.
  6. Use your list of words and string them together to create a short poem or narrative. Use your feelings, your emotions, and the previous exercises as a reference.
  7. What are you trying to say?
  8. Tip: If the words are not coming, take a deep breath, take your time and step away if you need to. Let the work guide you and tell you where it needs to go. Enjoy the journey!

In 2021, Taking Care: Where Art Meets Wellness was supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the Solcz Family Foundation. Thank you to our generous sponsors for helping us make this program a reality!

The Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW) is a non-profit public art gallery that uses the power of art to open hearts and minds to new ideas.