In 2004, I began making art as a way to explore my dreams. Images from my nocturnal journeys practically demanded that I draw them. With little experience in art making – other than the clay ashtrays and coil pots I made in elementary school – I began drawing. As I drew, my thinking mind quieted and another intelligence began to speak. More images emerged and with them, a deeper understanding of myself and my inner and outer dilemmas. I began to see patterns and belief structures that limited me. Thus began the process I now call Alchemical Art. (While I am a licensed psychotherapist, Alchemical Art classes are not psychotherapy. Read more below)
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
— Kurt Vonnegut
First, what is Alchemy?
Across culture, the Alchemist was known to take base materials such as lead and, through a series of laboratory processes – such as dissolving, burning and separating – attempt to turn lead into gold. The Alchemist does this through a disciplined practice of experimentation and close observation. Carl Jung saw alchemy as a metaphor for soul work. The “lead” or “prima materia” of daily life – depression, disturbances, meaninglessness, emotional struggles – can be actively engaged and transformed into wisdom, the Philosopher’s Stone, Sophia, Gold. By engaging that which disturbs us, we activate the potential for more consciousness and wholeness, thereby creating a more satisfying life.
What is Alchemical Art?
Alchemical Art is a process that utilizes the principles of alchemy — experimentation and observation— for inner exploration and development. I came to this when I branched out from the limitation of my drawing ability and turned toward paint and collage elements. Here I learned to “transform” prima materia — junk mail, acrylic paint, old greeting cards, and random images — into meaningful pieces.
An Alchemical Art class takes participants through various processes using paper, paint and texture to explore inner dilemmas. Participants work with a personal inquiry and invite the unconscious to guide the way with the hopes of revealing an expression of the soul. Here, the participant relies on the Inner Teacher, different than psychotherapy sessions which occur between patient and therapist.
This process requires curiosity and awareness, not artistic experience, talent or training. There is no drawing or figurative painting involved. It is a very user friendly and accessible method with lots of guidance.
Artists often find this process freeing and sometimes challenging. You will turn your attention away from composition and color theory and listen to a deeper current to guide you.
I offer workshops, ongoing classes and private sessions.
You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the birth, for the the hour of the new clarity.
— Rainer Maria Rilke