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9 Family Art Activities; How creativity can help you connect

“The family Canvas  trend is not new but is easily one of my favourites. I prefer it as an ongoing project over a period of time where layers can be built up and added to. Start with a super sized bit of paper, a canvas or even a pin board if you would like to go collage style”

Family activities have long included picnic adventures, helmet donning and leg tiring bike-rides and long never ending games of monopoly. But there are other ways to connect and nurture family relationships and making art together is certainly one of them. I am sure many of you have allowed the children to run freely with the craft box or have trucked yourselves off to the shops to find fresh supplies for the latest blog craze recipe (like unicorn dough) but have you ever created an artwork together? Family art activities are messy in more ways than one but worth the courage. And if you get through this article with enthusiasm but still too much trepidation to try it at home, you can always book into a family session at the Sunflower and Ivy Studio here.

First let’s talk connecting with kids creatively. I often see families in my art therapy practice who report  two kinds of challenges. The first and common challenge is that they have a creative child but do not feel confident or artistic enough to join them. The second is that they would like to connect more often as a family but find their children repeat the same requests for food, toys or gaming and that they aren’t into art as much anymore. Whilst there can be much to unpack for both of these struggles, being armed with a little understanding of something called bidding and some ideas for family art activites can be helpful in boosting your resources. Continue reading 9 Family Art Activities; How creativity can help you connect

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10 Artworks to Get You Obsessed with Recycled Art

“…uses newspaper print to create lifelike animal sculptures. From walrus and hares to iguanas her sculptures can take up to three months to create.”

The words recycled art might conjure up mental images of school art projects; made from milk cartons and wonky hot glue guns or you might picture the sweet but alas a little tacky tin can aeroplanes of your local crafters market. What you might not immediately imagine is gallery worthy fine art. No I am not kidding; recycling and fine art certainly belong in the same sentence and the same room. But before I get into that, I am going to touch on why this topic excites me so much.

It has been a welcome relief to see the recent surges of interest in acknowledging and tackling climate change and environmental disrepair. As a long time nature lover I have often wondered what makes people cringe when environmental advocacy is discussed. I posted on my Instagram about being an animal lover and had 6 of my 600 followers- 1% unfollow me in a matter of minutes. And whilst I have never been one for social media numbers, I was honestly quite surprised. Did those people think I was climbing up the ladder of my soap box at a mere mention of animals? Or are some of us trying that hard to hide from our own shame of not doing more, that we can’t tolerate someone else sharing love? I am not sure -but I do know whether we like to acknowledge it or not is we belong to Mother Earth and we all have a responsibility to start caring for her. Which brings me back to art- how do we motivate each other to change poor habits, how do we raise awareness without the soapbox and how do we inspire people that cool things can be done and created with what we already have? Well apart from saying a quiet thank goodness for David Attenborough amongst other people, there are lots of things we can do. When it comes to art, I have already written a blog post about sourcing ethical art materials (that you can read here) but we can also look at arts role in playfully advocating and creating inspiration for meaningful change.

Continue reading 10 Artworks to Get You Obsessed with Recycled Art

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Mastering Your Inner Critic in Art Making

For those of us with a loud and persistent inner critic it is easy to get used to the constant commentary, meaning that we are either resigned to it as a truth or we have adjusted our lives in such a way to normalise it or drown it out.

Our inner critic can be described as the voice or stream of thoughts that intrusively and sometimes continuously offers criticism. It sounds like too much, too loud, too negative, too ugly, too dumb, too fat, too skinny, too lazy, too inexperienced, too fake, too late. I am sure you recognise it. Inner critics love to preface things with “too”, just to drive home that the trait is too much and therefore negative.Other common versions of the voice are “you can’t” or “you are” It is very easy to feel that this voice or stream of thoughts offers us the truth. In actual fact your inner critic is often a blend of persistent and unaddressed fear or insecurity, vulnerability and cultural conditioning as well as habit. Depending on the volume and origin of your inner critic, mastering it can be a long-term practice. While it might confront you to think it is here to stay, with a bit of work, a whole lot of compassion and some creativity you can loosen the grip it has on you and your wellbeing. Continue reading Mastering Your Inner Critic in Art Making

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Boredom Busters For Home Isolation

Whether it is by choice or by restriction being confined at home can be more rewarding and comforting when filled with meaningful activity. I suggest mixing up your days with variation. 8 hour Netflix binges might seem attractive, but it is probably going to do nothing for your mood, your lethargy level or the possibility of “cabin fever”…below is my list of boredom busters for home isolation that should help you out.

So it feels more than strange to be writing the title for this blog post; Boredom busters for home isolation is  something I and most people I know are privileged to not have had to contemplate until now. The start of the decade is certainly shaking us up from our sleepy comfort. It wasn’t long ago i was writing this article in response to the worst bushfires Australia has experienced and now I am sitting here thinking up creative ways for our hands and hearts to keep occupied during a pandemic.  It’s rare for the world to experience such intense collective anxiety. But it has happened before, through both war and disease. A few lined and wise faces will be looking at this scenario knowingly but the truth is most of us have not had to weather such sinister storms. It is entirely normal to feel a full spectrum of emotions. Before I launch into my creative boredom busters, I thought I would point you in the direction of other trusted resources. Continue reading Boredom Busters For Home Isolation

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Art for Change

 Let me take you through a mix of positive power stories from artists and creative influencers to some tips of tried and true ways to put your creativity to power and make art for change.

So unless you have had a trip to Mars recently or live technology free you will be have experienced the heartbreak of watching the Australian fire crisis unfold over the last few months. Perhaps you experienced it or had family experience it directly. If you did, then my heart goes out to you. The horror must have been unimaginable.  The amount of loss and devastation tally’s high. From 24 deaths, to estimate thousands of dwellings burnt. And the affected animals falls into the 100’s of millions as declared by Sydney University. Amongst that boggling mix has been disenchanting behaviour by Australian politicians, toxic smoke haze issues, river and sediment imbalances and the list goes on. ABC recently reported on widespread misinformation and “bots” spreading arsonist claims that aren’t true. The fact that climate change discussions, in a country dedicated to coal got ah, heated, is hardly surprising. But it’s enough to increase the agitation and despair we all feel. Australia ended and started the decade with a physical and emotional enormity that no-one anticipated. I think feeling all the feelings is so important; sadness, despair, fear, uncertainty, agitation and contempt all help to mobilise action.

Action is the reason I am writing this blog post. Because alongside the terror and the pain there has been incredible amounts of action and as time continues i hope that much action will continue. This beautiful country we live in requires better care urgently. Continue reading Art for Change

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Process Art Christmas Cards

When Christmas to-do lists feel overwhelming injecting some creativity into your week can be just what your heart needs. Process Art  Christmas cards are easy, playful, fun and the perfect antidote to commercial craziness.

With Christmas and New Year just around the corner this time of year can be a mash of workplace busyness, sweet treats, social catch-ups, shopping lists, budgets, New Year’s resolutions, holiday dreaming and much more. When Christmas to-do lists feel overwhelming injecting some creativity into your week can be just what your heart needs. Utilising process based methods of creating can alleviate performance pressure and provide a moment to let go, play and relax. For this activity I have combined some process based painting techniques with the Christmas giving spirit to make Christmas Cards.  This activity is suitable for any age.

When making Christmas cards, I find a good variety of textured and coloured papers will set you up well. My three favourite ways to make patterned paper are paint blowing, string pulling and paint scratching and brushing. Try all of them, one of them or mix and match. The instructions for each are below followed by suggestions on how to turn the patterned paper into cards. Other process paint options include paint flicking, smudging, dribbling and marbling. There are no limits so get experimental.

Continue reading Process Art Christmas Cards

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Where to buy Eco Art Materials

Despite many dead-end google searches I have been replacing “all too hard” with a list of ethical producers and suppliers and alternative ideas to our fast paced art cupboards. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about starting and transitioning one thing at a time. 

So you have your eco hit list; the one with your regular purchases and habits that your determinedly and slowly switching out for more ethical and environmentally friendly alternatives. Reusable shopping bags-tick  Glass Tupperware- tick, reusable straw- tick, stainless steel razor- tick, art materials- um, cross. It’s no secret that certain things are harder to find ethical alternatives for and art materials, i believe, are right at the top of that list. It’s not that there aren’t ways to make art without the plastics,  environmental toxins and  ocean threatening micro-waste, it’s just that these ways aren’t as convenient or as pretty and sometimes they are even a bit hard to find. Bright colours, fast-drying and affordability have all become trade-marks of the art supplies industry. For the last year as i slowly wade through my back-log of art materials i have wondered, where to next?  Despite many dead-end google searches I have been replacing “all too hard” with a list of ethical producers and suppliers and alternative ideas to our fast paced art cupboards. There is now enough of a list of eco art materials I thought i would share. Each mention of a store or brand should be hyper-linked for you to click for more info- I hope you enjoy!

Continue reading Where to buy Eco Art Materials

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5 Ways to Creatively Talk about Fear

To talk about fear you can quite simply make a cup of tea and pull up a chair to chat about fear, but being human and a therapist I know how difficult this is for most of us…

Fear: it’s a big four letter word and just as taboo as four letter swear words. Most of us spend a healthy amount of time trying to avoid fear. Some of us get fear avoidance down to a fine art, whilst others (me included) find we always have one eye on the dark crevices waiting for it to creep back in.  The truth is we all feel fear, whether it’s of elevators, spiders, heights or the more serious existential aspects of life like dying, illness or being alone. Fear overlaps with anxiety and worry and is one of those hard-to-define, ambiguous emotions when it comes to dictionary definitions. Fear is often coupled with anticipatory risk, sense of danger and threat of the unknown. More often than not it is a visceral sensation felt in the body. Fear is felt and triggered through the primal parts of our brain and triggers the immobilisation of the body and brain for reaction. Continue reading 5 Ways to Creatively Talk about Fear

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eBook’s and Getting Creative at Home

 I like to think of an art guide or eBook like a cooking recipe. Sometimes you follow them word, for word, ingredient for ingredient and other times you flick through, find inspiration through the photos and make your own magical concoction.


Last week was pretty exciting for me because I finally launched Sunflower and Ivy’s first eBook called Nurture.  One of the reasons I launched an eBook is because I wanted family’s to be able to create at home. I grew up in regional Australia in a family of four children and although I went to art classes, the cost of us all going, in addition to any sports we were doing would have been too much.  Access to art classes and workshops can also be limited in regional places. I also know that a lot of people following Sunflower and Ivy on Instagram don’t live in the same place as me so they can’t attend our range of workshops.

My first eBook is for all of these people; people who know me on Instagram but can’t get to a workshop, people that live in the many regional and rugged places of Australia, for the bigger families and also the people who don’t have a lot of cash to spare. I want quality art activities to be accessible to all of these people and also the art addicts; the creative families that happily create every day. Nurture includes 20+ art activities that of course have my signature therapeutic twist. Besides all the activities being fun, easy and helpful in getting creative juices flowing they also promote discussion and learning around emotional resilience and identity.  I purposely included add-on’s so each activity can be kept simple or modified for challenge and further depth. Continue reading eBook’s and Getting Creative at Home

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Organising Art and Craft Spaces in 3 steps

Putting off organising your art and craft space? Grab yourself some chocolate, tea, wine, coffee or all of the choices and let’s get started. I promise you it’s not all bad, you will find some lost treasures, some endorphins from the sense of control and a fresh new space

Hands up if your play room, craft room or art cupboard, is well, let’s say tenderly chaotic (read whirlwind  masquerading as generously creative). No shame here. My art boxes and shelves can get gloriously untidy from time to time. Organising art and craft spaces can be daunting but a space left messy can seriously impact  productivity and how you use your materials. Have you been putting it off? I suggest you grab yourself some chocolate, tea, wine, coffee or all of the above, take a deep breath and we can get started together. I promise you it’s not all bad, you will find some lost treasures, some endorphins from the sense of control and a fresh new space to store you or your children’s creative tools. Continue reading Organising Art and Craft Spaces in 3 steps