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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.

From dream catchers, to time machines and safety hands I have made sure my eBook has plenty of activities to keep creative hands, hearts and minds busy. I always love feedback, so if you buy the Nurture eBook, get in touch. You can also share your creations by e-mailing me or tagging me on Instagram; I would love to see them.

So with celebrations still running hot, since I released the my first eBook and with several more in the pipeline, I thought I would take a some time to write 5 things that can help you in getting creative at home.

  1. Space

Having a dedicated space is paramount to being creative at home. When I was little we had a huge wooden  extendable table that is where all the magic took place from play dough rolling, drawing, puzzles and homework, it was definitely the hearth of the home. It also featured nightly dinners and seasonal family meetings. I know of other people who have a fold out table for craft in their laundry, and others who use the outside patio. Some people like to use a play or games room. Knowing where creativity happens helps reign the potential chaos in. For people or parents who don’t see themselves as creative, they often get anxious about the mess and this can be a real barrier to creating. Choosing a location helps children to know the boundaries; it establishes a routine and prevents the dreaded paint being dragged into carpeted areas. It goes without saying that tiled or hard floors are the best kind of spaces as they are easy to keep clean and it is easy to mop up any spillages. If you only have carpets try and Invest in a good solid tarp or drop sheet. Or perhaps you can plan art dates at a friends or relatives house or at the park.

  1. Materials

Next on the list are the materials. Just like space, organisation is key. I love a good art-box or crate that can be tucked away in a cupboard and brought out as needed. Pencils and paper can still make an everyday appearance, but paints, glue’s, crayons etc can all be tucked into a box, along with aprons or art clothes. I also like to have an extra box that stores found or recycled materials. You will notice in our eBook that toilet rolls, cardboard boxes and ribbon come in handy. Simply add these materials as you find them and you will soon have a stock waiting when your ready to get creative. If you already have a well established but messy stock of art materials, you can read my tips here on how to organise them.

  1. Mood

One of the main pay-offs to getting organised with space and materials is that you can get creative when you’re in the mood. While it seems attractive to have an all-round access to creative materials, a child spilling paint just as the dog is barking for its walk and dinner is over cooking on the stove is a less than desirable scenario. Paper and pencils will tie the family over spontaneous creativity and you can save the messy and the diverse so those crafternoon’s.  If you find your never quite getting to do art and craft despite scrolling all the blogs and Instagram pages, try scheduling it in to a regular time-slot. Some families find joining forces easier, so grab a buddy and alternate having art time at each others houses. Art and play isn’t all for the kids, so get involved; have a go yourself. There are no rules!

  1. Activity Guides

If you are in the mood but stuck at what to do, having some guidance can be so useful. I like to think of an ebook or art guide 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. Whether you want to make something, invite exploration and learning or just have a sensory experience there are hundreds of art guides. Ebook’s and paper books in the world. Try Google, the library or Instagram. Some of my favorites places to explore are The Imagination Tree, Meri Cherry and Raising Kinley and of course if your looking for ideas you can buy my eBook here.

  1. Clean-up

It’s odd that when we get all grown up the idea of un-contained mess gets our nerves twitching. Once where we would have participated with reckless abandon, we now cringe and wonder whether the paint will stain the white wall or how we will unpick the play-dough from the tile grout. I guess it is because it is us doing the cleaning now. To make creating at home so much more attractive, you need to get your cleaning game up to scratch. No one has time for hours of clean-up post art  activity. Firstly choose your space wisely. Secondly a warm bucket of soapy water on hand will be your friend as will a container for sweeping all the cuttings and bits and pieces off the table. Lastly make cleaning up a part of your routine so your children come to expect that they will be helping. Many hands make less work! You can find some ideas for making cleaning up fun using games through the Inner Child Fun blog.

So there you go, 5 ways to get prepared for home creativity. It really is worth it. Creative expression will bring so much joy and learning to your home.

Ebook  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

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The Beauty of Waste: Recycling Art

“And that is the scary bit, bins -especially recycle bins convince us we don’t need to be resourceful…So how can we reuse? Because let’s be realistic those tin cans, spaghetti boxes and milk cartons aren’t going to be going anywhere soon”

This has to be one of my favourite topics. For a long time I could never reconcile my two passions for art and the environment. But once i started working with children, i realised how important it was not to pass down the habit of using toxic and wasteful materials, many of which are plastic based. These days I never look at the recycle bin the same way (and I have to get in first before my puppy!). It is not secret that our consumer habits and waste is getting pretty out of hand. My mumma tells me memories from when she was younger and remembered her parents and grandparents being extremely resourceful. Post-War England had no option but to be. Now? There is a bin for that. And that is the scary bit, bins especially recycle bins convince us we don’t need to be resourceful. The truth is we need to be resourceful now more than ever. Precisely because there is so much waste and so many products on the planet. It is best to be an advocate for reduce and reuse before recycle. So how can we reuse? Because let’s be realistic those tin cans, spaghetti boxes and milk cartons aren’t going to be going anywhere soon. This week on Instagram I posted some fun art and craft ideas straight from your household recycling. (it won’t be my last recycling art inspired stint of posts, so head over and follow me if you’re interested in a dose of inspiration). To recap i posted ideas for toilet roll animals, robots, letterboxes and a time machine- check them out here.

Continue reading The Beauty of Waste: Recycling Art

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How Scribbling Increases Imagination

The best thing about scribbling is that it not only boosts the imagination but it can also be a way to connect. I use these scribble activities to break the ice, build rapport, have a giggle, get my brains and hands warmed up and connect with others

So If you are a parent, teacher or you happen to be in possession of the family archives you are sure to be in ownership of a hefty amount of scribble artworks. We all know children scribble a lot. They get themselves through reams of paper and sometimes choose to delight you with some on on-the-wall versions. Scribbling is part of kinaesthetic development, meaning that it is a means of developing body awareness and awareness of movement. Kinaesthetic feedback is required to draw, write and engage in motor activities and tasks. Baghban, M (2007) also points out that scribbling development underpins a child’s ability to story tell. Drawing directly creates symbolic cues used for storytelling.  So next time you get handed yet another page of scribble, remember that the chaotic (and lovable) mess of lines is the building block of drawing and writing.

Continue reading How Scribbling Increases Imagination

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Mandala: Natural Art Therapy

The Mandala creates a clear visual boundary which can be grounding and soothing for a restless mind.

So I took a break and have come back a little more process orientated, a little more humbled by materials and a little more motivated to match my environmental consciousness with my art business. I have spent this week posting about Mandala’s on my instagram and thought they were worth a little more limelight. Before I get started on the many ways to create Mandala’s minus the plastic fantastic art materials, I thought I would give a brief description of where Mandala’s come from. The traditional mandala originates from Tibetan Buddhism and is a sand ritual that symbolises the interconnections of the universe; it also acts as a reminder of impermanence as the mandala’s are swept up at the end of the ceremony and ritual. Within each intricate design are different lessons, symbols and meanings. The complexity of the design can be outstanding.  There is a strong connection between Mandala’s and healing. Read more on the process of Tibetan Buddhist Mandala in this BBC article. You can also see Tibetan monks on youtube creating Mandala’s. They are pretty special.

Continue reading Mandala: Natural Art Therapy

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Superheroes Get Sad Too

It is much less confronting to talk about superheroes or popular characters at least to begin with. Superheroes come in handy, they assist in talking and exploring strengths, difficulties and emotions

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Superheroes.  I have also spent a few too many hours down the rabbit hole of internet googling. I can now share that Batman’s biggest strength and also weakness is that he is human, ironman can heal his own armour and that elsatigirl stretches herself so much she is vulnerable to getting stuck in doors! My recent (and admittedly first) interest in superheroes makes a little more sense if I explain the title of  my recent art therapy workshop; “Superhero’s Get Sad too”. Since updating my knowledge of superheroes and sneaking in a few non-traditional (but  popular) characters  into the planned activities, I have been interested in why kids are so naturally apt at idolising fictional characters.

Without getting too technical; children’s social and emotional development is shaped somewhat by how they make sense of the world around them. Children use a mixture of imagination and observation to construct and explore their reality and to distinguish self and other. Continue reading Superheroes Get Sad Too

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Angry Volcano

Volcano’s are the perfect metaphor for anger, they bubble, spit and are scorching hot. Really the sky is the limit with this art activity but here is the basic method and some variations to get you bubbling (!)

It’s been a little while since I added an activity to the blog. But an angry volcano is a long time art activity favorite which I am very excited to share. An angry volcano can be crafted many different ways and can be adapted to make a big multi-stage art project or you can whip up the basic materials for a bit of instant fun. I have used this activity countless times in my Art Therapy practice, because it’s interactive and a great conversation starter about anger.

Angry Volcano

Really the sky is the limit with this art activity but here is the basic method and some variations to get you bubbling (!). Younger children may need some extra help, but it’s  suitable for any age. Continue reading Angry Volcano

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What to remember about communication and mental health in children

 It can be distressing to have a child who is struggling and it’s even more bewildering when you feel like you’re on the streets of suburban Rome speaking one language and waving your hands frantically in the air, while your child frowns and speaks another.

Imagine you have traveled to a foreign country. You wake-up and stroll out into the street of the picturesque little village that will be your home for the next two weeks. You are ready to take on the day as the new Simon Reeves; cultured adventure awaits!  But first you need to just pop into the local supermarket, pharmacy or bank. Maybe you like to travel last minute, or without plans or maybe you’re just poorly organised or communication was last on your list of worries. Either way you haven’t planned ahead for internet access and there is no free Wi-Fi. The backup plan when Google isn’t an option is simple; ask a stranger for help. I mean, surely it can’t be that hard to find someone who speaks English. So you stop and ask a few locals; an elderly man, a young mum with her two children and a couple walking their dog. But they all shrug and smile awkwardly, repeating something in words that you do not understand. No one speaks English. While your stomach is starting to flutter with a rising concern you consider what to do next.  What do you do? I have been in this situation in the outskirts of suburban Rome. I was looking for a supermarket and asked a lot of people. I tried miming, rather hilariously, a shopping bag and eating. My two travel companions tried their own versions and eventually a young woman pointed down the road, signalling some directions, her charade game on point.  To end the story; we never found the supermarket. My sense of direction is atrocious and I had the feeling with all her frowning that the supermarket was more than a short stroll away. At least I learnt about my own assumptions and naivety. Continue reading What to remember about communication and mental health in children

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How the Heart and Brain Help us Heal

Understanding the relay race of our body and brain can help us understand eclectic processes of healing and direct us how to choose the type of therapy we need.

There is an amazing comic illustrator The Awkward Yeti who has designed human organs into characters and I must admit I find endless entertainment through the accuracy of their dialogue, particularly the characters Heart and Brain (find them here). While not entirely surprising, the subject of our biological organs is relevant to the way we psychologically heal. By understanding the process of healing and information processing through our biological mechanisms we can gain a better understanding of how eclectic approaches to therapy can work and where art therapy may fit. Rest assured if you’re not a human biology master, you’ll be fine to read on. This blog would cause a neurologist to cringe at my over-simplification and generous metaphors. Still, I think you’ll get the point and who doesn’t love a little metaphor!

Continue reading How the Heart and Brain Help us Heal

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The New Year and a Memory Jar

This time of year I must admit is a bit of a mixed bag for me and probably, in reality, it is the same for most people. It is a time filled with hope, anticipation and gritty determination.

Hello 2018! It is nice to meet you.

This time of year I must admit is a bit of a mixed bag for me and probably, in reality, it is the same for most people. It is a time filled with hope, anticipation and gritty determination. And depending on the state of your previous year the new one can be met with anything from welcome to relief to trepidation. Last year was a personally tough one for me so I was happy to see the New Year in and say goodbye to 2017. I am a dreamer and love that in January the whole year stretches ahead with stoic potential. While some are relieved the festivities are over by mid-month, that the loneliness or stress of an empty or chaotic Christmas is tucked neatly behind them, I am always fortunate enough to be a little sad. I travel to my hometown for Christmas each year and I always find it hard to swallow the inevitable ‘goodbye till next time’ when I leave. 10 years on and I find the town and the coastline still has my heart as do my dear family members that still live there. The aqua waters, white sand, lazy sleep ins and family board games have been replaced with the urban sprawl and oven like temperatures of Perth. So as I settle back in to city life, I Continue reading The New Year and a Memory Jar