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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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Ultimate Play Dough

Play dough is a multi-stage process which means it is a great holiday activity for children who are learning how to follow methods and sequences. Involve your child in the whole process

If your a regular reader of this blog you will find that I love nothing more than to discuss the serious and at times messy topics of art therapy and mental health.
But I have decided to start a regular addition to my posts in the form of a creative activity. I’ll annotate activities, recipes and ideas with emotion related titbits and variations. I am hoping these activities offer something practical for parents, caregivers and anyone who spends a lot of time with children. Creative activities for children help them develop fine motor skills, sequencing and problem solving abilities and encourage development in imagination, sensory processing and confidence. The playful, fun and creative aspects of childhood are often the most essential to development. So without further rambling, my first activity to share is a classic- Play dough!

Play dough

While I had grand plans to test a whole range of play-dough recipes and then tweak them until I had the ultimate recipe, I was in fact saved by The Imagination Tree. Anna’s  award winning blog is all round amazing and I definitely recommend it as a resource. I love this recipe in particular because it is no-cook, soft and lasts a long time (like months and months). It is the only one I use. I usually keep play dough in ziplock bags to keep it fresh, but you could use an airtight container. I have used the recipe without glycerine and it is still is the best recipe!

Continue reading Ultimate Play Dough