Guided Drawing – What it is and How it Works

I’ve been wanting to run a Guided Drawing workshop for some time now, but the restrictions of the pandemic and the new ways of interacting have meant a rather long delay. As I write this, I’m aware of wanting to connect and speak personally to whoever is reading this. A longing to share thoughts and feelings…

Guided Drawing is a bilateral drawing method, i.e. using both hands simultaneously in rhythmic movements to make marks on paper, using chalks, paint, crayon and pastels. It is a sensorimotor art therapy, developed from the findings of a woman called Marie Hippius in the 1930’s. Hippius formed an understanding of the effects emotions were having on individuals handwriting. She called Guided Drawing, ‘meditation in motion’.

Guided Drawing is a body focused form of art therapy, by which I mean, the emphasis is on internal orientation, such as tension in the shoulders or butterflies in the stomach. This is very much a process bias form of art therapy, the focus is on how it feels. Once we feel these movements, we can begin to be aware of their sensory resonance in the body. As this happens affect arises and we can respond emotionally.

The drawing process mirrors the tension and collapse in the muscles and viscera, as well as the powerful emotions associated with our limbic heritage. Guided Drawing does not ask for a story however, but rather assists in reducing stress and regulating the nervous system.

I am really excited to be hosting four Guided Drawing workshops in June and July, please see the flyer below for details and I look forward to welcoming you. I’ve also added a short film to show Guided Drawing in action.

Taking A Line For A Walk

This is a challenging time.  I certainly haven’t experienced anything like it.  I’m imagining that for most, being housebound and maintaining social isolation are boundaries never before experienced.  And how much more challenging it is to learn to cope with new experiences and life changes, whilst also feeling anxious or witnessing those around us as such.

I wanted to write a post that could offer some support in managing anxiety.  As an art therapist, I’ve both experienced and witnessed, the power creativity has in being able to calm the nervous system.  A combination of simple breath exercises and art making, can help bring a person into a more present and calm state of mind.  It’s a simple way of soothing the nervous system.  

I’ve written some simple steps to follow.  Have a read through and if you think this is something for you, give it a go.  You can let me know how you get on and if you would like to send me a picture of your work, I will try to find a way of presenting a collective, online gallery. 

1. Clear a space for yourself somewhere in your home. Somewhere where you can sit comfortably and use a pen and paper.  If you can, clear away any clutter. Think of making a mini environment for yourself that is both pleasant and tranquil to be in.

2. Bring some paper and drawing materials into your environment, actively invite them into your    space.  Whatever you have to hand will suffice.  It could be the back of an envelope or writing paper, a pen, pencil or biro.

3. Sit in the space you have created. Feel your sit bones connect to the chair, ground, cushion, whatever you have chosen to sit on. If your feet are on the ground, feel how the earth is supporting them. Place your hands on top of your thighs and take five deep breathes, inhaling and exhaling slowly and fully. Next, pick up your pen or pencil and take it for a walk across the paper.  Doodle, make shapes, patterns, scribbles, circles, whatever direction your hand chooses to take, just observe it. When you have finished making shapes on the page, put your pen down and this is the hard bit!  Try to look at your image with curiosity and wonder, without judgements, assumptions or criticism.  Perhaps you might see forms, patterns, faces, or other images emerge, or you might not.  

4. Next, take a new sheet of paper and write down some of your thoughts, feelings and sensations.

5. When you have finished, notice how you feel and if the exercise has helped. If you think it has, offer yourself the possibility of coming back to this space and repeating the exercise. 

It can be helpful to date your work so as to keep a kind of creative journal.  

Creative journaling can be a useful way in both noticing your psychological and emotional journey through this difficult time. It can also help to discharge some of the anxiety by quite literally putting the feeling ‘down’ on paper.