Welcome to The Art Whisperer

Posted | 0 comments

The Art Whisperer blog image

Thank you for coming to my blog page! I am an Art Therapist working in Gardenvale, in Bayside Melbourne. I am passionate about art therapy and will share with you thoughts about imagination, making art, art AS THERAPY, expressing feelings through art AND HEALING through art. I believe Art making is BIG Medicine! Please subscribe to this site (top of page) to stay tuned to my whisperings.



This may sound strange but as an Art Therapist I am not interested in if you can draw or not. I am interested in you expressing yourself non-verbally. But frequently the first thing someone will say to me in the first Art Therapy session is …

“But–I –can’t –draw–!”.
I cant draw image

Where does this ”I can’t draw” mind set come from? In everyone’s artistic timeline there are moments when expressing creatively is present for a while. This is usually during childhood and then with many of us it seems to leave. Why does our artistic confidence leave us? And what are we using as our yardstick when we feel we cannot draw? Does it lie in cultural attitudes to art or in a lack of encouragement to understand our creative selves? The first world culture values the quantitative, scientific and outcome measured way of being. Creative freedom has difficulty sitting in this approach. Creative pursuits need qualitative, experiential and phenomenological ways of being.

People often view artistic talent as the copying or exactly replicating what is seen in front of them. It has to look like a photographic image. Drawing photographically is a great skill and admirable yes but not what Art Therapy is steeped in and not necessarily a rewarding explorative expression of self. Without using the abstract or free imagination to create images this type of realist art sets most of us up to fail. In our adult minds we are Rembrandt but in our skill base we are still children in our art abilities.

Many adults I have worked with don’t like what they draw because they are drawing from their inner child which is often where they left off on their artistic journey. It feels childlike, awkward, vulnerable and unfamiliar and as adults we expect to have developed artistically without putting in any of the practice. If you wish to draw like Rembrandt then practice every day for a couple of decades and it may happen. This lack of connection and development to our artistic selves is why we are so disappointed when we begin to draw as adults.

Why is it that our parents, relatives and teachers love our early drawings and paintings and creative explorations but replace this encouragement later with more important emphasis on sports, commerce or sciences? Our paintings as children are simple and naïve and reflect openly and freely how we see the world. But as we reach high school this dissipates. Art is not seen as a viable career or an economic money earner unless you are naturally gifted in some way and even then it is hard to pursue a career.

Most people I have worked with seem able to trace their artistic shakiness back to an early art experience. Perhaps a discouraging teacher, a lack of opportunity to explore one’s creative interests and reflect artistically or a family that did not value art or its pursuits. The mindset of “I can’t draw “ comes filled with the discouraged experience of a primary school art class or the unfortunate competitive comparisons made with other children that can destroy any imaginative explorations. So it seems somewhere between the ages of 4 and 18 a lot of us fall off the artistic bandwagon and self -doubt creeps in shaping us to believe for the rest of our lives that “we cannot draw”. So we don’t. Or when we do try we become frustrated with the childlike simplicity that emerges on the page. What I passionately believe is that not drawing sadly eliminates an opportunity to experience that which can be extremely insightful, creating illuminating areas for personal development and offering a deep reconnection to self. Also drawing creates opportunity for understanding of self in times of difficulty where words inadequately express feelings; for example grief, anxiety or depression. It can then facilitate understanding to help healing.

So when you say to me “but I can’t draw” I will say to you but oh yes you can and it will be a very vulnerable place that you are stepping into. A place of your imagination! Of your childlike self! In a safe environment I will ask you what is in this present moment. Where and how do you feel in this moment? Can you express this in some way?

I will encourage you to express without judgement and draw like no one is watching. Draw your stick figures and your scribbly, wobbly, naïve shapes because this is who you are today and the rewards will be many. Your drawings will change as you explore and gain insightful confidence. Shaun Mcniff a pioneering Art Therapist who wrote”Art As Medicine” states:

“I create from where I am and not from where I think I should be”…

This is what I ask you to consider. It takes some time and gentle guidance which is what an Art Therapist is trained to do. We will go on a journey together to unfold your creative dreams and find that “you can draw”. The first few sessions always involves recalibrating the mind- set around attitudes to art ability. It takes gentle encouragement and small steps. Finding what you like to look at artistically and what mediums you lean towards are first important steps to connection. The focus on no right or wrong way to be creative will always be reinforced. Also high on the list will be exploring colour, shape, texture and feelings representing these artistically without negative self- judgement. Slowly people gain their confidence back and what emerges as important are the feelings being expressed in the images not the images themselves. Drawing and creating any sort of art is a deeply intimate, very personal and an incredibly rewarding experience. It is medicine and sometimes it can help heal us. Always it shifts us to other ways of thinking and being.

Stories are told through our art, experiences are shared through our art and because of this new insights and understanding emerges. Why not go and grab yourself a pencil/pen and piece of paper right now and draw this very moment and what this moment looks like to you. Is it a smiley face with a stick figure body or a flower with a butterfly or perhaps a river filled with sailboats? Any of these images evoke personal meaning to their creators. What evokes your imagination?

I will be running some workshops in 2015 to explore reconnecting to your creative self. In the meantime these websites may offer you an opportunity to explore your creative self and new ways of thinking artistically.

Until next we whisper.

Happy drawing!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *