We celebrated the public holiday of Maulidur Rasul yesterday so there was no work. I spent 2 hours of my free day at the third session of the Finding Self Through Expressive Arts workshop at Clove&Clive. The facilitator for this workshop is Thang Mee Yuen, with her background in psychology and therapeutic play skills.
I found it a very interesting and thought-provoking session, and I’d like to share it with my readers.
When I first stepped into the room, I was confronted by the whole group seated at a big square table, and lying on the table was a giant piece of white paper (well they were joined pieces of mahjong paper, really). There was a huge circle drawn in the middle and divided into 6 ‘pie’ slices. Mee Yuen called it a mandala. There were a couple more who have yet to arrive, so we waited as the session was a communal one this time.
When the entire group was assembled, we started. Mee Yuen asked us to pour different colours of paint onto our palette, grab a brush and paint our slice of the pie. We could paint anything we wish and also paint ourself into it; in addition to that, we could also choose to paint in our neighbour’s pie or in any other slice of pie we chose to (e.g. the ones across the table).
In the silence, you could only hear brush strokes and splashes of water as we exercised our creativity onto the paper, and painted politely in our slice of the pie. I found that I really enjoyed the process, especially since it was such a large sheet of paper and not the normal art block. I haven’t used watercolour or acrylic paint for a long long time.
After we were done, Mee Yuen guided us to discuss our emotions and feelings as we painted, and what the drawing was about.
Interestingly, no one painted in other slices of the pie except one of the ladies, who attempted to join her painting of nature with her neighbour’s, by mimicking the colours at the borderline.
Since we were all so civil with each other and painted politely in our own slice, Mee Yuen threw us a challenge to paint anywhere on that huge piece of paper including other people’s slices, or we could also choose to do nothing.
I noticed a certain gleefulness in me as I went around, being given the ‘permission’ to paint in other people’s slices. Well, to be really honest, I was feeling a little cheeky!
Using the paint leftover in my palette, I added patterns, dots and features to others’ paintings. I started off trying to enhance the other paintings or make it prettier. Awhile later, I got a little bolder and painted a big cross across 3 neat rows of colours and also blurred the edges of a pie so that it kind of ‘bled’ into the other pie.
I noticed another friend painting some strokes to merge the painting – she expanded the sun in her painting/ pie to the entire mandala. Getting the drift, I helped her fill up the spaces of another pie with a common colour from the pie next to it.
One by one, everyone was done ‘enhancing’ the other paintings and put down their brushes.
At this point, we were guided to share how we felt about our painting, now that someone has come and added to it. Did we feel that our space was invaded upon or violated? Or that the painting was ruined? Or did the painting look better now?
It was an interesting look at ‘my slice of the pie in the universe’ and how it felt when others came to ‘correct’ the painting, or ‘enhance’ it or ‘ruin’ it, whatever your own interpretation may be.
As the session is confidential, all the feedback shall remain in that room and I will not be sharing it.
However, I found the session very interesting because it touched on our possessiveness over the things that we created/ owned, our territory, our protectiveness over our own ‘masterpiece’ or ‘slice of the pie’, our defensiveness against being ‘fixed’ or being ‘corrected’ and so on.
Perhaps this is an activity you can run if you own a kindergarten or art school and observe how the kids react when someone paints in their piece of the pie.
Mee Yuen shared that children have very little filters of their emotions so they would be displaying their true emotions, unlike adults, who have been programmed to behave in a certain way that is socially acceptable.
At the end of the session, what I brought home was how much I enjoyed using a paintbrush to splash paint all over the paper and bring my vision to life. It was truly therapeutic to create a piece of art, especially if you don’t judge it by anyone’s standards but your own. I think I should paint more often!