Friday, November 6, 2015

The nature of art materials

The most well known art materials, are paints, pencils, crayons, markers and perhaps play dough or clay. We all have our favourites. Some of us feel at ease with one medium and always prefer it over the others. For those of us who like to use a variety, we may choose a particular material one day because we just ‘feel’ like it or are in the ‘mood’ for it.

These seemingly simple ingredients that help us express our creative selves are anything but that. Each one of them has inherent qualities within them that evoke a certain response within the human form and psyche. These qualities are related to the rhythm and movement of the material, its texture and its applicability.

For instance, paint is fluid and  hard to control. It is evocative in nature and has the capacity to bring out emotions. Pencil which is rigid and goes along with the will of its handler lends itself to subordination. It is a medium that may feel attractive to someone who requires a certain degree of caution. Markers are permanent and though are more easily controlled than paint, their imprint cannot be erased like that of a pencil, thus, their use requires confidence and a certain degree of skill. Clay is earthy, it is malleable and can take a fair degree of pounding. It can cause regression and is also capable of containing irate and aggressive impulses.

An art therapist has a deep knowledge of art materials and their potential to induce or exteriorize certain emotional states. He/she is trained to maximise the potential of these materials which in a sense are his/her tools within the therapeutic space/relationship.

Within the context of ASD art materials can be used to promote self-regulation as well as sensory modulation due to their multi-sensory properties. 

So the next time you feel like painting and not drawing, maybe you should stop and reflect on why you are attracted to the latter ;)

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