Thursday, April 25, 2013

Making Whole: Healing Through Art: Wise Word Collage

by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal.

Those of us who have been through any kind of pain in life, be it a romance ending, a death in the family, a loss of any kind, or even just the habit of internalizing our thoughts and feelings, know that writing out our feelings is often a useful way to release the inner angst and work through complex emotions.
Creative people have been doing it for centuries. Poets and great writers have used their own internal struggles to inspire some of the most powerful and timeless written words that still move and resonate within humanity today. A quick Google search under "famous quotes: heartbreak/ loss/love/ friendship or any other word that fits your own struggle or issues will turn up prose from names like Shakespeare, Poe, Whitman, Twain and others.

This collage process asks the artist to use found and printed quotes from the computer or book sources, or their own written words from journals or letters, along with abstract painting, to illustrate a feeling or emotion that they may struggle with or be working through.

You'll need:  11x17" watercolor paper on canvas or pre-stretched canvas, paints, Modge Podge decoupage medium, paint brushes, scissors, printed quotes of choice or copies letters, journal pages or written words to reflect your feelings or emotions

  • Gather together all your written word material
  • Using paints and canvas, think about the emotion or issue you have been working on in your journal or internally, and using colors and form, express it on the paper.  Fill the whole of the paper with color and shape to give the viewer a sense of the emotion and feeling behind the issue for you.
  • Once done, allow to dry. While drying, look through your written word papers.  Tear the sheets of written words into irregular shapes to apply over your abstract painting in a collage manner.  You may use as many or as few as you think you'd like to, covering as much of your painting as you like.

  • Using the Modge Podge, apply the torn word pieces to the canvas and apply a coat of Modge Podge over the papers to seal to the canvas.  Once you are done apply the papers, apply a coat of Modge Podge to the entire surface to give it a consistent surface appearance.  Allow to dry before display.

Process Notes:  The purpose of this process is to express the issue the artist is thinking about in two ways, both through color and form and in word.  Through the process of making the art, the artist again releases some of the angst and power of the emotions associated with the original issue and puts that energy into the artwork itself.  While reading through the quotes and thoughts of others about similar circumstances or emotions, the artist sees that the feelings are not unique and that others have felt those same emotions and have expressed them... and moved on.  This takes some of the power and energy away from the original issue as well, making it just part of life, and not something life should revolve around.

Noncommercial Some rights reserved by {beautiful} Lemons Photography

Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups


  1. Well, I'm no artist! Not by a long shot, but I must admit that was very interesting. I'm your latest follower. Nice to meet you. Have a great weekend. and thanks for sharing.,

  2. Thanks Marie, for stopping by! and thanks for following!


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