Birth Art – not just for those who are pregnant but for those with older children too. No experience necessary.
For me as someone who was incredibly fearful of putting paint to paper for fear of ruining it or from making a picture that people laughed at it was an incredible thing to find out how exhilarating, how freeing and releasing it can be. As part of our Birth Art Mentor training we had to paint every morning for 7 days and then every evening for 7 days and record thoughts and feelings brought up during the process.
At first just staring at a HUGE (A3) piece of blank paper was so daunting. What should I do, I had no image in my head to paint. Then the procrastinating began, shall I use acrylic paint, chalk, pastels…. what colour should I use. I stopped closed my eyes took a breath and looked at the chalks I ran my eye along and noticed which colour I was drawn to, I picked it up and turned my attention to the paper. Where should I start? Middle, left side? Right side? Top? Bottom? Again a deep breath and just moved my hand to the paper and started to draw. Instead of worrying about what was being put on the paper I noticed the feeling in my body, where did I hold the tenseness? Which muscles were tight – which emotions did these relate too? As I drew different things how did I feel – light and dreamy as I drew the flower in the centre but then the scarier emotions raised their heads – here I had drawn something beautiful and dainty – could I ruin it? Was it true that you couldn’t actually ruin these paintings but only create an outlet for emotions. As I picked p the black pastel and stated to aply it I concentrated more on the tenseness in my body and the flood of emotions in my head and thoughts and feelings. I could start to see how emotions and thoughts can directly relate to tightening of muscles. For me predominantly in my abdomen.
I reflected on how during birthing how fear could affect and influence my uterine muscles – if they were tight – the uterine muscles couldn’t work effectively – labour would not progress smoothly, baby wouldn’t effectively be moved towards the birthing canal and tight muscles stopping other muscles expanding could cause a lot of pain. So interesting to see and feel this really happening.
And how would this influence me as a mum? Dealing with a situation where I needed to do one thing but my son wanted to do another – by becoming tense and tight, shallow breathing – putting me more in a fight or flight situation would mean I wouldn’t be able to think logically or compassionately and the situation could escalate into a fight between us.
So for both of these situations I knew I had the skills within me to change the outcome – breathe – deep slow breathes allow the tension to dissipate, tune back in to my body feel it relax, allow my thoughts to calm. Take a moment – things don’t have to be such an urgent matter. Relax the abdomen, relax the jaw, relax the pelvic floor.
I looked down at my picture and could see for myself all the turmoil of the emotional and physical journey I had just gone through, For me this wasn’t a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ picture – it was imagery of what I had just felt.
And I realised – through this journey had realised a lot about myself, what fears I held, how I held these fears in my body and importantly what tools I had to get out of a fight or flight situation and bring back some control.
I now see art as a useful tool to work through emotions, to express what I am not used to expressing, putting big sweeping wild strokes on paper with abandon can give me space to work out a solution to a problem or to just process an event. And in the process create a piece of art that has real meaning to me.
If you would like to experience Birth Art for yourself come along to a session – currently held monthly. For more information click here.