I decided to kick off the my week of "working for keeps" by taking a risk in my art therapy practice. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a young patient of about 13. Her nurse came up to me in the hall and lightly catching me by the arm, said "Adelle wants to paint her tennis shoes." "Shoes hmmm?" I always enjoy a challenge like this in the midst of hospital hustle and bustle. "What would I need to paint some tennis shoes, Converse cotton canvas to be precise?" I thought fast.
I would need:
•some acrylic paint thinned slightly in a variety of colors
•2 (at least) emesis basins (those kidney shaped bowls that are standard hospital issue.)
•several toothbrushes. Raid the supply room.
•What to do about the floor? Grab a plastic isolation gown and some medical tape. Spread it out like a tarp, and tape the arms and bottom firmly to the linoleum floor.
Adelle and I hunkered down on the floor and I experimented with my flick and spray techniques. She didn't have much experience in this area, but caught on quickly, expertly flicking the first layer of yellow drops on her orange shoes. A shy tween, she was hesitant at first, especially because our activity attracted the interest of the residents and the nurses who came in and out of her room and couldn't resist asking the obvious "What are you doing?" She smiled and flicked her toothbrush, spraying flecks of yellow. I was impressed. The shoes were looking great and with an additional layer of red and cerulean blue, they appeared as if a professional had created them. Which got me to thinking. Most likely Adelle (not her real name) had a lot more experience with Internet shopping than I and more than likely, Converse was marketing just such a shoe. I went home and checked it out on my laptop. Sure enough, there was an option to "make" your own shoe". I spent a bit of time changing the colors and patterns on my virtual shoe, but in the end, concluded that doing it in the flesh was better. I searched around the house, looking for a pair of my daughter's old Converse tennies to spray. Too late, I remembered that they'd gone to Goodwill in a paper sack. What to do? The answer came to me this morning from my friend and coworker Janelle (her real name) while we were sitting together. She stared down at my worn Dansko clogs (standard hospital wear) and noted the multiple flecks of white paint on one of them. "You ought to collage those" she said "you know, create your own brand." "A beautifully painted pair of clogs", definitely a keeper of an idea. I'll be painting, collaging and posting. Care to join me anyone?