Friday, January 27, 2012

Mindfulness at Play

Imagining the Year, © 2012, Hannah Hunter, Collage
Have you ever felt the axis of your life shifting? Last year I was deeply focused on my artwork, with art therapy a bit out of focus.

As the year has turned, however, so has my attention. For many years, I relied on observations of my own children's developmental stages to help me understand the children with whom I worked.

Now, with my own children navigating the waters of young adulthood, I no longer have that framework to depend on. While the memories are there, I need to stay fresh in my art therapy practice.

With that in mind, I've been re-infusing my knowledge of art therapy and child development by lots of reading, particularly on the Art Therapy Alliance group threads on LinkedIn.

I've been particularly intrigued by the development of Cathy Malchiodi's "Trauma Informed Practices Institute." In her recent newsletter, she lays out some of the core foundations for integrating mindfulness practice and positive psychology into art therapy.

"Making art can help us become mindful in the moment, just like when one learns to be present in the moment through the practice of mindfulness meditation. In art therapy, we often speak of that moment in art making when "flow" occurs-- an experience of losing oneself in the experience, but at the same time being present and engaged in the process. Being in the flow state can help you become more relaxed and begin to observe yourself in new ways. Art expression itself is a way of creating something new from what you already have, but may not have fully recognized within yourself."
Absorption, ©2009, Hannah Hunter, SoulCollage®
Observing the children on the unit, I would say that the flow state has more and more been relegated  to the world of Wii, Playstation 3 and Nintendo. While there is value in learning to control the actions of characters on screen, I have a personal bias. I think it is just as exciting and possibly more so to be able to affect actions with one's own hands in our three dimensional world.

In other words, how do we help children find their way into the flow state with art, music, dance and other forms of creative expression? That's the question I'll be asking of myself in the next few months as I craft art activities which stimulate that sense of flow. I'll also be looking forward to attending Cathy's class this March in San Francisco: Enhancing Resilience Through Trauma Informed Practices: Positive Psychology and Mindfulness Based Art Approaches

For a treat, if you click here, you will find a podcast containing a wonderful talk with Oxford psychologist, Mark Williams and a short 3 minute mindfulness meditation that made my day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Website Crowning

Quintessence, ©2011, 30" x 30," on

As I've learned to work with the site myself--WordPress book at hand and Google at my fingertips, I've begun to experience a pride similar to what I felt as a young mother.

As they did then, the first few snafus catch me by surprise--like getting caught without extra diapers or wipes in public; but with practice, I've learned how to problem solve. And, like reminding a small child over and over again to pick up their toys, I've tussled with the never-ending chore of cleaning up errant links, and misbehaving formatting.

As with children, there is no stasis, no resting point where the process is over. As I introduce my website, I see it as a work in progress, something that has come a long way, but will continue to develop and grow as I do.

Without further ado, let me introduce my website:  Hannah Klaus Hunter, Fine Artist, Textile and Paper Collage 

I invite you to visit, to explore the different pages and I welcome your thoughts and observations. In a bit, I'll begin writing all my posts on the WordPress site, but I'm not quite there yet. More on that later.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reality and Resolutions--#2012

At this time of year, people talk a lot about resolutions, goals or even words they want to live by. My question though is "How are you going to do it?" Fortunately, you also hear about the scaffolding--the underpinning of the resolutions. Scaffolding answers the question of how do you get from point A to point B?

Last year I set myself the goal of creating a new website. I've had two websites designed in the past, and naively, I assumed that the work was in getting the site up and running. It didn't occur to me to factor in the cost of keeping the site up to date.

The Second Story Studio, my second site

Some years older now and wiser, I realized that I needed to create a site I could update myself. That meant keeping it simple without the bells and whistles attached--the really cool things that web designers come up with. No funky fonts, dark backgrounds with white type--just the straight stuff, in other words, "Gallery Minimal."

My first site: hkhunterarts

I decided to go with WordPress, a blog format that allows me to have multiple pages and, like this Blogger site, make changes and updates to my heart's content.

I hired an artist friend Chris Beers who does IT and design for our local gallery, the Pence, and together we figured out a way to create a clean site where the colors of my pieces sparkle. We even included two tutoring sessions so that I could learn to do it myself.

So there I was with my squeaky clean site and a host of new jpegs to load on. The only thing is, that between the time when I learned the tools (before the holidays,) and when I was ready to employ them (after the holidays ), I simply forgot how.

I remembered my secret weapon--a book Chris had recommended: Teach Yourself Visually: WordPress. I picked it up and decided to have a go at it. I dreaded the thought. Me and instructions...hmmm...kind of like my ninth grade Algebra course--never know where I'm going to end up...

Using an old study trick, I looked at my watch and decided to read for half an hour with studio time as a break. I kvetched inwardly. Oi vey, the terms: trackbacks and feedbacks and permalinks! The funny thing was, fifteen minutes later, I was swimming with the permalinks. I even got into it so much, I brought it along to a doctor's appointment with me.

So, I'm learning to load on the jpegs and pretty soon, I'll be able to launch my site...As Billy Crystal noted in Analyze This, "It's a process."

Welcome to my home away from home: an online studio where you can see my artwork,
find inspiration and read about my double life as an artist and art therapist.
The new kid on the block:
                         Copyright 2012, Hannah Klaus Hunter.  All rights reserved.  All artwork & material on this site is copyrighted by the artist.