Tag Archives: Art for Healing

2016 Is The Year For Patience and Tolerance

I apologize for not blogging in a while. I have been working hard on a fellowship application for the Tory Burch Foundation that supports women entrepreneurs. I never thought I was or could be an entrepreneur, but here I am, and 2016 is the year to kick it into full gear. I have heard that entrepreneurs are doers and not just dreamers. So here I go. When I was in 5th grade I learned about art therapy and followed that dream right into a masters program at NYU with some of the founders of the movement. I lost that dream to drug addiction and domestic violence.

Today, I am building a business called Recovery Art Studio™ to bring comprehensive art for healing projects and programs to those recovering from trauma and addiction. My dream didn’t die, it just took a detour while I healed and recovered from my own stuff. My dream is big and will hopefully help a lot of people to strengthen and support their recovery through the healing power of art. But it takes time and baby steps in making this happen. I am rebranding from Robin Gilliam’s Art and will release a new webpage and logo for Recovery Art Studio in the spring of 2016.IMG_2089

I have already taken some baby steps. We now have a Recovery Art Studio™ closed FB group that is growing stronger every day.  Art is a generic term for any type of creative expression and being an artist is not a requirement.  Everyone benefits when we share our creations and how it helped us to deal and heal.

I have been using intuitive painting to help deal with my own anxiety, and I hope to be chosen as a Tory Burch Fellow to gain some necessary resources to help build this business.

So my New Year’s resolution is to be patient and tolerant with myself as I build Recovery Art Studio™ one baby step at a time.

What was your dream when you were little? What baby steps can you take in 2016 to make it come true?

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Robin Gilliam Featured on #WSATV Women Leaders’ Interview

I am so excited to share my WSA-TV interview with you. In less than 12 minutes you will hear from myself and three other women leaders who are following their passion to help others reach theirs.

As an artist and author in long-term recovery (2/6/91), I am grateful to help change the conversation about addiction  through my novel, Gift of Desperationand by working with facingaddiction.org and promoting #nightofconversation scheduled for November 19 2015, through drugsoverdinner.org and Dr. Oz.

Thanks for taking the time to watch my interview and for sharing this with your friends – just think, what you learn might just help someone else to recover! Robin

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Robin Gilliam is an artist and author in long-term recovery. She has over two decades of using art and the 12 steps to recover from addiction and heal from sexual assault. For a powerful story of inspiration and hope read her Recovery/Art for Healing novel, Gift of Desperation. She is an inspirational speaker and art for healing workshop facilitator. To book Robin for a presentation or workshop, please send an email to robins.art@verizon.net or PM her on FB.

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No Sailboat Paintings for this Artist & Person in Long-Term Recovery

Hi! I am an artist and person in long-term recovery since February 6, 1991. I began creating art around the same time to deal with my anger, pain, shame, and guilt.

From 2000 –  2004, I tried to get into shows and galleries  to sell my artwork which I really thought  would validate me as an artist.

During this time I joined an eclectic group of women artists – The Wylde Women – and we set up and curated our own shows in public venues, like the dock at Solomons Island. We even owned a gallery that was creatively set up in an antique and tea shop in Leonardtown, MD.  But no one wanted the funky, abstract, 3-D collages that got my creative juices going and lit up my heart.
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(See the Gallery page for details of Out of the Ashes)

I quickly learned that people living in the Chesapeake  Bay area preferred paintings of sailboats.

Then one of my fellow artists recommended that I make something functional with my collages. So I used beautiful rice papers and found objects and collaged them onto glass flower vases in a similar style to my fabric pieces. Now those sold! But now I was manufacturing to sell and still did not feel validated as an artist.

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In reality, validation did not come until much later when I catalogued my 20+ years of collages for my novel, Gift of Desperation. It was then that I really came to understand that creating those collages was my way of using art for healing to put myself back together after domestic violence that ended in rape and from almost dying from a drug overdose in the mid 80s.

Creating to help me deal with and heal from trauma and addiction in order to strengthen and support my recovery is my validation.

 

Robin Gilliam is a person in long-term recovery, an artist, and the author of the recovery novel, Gift of Desperation.  She has over two decades of using art and the 12 steps to recover from addiction and heal from sexual assault. She is an inspirational speaker and art for healing workshop facilitator. To book Robin for a presentation or workshop, please send an email to robins.art@verizon.net or PM her on FB.

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Color Away Your Stress

Coloring has become all the meditative rage. Books and special pencils are popping up in Barnes and Noble, coloring groups are gathering in FB, and coloring sheets are being pinned in Pinterest. I have always loved to color. Taking a picture only outlined in black and bringing it to life with colored pencils or crayons helps to focus me on the bright shiny colors and not on any challenges in my life.

Since I am working on creative expression tools for your recovery toolbox, I got the idea to turn my artwork into coloring sheets. My artwork is inspired by nature, found objects, symbols, is usually abstract and sometimes funky. It is always sincere as I created it  to help me work through my anxiety and fears, or to help me stand up and claim my personal strength.

For my first coloring sheet I chose Out of the Ashes, on my Gallery page which is  a very large mixed media piece that inspired the cover of my recovery novel, Gift of Desperation. It has a lot of symbolism about rising out of the depths of addiction and into hope; it is a great coloring page for UNITE to face addiction, where we will stand together on Oct 4, 2015, to break the silence and release the shame in letting the world know that addiction is a disease.

Now, All I had to do was draw it nice and clear for you. HA – that sounds easy, but drawing has never been one of my artistic strengths. I sketch better with lots of flowing lines to capture an idea, but clear strong definitive lines – not my style.

So, what to do? Well, I could let fear take over and forget about my idea, but I know that it’s not about me, it’s about helping others to use creative expression to heal and recover. So, I faced my fear and anxiety and added some prayer to ask the universe to provide me with the skill and resources to create this drawing. I got a message that the coloring sheet was based on Out of the Ashes and did not need to match it exactly which gave me permission to have some fun with it. I then imagined myself drawing it clear and strong, practiced for over a month, and here it is.

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I will be handing them out at my book signing of Gift of Desperation at UNITE to Face Addiction on Oct 4th, 2015, www.facingaddiction.org  After UNITE, I will post a PDF that you can download (once I figure out how to do that) onto my new Color Away Your Stress Page.

Once you have colored it in, post it to my FB page to share with others, including any thoughts or feelings you had while coloring. On the first day of every month from November – December 2015, I will pick someone to  send a signed copy of my recovery novel, Gift of Desperation to.

Robin Gilliam is an artist and the author of the recovery novel, Gift of Desperation.  She has over two decades of using art and the 12 steps to recover from addiction and heal from sexual assault. She is an inspirational speaker and art for healing workshop facilitator. If you would like to contact Robin, please send her an email to robins.art@verizon.net or PM her on FB.

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HOW A WET T-SHIRT GOT MY CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING

When you opened this blog you might have expected to see big boobs straining against a wet t-shirt. Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a blog meant to inspire others to also use creative expression/art to heal and deal with life.

With that said, one day I was walking my dogs and found this lost wet T-shirt suspended in a bush.

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It reminded me of the abstract collages I used to make before I started to quilt in 2008, using sculpted fabric as a base to embed found objects. It gave me an idea for one of my art for healing workshops. The problem was that I was spinning in frustration from trying to figure out how to adhere different materials to a blue jean background. I really wanted to use blue denim as a background because it reminds me of being strong and sturdy, yet the color blue reminds me to be fluid like water.

Viola – after seeing the wet T-shirt, out came the fabric stiffener glue by GOLDEN, and I made the following sample. Oh it felt so good to get my hands messy again. The fabric stiffened up into the hills and valleys that I love and the torn magazine and found objects are also nice and secure.

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Now that my creative juices are flowing and I am getting more clarity on my projects, I feel that I am moving the ball down the field – even if slowly – it’s progress, not perfection.

If you are interested in making an inspirational wall hanging using this technique, please let me know.

Robin

Robin Gilliam is an artist and the author of the recovery novel, Gift of Desperation.  She has over two decades of using art and the 12 steps to recover from addiction and heal from sexual assault. She is an inspirational speaker and art for healing workshop facilitator. If you would like to contact Robin, please send her an email to robins.art@verizon.net or PM her on FB.

To read more about Gift of Desperation go to the menu  at www.robingilliamsart.com  and look for the page: Novel – Gift of Desperation.

Thanks and blessings for a creative, serene day!

 

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How the Iron Girl Inspired my Art for Healing Business

When my sister, Lisa, told me she was going to do the Iron Girl triathlon [1/2 mile swimming, 16 miles biking, 3.7 miles running]  I was amazed, impressed, and a little envious, knowing that I just do not have the physical stamina, patience, or time to complete such an accomplishment.

But instead of circling down the rabbit hole into that dark pit of self-disgust, pity, and hatred, I realized that building my art for healing business is very similar to training for an Iron Girl.

While  Lisa was planning and training for endurance to complete each leg of the Iron Girl race, I was slowly gaining courage to tell my story and fill #theemptychair – a term coined by the New York magazine  in their July 27, 2015, issue about the women sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby that have not yet come forward to take their seat.

Where Lisa is helping to raise money to fight cancer, I am developing a business to help survivors of sexual assault to heal through art. Rape was like a cancer  constantly strangling me with pain, grief, shame, and guilt for something that was not my fault. It wasn’t until I explored domestic violence and sexual assault in my novel, Gift of Desperation, that I started to understand the reactive and self-destructive behavior that can happen if we keep these traumas inside.Lisa crossing finish line

As I expressed myself more and more through art, the less hold the rape had over me.

Just as my sister used her physical endurance to raise money to help cure cancer, I used my artwork as a foundation in Gift to weave a powerful story of healing, recovery, hope, and inspiration, the beginning of my art for healing business.

Congratulations to Lisa – I am very proud of you!

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Progress Instead of Perfection

Now that I have a title for my Art for Healing Workshop—Nurture Your Garden— I can start to work on creating examples and the accompanying workbook. This task seems overwhelming especially if I worry about trying to make it perfect.

That reminds me of making my first quilt—a Harley Davidson T-shirt quilt—where I had no idea what I was doing and learned that perfection does not exist. The only thing that made my quilt was slow and steady progress. So, off I headed to the internet for a pattern and to Capital Vac and Sew in Annapolis, MD, who delivered my Pfaff sewing machine with one to one instructions. Did I mention that I didn’t even own a sewing machine when I started this project?

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Here are some of the mistakes I made that were actually great lessons learned.

  • I cut my T-shirt into 15″ squares BEFORE I ironed on the support interface that makes sewing t-shirt material easier. After ironing, the squares shrunk and I had to recut them all to 14″. Lesson learned? You guessed it, only cut the sleeves and neck band off, then iron on interface before cutting into blocks.
  • My seams did not match up when I added my sashing and cornerstones to my blocks. Some quilters might have taken everything apart to get the seams “perfect” but I was so proud to just finish my first quilt top that I left it alone.  A little secret – my husband didn’t even notice and still enjoys the quilt to this day. Lesson learned? With each quilt, my seams got more “perfect”  because I asked questions from AQG members who had good seam alignment and then I practiced what they did.

As I worked on my quilt over a period of many months, and many trips to Capital Vac and Sew for lessons, I learned that there is a lot more to quilting than just sewing: I had to plan the quilt, determine the accompanying fabric colors, textures and patterns to enhance my T-shirt blocks, cut fabric into specific shapes and sizes, sew the pieces back together into rows, and then into a top that was then added to batting and a back that I needed to quilt. Oh, let’s not forget the binding to finish it off, and a label to identify it for the historian who finds it in 100 years.

I will use these lessons and apply them to developing my Art for Healing workshop, taking it slow and steady to complete first things first.  First, I need to create my Nurture Your Garden collage and then some step by step examples for you to follow. Once I have done that, then I can write up instructions and start putting your workbook together.

Stay tuned for the next blog on my progress!

Robin M. Gilliam
Author of the  novel, Gift of Desperation, a provocative story of art and healing, recovery, and hope and inspiration.