sketchbook check up : 2017 in review

As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to have this month’s sketchbook check up reflect not just the past month in art works, but the past year as well. This year has been a big one in many ways, and is there really a better way to bring closure to all that has happened than by reflecting on the art works I’ve created over the past twelve or so months? Plus, the end of 2017 means I’m one step closer to the end of my studies, and it’s about time I started pulling out the most impactful pieces of art.

For the purposes of this post, I have done my best to round up some of the most important pieces of art I have made, highlighting motifs, styles, and themes that have been recurring. I’ve also done my best not to include many pieces from the previous sketchbook checkups for the sake of novelty.

Bonus — I’ve included a semester’s worth of the oracle cards I pulled during clinical supervision at the end!

When pulling together images for this post, I realized just how often I return to circles and to cool colours. These four images represent several different stages of the year, as well as different directive and non-directive works, yet they have so much in common. These four in particular really highlight the similarities in my circular works — but there are plenty more in my sketchbooks, including all of my affirmation cards.

From left to right, top to bottom, we have: an experiment in brush work and paint mixing from the summer; a ‘clarity crystal’ from a meditative process during supervision this time last year;  a beautiful watercolour made during Open Studio in early to mid-2017; and a response to a ‘safe space’ directive from our Counselling Skills II course in the spring.

Speaking of circles… Another theme I noticed among a lot of my work this year, was a search for clarity. While these pieces continue the trend of circular forms and cool, prominently blue and green colour palettes, these pieces in particular all relate to clarity. Most, if not all, of the above images were created as part of a meditative process where I was focusing intently on an emotion or issue at hand in an effort to understand it better.

Again, they were all created at drastically different points over the year, and for different reasons, but it’s impossible to ignore just how darn similar they are.

symbols - decanimal deets - dec

Circles continue yet again, but with a twist this time! Clearly, I have a favourite shape… and type of paper… and potentially a favourite medium…

Vaguely inspired by a lecture on depth psychology that Dr Evangeline Rand gave early on in my studies, I consciously started paying attention to the signs and symbols that were popping up for me over the year. Slowly I’ve started to paint them. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about these before, so I will skip a detailed interpretation of the symbols here. Foxes in particular have been coming up for me over the course of the year — almost every time I am asked to ‘check-in’ with what animal I feel like, I’ve picked the fox.

Two of the three vision boards I have made since moving to Vancouver; the first from near the end of spring semester, the second from near the beginning of the fall. I won’t go into detail on these, as I think they’re pretty self-explanatory. If you click to enlarge, you’ll be able to tell that I’m a sappy dork, as well.

goddess - dec

One of my favourite pieces from the year, which unfortunately doesn’t photograph well. This work is the result of a multimodal process we were led through during out Studio course last spring. A combination of oil pastel, paint, and glitter, beginning with a simple gesture and ending with a poem.

And lastly, a collection of (most of) the abstract paintings I have done over the year. I think all in all, I have done more than twelve of these paintings this year — some of which have been gifted to a friend, some of which adorn the walls of my office, but most of which can be seen here.

I have talked about some of these before in a previous sketchbook check up, and but I am not sure I have mentioned in this space where they have traveled to and from. Many of the paintings seen above were featured at the 2017 NASAP conference, the 2017 BCATA/CATA conference, and our own private art exhibition at Adler University.

I love each and every one of these pieces in their own way. Each one was created as I attempted to sit with and really experience a ‘felt sense’ of an emotion. I worked with everything form grief and remembrance, to thoughtfulness and playfulness. I worked with the technique to really get in touch with my experience of my mother’s rediagnosis of cancer (seen in the center, on the largest canvas), and as a means of setting an intention towards fighting imposter syndrome in my work as a budding art therapy (not pictured, as I hung it above my desk at practicum). I think I’ve learned a lot about my own emotional process through creating and reflecting on these pieces in particular.

And finally, the oracle cards I pulled during each of my clinical supervision sessions this week. I’ve presented these in chronological order (unlike literally anything else in this post, heh). I think these cards are especially interesting to observe in order, as they somehow really seem to highlight the experience of how this term has been for me.

Well, there we have it. Another year almost over, and another review down. Here’s to 2017, with all of its hardships and its fun, its teachings and its stumbles, its beginnings and its endings.

Here’s lookin’ at you, 2018.


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