Expressive Art Therapy

As our imagination becomes activated and absorbed in the freedom of art and play
our linear or rational thinking processes of labeling and making judgments are temporarily suspended.
This temporary suspension allows us to access our intuition (heart, center, wisdom, spirit, self)
and deepen awareness of our thoughts, feelings and experiences in life.

Expressive art therapy offers children, teens and adults a safe and nurturing
environment to experience and express thoughts and feelings in a non-threatening and meaningful way.
During the start of an art session, we often begin by experimenting with various mediums
while discussing what art means... how it feels... how it speaks to you and through you...
why art is important... how art can help and heal... and how art allows us to
experience and express truth and inner significance.


Expressive Art Created During Individual and Group Therapy Sessions

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These colorful, large acrylic paintings were created during individual and group art therapy sessions with the Intensive Therapeutic Foster Care Youth of Family Services (ages 5-18 years old) at the YMCA of greater Seattle.

Paintings above from left: "Tree People", "My Family", "Big Fish City", "Favorite Place", "Hope" and "Ocean of Anxiety,"


These paintings were created by a very young and beautiful child working through some horrendous child abuse issues. He got out lots of anger and shared literally from his heart. One day he came into session and asked to paint: : "I need lots of RED." He made: "Angry Heart" and "Heart Has Guns!!"

child abuse

After expressing and processing through his anger, the same young child created, "Hurt and Angry Cloud." Through courageously accessing his hurt, sad and scared feelings around the abuse from his past, this child was able to move on in his life... with more joy and energy in the present...

This beautiful painting was done by a child and her mother, in acryllic on a large canvas. The focus of therapy has been on helping the daughter heal from the pain and confusion of her parents separation.

This is a wonderful work of art by a man who used to paint and write poetry. He gave both up for nearly 20 years... he was out of touch with the creative part of himself. It took us a while to work our way over to the art table, but once we did, this client went for a brush and the blue. This was only the beginning. This gentleman went home and started painting and writing again...

Husband and wife created these paintings during individual sessions... expressing their inner experience of the current state of their marriage. On the left, the husband created a "burnt and barren forest"... on the right, the wife created something similar with three mountains and then covered the entire image with "sad blue"... During the following couples counseling session, the pictures came out and they each shared their experience, noting the similarities and differences... and connecting in a new way than before.


This image was created by a beautiful, kind and talented young artist while her mother was attending individual therapy. A very loving and close family...


This image was created by a 17 year old client using soft pastel on paper. This client struggled with severe depression and came out of the state of inactivity and hopelessness by accessing her inner artist... she created an entire series and sold many pieces by displaying them in an art show.

Expressive Hearts Art Pieces Individual Sessions

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Here are some of the paintings and drawings created in the expressive art studio. Stay tuned for more stories and updates to be added soon. Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments. Thank you.

goodbye facecameleonhearts heal

TItles: Goodbye Face, I Am a Cameleon and Healing A Broken Heart

dad angelschoolno love no peace

TItles: My Angel, First Day of School, No Love No Peace

bunnyman with clawsfeelings paintedself portrait abstract

Titles: Bunnyman With Claws, Feelings Painted, Personal Abstract

little frog in bluelovelittle frog in bluelovehate

Titles: Little Frog in Blue With You, LOVE, Love and Hate

parallelmagic liondark alley

Parallel, Magic Lion and My Alley

AWESOME Pilchuck Glass School Workshop: Glass Houses with Therman Statom

We were talking about the possibility of organizing a community art project or event of some kind when one of the foster kids shared her interest in glassblowing. I contacted Pilchuck Glass School and asked if they would be interested in working with us. They loved the idea and we were thrilled to learn that the famous glass artist, Thurman Statom had offered to volunteer his time to lead a group process called, "Glass Houses". A total of 12 intensive therapeutic foster youth (10-16 years old) attended the event with their foster parents. The kids made amazing glass houses... and were invited to roll and blow hot glass!! The experience was EXTRAordinary....


Founder of Pilchuck Glass School creating a glass house... and the studio.


Several of the glass houses made by the kids...

Paper Mache Puppets

One of the more popular art projects in the studio is making puppets. Youth and adults enjoy working together on identifying and externalizing personality characteristics and traits, including naming puppets and creating very elaborate stories and relationships. Here are some examples of puppets made in the art studio to date:


This gorgeous bird is called, "Extra" (for Extraordinary bird). She was created by a most inspirational and amazing young artist. Her story: Extra had a little "situation" with the cat at home and was brought back into the art studio for some "re-plumage-ing." Extra lost many feathers to the cat... but she has gained more thickness over the holiday season... and maintains a very gracious and happy attitude even during difficult times. The picture simply does not do her justice. Extra has layers of multi-colored feathers... a very magical bird made with much love and wisdom. Extra... Extra Good...

Issabella, Phoebe and Mortee in the snow...

Issabella and Roberto...


Pughetti, Aristole (last of his kind) and MacKinsey ....


Roberto and Issabella... and Cousin Fluffy

The "Armored Warrior" (protection/heart) Expressive Art Group Exercise

Thoughts and feelings were expressed on color strips of paper by youth of all ages, and then attached with tape and ribbon to a chickenwire sculpture to describe the difference between "what the outside world sees" and "what they really feel inside". Taped to the outside of this sculpture are words like: "I don't care," "Cold," "I hate you," "Spit on you," "Rage" "Die," "Mind our own business," "Wham," "Stupid" "Ugly," "I will hurt you," "Talk to the hand," "Whatever you say," "Pow," "Scream," "Bite and kick," "Ignore". On the inside of the sculpture, the words express protected and hidden feelings, like: "I am sad, "why did you leave me'" Why do you love drugs more than me," "I am scared to be alone," "I miss you,'" "I am stupid," "the world is scary," "I want to have friends," "I want to have a family," "I wish I could be with my mom,"I am ugly," "I love you," "Why me."

An 8 year old boy decided to make a three-dimensional heart which he suspended with colored ribbon inside of the chest cavity of the Warrior, because "it needed a heart so it could feel and be real."


Rock Faces - Acrylic paint on large and small rocks

Paining on rocks is a very popular exercise in individual therapy and in groups. Here are some samples of the characters and personalities that have been created over the years:


rock1rock2sun moon faces

Titles from left: "My Ancestor", "The Brick Wall", "Feeling Blue", ""The Alien (My Dad) ", "Butterflies in My Belly ", "Confusing Road", "Swishing Color" and "A Garden".

"A Magic Flower" - Three-D acrylic and clay on canvas (18 year old young adult)

"Seemingly Disorganized" - Mixed media collage on paper (15 year old foster youth)

"Feeling Storm" - Large watercolor on poster board (12 year old foster youth)

"Dancing Flower" - Greeting Card - (Staff watercolor)

hard sun path

"Hard Sun" - Acrylic on Canvas

Healing Sun Painting

"Healing Sun" - Large acrylic painting

"Morning's On time" - Large Acrylic on Canvas (1st Place at SCCC, CA 1994)

"Il Facinio Di Roma", 1996 - Large Acrylic on Canvas

"Path to Peace", 2002 - Large Acrylic on Canvas


"Urban Garden", 2010 - Large Acrylic on Canvas

"Chestnut Street Cafe", 2000 - Large Acrylic on Canvas

"Ocean Symphony" - Large Acrylic/Collage on Canvas

Children and adolescents love to explore and experience animation and interactive multimedia. Click on the images below to view fun animation samples:

faces animation

"Many Faces" - Flash Sample

the spy guy animation

"Spy Guy" Talking Animation

nintendo frame by frame

"Nintendo" Frame By Frame Animation with "SadHappy"

talking fish animation

"Ade" - The Talking Fish Animation

geography project

"Geography II" - Geography Kiosk Shasta College