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Art is a Way of Knowing

“Drawing is energy made visible,” writes Pat B. Allen Ph.D., ATR, the author of Art is a Way of Knowing. This is not a new book, but it is timeless. In it, she shows us how anyone can use image making for self-discovery; to identify patterns and themes in their lives and express their emotions.

Allen tells you it’s ok to color outside the lines and it’s ok to make a mess. She tells you how to choose materials and use them. Then, she offers suggestions for exercises, such as drawing a tiny picture, then a large; making marks and shapes on paper, using all the colors or your favorites, and then asking, “What do they mean to me?” She teaches you how to make a sculpture from found objects. Then she asks you to consider what the image is showing you and how your feelings may have changed or become clearer.

Handling clay can evoke memories, thoughts and feelings, says Allen. If your clay image expresses a painful experience, she suggests you place it outside where rain and wind will return it to the earth, taking your pain with it.

“The images have a life of their own that has built up slowly over time,” Allen writes. “I witness and give form to them and attempt to learn what they have to teach.”

And once Allen has you on the path to self-expression, she tells her own story of loss and struggle: her mother’s death, her father’s alcoholism, her career set-backs, and how she used her art for discovery and healing.

“Images have allowed me to reclaim some of what was lost in growing up, the ability to have feelings fully and in the moment,” she writes. “I don’t believe that art cures or fixes; rather it restores the connection to the soul, which is always waiting to be reclaimed.”

About the Author
Pat B. Allen Ph.D., ATR, is an artist and registered art therapist who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She produces workshops, events, and collaborative projects around the country and directs an online image community where readers can post their images and writings, communicate with the author and one another, and subscribe to an electronic newsletter.

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