Duckling spreads wings through the Open Studio Process


The Open Studio Process is about intentional art making, a simple but rich practice in which self trust is at its core. I have some earlier approaches to OSP through my studies, but finally had the good fortune to attend a workshop at the source, in Evanston, Illinois.

What it looks like: This process is ideal for group engagement but can be done alone. It is helpful to have a journal and pen, as well as whatever art materials you wish to encounter that day. The group gathers, and each person quietly sets an intention. An intention is set in the present tense and can be as simple as ” I follow my hands with this new media to discover something new.” or ” I relax and enjoy this process,” to ” I gain clarity about my life at this time.” Next comes a period of art making, emphasizing the process rather than the product. It is a very intuitive process, one where ideally you can be free to make marks, squeeze clay (or as in the case of the above photo, squeeze tin foil and wrap in masking tape) and choose colors. Trust the process. There is no set way to accomplish the art here. IMG_3894Finally, after a set time, art making ceases or pauses. All participants quietly spend time looking at their work, and writing down what comes to mind. What do you see? How does it make you feel? What questions does it bring up? Is there an area, a shape or color that interests you, or one that irritates you? Explore it. Or simply become aware of it. This is about meditating on the images, shapes, colors, characters, energy that comes from you. IMG_3904

When all participants have written their reflections, the time has come to witness one another’s process. Here, the “No comment rule” comes into play. As each individual shows his or her work and reads aloud whatever they choose from their written reflection, the rest of the group is there to “hold space” for that truth to be spoken, heard and seen. Simply that. It is very hard not to comment. It’s hard not to say, “Wow, I love that color,” “I resonate with that image of a turtle,”or even “I’m so sorry that you experienced that sadness.” Most times, of course, we want and need that loving feedback from others. In this process, it is about creating a safe space to express what you feel, experience and understand. The no comment allows you to more powerfully “hear” your own truth. The safe, healthy boundaries that I experienced in that art studio stay with me and have been rippling through my experiences upon returning home. Hey, I am just beginning this process, so there is more to learn, understand and discover. What I do know is that my ugly duckling tin foil masking tape creature (first photo) that was birthed in Illinois, has come home to New Jersey and is spreading her wings. Her process is ongoing…I can’t wait to see what happens next.IMG_3915

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About reneetamara

Writing about death, mental illness, spirituality, art and perfume. Because beauty feeds the soul, and love is beyond what we think.

3 responses to “Duckling spreads wings through the Open Studio Process”

  1. marga t. says :

    I so enjoy the avenues you are exploring! You make my wheels start turning, for perhaps creating some experiences for myself in these fields. Do you have any links or books that may be helpful for exploring art and materials in the way you are describing? What great creations coming from you! Marga

    • reneetamara says :

      Hi marga t! Thanks for your note and kind words, this intentional art making process is really giving me juice and inspiration that energizes pretty much all other areas of my life.

      I am going to make the first mention of Open Studio Process in the above post a direct link to the OSP site, based in Evanston. This and a copy of Pat B. Allen’s Book “Art is a Way of Knowing” would be great starting points. I have not been near the computer today, but I will compile a list of books and other resources for you and perhaps make it a separate post. If you click on my category “Art and Medicine” you will find other posts about art therapy and a few other posts about my personal experiences with the Open Studio Process and existential art therapy in that category.

      Will look forward to hearing about your own artistic explorations to come!

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