Welcome to Art & Mindfulness for Business Groups. Virtual Program for Creativity and Well-being!.
NEWSLETTER 1: Finding Serenity: Art And Mindfulness As Your Tools For A Better Life.
I’m Veronica Huacuja, M. Ed., M.S.R. (Master of Education, Master of Social Responsibility) (pronounced wu-a-koo-ha), a professional plastic artist and a seasoned art educator. I am the creator of this program.
I invite you to choose the following link to know more about my academic training and professional experience: https://veronica.mx/resume-ENG.pdf
My teaching encourages participants to a journey that provides them with tools that enrich their lives improving their intra and interpersonal life through artistic enjoyment and mindfulness meditation. Likewise, the program promotes a learning environment of mutual support among the group.
Before we delve into this journey, let’s get to know its content and needs:
PART 1. OUR MINDFULNESS MEDITATION.
-5 minutes of our time.
PART 2. OUR ART EXERCISE.
USING LITERATURE AS AN ART INSPIRATION SOURCE.
Learning how to use high contrast focused on the female figure.
Material we will use in the art exercise.
-Acrylic paints. Vermilion Red, Cobalt Blue, Titanium White, Egg Yolk Yellow, Ivory Black. With just these paints, we can achieve the full range of the color wheel.
-Bristol paper (270 g/m2), size: 25 x 25 cm. Bristol paper is a thick paper (a semi cardboard) that can withstand the moisture of acrylic paints without warping.
-2 small rectangular brushes half an inch wide. I recommend using rectangular brushes instead of round ones, as they provide more control over paint handling.
-1 paint palette with 8 to 10 with compartments or well to mix and blend different colors of paint.
-1 small sized water container to rinse our brushes.
-1 small pocket notebook.
PART 1. OUR MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
Foreword. As we may know, we find the origin of mindfulness in ancient Buddhist practices. In the West, since 1970, mindfulness has been adopted as a therapeutic practice—free from mysticism, religious, or philosophical aspects—that achieves its benefits of meditation periodical exercises. This is the approach that ART AND MINDFULNESS embrace.
Mindfulness consciousness involves paying full attention to the present moment, resulting in enriching intra and interpersonal experiences. Practicing mindfulness with curiosity, openness, love, self-generosity, self-acceptance and daily is essential.
Our breathing. Breathing is a very important tool to meditate. It helps us focus on our meditation, as you’ll find out in this practice. Let’s always keep this in mind.
The breathing method. Allow your breath to be natural and unforced. Don't try to control or manipulate it. Simply observe your breath as it naturally flows in and out.
BEFORE OUR PRACTICE.
Here are a few key considerations to bear in mind before starting our practice.
-Begin this session by selecting a quiet room at home or wherever you are at now. Ensure that no one will disturb you.
-Turn down the income signals of your cell phones.
-Use a comfortable garment for the practice.
-Pose your body in a comfortable, ennoble posture, whether sitting on a chair or lying on a mat. Either way, keep your back straight, without straining it, and drop your shoulders. Separate your feet from one another to feel your body balanced. If you are sitting, keep the soles of your feet on the floor, avoiding any pressure on the back of your thighs.
-Keep your hands beside your body if you are lying or rest them on your thighs if you are sitting. Position the palms of your hands facing upwards.
MAKING OUR PRACTICE.
-Applying no pressure to our eyelids, close your eyes, or semi close them if that suits you better.
-Breathe in slowly, gently, as I cited. And while doing so, let’s feel the fresh air coming into our body, swiveling from our nostrils into our lungs, belly, abdomen, thighs, calves, the soles of our feet, and toes.
-Every time we breathe out let’s pay full attention to feel the air swiveling out from our inner body, making its way out from each of our toes, passing from the soles of feet, to our round calves, going through our thighs all up its way passing through our abdomen, belly, chest, reaching our nostrils and leaving our body.
-While we continue breathing in and breathing out, our mind might distract us, making us remember pending duties, memories, preoccupations of the future, fears, etc. Notice these happenings, release them from your mind and gently come back to pay full attention to your breath in and out. Meditation is a practice, and it's normal for the mind to wander. Simply observe without judgment and come back to your breath. That’s our anchor in meditation. Our breath is a powerful device to keep us focussed on ourselves, leaving the world of the “must do’s” to fully paying attention to our inner world. It’s our natural breath that helps us re-concentrate on ourselves, giving us this meditation time in a generous and loving way, nurturing ourselves.
-Breathe for the next 5 minutes.
Our time is over. Slowly, begin moving your fingers and toes, one at a time. Now, let’s move our arms and legs compassionately to recover their flexibility. Ease your head with care from one shoulder to the other, and from front to back. Open your eyes.
AFTER OUR PRACTICE.
Let’s feel a sense of gratitude towards ourselves for giving us a nourishing time, for comprehending the importance of being in the present moment, not “doing” anything else, just “being” with ourselves. Now, in this peaceful and balanced state, we’re prepared to unfold our Art exercise, and after it the rest of the day.
Important homework. Do this exercise every day for the next 15 days. You can plan to increase your meditation time. For example: 5 minutes every day during the first week. In the second week, you can extend to a 10 minute meditation, for example.
It’s essential to remember that mindfulness meditation is a skill that we have to develop over time with practice. You'll begin to notice its benefits from day one, and they will increase within the next weeks. Like any habit, consistent daily practice is key to experiencing its inner personal benefits.
By incorporating mindfulness into our daily routine, we can create a more mindful and meaningful life, fostering a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us.
Thank you for accompanying me in this practice.
PART 2: OUR ART EXERCISE.
I’m sharing with you the results of a group virtual painting session in a business environment. I’m also inviting you to make your own version of the work: Do it yourself with my guidance!
Foreword. In this peaceful and balanced state after our mindfulness meditation, we’re prepared to unfold our Art exercise, as I mentioned. Let’s experience the benefits of meditation in this art session, and for now, let’s feel the paints, see the colors, feel the forms, acknowledge our hands and their power of art creating. Let’s enjoy our art session!
The artistic journey that we’re about to undertake provides us with an avenue for self-expression and self-exploration. Artistic creation on an intrapersonal level can evoke a wide range of emotions, provoke introspection, and spark contemplation, leading to personal growth and a deeper understanding of oneself.
Likewise, in a group exercise, art transcends the boundaries of the individual and extends into the realm of interpersonal connection. By integrating art into a group setting it becomes a powerful tool for fostering social bonds and encouraging meaningful conversations.
OUR ART EXERCISE.
USING LITERATURE AS AN ART INSPIRATION SOURCE.
Learning how to use high contrast painting focused on the female figure.
BEFORE OUR ART EXERCISE.
One activity I encourage my students to engage in—alongside artistic creation and mindfulness practice—is reading literature (short novels, stories we find on the internet for free, sometimes). I recommend this because it broadens our artistic themes and enriches our lives.
This time we focused on Leonora Carrington (1917-2011, United Kingdom-Mexico), a surrealistic multidisciplinary artist—painter, author, sculptor—. Her work of art is fascinating, not to mention her interesting biography. (2)
For this project, we read one of Carrington’s short stories, As They Rode Along the Edge, and selected a passage that inspired us to create the artwork:
“Virginia (…) made a gesture with her strange hands to let the animals know the hunt was over; she opened her mouth and a blind nightingale flew into it. She swallowed it and sang in a nightingale’s voice.”
MAKING OUR ARTWORK.
Some art concepts before our practice. High contrast painting refers to an image in which black predominates, while the other colors used stand out. This technique created an artistic movement called "Tenebrism" (derived from the Italian word “tenebroso”, which means dark). In it, the background of the artwork is black, making the figures out stand with great strength.
The following image is an example of one of the great masters of painting of all time that used this technique, which was Caravaggio (1571-1610, Spanish Empire). (3)
Now, let's use this technique and paint our background using the Black Ivory acrylic paint. We can paint all the surface or, as I did, I left an irregular margin on each side without painting it (https://veronica.mx/background.jpg). The smudge orange color we appreciate on the bottom right side is from another painting I did on the same cardboard, which I didn’t like its results. So, in my case, I recycled the cardboard, leaving some of the old painting as an interesting detail that might enrich this new painting.
One more thing, I always paint first the background and then the figures on it. Painting the background first and then the figures on it will make it easier to create a cohesive painting. Just imagine the amount of work painting the background on the surrounding limits or edges of the foreground elements in case we painted them first!
On the other hand, to create the female figure, we used a clay model I made for this purpose. I posed it and illuminated it in different ways, showing it to the students, using one webcam dedicated to study the sculpture. We took diverse snapshots. We all agreed in the final posture that we chose to work in.
These are the links of the images:
I focussed on giving the sculpture a gesture attending to the passage in Leonora Carrington's story.
One of the characteristics of the personage in Carrington's story were her strange hands.
The face expression in the sculpture helps to add drama to the piece.
Gesture is an essential element in figurative art, as it communicates emotions, narratives, and the essence of the subject.
Then, while choosing and blending our acrylic colors in the paint palette, one thing I recommend to my students is to feel the materials with which we are working on and use them freely to satisfy our personal art expression. The goal is not to feel limited by trying to create a realistic copy of the model, but to interpret it using our feelings, sight, the paints, and our gentle or vigorous painting strokes on the paper.
Each member of the group developed their own version. As they did so, I provided them with both group and individual guidance according to their needs. Likewise, I developed my version of the exercise (whose progress I showed on the screen to the participants).
I present my work:
Title: Leonora 1. An Homage to Leonora Carrington (This is the link for the image: https://veronica.mx/leonora1.jpg)
Artist: Veronica Huacuja
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Size: 25 x 25 x 0.1 cm
AFTER OUR PRACTICE.
Encouraging my students to present their artwork to the group is something I do to reflect upon his or her art experience. I also ask what our meditation provided to our art process and encourage the group to take part, to build up together holistic conclusions of our both activities: meditation and art creation.
Many students like to share his or her experience with their families (spouses, children). This contributes to their well-being in their family environment.
We close the session by thanking ourselves for giving us this nurturing time. We also thank ourselves within the group for sharing our time and experiences together.
Important homework. I recommend using the pocket notebook to draw on it with a pen or a pencil daily. Take off some minutes of your duties and give yourself this pleasure. These are some ideas you can draw: your hand, foot, the face of a beloved one, a glass of water, the plant on your desk. Keep the notebook in a drawer on the side bureau in your bedroom or at your office. This routine can have numerous inner personal benefits that positively impact our lives, such as:
-Stress reduction and relaxation. Creating art, whether through sketching, doodling, or journaling, can be a form of mindfulness and meditation. It helps us focus on the present moment, promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety.
-Self-expression. Art provides a safe and expressive outlet for our emotions, thoughts, and feelings. It allows us to communicate and process complex emotions that may be challenging to put into words.
-Boosting creativity. Engaging in daily art exercises nurtures and enhances our creative thinking abilities. Over time, this creativity extend to other aspects of our lives, leading to innovative problem-solving and fresh perspectives.
-Improved memory and observation. Art exercises often involve keen observation of our surroundings, encouraging us to pay attention to details. This can improve our memory and enhance our ability to notice subtleties in everyday life.
I hope this newsletter is meaningful to you. Thank you for reading it and for participating in the dynamic of the session.
To know the characteristics of ART & MINDFULNESS for Business Groups. Virtual Program for Creativity and Well-being, head over to: https://veronica.mx/artprogram
If you have comments, questions, feedback that you want to share with me, please use my LinkedIn account https://www.linkedin.com/in/veronica-huacuja-59860322b/ or my email: email@example.com
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Thank you for reading.
1. To know my academic training and professional experience, please head over to https://veronica.mx/resume-ENG.pdf
2. Wikipedia. (n.d.). Leonora Carrington. Retrieved July 14, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Carrington
3. Caravaggio, Saint John the Baptist, c. 1604, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Fragment of the masterpiece. Retrieved on 07-17-2023 from https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/caravaggio-saint-john-the-baptist/
Carrington, Leonora (n.d.). As they Rode Along the Edge. The Seventh Horse and other Tales. Virago, Virago Modern Classics, 1989.
Jon Kabat-Zinn. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Publisher: Random House.
UMass Memorial Health. https://www.ummhealth.org/center-mindfulness