Update: 10/02/17 – the creatheart.com website is no longer online but you can continue to get to know more about Sherry at her website, sherrymeneley.com.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Inspire writer Sherry Meneley. Sherry is the founder of CreateHeart, that’s Create He/ART: Soothe Soul & Heart Through Creativity & Art. Sherry came to Inspire with a unique blend of of gifts, creativity and passion. Read on to see how she draws on those elements to provide ministry through art.
Tell me more about CreateHeart. What is its primary mission?
Create Heart supports well-being and healing by teaching various methods of creative expression and art for adults, teens, and children
How do workshops you offer differ from traditional art classes?
I’m not about teaching others to paint Rembrandts or Van Goghs. That would be called “product art.” Product art focuses on the end result—the end product. And while product art can be a beautiful experience for some, it can also prevent others from attempting to be creative because it presents a fear factor—a negative feeling—a harsh critique of what is right/wrong, good/bad.
The opposite is “process art”—it is where my gift for teaching and passion focuses. Process art embodies that age-old phrase about the importance of “the journey, not the destination.” The process of becoming creative—the moment of creativity—and opening up that part of the brain has amazing and positive effects on every facet of life. In process art, the goal isn’t to make a beautiful masterpiece; the goal is to ‘create’ whatever needs to ‘come out.’ In my classes, I provide instruction and encouraging atmosphere, where it process art becomes safe, fun, relaxing, and often stunningly beautiful.
How did you get started using art this way?
I went through a really rough patch of life. I was in the depths of depression. My faith was in absolute crisis. And I really didn’t have anyone to help me.
One day in pent-up anxiety I started cutting up paper with scissors. Which lead to me pulling out old craft-supply boxes. I didn’t know what I was doing or why. But it brought me relief. Before long I found myself doing anything and everything I could with that box of supplies.
I didn’t have a name for it then, but know I know it was “process art.” And somehow in doing “process art” my mind settled enough for God to reach into my heart, mind and soul to start healing my deepest hurts.
I was so inspired and amazed at what I had stumbled upon—and it worked in, through, and for me. And without a doubt I’m certain God’s hand was in this from the start. He woke-up a passion in me to share this with others. Since then I’ve studied, researched, and received formal training and credentials in what I now call “process art.”
Describe the relationship between art and faith.
Simply put, God is the creator of all things. And I think His signature is in the corner, just like an artist’s, of all things we create. It can be a meal served to loved ones, a garden of beauty, or a creatively expressed art journal page. He gave us the skill to create.
But there is something more I’ve experienced in process art—and it rests in the Holy Spirit.
Studies show that whether someone is in prayer, meditation, or viewing/creating art—the brain waves show the same patterns. Something really good is going on there. There is rest, peace, and a restorative process in place. And to get technical it’s happening in the right brain. When we are functioning from our right brain we are “present”—when we are in our left brain we are primarily looking at the past or future.
In today’s world it’s so hard to be “present”—but we do this in prayer. And if prayer and art have similar brain patterns—something tells me God is in the mix. The Holy Spirit is creativity expressing with us. I truly have sacred moments and am stirred to my core when I freely express myself in art. And it’s not just me…my Christian clients report the same thing. After an art class they feel more content, peace, thankful, and wholeheartedly feel a sense of wellness in their souls.
I’m humbled that I can teach and offer this process to others.
What is Creative Art Journaling?
Creative Art Journaling combines art and journaling. It’s a splash of paint, a swoosh of color, a bit of sparkle, and lots of doodles combined with your own written words.
During a class I provide themes, concepts, and journal prompts. My methods create a fun, easy to follow environment that naturally unlocks the student’s creativity. All while showing artistic techniques that anyone can learn. Students get to unleash their creative selves. It’s truly a new, exciting, and very rewarding way to you express yourself like you’ve never done before.
How can writers benefit from Creative Art Journaling?
Not to be cliché—but it gets you thinking outside of the box. Any time you do something for three hours that accesses your right brain and promotes relaxation and distressing helps anyone. Anytime stress gets in the way it hampers our creative ability. That why often we’re told to get up, walk, do something else. That something else is getting us to be “present.” And being “present” has positive effects on us.
Once you learn to process of art journaling it becomes an easy way to dive into being present. Even at just 15 or 20 minutes, it’s an instant way to get some stress relief, sense of renewal, and becoming unstuck.
But here’s the truth, even after learning the process so that you can do it on your own, most students continue to come back to classes. Maybe because I’m always coming up with new things, ideas, techniques. But the real reason probably has to do with the 3 hours of dedicated self-care each month, and the amazing bonding and sense of belonging to a group of art journalers. I love my students and the fellowship that naturally happens in classes.
What is Art4Healing?
It is another form of process art that is extraordinary. It is a guided class that focuses on abstract painting. It’s a method created by Laurie Zagon, a wonderful Christian woman I had the honor of training under. She’s been doing this type of painting work with those in a journey of pain, grief, fear, and stress.
In the workshops, students express feeling with colors. Prompts are provided that allow the student to dig as deep as they wish. It’s a very encouraging and nurturing process that allows emotional release on canvas.
Sometimes things are so jumbled up inside us we don’t have the words or safe-people to talk with. Art4Healing classes can help. Perhaps the painter Georgia O’Keffe said it best, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Art4Healing helps you say what can be too hard to say. There is so much relief and freedom in being able to get something out… and that’s what process art does—it helps you get out whatever needs to get out. And there is always something that needs to get out be it joy, grief, pain, or thankfulness.
Update: 10/02/17 – the createheart.com website is no longer online but you can continue to get to know more about Sherry at her website, sherrymeneley.com.