Preview of my workshop plans...

By Gillian Valladares Castellino

I am in the process of planning a series of activities to be used in a workshop - and it doesn't involve just 'art' but living 'artfully'. Of course, I had to put myself through the process first. Some of the mandalas and related drawings/activities have already been featured in previous posts. Here are some other activities which I have not canvassed in earlier posts. There are more to come in due course...

Once these exercises have been written up they will be work shopped. If you are interested in participating in each workshop (on-line) as it happens, please email me at You must be willing to send in photos of your 'creative outcomes' though, but otherwise the course will be free.

Exercise 1: Learning the language of the "Goddess"
The unconscious cannot speak to us in words. It understands images,sounds, smells, touch, feelings, ie  sensory perceptions and connects with the conscious mind through symbols. Many of the attributes which are disadvantaged or disowned by society are regarded as 'feminine' despite the fact that these aspects of being are common to both men and women. The 'language of the Goddess' exercises are designed to help us become aware of the 'Goddess archetype' in our lives and to encourage us to acknowledge its attributes, engage with them, reclaim their energy and harness it for empowerment and healing. Here is a sample of the artwork I produced after one of these exercises...

(A big thank you to all those who requested access to my on-line workshop. The exercise above is now ready and I will email a copy to each of you. I would definitely like to include your artworks and feedback in the relevant post when I publish it, so please email your photos and comments to and thank you again)

Exercise 2: Lightworks
This exercise is to do with examining the meaning and manifestation of "light" in our lives - light being a 'hook'  for thinking about aspects of our selves which we need to illuminate (ie bring to conscious awareness). After a process of creative visualization and art making, here is what I "found reflected". The next step is to use active imagination, meditation and creative writing to extract meaningful personal lessons.

(This exercise has been mailed out to those of you who requested it. Please send me your feedback. Cheers)

Exercise 3: Spontaneous collage
Spontaneous collage is a well-known tool used by art therapists to introduce their patients to journalling and the learning to dialogue with the unconscious. Here are some 'results' of my use of this process...

Exercise 4: Scribble art
Another commonly used tool in art therapy, scribble drawing, allows children and adults (who claim to not have an artistic bone in their body) to begin to 'play' with form, structure, colour and symbol while delving deeper into their minds and hearts...

Exercise 5: Weeds and the soul ...
This is not strictly an 'art therapy' exercise. It involves going through the process of harvesting, washing, baking, powdering and brewing a common garden weed (dandelion) to create a nutritious tea, we can use it both as a meditation prompt and a metaphor to examine the role of 'weeds' in our life. This is also a visual journal exercise involving mind mapping.

Exercise 6: Power animals
Power animals have been used in native American tradition as a sacred tool to engage with nature, for self knowledge and protection. The exercise I tried uses the inkblot/ Rorschach test as a starting point for finding and learning from one's personal power animal.

Exercise 7: Doll craft
Dolls have been used since pre-historic times by cultures across the globe for a variety of 'soul making' and 'soul retrieval' purposes. I have used/made a variety of dolls for various therapeutic outcomes. The one shown below was made as part of a process of uncovering 'buried wishes' and turning them into 'achievable goals'. Again, extensive journal work accompanies the use of doll making in art therapy.

Exercise 8: Thanking the angels in our lives
During the process of turning beads, safety pins and wire into little angels, we reflect on who the 'angels' in our lives are, what their role is. We go on to create a little angel for each one. The purpose of this exercise is to bring to conscious awareness the daily kindnesses and support that we receive from those who function as angels in our lives and to acknowledge them. I have done this exercise on and off over the years for those people who have brought healing and joyful energy into my life. It is also a practical way of spreading healing energy by leaving a few of these little angels in public spaces as a 'gift' for whoever finds them.


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