creative Therapy

Catalyst Thirty
October 5, 2008, 10:12 am
Filed under: catalyst


As always, thank you to all of our visitors and all the encouraging comments you left for us. For those of you who did, thank you for playing along with us. We will do a drawing for the RAK and announce the name mid-week. And if you didn’t join us before, we hope you do this time.


Ok! Here’s catalyst number thirty:


What’s a decision you made that ended up determining the direction of your life? (or at least it had a strong effect on how your life turned out.)


We’re delighted to have Ngaire Bartlam as this week’s Guest Artist.


I found out about Ngaire from the wonderful Vivian and I was instantly hooked on her art. Her pieces are bold, with bright colors and many fantastic details everywhere. The first time I look at her pieces, I smile from the explosion of color. The next time I look, I am intrigued by all the detail she put on one page. I can look at them over and over and discover something new each time.


Ngaire creates for Tarisota Collections (who is also our sponsor this week), writes for Aussie Scrapbooking, and is an Australian Ambassador for Fiskars. She also teaches many amazing classes and she says: “I am also a freelance teacher and love teaching as a way of encouraging women to see themselves as they truely are: gorgeous .. and talented.” Isn’t she wonderful?


You can see more of Ngaire’s art on her blog, you will be glad you did.




Ngaire’s art with this catalyst is below and you can click it to see a bigger version and some more detail.




Ngaire Says:

This was actually an interesting question… and when i really thought about it.. i realised the biggest decision i have EVER made .. was to be me. NOT what i thought everyone else expected of me. I realised that it had been that way for a very long time.. and i can totally recommend letting yourself free a little ( or a lot??) more.. Its easier, and more fun.. and frankly , the only way to really get the most from the time we have. Yes?


Technique Highlight:

Not really a techniquey ( is that a word?) kinda girl.. but i did slap a squeeze of black paint around the edges of the piece.. and the dragged it all towards my photo with a ridged ink tool. I like the jagged look it gave to the paint.



Thank you so much Ngaire; we’re so honored.



Here are some interpretations of the catalyst from members of our team. Click on the photos to see the bigger versions.



Christine Says:

One of the greatest blessings I enjoy today is the closeness that we share with each of our children. I don’t think that this would have been possible if it hadn’t been for the decision my husband and I made over sixteen years ago for me to stay at home with them. Our journey has not always been easy, especially in the beginning when we began living on one income, but God has proven to be the One who has provided for all our needs above and beyond anything we could have imagined at the time we made that choice! How thankful I am to the Lord to have the privilege to still be a mother who is at home with my children! It is one of the sweetest blessings in my life, and seeing the fruit of that decision, I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.


Journaling Reads:

When Ron and I decided that I would become a stay-at-home Mom, we never imagined just how much we would be blessed. We just knew in our hearts that it was the right decision for us to make at that time. Now, sixteen years later, we can say that we don’t regret it a bit! We have been blessed with so much more that we could have thought! God has been so good in providing for all our needs with every step of faith that we took together with our family. We thank the Lord for His wisdom and grace! We wouldn’t be blessed with the loving relationships we have today if it wasn’t for the privilege He has given to me to be able to stay at home with our children!


Technique Highlight:

For this digital layout, I used a ready-to-use photo mat created by Rhonna Farrer (Single Photo Phun Mat Kit). Most of the layering is all done, and I simply added digital background paper, my photos, and journaling to the page! A simple, easy, and beautiful page can be created in a short amount of time! 😀




Journaling Reads::

I accepted Christ when I was 16 years old. Even then I really didn’t understand what it meant. I wasn’t going to church. Wasn’t brought up in the church so I had nothing really to base it off of. I had no foundation, no mentor to help guide my way. I continued to teater on the fence for a long time. I’d go to church and live in the world. It wasn’t until I had Erika, when I was baptized and learn more about what it means to live for God. I still walked that fence until I met my truly wonderful husband. He and I have grown together and towards living that Godly life that I have desired all my life. I feel truly blessed that God brought Brad into my life. If it wasn’t for him, and his love for God, I don’t know where I’d be. I can’t say its been easy but having him gives me a reason to keep moving forward. Praise God!!




Fran Says::

This one was easy for me to choose. The decision I made that shaped the rest of my life happened 23 years ago. I decided to leave Florida and attend Brandeis University, in Waltham, MA. I had only seen pictures of Brandeis. I had never been on campus, and I had an alumni interview in Miami. The day I arrived at Brandeis was the first time I had actually seen it. It was magical. From the beginning, the first thing I saw was the Usen Castle. It is a remnant of Middlesex college, which the property originally came from. Another important symbol for me at Brandeis was the Chapel Pond. It is a reflection pond, surrounded by three chapels. They were constructed so that at no time does one chapel overshadow another. The chapels are a symbol of the unity of all religions and tolerance. For me, they were a place of peace. I would often sit on the wall around the reflection pool and write or think.


Attending Brandeis really did shape the rest of my life. I met some of my best friends there. I felt safe, I grew as a person, and I found my voice through writing. It was because of my decision to go to Brandeis and to be involved in campus activities that I landed my first job out of college, I had the skills to get a second job, and I met my husband. The greatest joys of my life are the result of this decision.





Kris Says:

I think the biggest decision I made that impacted my life was made when I had no idea what I was doing. At 18, I married a boy from high school. A friend, and boyfriend. Someone who had been around my family since I was 13. I thought I loved him, and nothing else mattered. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Sure, I had no business getting married so young but God used my young life decision and turned it into his plan. We had the hardest time in the first couple years, probably because we’re first borns and stubborn and had no clue what we were doing. But we’ve weathered many a marriage storm and just celebrated 20 years of marriage. I remember some of my teenage years. I wanted to go to college, travel the world, speak many languages, be a translator at the UN. But I chose to be with my sweetheart. I did return to college and probably could go for more but that’s in the future. In the meantime, we’re raising our girls, homeschooling them, trying to figure out and do what God has in mind for us. I’ll brush up on my spanish, my daughter is teaching me french and we’ll travel someday. I do not regret my decision in the least.


Technique Highlight:

This is made on mat board. I plan to use it as the cover for a ‘Married With Children’ journal about fun stuff that goes on in my life. I want to celebrate my marriage and kids. Background is over painted, with acrylics, oil pastels, stenciled with cheesecloth, gel pens, ink, glitter, paints, stickers. I painted a matchbox, painted and attached a wooden heart inside. Strung book binding string through eyelet holes inside. Used a rusty U-hook for the matchbox pull. The painted cheesecloth on top of the box is leftover from a previous project. Images are by





Karen Says:

While this is not my favorite piece of art, I find it very intriguing that all the big events of my life trace back to the moment I decided to leave Turkey and move to the United States to attend college at Carnegie Mellon. On a personal level, that’s where I met my boyfriend, whom I then married and had a child with. On a professional note, CMU got me my Wall Street job which I then quit to do Teach For America and finally Google. It all started with that one decision to go to college in the United States. A decision I will forever cherish.





Severine Says:

For me it was to have a children. Having children wasn’t not a prioriy for me but I coulnd’t see my life without a child. So one day we decided to have a baby and that day changed my life.


In French:

Pour moi c’est “Avoir un enfant”. Avoir un enfant n’était pas pour moi une priorité, mais je ne me voyais pas sans non plus jusqu’à la fin de mes jours. Aussi un jour nous avons pris la décision d’avoir un enfant, et ce jour là à changé ma vie.





KL says:

this one was hard. the hardest catalyst to write. the hardest one to process. the most difficult to share. it’s such a sensitive memory for me and one that still conflicts my heart, even after getting it out.


Journaling Reads:

it hurt. i won’t deny that when you didn’t show up to my wedding i was crushed. even then, after all of the years, you could still only think of yourself first, just like you always had. i waited for over an hour, sitting in my sweet summer dress, listening to our guests in the garden, knowing that the man i was made for was there, waiting for me. and even though deep inside my heart my instincts had told me you would do something like this, something that cut so deep, i still hoped you, my father, would finally show. you would come and be there and be happy for me. but you didn’t and looking back now i know it was a gift. because finally, i knew it wasn’t about me and finally i let you go.




Now it’s your turn: show us your therapeutic art around “What’s a decision you made that ended up determining the direction of your life?” I urge you to give it a try. Embrace the healing power of art. It can be any form of art as long as it speaks to you.


Leave us comments with your work and we will send a RAK to a random participant. You’ll have to link your art by Sunday night, October 12th, midnight PST to qualify for this week’s RAK. If you don’t have a community or blog where you upload photos, you can upload them on our flickr group.


To qualify for our weekly RAK drawing, all you have to do is do art around ANY of our catalysts. It doesn’t have to be the one from this week. We believe in the healing power of art and we want you to pick whichever catalyst inspires you the most.


For our RAK for this week, we are overjoyed to be giving away a kit from Tarisota Collections. You can see more of this beautiful and generous kit by clicking on the photo below.




Remember, this is not a competition. If your art makes you feel even a bit better at the end, you’ve won.


Until next week, enjoy each and every moment.




15 Comments so far
Leave a comment

beautiful girls.
absolutely beautiful!

Comment by kerry lynn

Whew! amazing. Thankyou so much for your insight & honesty.

Comment by caro


Comment by Michelle Quinn

What creativity. Not only can your own art help you feel better but others can inspire great feelings too.

Comment by London Hypnosis

beautiful pieces, each and every one..
thank you so much for sharing.

Comment by vivian

hi ladies!

such beautiful works of art!

here is mine, i did last weeks catalyst because this was one I really wnated to do & time got the best of me.

Comment by Arlene C

I just found your blog and decided to play!
My LO is here:
Marrying you

Comment by Lene

I’ve tried VERY hard to learn how to get the whole “here’s my work” thing. =(
Sorry it didn’t work.

Comment by Lene

For me the choice to become a special education teacher was the decision that changed the direction of my life the most dramatically. Twenty-seven years ago, I was studying commercial art in college, and one of my professors convinced me that I didn’t have what it took to be successful in this field. Since I had never really considered pursuing anything other than art so I had no back up plan. I took a series of aptitude tests which indicated that I should be a minister or a special education teacher. I’ve done this for happily 26 years now, and it has brought more joy and satisfaction than I ever dreamed a “job” could. I was very blessed to be steered n this path. Here’s my entry.

Comment by Alberta

Thank you for these weekly postings. I have been reading them for a while but only recently decided to start writing a reponse to the catalysts. The catalysts can sometimes be painful, sometimes joyful, but always rewarding. And quite often I find myself remembering something that I had not thought about in many years.

Comment by Susan

Best decision of my life, even though I made it when I was three and had no idea what it meant. I know the person I am today is nothing like the person I would have been had I not accepted Christ as my Savior!

Comment by MarieP

I am still lurking, but thinking of joining in this week. Wonderful submissions, and I really love the the topics. Keep em’ coming.

Comment by Christina

Beautiful works of art!! I hope this isn’t too late, since I really wanted to do this layout. Here’s my layout for this week, in the last minute:

Thanks so much for the inspiration! I really needed to do this layout now, it made me feel a lot better.


Comment by Anna-Karin

I faithfully read your site and finally decided to participate. I loved the catalyst. Keep up the fab work!

Comment by *Cammy*

I moved to California, from North Carolina, when I was 23 years old. It’s definitely life altering to move to another part of the country.
Greetings from California!

Comment by Abby Lanes

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