creative Therapy

Catalyst Forty-Eight
February 8, 2009, 8:32 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.


Ok! Here’s catalyst number forty-eight:


Create art around a secret you’ve been keeping (hidden journaling is fine.)


We’re so honored to have Ruth Rae as this week’s Guest Artist.


Ruth’s art is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s because she is fantastic at so many different forms of art like quilting, jewelry, mixed media or maybe it’s just who she is but each of her pieces is rich with texture, meaning and soul.


Ruth’s work has been featured in galleries across the country, countless art publications as well as Quilting Arts TV and two workshop DVD’s. She also co-authered the very unique A Charming Exchange which is full of unique jewelry projects. Her next book “Layered, Tattered and Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop” will be released at the end of 2009. She also teaches around the country at events like ArtFest and Art Unraveled.


If you haven’t seen her art before you will be blown away, so be sure to visit her site and her blog.





Here is Ruth’s art with this week’s catalyst. You can click on it to see a larger version. The two pieces go together.



Ruth Says:

I was asked to create art around a secret: Consequently the vast majority of my artwork revolves around a private matter, integrated with hidden meaning. I obtain pleasure in using words and poems in my work as they can be interpreted in a variety of ways. I rarely make known the circumstances of a piece, as I want the interaction to belong single-handedly to the spectator alone.


The two works that I created for this creative challenge were fashioned to tell a story of a liaison. And to give a peek into how paradoxical relationships can be.


“My heart is pure”

My soul is you.

My heart is pure.

I am my beloved and he is mine.


“Lurking at her heart”

My heart.


Amazed, confused,

He found his power expired. (The words “lurking at her heart” are hidden on the backside of this heart)


Stuffed and free motion sewn fabric hearts have been manipulated with heat, to represent passion. Followed by the combination of torn then crumbled love letters to express a break up. Lastly to facilitate mending and strengths: I drilled into one inch thick Plexiglas then I stitched multiple red X’s with embroidery floss. The textures that I used are a nod to the differences and similarities that we encounter in any relationship.


The passage of the heart is oftentimes misunderstood; I over emphasize this with my half hazard style in which I depicted the hearts and their surroundings. The words used are both an echo as well as a reminder of the past as well as the future of this relationship.


Technique Highlight:

When creating a piece of art, I frequently build up a pallet this will include words along with a variety of elements. I tend to work in a series and find that 2 to 3 different ideas will frequently appear when I am working in the design stage.


For the most part I retain a good idea of how I want a project to turn out but in the instance of these pieces I had started to assemble the hearts just for the sake of expression and had intended to place them in a large box to entice the textile nature of the stuffed hearts allowing them to remain interactive. However as I started to interact with the pillows my thoughts evolved into more of a story and I wanted the piece to have more substance and control.


Attempt to remain open to change in your own art work and you will soon find that your ideas will start to flow more forthright as you create. Staying attached to an idea that is not working will only lead to frustration. When you create in a state of the soul allowing yourself to drift freely with out attachments you will discover a much more harmonious course in your artistic endeavors.


Thank you so much Ruth; we’re so very delighted.



Here are some interpretations of the catalyst from members of our team.



KL Says:

I’m always focusing on the past. old memories, whether good or bad, always seem to linger. the good ones i hold in my heart, the bad ones haunt me still. they hold me back, i know they do. they have too much control over who i am and how i live my life today, in this moment.


it’s a process, a hard process, concentrating on processing the habits and secrets that haunt me. someday the pieces will all fall together, i’m getting closer, i’m knowing more and feeling how it affects me.


Technique Highlight:

for this weeks catalyst i created a shadow box with the bottom of an old game box and some old photos. there are lots of layers and some machine stitching, i love building lots of texture in my work.


the actual shadowbox was painted with a light wash of blue paint {diluted more than half with water}. the base has been lifted by re purposing some old glass drawer knobs. i removed the screw and glued it to the bottom of the box with zip-dry.




Karen Says:

It may not seem so, but this catalyst was incredibly cathartic for me. I spent my whole life being the girl with the diaries and the girl with secrets. I would never tell anyone anything about me. Anyone. Ever. Many good friends complained how it wasn’t fair that I knew everything about them but they knew nothing about me. I agreed it wasn’t fair but I just couldn’t get myself to share.


But somewhere along the way, I shared once and then once again and then I realized the healing power of sharing. The connection it created, the way it helped me resolve my problems just by talking about them. And imagine my surprise when I sat down to do this week’s catalyst and realized I had no secrets. Nothing. I feel so relaxed and peaceful. When it comes to keeping others’ secrets, I am still a perfect confidant who never tells a soul but now I don’t have to fill dairies with my own secrets anymore. I have kind souls to share with and I do so as needed. I am eternally thankful for that.


Why is this in a binder?




Fran Says::

There is always an internal struggle in keeping a secret, especially when you’re not sure if in keeping the secret you’re lying to yourself or to others. This mixed-media collage represents that struggle for me.





Amy Says:

In December, I worked on a wall hanging made from many black fabrics and with touches of pink and orange. It is a piece called “Promise,” and in working on it, my table ended up covered with piles of black clippings and threads. In my fiber art, I often work with small pieces, turning scraps into collaged cards, so deciding what to throw away when I straighten up my space is often a challenge. What seems small and worthy of the trash pile is often perfect to be recycled into a collage piece. When I was cleaning up one night, I picked up a pile of mostly black threads, and I wadded them up between my fingers, certain the little pile was safe to toss. But as I looked down at the threads in my hand, I saw I’d rolled it into a small ball… and there was beauty in this ball of mostly black threads with some slivers of fabric lending color to the mix. For some reason, I saw in this little cluster the seeds of my response to this catalyst, and a few days later, I wrote in my sketchbook, “I saw an unexpected flower. Secrets are hard to keep, but sometimes there are blossoms, too, maybe tinged with the palette of the secret itself… beauty in the field.”





Kris Says:

Fear. I don’t even like the word. If you knew my personality you’d you wouldn’t think ‘there goes a fearful person.’ I like to be the strong one. When friends and family look at me I don’t think they see a crying sniveling fearful person balled up in a corner somewhere. But I feel that way inside sometimes. It’s my little secret, I think I keep it hidden pretty well. I usually get the better of these feelings but I don’t like having them at all. The ones that linger are the thoughts I can’t change. Things I have no control over. Maybe its a control issue. What if the plane crashes, the kids grow up to hate me, the boogie man gets me, what if I end up alone in my old age? These are things I can’t fix. I was expressing some of this fear to a homeschool friend this week about teaching my kids. She is always good with the straight talk and positive attitude. She sent me this verse: God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7. Now I don’t know about the sound mind but the rest I think I can embrace. (To read journaling, click for closeup.)


Technique Highlight:

This was a lesson in layering. Paint. Papers, stamps, more paint. I swiped paint on paper and then quickly pressed it to the background to give it more texture. Circles, cut out letters, lots of scribbbling with my trusty drafting pencil. It’s supposed to look a little chaotic since that is how fear makes me feel.





Larissa Says:

I chose 8 big secrets i’ve been keeping for all my life and I wrote them in small pieces of paper, but as I was not prepared to open them to anyone, I just have decided “to keep my mouth shut”, to zip my lips, “to zip my art” and “not trip on words never spoken”. So, I have hidden my secrets again by sewing the small pieces of paper which contain my secrets.





Debee Says:

I wrote on the strips and then sewed them on top of each other. Pretty strips with fun little secrets. I’m pretty good at keeping secrets.





Kimmi Says:

This has to be one of my favorite layouts I’ve done. Maybe not because of the design, but the overall idea of my secret lying behind that layer of paint.


After typing up my journaling for this week’s catalyst, I felt so completely guilty and exposed, but at the same time it felt so amazingly great and relieving to have written about it and get it out in words. The secret that I wrote about was something from my past that I did. No one knows about and its something that at the time I regretted doing, but now looking back, I wouldn’t have changed that I did it. It made me realize a lot of things in life and getting it down in words really was an emotional process for me. I know that every time I look at this page, I’ll know exactly what the journaling says and in a sense, it helps me to acknowledge my secret, but still keep it one.


Technique Highlight:

I painted a square onto patterned paper, added my journaling strips, then painted over the top of them to conceal the words.




Now it’s your turn: show us your therapeutic art around “Create art around a secret you’ve been keeping (hidden journaling is fine.)” I urge you to give it a try. This was a particularly healing catalyst for our team, I hope it will prove to be that way for you, too. Embrace the healing power of art. It can be any form of art as long as it speaks to you.


This week, we’re lucky to offer you a beautiful RAK from a recurring sponsor Sakura of America. The brilliant colors of these pens ignite the darkness and radiate emotion. Reveal the inner heat and energy that words and images express by using vivid colors for a sensational effect. Fluorescent colors glow under a black light (UL light).



Leave us comments with your work and you will qualify for the RAK we offer to a random participant. Now that we have a new RAK, this week, we’ll choose a winner for the previous RAK. If you don’t have a community or blog where you upload photos, you can upload them on our flickr group.



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.




9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is a layout I made a while ago… but the catalyst reminded me of it.

Comment by Melanie K.

Everyone’s work this week is so stunning and revealing and genuine all at the same time. As always, I’m extremely honored to be a part of this team.

Comment by Kris

Wow – I was just blown away by the beautiful work this week. Such an awesomely creative team…

Here’s my response to this catalyst:

Thanks to Scrapbooking from the Inside Out for a wonderfully gorgeous kit.. check ’em out..

Thanks for looking,

Comment by Francesca Di Leo

Wow – what an incredibly talented bunch of women! I love ALL the submissions…

Here is my response to this weeks catalyst.

Thanks to Scrapbooking from the Inside Out for a gorgeous, choc-full scrapbooking kit!!! You have to check them out.

Thanks for looking,

Comment by Francesca Di Leo

OK – here’s my third attempt at trying to post this!!! Hope it works…

here’s my response to this weeks catalyst!

thanks for looking.

Comment by Francesca Di Leo

Hi. Here’s my journal page:

Shhh, it’s a secret.

Comment by Fannie

Here’s a journal entry and a painting about releasing my secret fears.

Comment by Alberta

my response here

Comment by Mam'zelle M.

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