Timeout for Art: A Species of Writing


This week’s Timeout for Art asks us to reflect on art as a form of therapy, as well as a stress reducer. As a former counselor and special education teacher, I often used art therapy with my students.

“Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.”
― Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

I was drawing tortugas (turtles) on my curtains for the Turtle cabin (Las Tortugas Casita), when my ten-year old friend, Lauren, stopped by our house on her bicycle. Ron was taking his Spanish lessons on the side porch. As I waited for my turn, Lauren and I tried to talk, but she spoke so rapidly that I had a difficult time understanding what she was saying. So, I asked her to draw it.
IMG_3253One thing I’ve learned about children in Nicaragua, is that they can’t quite figure out why we don’t understand them. I often wonder if our two and three-year old neighbors think we are just plain stupid. I think Lauren understands that Spanish is our second language, but she gets frustrated and rolls her eyes when I ask her to repeat the sentence just one more time…y mas despacio por favor (slower, please).

Lauren rolled her eyes, and tried to describe a sparkly thing that sits on top of a King or Queen’s head. “You know…YOU KNOW,” she said, “Una corona. UNA CORONA.” After I looked at her picture, the puzzling Spanish pieces fell into place.
IMG_3264“You are my best friend among all my friends,” Lauren said. “That’s why I gave you a crown.” Ahhh..how sweet, I thought. “Now, can we make cookies?” she asked. Hmmm, I knew there was an ulterior motive. “Lo siento, mi amor,” I responded. It’s almost time for my Spanish lesson and I need to buy more chocolate chips.  Art can be used where no words exist…too bad I ran out of chocolate chips, though. 🙂

“Talking about Art is like trying to French kiss over the telephone”. ~Terry Allen

I had just started my Spanish lesson, and Lauren and Ron were blissfully drawing in my place, when Carlos, the local artist arrived. “Patricia said you wanted to see some of my paintings,” he said. I was thinking about starting an art class at my house and interested in looking for a good instructor.
IMG_3258Carlos has over 30 years of experience as an artist.
IMG_3255IMG_3260Attempting to talk about art was like trying to French kiss over the phone. I needed to see it, feel it, and touch it. I’m still not sure that Carlos and I will be a good match. Communication will be difficult, but his art revealed his love for Nicaragua. He’s very talented and his personality shined through his paintings.

“Art is communication.”~Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

IMG_3261 Living in Nicaragua with Spanish as my second language has convinced me that art is communication. Art reveals personalities, reduces stress, and sometimes even persuades me to make chocolate chip cookies for my favorite ten-year old.

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14 thoughts on “Timeout for Art: A Species of Writing

  1. Reading through your words, watching the vibrant Art come into life, I am once reminded of the pure, simple joys of life. That happiness comes from following your heart and the dreams it wish to make. I used to draw and paint, then I went to America hoping for a better future. I didn’t realize there is a price for that. Sometimes I ask myself if I did the right thing. I miss the the stress free, laid back, more down to Earth life in the tropics. Thanks for sharing these….

    • I understand exactly what you are saying, Island Traveler. Moving to a tropical island has given me an opportunity to be more creative ( mainly because of the lack of supplies here), and less stress. There is a price to pay for a better future, you are right. We paid the price until we could collect small teaching pensions from our many years teaching, and then it was time to take back our lives.

  2. Art truly is a much better language (or form of communication) than words themselves. I used to practice and teach sandplay therapy, a sort of 3-D art therapy and it was truly amazing what both kids and adults were able to depict in the sandtray that they might never have been able (or willing) to put into words.

    • Oh you are so right, Beauty! I worked with abused and neglected children when I was a counselor and I always had my art supplies at hand. I would buy little packs of pudding, too and have the kids finger paint in the pudding when I interviewed them.

  3. AWWW! Lauren is soooo special ! What an amazing picture she drew for you. I think it would be great if we all communicated through art! What a great post! Thanks for sharing, and now I need to get some chocolate chips!!!

  4. What a beautiful drawing she made for you, she is adorable, like the corona drawing, the turtle and your friends art like this post.

    Kids do not have patience, my nephews always correct my English, hope she has more patience with you.

    P.S. now I want cookies lol.

  5. Pingback: I’ll drink you (Bebo de ti) | the terrain of symmetry

  6. Lauren is precious! What a great post! You are so right about using art to communicate; I did the same thing when I was first in Costa Rica. I would draw a certain kind of hinge or once at the mechanic’s, i drew a cartoon of my trooper with the front left wheel askew! He laughed, grabbed parts, and off we went to rescue the injured vehicle!

    Your house will surely be an arts center, even if you communicate only through pencils, paints, mosaics and sculpture!

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