one of my dearest friends and among the shiniest people i know, my brilliant art therapy colleague, sabrina bajakian, was kind enough to offer us a peek into her amazing art studio in bozeman, montana, where she engages in art-making with her 2-year-old daughter, who we’ll call S. i am always inspired by the mindful way sabrina approaches her own art process, and the thoughtfulness she puts into creating/holding an inviting and safe space in which S can begin to engage with materials. through sabrina’s lens and in her own words, she captures such pure creativity, beauty, and wisdom. let’s visit sabrina’s studio and her precious little artist. take it away, sabrina:
25-month-old S has been coming to my art therapy studio since she was in my belly. As you’ll see she’s got an affinity for the color blue. Today S suggested I make a snowman. I followed her lead. She then decided to add details & fill in the snowman.
After warming up with the snowman painting, I wanted to give her a clean slate that would be her imagery alone.
I’m amazed, and as a parent, relieved, that S is beginning to work all on her own without assistance for a few minutes at a time.
I’ve titled the photo above after Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book. As an art therapist, I am very interested in how we might achieve optimal experience. This is the state of mind – state of being that we are all after – being immersed in an activity that we enjoy and is just the right combination of challenge and mastery.
Age 2 is prime time for a kiddo to say, “I made that!”.
After she decided she had enough time at her big page on the wall, S continued her free play in the studio. She loves to make sense of things in her world and sort them by color. In the photo above, S is selecting blue chalk pastels, blue oil pastels, blue colored pencils. Clearly, Blue is the Best Color there is!
I offer S a box to paint and decorate. We haven’t ventured into the world of collage or assemblage together yet, so this is truly a first. She builds upon her skills with paint. What you don’t see in this string of images is how and when I am stepping in to give her a hand. As a general rule I wait for her to say, “I need help” or to be invited or directed: “Mama, paint!”
Again we’re seeing this budding experience of “Flow.” This kind of freedom, I think, builds confidence and imagination.
I also think this state of mind (only when we’re older?) is one of divine connection. For anyone who has worked in a creative capacity, we know that some of what we make comes from our preconceived and planned design. And, then there is what comes from our unconscious individual and collective consciousness.
Gel Medium, how I love this stuff. It’s probably like Mod Podge, but I’m personally more familiar with this product. It’s a painting medium for acrylics, is essential clear, glossy paint, that can be used as a fairly strong, flexible, shiny, transparent adhesive. Dries quick, no smell, cleans w/ water.
I simply tell the little one that mama is putting glue on the box and she can stick things in it.
Together we pull out my bins of collage objects. I have one bin that I especially like that has shiny things. S digs around, selects a few things, puts the lid back on the box and carries her 3 selections to the little table. I’m amazed that she didn’t just get overwhelmed and lost in this process. She is a focused person for being so young! This is definitely more fun for me than for her!!!
Her little fingers are getting some great fine motor training. She has to practice pinching & picking up small gems & gets a little frustrated with sticky fingers. I step in and wipe with a warm washcloth. I ask her where she’d like me to pour out some glitter & she points to a spot on the table, “righdaar (right there)”.
These opportunities to have choices are key for a child S’s age – or any age. Little ones have to follow suit with the schedules & rules we adults impose so much of the time. From a developmental perspective, allowing a 2 year old to exercise autonomy and control are essential. What a fun way to help a child evolve through their developmental milestones!
We both so enjoyed our art time together. I didn’t have any expectation about how or if this piece would look finished to my adult eye. S worked on it for as long as she wanted which was until she could no longer fit gems on the box top. She tried to put heavy, glass beads on the side but learned that woudn’t work. I let her try this out & before she got too frustrated I explained what I saw, “looks like those are too heavy” and offered her some blue star stickers to try instead.
Washing up and helping to clean up are fun for S (so far!). These are glory days. Savoring every moment.
thank you, sabrina, for letting us join you and S in your artistic process in the studio! your perspective and offerings are so very inspiring!
if you’d like to learn more about the amazing work sabrina does in the world, visit her web site: artandsoulcounseling.com