August 31, 2011

Last Minute Diabetes Art Day Ideas

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Tomorrow is a big day, and an ultra busy one for me too. My first paper for school is due, and I’m not done yet so that’s my number one priority this morning. My second year of teaching Intro to Art Therapy to undergraduate students starts tomorrow, so it’s back to school for me. On a less positive note, last night, out of nowhere, I got a stabbing pain in my big toe which doesn’t want to subside, so tomorrow I’m going to the podiatrist. Jason and I both examined my toe, and couldn’t find any evidence of injury, but hopefully the podiatrist will make it better. Then in the evening, I’m leading a journal-making workshop!

Lastly though, and of tremendous importance, tomorrow is Diabetes Art Day! I know I said I was going to try to offer a couple of posts between my last post and the big day, but the aforementioned paper and preparation for the course – and that pesky hurricane – have swallowed my time these last few days. I at least wanted to offer a last minute idea for those of you who either want to participate, but aren’t sure what to make, or those of you who are still undecided about participating… pretty please, with Splenda on top, join the art party!



Mandala is supposed to mean circle in Sanskrit. The circle, as basic as it sounds, has been used for healing, spiritual and ritualistic purposes across cultures for thousands of years. It’s a symbol of wholeness and unity. More recently, it’s a form that many art therapists like to use with patients and clients, and there has been some art therapy research evidence that suggests creating mandalas reduces anxiety. If you would like to browse some examples, The Mandala Project is a great website where you can read more about what mandalas are, and view a gallery that’s sure to inspire you. In fact, after reading my suggestions for creating your own mandala below, if you still feel like you don’t want to create something, you can print a pre-designed mandala, much like a coloring page, and just color it in.

If you would like to participate in Diabetes Art Day – and I dearly hope you will – and you want to do something relatively simple, this is a great project. You’ll need a dinner plate to trace, and a piece of paper that’s big enough to trace the plate. You’ll also need, at a minimum, some kind of drawing materials, so if you don’t have art materials at home stop at a drugstore, grocery store, Target or Wal-Mart, and pick up a box of crayons. If you need a work surface, get some drawing paper or a piece of poster board.

When you’re ready to get started, turn the plate upside down and trace it. Once you have your circle form, what you put inside the circle is completely open. You can create abstract forms, designs and patterns. Keep it simple with crayons or markers, or you can get more elaborate and try oil pastels which have glorious, rich color, are very forgiving, and are fun to blend. You can collage with magazine images or diabetes supplies too.


If you’re just using basic drawing materials, start creating shapes or lines – straight lines, wavy lines, curly lines, dotted lines, any kind of line – and let the design happen. Once you’re happy with the shapes and lines and the design they create, go back and color in the white space, with solid color or patterns or recognizable imagery if you want to give that a try.

If creating a design like that doesn’t appeal to you, I would suggest you use the circle form for one of the following:
* Create a badge that honors the time and energy you invest in your diabetes management, or one that honors a health goal you’ve accomplished.
* Create a symbol of good health or your personal health goals.
* Create a symbol of any struggle you’ve had with diabetes as a way of acknowledging that diabetes is hard work.
* Use the circle as a place to lay out your fears or frustrations with diabetes, and let the circle hold that for you.

You can have an idea or plan to guide you, or you can just let it emerge. Don’t listen if your self-critic starts telling you this or that isn’t good. The self-critic in any diabetic’s head tends to be too harsh, too loud, and talks way too much, so use this opportunity to practice telling it to be quiet. If you created a mandala, or any kind of art for that matter, from your imagination with the intention of making something meaningful, it’s inherently GOOD!

For more information about Diabetes Art Day, please visit the official Diabetes Art Day website where you can learn how to participate, upload your Diabetes Art Day images to share, and view the beautiful collection of art that the DOC has created.

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5 Responses to “Last Minute Diabetes Art Day Ideas”

  1. George says:

    I am freaking out because I have zero time to pull something together. I will have to figure something out. D-Art Day was a highlight for me and my family last year.

  2. Auntly H says:

    The weekend family activity didn’t happen (too much time spent watching Becca fall in love with swimming), but it did spark a little discussion w/T3 about what it is to him. I’ve got an idea for my mandala; just need to find/make time to sit down and make it!

  3. shannon says:

    working on mine, can’t wait to see all the rest tomorrow!!

  4. I love the name of your website. You are doing a wonderful job with it as well. Hope all goes well for Diabetes Art Day – maybe I can piggyback on this and make sure that it is celebrated in Australia next year. Lets keep in touch.

  5. Julie says:

    Mandalas! Have not thought of these in years. First you blog about them and now I get my lessons for an art class I teach and the 4th lesson is a Mandala :)Thanks for posting the link to the Mandala project.

    I <3 the Art that's coming in for Diabetes Art Day!

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