September 24, 2012

Diabetes Art Day 2012

Filed under: Awareness,Creative Expression,Inspiration — Tags: , , — Lee Ann @ 6:20 am

It’s the 3rd annual Diabetes Art Day! When I started Diabetes Art Day, I didn’t expect people to be as receptive as they have been. I figured it would be a one-time event, and crossed my fingers that a few people would participate. Here we are two years later, and it’s an annual event, with participation beyond anything I could have imagined… and I’m a very imaginative person. The first year, there were about 80 participants, last year there were 172 images submitted to the Diabetes Art Day 2011 Gallery, and this year, it looks like a lot of new people are joining.

Diabetes Art Day would be nothing without the DOC, so thank you to all who participate – those who’ve participated in the past, and helped make it what it has become, those who are new to participating, and those who have helped spread the word to get more people involved. With all my heart, I believe that art has the power to heal and connect us, and for the third year in a row, I’m excited to see the healing and connection in action. It brings me great joy, so thank you!

Last year, I started an altered book project for Diabetes Art Day, recycling an old diabetic cookbook, with plans to transform it into something more useful because I think diabetic cookbooks are lame. I didn’t get to work on it as much as I hoped, but here is one page of my book that I did recently. I took the copy from an ad for One Touch strips that kind of annoyed me, and I edited it to reflect my experience with diabetes.

Below that is a painting I finished a couple of days ago. Actually, it might not be finished, but for now, I like it. I’ll look at it for a few days, and maybe I’ll tinker with it some more. I didn’t plan to share a painting for Diabetes Art Day, but after I worked on it on Friday, I decided I would post it because there was something about it that just seemed right.

To see more Diabetes Art Day artwork, please visit the Diabetes Art Day 2012 Gallery.

"I Am", collage in altered diabetic cookbook

"Vasculature", acrylic on canvas

May 14, 2012

Getting Creative to “Find a Friend”

The first time I signed up for a blogging event, one that stipulated I blog every day for a month, I succeeded. Since then though, every time I sign up for any sort of blog-everyday-for-however-long event, things unravel quickly. Most recently, and most lamely, I signed up for WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge in April, and completed a total of zero posts. I knew going into it that I wouldn’t be able to blog every day, but I had thought I could at least do a few days. Not impressive, I know, unless you’re impressed by complete hang-my-head-in-shame failure.

Blogging everyday for a month is clearly not for me, but blogging every day for a week is something I think I can manage, and potentially accomplish, so I signed up for the 3rd annual D-Blog Week, which starts today. D-Blog Week is organized by my dear DOC friend, Karen at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes. I love to support my DOC buddies (especially Karen!), and I love how D-Blog Week is a great opportunity to connect and share above and beyond the usual DOC activity.

Today’s prompt is as follows:

It seems the most popular thing about Diabetes Blog Week is that it helps us find blogs we weren’t reading yet and connect with some new blog friends. With that in mind, let’s kick off Diabetes Blog Week by making some new connections. Think about the d-blogs you read that you think we may not know about and introduce us to one that you love!! Let’s all find a new friend today!

Needless to say, one of the reasons I haven’t been completing blogging events is that I don’t blog much anymore. I’ve transitioned the focus of my online diabetes advocacy work to Diabetes Art Day and the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange, partly because I don’t have much to say anymore that I haven’t already said, and partly because I think those are more unique ways I can contribute to the DOC. I like having this space to write an occasional post when I feel inspired though, as I did yesterday, but I can’t do this regularly anymore, and won’t even pretend otherwise. I’m really grateful that some people still like to pop by and read when I do post though because even though I don’t say much here, it’s nice that people are still willing to listen.

Unfortunately, my D-blog reading has become almost as disappointing as my D-blog writing. In my experience, twitter is the best way to discover new blogs, but my tweet action is sporadic. I join #dsma chats when I’m able, but it’s very infrequent that I pop on just to tweet it up. What can I say? Twitter is a lot of work, and when I used it effectively, if you want to call it that, it was a massive time sink. I simply can’t do that anymore which means I’m not “meeting” new DOC’ers like I once did, and I’m not discovering new D-blogs.

I’m not even good at staying on top of the blogs I used to read regularly. My system for blog-reading these days generally relies on people posting links on Facebook. If there’s a link to a blog post in my newsfeed that catches my eye, I’ll go read it. I know it means I miss a lot of great blogs, so it’s far from perfect, but my “Facebook system” works for me better than driving myself nuts trying to read every single diabetes blog. As you can imagine though, my system is not especially conducive to finding new blogs.

So it comes down to this. I don’t have a diabetes blog friend to share with you, at least not one you don’t already know. Maybe I’ll discover some this year as a result of D-Blog Week that I’ll be able to share with you next year. For now, I’m going to go a little rogue, and share some fun art-making blogs with you. I know that’s not the assignment, but perhaps you’ll find some inspiration there, inspiration that you can use to help you with your Diabetes Art Day project or your World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange postcard (it’s never too early to start!). If you ever have the opportunity to do creative projects with kids, maybe you’ll find some ideas to have a fun art-a-palooza. Maybe you’ll get inspired to do something creative just for the sake of your own personal creative growth. Maybe you’ll have a diabetes-themed spark of creativity that you’ll share with me so I don’t feel quite so terrible about taking liberties with the D-Blog Week prompt today.

PaintCutPaste and PaintCutPaste on Facebook:
A super neat website by an art therapist and mom who shares art projects that are fun for kids and adults. From her site:

“my initial goal for this site is to share with parents, caregivers, and teachers various ideas for creative activities to do with kids. as this blog grows, it expands to include ideas to nurture the creative drive that lives within each of us, as well… our kids help us to remember how much fun playing with art can be, and sometimes it’s fun to take your turn with the paintbrush or sewing needles! i hope this site brings you and yours inspiration and plenty of beautiful paint cut paste messes!”

Art Journaling as a Creative Process and Art Journaling as a Creative Process on Facebook:
This site hasn’t been updated in about 6 months, but the posts conveying the benefits and describing techniques of art journaling are timeless. Have a look through the archive, and discover the true magic of this art form. I love this site, and offer it as a resource to the students in my Intro to Art Therapy course, so now I suggest it to you too. As a bonus, most of the techniques are very adaptable to postcard-making… just sayin’…

November 5, 2011

5 Things that Changed My Life

Filed under: Blogging,Friends & Family,Inspiration — Tags: , — Lee Ann @ 10:59 pm

… Please register to access this content.

October 14, 2011

WDD Postcard Exchange: Technique Video #1

Sign up for the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange HERE!

My inbox was been bursting with emails from people signing up to participate in the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange! I’m thrilled to pieces with the response this project has garnered thus far. International Diabetes Federation, which organizes World Diabetes Day, is helping to spread the word, so I’m waiting a few more days to allow more participants to join. Right now, I intend to email the names and addresses of postcard buddies to all participants late next week, but if that changes I will let you know here on the blog and on the Facebook page.

I know people are excited to get that information, but even without a name and address, I hope you have either started making or you’re contemplating a postcard design. I want this project to be as easy as possible for everyone, and I don’t want anyone to spend a lot of money on art supplies, or any money for that matter, if they don’t want to or are unable.

This video is to help if you’re feeling unsure about how to get started. I designed the postcard in this video for those who would like to use things you probably have in your home. I use a catalog/magazine and all-purpose glue for the collage technique, but collaging is wonderfully versatile. You can use any kind of paper, like magazines, colored tissue, construction paper, patterned paper, a variety of different adhesives, and you can use scissors, or you can try tearing paper to create a more textured look. Like I say in the video, this is only an example of what you can do. Take the idea, alter it, and make it yours!

(Note: When I say “5 1/2″, I meant “3 1/2″)

Check back in a few days for how to make a simple postcard for less than $5 using inexpensive, basic art supplies. Happy postcard making!

August 31, 2011

Last Minute Diabetes Art Day Ideas

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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