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Posted on Jan 27, 2016 by tayo  | Comments (0)


-looking for pictures to take by a maple tree on lunch break with my dog.


Uroboros: A reflection on art education

by Ben Fox LCMHC

intermodal ecopsychological expressive art therapist & art educator


What does it mean to learn creatively?

I ponder this in reflection for this month’s blog.


I started this journey with an etymological search of the word learn.

          To learn….to bring forth, study, cultivate, think about.

          To follow….to find the path of imagination and bring forth along in a process.


By far the most interesting reference was ‘the sole of a foot’ (, which implies to me an inherent connection of oneself to the ground, to nature, the natural world all around us; known and unknown.

I feel strongly akin to this meaning as I find much inspiration being in and observing nature, whether it be making art outside, skiing, fishing, gardening or just enjoying the view out of my window, I find a needed sense of space, connection, and rejuvenation. Nature journaling has been a mainstay of my art process for many years and I have found it has both individual and communal ties as ideas emerge and metamorphosize.

Thus, I posit learning creatively is about a process of synchronistic, serendipitous self-reflection brought about by the inherent symbiosis of people and their natural environment.

              Tetlow, A.; 2014. Designa: Technical Secrets of the Traditional Visual Arts. Bloomsbury, New York. Wooden Books. Pg. 314 (excerpt)


These creative, natural underpinnings are the core connective fibers which fuel the learning process.

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” (Thoreau, Henry David: 1991: Walking,  pg 85; Beacon Press, Boston)

To creatively learn about one’s heart in connection with nature, I believe, is subsequently one of the most important lessons to attempt to express. Comparatively, it is also one of the hardest things to do as well. How does one effortlessly elucidate such learnt self expression in the arts? It is a struggle; of heart, mind, soul, and nature. And when we accept such challenges, without judgment and expectation, wonderful things seem to occur. Yet, it can and will and does, as Thoreau states in my well dog-eared book by my nightstand, direct us aright if we can allow it to be so.

Seeking direction, for example, a new group of drummers were allowed the space to find their own rhythm, which in turn, brought them back together in a deeper connection to each other through the language of the drum. And it led to a group drawing (inset) which just occurred without instruction between us and left me speechless. (Thank you Reading Elementary School!)

I believe there are endless ways to learn creatively. It is a journey which is fraught with trial and error, struggle and strife, but also wonderful connection, collaboration, insight and resolution if stayed with.

More so, it inherently transcribes into our lives and the natural world, enriching us all in a more fulfilling life where life’s troubles can be more easily be managed.

Sometimes, when I get stuck and the desk piles up with clutter of projects, I and it might need a much needed cleaning. But then again, art is messy and needs some confusing ambiguity sometimes in order to figure itself out.


Without know how to end this and in lieu of cleaning my desk, I think I’ll go for a walk with my dog instead and look for a photograph to take; which inevitably brings me back to the beginning of where I need to be to go forward again. 


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