Expressive Arts Carnival: Walls

The activity for this months Expressive Arts Carnival is to:

Draw a wall using any medium, and show what is on one or both sides. Please also write a couple of sentences saying what the process was like for you.

When I was seeing Liz (about a year ago), I created a Polyvore set which I titled Barriers, and showed what my defense mechanisms and walls were…


This shows my walls as being the razor wire fence, behind which hurt and angry ones can be seen.  What’s interesting, is that an abusive event can be seen fairly clearly, almost as if the memory is the defense against looking closer at the hurt ones and their emotions.  A hidden, and shameful part of the wall is sex; while the more obvious things that make up the wall are my education, work, food, perfectionism, alcohol, cutting and the idea/memories of the perfect family.  The protector with the knives, is one of our more heavy handed protectors, and indicates how out of control we were at the time…

Today, I drew another wall with oil pastels.  I love oil pastels because of their tactile nature.  But I also hate them, because they’re not “precise” enough for me… they have this annoying habit of not having straight lines and bleeding into each other.  Ok, so may be I don’t know how to manipulate them correctly to get the blending done precisely… or, may be that’s the point of them, to be imperfect.

This is what I drew…


The green and purple are the colours in front of the wall.  These are the colours that protect the rest of the system, and the outside world, from the wall and what is behind it.  The purple acts as a warning, and the green as a grounding colour.  Then there is the black wall.  This wall must be strong and impervious.  The bright red, or anger, is the first thing bashing against the wall, then the shame of blue; before the black emptiness of the unknown.  Each of the colours is separated by mini black walls, to try and keep layers upon layers of protection occurring.

I’m struck by the contrasts between the images.  The first is controlled, yet descriptive; while the second is controlled and abstract.  I often describe my internal world behind the wall as either a gaping chasm of nothingness, or a swirling mess of emotions… neither quite fit the image that I’ve drawn.  I’m not particularly grounded today, so that could be the reason for the disparity.

To add to the oddity, I deliberately chose Missy Higgins’  version of Stuff and Nonsense to go with this entry – a song about knowing/loving in the present, but not being able to guarantee anything in the future.

I sometimes wonder if I’m looking for meaning when there is none, or whether I’m missing the point.  One day, I may find out, but not today.

Now playing: Missy Higgins – Stuff and Nonsense
via FoxyTunes


25 thoughts on “Expressive Arts Carnival: Walls

  1. I love these. You do such great creative work.

    The big thing I notice is the use of colour – specifically that you use it in your second piece, but not so much in your first. This gives me the impression that the second image is more positive, like it’s from a much happier place, and that the ways you protect yourself now are more positive (and therefore less destructive). I might be way off beam, but that’s the impression I get.

    Luv your work. 🙂

    • Thanks Kerro 🙂

      I think there was quite a bit of emotion in the piece I did today, but I’m not really sure. I’ve been quite disconnected from reality over the weekend (get real, last month).

      If only the protection was more positive… it isn’t. I know some of the things like alcohol are nowhere near as bad as they have been in the past. But some of the other coping mechanisms are much worse and dangerous than they ever were. Possibly that’s why today’s representation was abstract rather than descriptive, I’m not wanting to show the depth of my dysfunction. It could also about being more in touch with the emotions which cause that dysfunction, I don’t know.

      I’m rambling a lot for someone whose disconnected 🙂

      Take care,

  2. I love both pieces CG. I think they’re both incredibly expressive and they say a lot just in different ways. And that’s perfect. There is no *one* way to express how we may feel or to describe something so complex as mental walls and feelings and parts and…everything. I love how very different the two pieces are. Nicely done! 🙂

  3. Wow, this is powerful. Did you email it to Paul, so he can add it to the others? I hope so, other readers should see it. … I ramble on, too, when I feel disconnected, but for me, it’s a way of finding my way back, or finding a center…

    • Hi Ivory,

      Thanks 🙂
      Yes, I’ve sent them through to Paul. Hopefully he’s well enough to publish the carnival, his last comment on his blog mentioned he wasn’t well.

      Yes, sometimes the rambling leads you back to reality… I hope so anyway.

      Take care,

  4. Hi CG,

    I love how artistic expression seems to reverse the dissociative process. Something comes out via the art and as we digest it we become aware of meanings that weren’t part of the conscious creative experience.

    One thing you mentioned that I especially like is this concept of layers. It’s interesting how you used images to create layers in the set, and colors to create layers with the pastels.

    Thanks for posting these. It’s really inspiring to see your artwork and read your thoughts on the pieces.

    • Hi Holly,

      I think the creative expressions like art, tap into our emotions, and this is where so much of our healing needs to occur. I usually lose time when I create my better artistic endeavours…

      Layers are always important to me, internally and externally. Yet, I see myself as very shallow and superficial.

      Thank you… I must in turn thank Paul for creating the Carnival. It’s been really interesting and challenging for me to do the directives, as I’ve never experienced any sort of art therapy before.

      Take care,

  5. hi castor~ i really love what you’ve made. i didn’t think i could do this exercise until i saw your work, then i felt inspired by you today. thank you for sharing your work and talking about what it means to you. i can relate to your defenses of education, perfectionism and memory. i love that your protective wall is made from books. i can relate to that as well. i think it’s interesting that the wall doesn’t go all the way down to the bottom of the image, as though there is only so much learning and intellectualizing can do to protect us from what threatens us. the books i think are very hopeful though. also i think it’s interesting that the red anger wall is blocking the abyss of the unknown. i rarely think about the positive aspects of anger. how anger can be destructive, yes. but how it can also be part of what helps us protect ourselves and others, helps us know when something is wrong and when something needs to change. if we never got angry, people could treat us any way they wanted and nothing would ever change.

    wishing you well today and always, castor~ 🙂

    • Hi katie,

      Thank you for pointing out the positive aspects of anger to me… I hadn’t thought of it like that. May be if I start thinking of those emotions in positive ways, they won’t be so scary.

      Take care,

      • i too feel so frightened by anger, of others and my own. part of me trying to heal these past recent years has involved trying to embrace anger, and part of learning not to fear it has involved trying to understand the reasons for it. in your second art piece, for example, when i see all that red, i thought, there is so much she is angry about. (but this i didn’t see as a bad thing). i think often what happens when we’ve been abused is that anger can be so overwhelming and terrifying, and sometimes it’s easy to get lost in that. but at the core of anger are legitimate reasons to be angry, right? and addressing those underlying reasons is what helps to dissipate the anger, because part of healing anger is feeling validated too i think. at least in my experience with myself and others.

        have no idea if this helps. just wanted to do what i could to help you feel validated today. safe hugs to you all~

        • Hi katie,

          I know what you are saying is the truth… I just need to get to a place where I can accept it and work through that. I fear that I still visit Denial Island too often to sort it through at the moment, I’m not sure…

          Thank you, your understanding helped… I was looking at the red today and wondering if I was exaggerating it. But I think the red anger is there to protect me from the void – almost like in the first set, the abuse memory being in front of the alters holding the pain.

          Take care, you are an amazing person.

          • i believe we all face what we are ready to face in our own time. maybe the denial is serving an important purpose right now, that you need it to be where and how much it is at this moment. and when you are ready for more, you will go there. but i think wherever we are each day needs to be ok too. because while we want to heal, part of healing is also to not push ourselves too much, right?

            again, i’m no expert, just speaking from my own experience…

            take care you too 🙂 you are an amazing person, castor~

            • I know your not an expert katie, but you show empathy when I need it. For that, I thank you.

              I agree that we look at things when we are ready. I think I need to have a little more patience with myself…

              Take care of yourself,

  6. CG. Thank you for submitting. You’ve given me the task of choosing which one to include in the Carnival. I will go with the second, only because it’s most recent (but also because it’s got wicked cool colors and contrast).

    One thing here you’ve clearly done is relate where you are now back to where you were a year ago. I think it’s good to do that in our art. It is making me think of a possibility for a future arts carnival. Maybe where we take an old piece and talk about how it relates now and how things are different now.

    Your wall in the oil pastel is impervious for sure. But it’s also full of hope because you’ve included grounding colors.

    Thanks, as always, for submitting.


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