Stay-At-Home Art Tips & Tricks from VYH Art Therapist, Elyse Coldren

“The truth is, we are all artists and were born artists.” – Elyse Coldren, Valley Youth House, Art Therapist (Northampton and Carbon County Adolescents Achieving Independence (AAI) Supervisor/ Art@LV Coordinator)

At Valley Youth House, art is utilized as a tool for self-expression, communication, skill building (not just artistic skills), enhancing coping skills, or simply for a therapeutic outlet. If the youth and family are working with an art therapist, the art can be utilized in the treatment of trauma and mental health.

Check out the Stay-At-Home Art Tips & Tricks from Elyse Coldren, Valley Youth House Art Therapist:

Why art is important to Valley Youth House:

    • art being “another” or “different” way for people to express themselves
    • art as an alternative to talk and cognitive processing
    • building the relationship through an interest of the youth
    • coping tool

During this time of stay-at-home, here are some ways to bring art into the virtual world:

    • Use Whiteboard feature on Zoom to play Pictionary
    • Play “Drawful” on JackBox
    • Find out what supplies the youth has in the home and create with them while chatting
    • Sidewalk Chalk- range from self-portrait to physical activities such as an obstacle course or decorative/encouraging outside art
    • Find an image in a scribble

So how do we compliment the art without our own values or judgement being projected?

Don’t Say:

      • “That is so nice.”
      • “Beautiful work.”
      • “Maybe you should stick with your math skills.”

Instead, ask questions:

      • “I really like your color choice!”
      • “How did you come up with the lay out or theme?”
      • “Do the colors mean/represent anything?”
      • “Can you tell me about the art?”
      • “Can you tell me what you drew?”
      • “Tell me about the process of how you made this?”

When the artist identifies their own objects in their art, you can then ask questions about the objects:

    • “What is the dog doing in the image?”
    • “What was it doing before?”
    • “What will it do after?”

Elyse says, “Art is not about making an image with objects; a scene that people can identify.  It can be scribbling to release energy or “warm up”. It can be colors, shapes, and lines. This is what we must encourage. This is where we can build the confidence in art making.”

ART IN ACTION AT VALLEY YOUTH HOUSE (pictures taken before March 2020):