*Age 8 – The Reindeer Envelope – My Own Art Work Analyzed By Me – The Art Therapist

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I always told my art therapy clients that just as it is nearly impossible to tell a story from a single word, it is very difficult to tell a story from a single artistic image.  When I worked with clients, all pieces were dated and given a number on the back of the image so we could always tell in what order the pictures were created on a given day.  Only in this way can the order of the images allow the fuller context and the larger story to be told.  The images, following one another in creation, are then like words in a sentence, sentences in a story so that the context unfolding over time becomes a part of the IMAGE itself.

This single ‘piece’ in fact has three separate facets that can be read as if they were three images.

I of course cannot remember making this envelope presented below.  Yet at the same time when I pick it up and hold it in my hands, when I look at it, I am reclaiming a part of myself, of my own her-story that belongs to the creation and the existence of this very small piece of art work.

Please note:  The formatting on this blog is inconsistent when it comes to adding text with illustrations.  To guarantee that my words did actually appear below, I had to enter them in the way they appear below.  Wouldn’t be my choice, but at least the words are there!!

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I cannot tell what happened as I wrote ‘To Mother” — did I cross it out?  Something noticeable happens there — and I’m not sure that it indicates anything ‘good’ or happy!

The envelope is 5 1/4" (13.5 cm) wide and 4 1/2" (11.5 cm) tall.  The edges are not taped shut, they are sealed with strips of glossy white paper of some kind that were cut to fit and glued in place.  I want to start with this 'front' view of the envelope even though I know from examining it that what might be the most important part of this whole image is hidden from sight in this view.  The media is crayon, with a line drawn in pencil on the top flap that encloses the black stars and thus places the two blue stars on the flap on the outside of this pencil line.  Looking closely, I can see that light pencil 'hatching' underlies the entire image with the exception of the white area where the flower and its pot are.  The flower was drawn in pencil and then colored in, as was the reindeer, sleigh and tiny santa.  The pencil hatching appears to 'fill in' the space of sky and land.  Pencil was also used for the "To Mother" part, which was written in 'primitive' cursive.  There are black stars in a lighter sky.  Perhaps I did not know how to make light stars on a dark background?  The bigger orange star with yellow lines radiating from it are reminiscent of the star in common Christmas lore.  I do wonder why the rest of the stars surrounding it are black.  I am reminded of my mother's dark rainbow that appeared in her dream.  I am reminded of 'black holes' or 'dark stars' which I am certain I knew nothing about at the young age I was when this image was created.  I notice that there is snow on the tops of the mountains, and coming down the side of the mountain on the left.  Even though this is a winter scene, complete with reindeer and master, the mountains are not buried in snow.  They remain 'snow capped' and the ground on the right below the flower is also brown and not covered in snow.  As an art therapist, when I see any indication of 'cornering' or 'in the corner' or 'being cornered' in an image I sit up and pay attention.  We can believe that what appears in images gets put there through conccious choice, but very often for everyone this is simply not the way an image appears.  Carl Jung, the psychologist contemporary of Sigmund Freud, provides perhaps the most solid foundation in theoretical underpinnings for considering created images.  He wrote of the collective human unconscious, and about how the human psyche can 'speak' in images, often louder than in words.  I would ask this little girl about the blue stars in the corners.  I would point out their existence in the space of the image.  The lower right one was drawn with pencil and colored in.  The other three were created with crayon color alone and do not have a borderline around them.  They are definitely signifying the presence of 'cornering' in the image.  The flower pot was first drawn quite small and made larger with the red crayon color.  As can be seen when I move to the next shot of this image, the flower pot and the flower and its leaves exist in a space that is delineated from the rest of the image -- except for the blue stars.  One could say that the placement of this part of the image, of the flower and its home in its pot, is perhaps accidental.  I don't know.  I don't have little girl Linda here with me so that we could move forward from this image and find out what is happening here.  I cannot ask her directly to explain herself in words, either.  What I can do as my adult self is notice this flower and pot, complete with its two green leaves that suggest that the plant is alive and well -- tipped off to the side, not seeming to 'fit in' or 'be a part of' the rest of the image -- the same as I have seen of myself in the posted photographs of myself with my family.  The position of the flower parallels the position of me as a child in those photos.  Coincidence?  Why in this picture is that flower over there by itself?  How is it that its flower pot 'home' was able to, was allowed to expand into a much larger, more 'adequate' and more conspicous one?  That feels positive to me.  It becomes a clouded issue to consider that this pot and flower are red considering the Christmas theme of the image -- red belongs with Christmas.  The inside of Santa's sleigh, however, is purple.  An important color.  It cannot be determined if the purple belongs to the gifts inside the sleigh or to the sleigh itself.  Purple, being a royal and healing color is another 'good sign' to me in this picture.  Santa has a tiny face, tiny white ruff on his sleeve, tiny white ruff on his hat, and very red reins!  Which lead to the star (!!) of this picture (or is the flower the star?  The mountains?  The blue stars?  The big one?  The blue cornered ones?)  Anyway, Rudolph is doing the job of pulling the sleigh all by himself, and looks pround doing it!  He seems to have, however, a black nose!  Or is that two noses?  A black and a red one?  Is the red his mouth?  I can't tell.  But Rudolph has spots, so he's not an adult reindeer.  He seems to have quite the sturdy harness around his belly!  Both the reindeer and the sleigh are 'grounded' on the bottom of the paper -- right next to a 'floating' blue star!
The envelope is 5 1/4" (13.5 cm) wide and 4 1/2" (11.5 cm) tall. The edges are not taped shut, they are sealed with strips of glossy white paper of some kind that were cut to fit and glued in place. I want to start with this 'front' view of the envelope even though I know from examining it that what might be the most important part of this whole image is hidden from sight in this view. The media is mostly crayon, with a line drawn in pencil on the top flap that encloses the black stars and thus places the two blue stars on the flap on the outside of this pencil line. Looking closely, I can see that light pencil 'hatching' underlies the entire image with the exception of the white area where the flower and its pot are. The flower was drawn in pencil and then colored in, as was the reindeer, sleigh and tiny but well defined and detailed Santa. The pencil hatching appears to 'fill in' the space of sky and land. Pencil was also used for the "To Mother" part, which was written in 'primitive' cursive. There are black stars in a lighter sky. Perhaps I did not know how to make light stars on a dark background? The bigger orange star with yellow lines radiating from it are reminiscent of the star in common Christmas lore. I do wonder why the rest of the stars surrounding it are black. I am reminded of my mother's dark rainbow that appeared in her dream. I am reminded of 'black holes' or 'dark stars' which I am certain I knew nothing about at the young age I was when this image was created. I notice that there is snow on the tops of the mountains, and coming down the side of the mountain on the left. Even though this is a winter scene, complete with reindeer and master, the mountains are not buried in snow. They remain 'snow capped' and the ground on the right below the flower is also brown and not covered in snow. As an art therapist, when I see any indication of 'cornering' or 'in the corner' or 'being cornered' in an image I sit up and pay attention. We can believe that what appears in images gets put there through conscious choice, but very often for everyone this is simply not the way an image appears. Carl Jung, the psychologist contemporary of Sigmund Freud, provides perhaps the most solid foundation in theoretical underpinnings for considering created images. He wrote of the collective human unconscious, and about how the human psyche can 'speak' in images, often louder than in words. I would ask this little girl about the blue stars in the corners. I would point out their existence in the space of the image. The lower right one was drawn with pencil and colored in. The other three were created with crayon color alone and do not have a borderline around them. They are definitely signifying the presence of 'cornering' in the image. The flower pot was first drawn quite small in pencil and made larger with the red crayon color. As can be seen when I move to the next shot of this image, the flower pot and the flower and its leaves exist in a space that is delineated from the rest of the image -- except for the blue stars. One could say that the placement of this part of the image, of the flower and its home in its pot, is perhaps accidental. I don't know. I don't have little girl Linda here with me so that we could move forward from this image and find out what is happening here. I cannot ask her directly to explain herself in words, either. What I can do as my adult self is notice this flower and pot, complete with its two green leaves that suggest that the plant is alive and well -- tipped off to the side, not seeming to 'fit in' or 'be a part of' the rest of the image -- the same as I have seen of myself in the posted photographs of myself with my family. The position of the flower parallels the position of me as a child in those photos. Coincidence? Why in this picture is that flower over there by itself? How is it that its flower pot 'home' was able to, was allowed to expand into a much larger, more 'adequate' and more conspicuous one? That feels positive to me. It becomes a clouded issue to consider that this pot and flower are red considering the Christmas theme of the image -- red belongs with Christmas. The inside of Santa's sleigh, however, is purple. An important color. It cannot be determined if the purple belongs to the gifts inside the sleigh or to the sleigh itself. Purple, being a royal and healing color is another 'good sign' to me in this picture. Santa has a tiny face, tiny white ruff on his sleeve, tiny white ruff on his hat, and very red reins! Which lead to the star (!!) of this picture (or is the flower the star? The mountains? The blue stars? The big one? The blue cornered ones?) Anyway, Rudolph is doing the job of pulling the sleigh all by himself, and looks proud doing it! He seems to have, however, a black nose! Or is that two noses? A black and a red one? Did I change my mind or become confused as to what color this guy's nose was? Is the red his mouth? I can't tell. But Rudolph has spots, so he's not an adult reindeer. He seems to have quite the sturdy harness around his belly! Both the reindeer and the sleigh are 'grounded' on the bottom of the paper -- right next to a 'floating' blue star, or actually between two of them!

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Well, now we are seeing the envelope from the front again with its glowing yellow lines shooting out from the black-edged large star at center -- and now we can see that with the flap open the pencil line surrounding the sky area in the image is pronounced, again with the cornered blue stars outside of that demarcated area.  It also becomes more clear that the flower and pot share the space with the corner blue stars on the top, and do not share the space with the rest of the scene drawn in this image.  There is, actually and perhaps figuratively, a 'borderline' drawn in this image.  Looking at the flower unanchored and ungrounded, except as it has its own grounding provided in its own pot -- in its own area of the image -- in its tipped position, I see it appears to be floating, but is aimed toward the right.  The right of an image can easily refer to 'becoming conscious' (with the left being a reference to what is unconscious).  This flower, then, sustains itself, is cut off and is apart from the 'rest of the world' but is headed in the 'right' direction!  I would also note that just as purple CAN mean -- and the meaning of colors is true only if the rest of the artwork, and most preferably of a series of art images -- can confirm that the potential meaning for colors apply accurately and is relevant.  Blue can indicate a connection so spirit and to spirituality.  I would not ever doubt that possibility when looking particularly at a young child's piece of art.  BUT WHAT IS MOST OBVIOUS AND IMPORTANT in this image has to do with the definite, clear and well defined repetition of diamonds and their corresponding patterns of triangles.  Going way back to before the Christian era, 'diamones' or 'diamons' as James Hillman would refer to them, existed in a wholeness as a COMBINED force of good+evil -- a 'one thing' not separated from one another.  The early Christian fathers, I think about 600 A.D. held their big get-to-gethers and sorted all this out according to their thinking if not according to their own liking, and decided which of the previous recognized spirits and angels and demons were good and which were bad, which could remain in the minds. lives and psyches of Christ's true believers, and which had to be cut off, condemned and buried -- because buried they became in the human psyche.  Although in an image one can simply 'wave off' as a geometric pattern what appears on this open flap in my childhood image, I know exactly to what it is referring to.....the terrible fundamental split between angelizing and demonizing that pervaded my life because of my mother's broken psyche.  There are both diamonds and diamonds (diamons as diamons -- reference to demons and demons -- which is a reference from WAY back before they were cut off from their better halves, their angelic halves) --  NEVER, in anyone's artwork, would I miss one of the most serious indicators of abuse history or activity by missing an allusion to or an illustration of diamonds -- even as the stones -- or split diamonds as triangles.  It's all right here.
Well, now we are seeing the envelope from the front again with its glowing yellow lines shooting out from the black-edged large star at center -- and now we can see that with the flap open the pencil line surrounding the sky area in the image is pronounced, again with the cornered blue stars outside of that demarcated area. It also becomes more clear that the flower and pot share the space with the corner blue stars on the top, and do not share the space with the rest of the scene drawn in this image. There is, actually and perhaps figuratively, a 'borderline' drawn in this image. Looking at the flower unanchored and ungrounded, except as it has its own grounding provided in its own pot -- in its own area of the image -- in its tipped position, I see it appears to be floating, but is aimed toward the right. The right of an image can easily refer to 'becoming conscious' (with the left being a reference to what is unconscious). This flower, then, sustains itself, is cut off and is apart from the 'rest of the world' but is headed in the 'right' direction! I would also note that just as purple CAN mean -- and the meaning of colors is true only if the rest of the artwork, and most preferably of a series of art images -- can confirm that the potential meaning for colors apply accurately and is relevant. Blue can indicate a connection so spirit and to spirituality. I would not ever doubt that possibility when looking particularly at a young child's piece of art. BUT WHAT IS MOST OBVIOUS AND IMPORTANT in this image has to do with the definite, clear and well defined repetition of diamonds and their corresponding patterns of triangles. Going way back to before the Christian era, 'diamones' or 'diamons' as James Hillman would refer to them, existed in a wholeness as a COMBINED force of good+evil -- a 'one thing' not separated from one another. The early Christian fathers, I think about 600 A.D. held their big get-to-gethers and sorted all this out according to their thinking if not according to their own liking, and decided which of the previous recognized spirits and angels and demons were good and which were bad, which could remain in the minds. lives and psyches of Christ's true believers, and which had to be cut off, condemned and buried -- because buried they became in the human psyche. Although in an image one can simply 'wave off' as a geometric pattern what appears on this open flap in my childhood image, I know exactly to what it is referring to.....the terrible fundamental split between angelizing and demonizing that pervaded my life because of my mother's broken psyche. There are both diamonds and diamonds (diamons as diamons -- reference to demons and demons -- which is a reference from WAY back before they were cut off from their better halves, their angelic halves) -- NEVER, in anyone's artwork, would I miss one of the most serious indicators of abuse history or activity by missing an allusion to or an illustration of diamonds -- even as the stones -- or split diamonds as triangles. It's all right here.

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And here we have the back of this simple envelope, "Roedfelt the Red Nose Riendeer" -- from Linda in the wonderful healing, royal, ancient color of purple.  Chosing that color to sign my name was a stroke of genious -- from somewhere extremely special and powerful.  Looking at that today, over 50 years later, I can see tht I was going down the road all right -- a miracle considering my environment and what I was dealing with.  But not only the "from Linda" part is purple.  The whole background behind the reindeer is also 'hatched in' with purple.  Now, this reindeer image clearly has the red nose!  I like how I used my crayons to create shades of fur, and certainly this guy is young -- look at those spots!  His feet are again firmly planted at the bottom of the page -- nice and grounded.  No Santa -- nice solid, strongly outlined definition of form and shape -- (and identitiy - boundaries?).
And here we have the back of this simple envelope, "Roedfelt the Red Nose Riendeer" -- from Linda in the wonderful healing, royal, ancient color of purple. Choosing that color to sign my name was a stroke of genius -- from somewhere extremely special and powerful. Looking at that today, over 50 years later, I can see that I was going down the right road all right -- a miracle considering my environment and what I was dealing with. But not only the "from Linda" part is purple. The whole background behind the reindeer is also 'hatched in' with purple. Now, this reindeer image clearly has the red nose! I like how I used my crayons to create shades of fur, and certainly this guy is young -- look at those spots! His feet are again firmly planted at the bottom of the page -- nice and grounded. No Santa -- nice solid, strongly outlined definition of form and shape -- (and identitiy - boundaries?).

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Overall I am impressed with the really straightforward way my inner psyche communicated itself through this image.  Even though it shows a definite ‘split’ between worlds here, between areas of the image — and what is contained in what area — even though it shows the issue of being cornered, in corners (where I spent thousands of my childhood hours) — even though there’s an isolated flower looking like it’s falling over, it might not be!  It might be making its own way into the future in its own world of sustaining life in its own defined flower pot world!

The colors used for the diamonds and triangles are not informative to me because the are probably tied to the seasonal motive of the envelope (I wish I had the card here that went with it!).  However, they are stating to me, as loudly as they possibly could, that my inner self, my spiritually old and wise soul self, was perfectly aware that I lived in a world where fundamental issues pertaining to the splitting of good from evil played a profound role.

While it was certainly unfortunate that I was so abused as a child, it is at the same time an amazing miracle that I was evidently so able to find ways to preserve my essential selfhood.  If I had to ‘dissociate’ myself on the other side of the (pencil) borderline from the world of “To Mother,” then so be it.

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This page connects to this October 5, 2009 post

+LINKS TO NEW PAGES ADDED TODAY INCLUDING MY CHILDHOOD ART

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