Where I've Been, Where I am, Where I'm Going

Thanks to guest blogger Michelle Saleeba we have another fantastic piece for you to get in touch with your creative side.

Gather your supplies:

  • Journal or single sheet of paper/card
  • Selection of acrylic paints
  • Brushes, foam rollers & sponges for spreading paint
  • Plate or palette to spread paint on
  • Selection of magazines or collage source material that have meaning to you
  • Water soluble pastels and/or pencils or markers for adding detail over dry paint
  • Craft glue 
  • Lead pencil and ruler
  • Decorative paper or tape for segmenting pages (I’ve used a plain black electrical tape from a hardware store)


With Therapeutic art activities it is the process, the reflection, the visualisation, the emotional experience that are important NOT the final outcome.  We aren’t aiming for a product here.  

You don’t have to have any art training, you don’t need to be able to make realistic drawings.  If you really feel your piece needs a person in it – stick figures work!

There is no right way to do this only your way.  Take ownership of the process.  And remember no-one need see your work unless you choose to share it. 

Often people feel a little overwhelmed at having to use art materials they’ve never previously worked with.  Or the idea of sitting quietly and reflecting can seem weird and awkward.  That’s completely OK most of us feel slightly anxious when we try something new…..don’t fight it, this is play time and the more you make space in your life for creative and emotional play the easier it becomes.


For this creative therapy exercise it is helpful to spend some time quietly centring yourself and gathering your thoughts.  Leaving behind the stress and carry on from our day to day lives and allowing our self to be really present and engaged with the creative process.  

So get comfy with all your stuff spread in front of you and close your eyes for a moment, focussing at first on your breathing.  Gently aiming for an evenness of breath, in and out.  

Bring your attention to your past – which ever aspect of your past that jumps out at you.  All of it, a specific significant event there’s no right focus here.  Do you have a particular colour that you associate with this time in your life?  With your childhood say or all of the time leading to now?  This is the colour or combination of colours that are going to be the background to the first part of your page.

As you are visualising the colour/s of where you’ve been you will likely have images, words, faces perhaps even sounds, smells and tastes that come to the front of your conscious mind.  Gently acknowledge these – they will guide you in your choice of collage materials.

When reflecting on your present what are the aspects that you are most grateful for?  Those that you would like to change?  Is there a colour that defines your present situation?  A symbol, taste or sensation?

Looking to the Future is a visioning exercise and here we have the opportunity to place our desires, hopes and dreams on the page.  It’s an opportunity to think about the aspects of our life we want to work on or change and how that might look

Engage with the process

Please read through the whole process before you start 

Step 1- Segmenting

Divide your page into 3 sections using your lead pencil.  

If you want straight lines and structured segments use the ruler – if you prefer fluid and loose go freehand!  

Step 2-Laying down the colours

It’s time to use the sponges or foam rollers to colour the Where I’ve Been segment.

We are creating a background here with the intent to place elements on top so it works best to apply the paint sparingly.

Spreading the paint too thickly or using loads of water will increase the drying time.  You can always use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process if you need too.  

Step 4-Rip Tear Cut

Turn to your collection of collage materials and recalling the images etc from your reflection start selecting anything that really speaks to you and fits with what you visualised.  Rip or cut whatever works for you.

*TIP-you want to keep yourself moving quite quickly here – don’t get sucked into reading articles!  It can help to give yourself a time limit!

 (In the example at the top of the document I asked participants to aim for 8 -12 images and/or words per segment.)

Step 5- Collage

You want your painted segment to be dry for this bit.  

Start to arrange the collage elements representing your past on the painted segment.  

Glue them down using your craft glue.

Step 6- and repeat x2

You need to follow the above process through again for Where I Am and Where I’m Going starting with a reflection for each aspect.

Step 7 – Pushing apart pulling together

Now define the three segments of the piece, you can use your tape here or another medium that you prefer such as permanent marker.   

The phases of our life are both separate and dependent on each other.  There are lessons and experiences we choose to leave behind and others to carry forward.  To demonstrate this using your pastels or markers add text and illustration that symbolically links the aspects that you choose to carry through from one part of your life to the next.

For example you may draw arrows or ladders leading from one section to the next. Or perhaps an arrow points from one aspect of your past to the future but the destination is unclear.  

Michelle Saleeba is a single mum to two independent teenagers and perhaps more simply a gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer called Otis who still likes going with her for walks at the beach!   

She writes, paints and journals and tries to get on the yoga mat as often as possible.   

Michelle facilitates creative therapy support groups for women that incorporate meditation as well as visual art and writing usually in the safe container of a journal.  

Michelle is also an accredited personal trainer and offers exercise programs and training sessions for wellbeing as well as anxiety and depression management.

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For more information about creative support groups or personal training with Michelle contact the Henry Street Centre in Fremantle on 9433 6957 or email michellesaleeba@msn.com or visit her website www.michellesaleeba.com

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