An accessible, creative art form
Harjit Singh, a programme officer and leader for ‘Love Group’ has worked at COH for the last 3 years. He was excited about ‘Marbling Interactive’ – a new art and craft activity specially designed and suited for COH clients.
Affordable, accessible, creative and easy, it was a volunteer initiative that helped COH with the preparation of marbling paint and taught the teachers the artwork techniques. The special paints are made up of different proportions of water, acrylic paint and cooking oil.
At a ‘Marbling Interactive’, volunteers first assist clients in squeezing the different coloured bottles of marbled paint in varied designs – blots, loops or free-form trails – onto a shallow tray of water. They then encourage and help those who have weak motor skills, to hold up two ends of the paper before placing each piece gently in the tray. The oil-based paints become gradually ‘imprinted’ onto the paper, creating mesmerizing ‘marbled’ images.
This beautiful art form allows COH clients to see the ‘marbling’ effect they created, unravel instantly before their eyes – transforming blank white pieces of paper into unique, colourful art works.
Harjit intends to frame them up the wall, to give the clients something to be proud of. Most clients can recognize their own art work as well as those of their friends.
A tool for communication, self-expression
One of Harjit’s charges, Croydon, had initially appeared anxious. The change in routine and the buzz surrounding the new activity had unsettled him.
Harjit explains, “Croydon chose a very dark colour for his first piece. He also squeezed the tube quite hard. So the colours came out in strong, harsh bursts. I believe it is his way of communicating his unease and apprehensive state of mind. Later when he was more settled, he chose lighter colours. Because these clients have difficulties communicating, I feel marbling is an excellent form of therapy, a great tool for self-expression. It is one way to encourage them to communicate their inner emotions.”
When Croydon’s fingers got stained with some oily paint in the process of marbling, he started patting his chest repeatedly, as his way of conveying anxiety. In response, Harjit gently encouraged and assured him, “It is ok, Croydon. Everything is fine.”
Boosting clients’ confidence
Another COH client, Chin Beng, enjoyed it so much that each time he completed his art piece he expressed his sense of wonder and achievement, shouting “Yeah! Yeah!”
“The ‘Marbling Interactive’ activity not only boosts the clients’ confidence, it also helps them to relax. They can then better absorb the information around them,” Harjit observed.
Volunteerism is simple; it is not ‘rocket science’
The session was made possible with the help of volunteers Carol, Hui Sing and four sisters, Daisy, Pauline, Lay Lee and Catherine.
Daisy enjoyed her time interacting with the COH clients. She shares that it has helped her understand their situation better. “The little bit we do makes a big difference,” she said.
For Pauline, it was her first volunteering experience. “I have to go through it to understand. The joy I see on the clients’ faces when they produce the art impacted me,” she acknowledged.
Lay Lee felt that volunteers like themselves “should be open-minded and just give.”
Catherine remarked, “Sometimes, people are not keen to volunteer because they don’t know what to expect. They think they must be very skilled or an expert in something; but volunteering is all about wanting to do something and giving time.”
Carol had so much joy and fun interacting with the COH clients, she will most likely return to help out!
Here’s to more fun and creative times marbling with COH clients and volunteering!
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About the Author: The COH Resource Team comprises volunteers, content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals.