In the shoes of a service user/participant


In the shoes of a service user/participant

I recently attended a painting workshop over three days that helped me to discover more about myself at least, to go beyond my fears. Being a leisure paint/art person I chose to attend this workshop because the criteria was, “ No painting or art experience is required.” which fitted quite well with me as a leisure artist. Also, I just wanted a break, to relax.

At the workshop I was surprised in many ways. A green horn like me, who usually uses small art paper to paint, I had an easel on the wall, a large paper and various size brushes which I was not used to. I had to actually stand and paint pictures instead of my usual sitting at the table with small paper, and some paint on a palette. Wow...artist in the making!! Ya Sure!!    I thought to myself.

Worse still, I had a room full of many real artists around me, where painting a picture was no sweat at all for them, for within an hour they painted amazing portraits and landscapes to my dismay.

With all these fears before me, I wondered why am I here? or should I just get out of sight quickly. Then the instructions of the facilitator crept into my ears… to focus on my picture:

  1. Paint from your heart and not your head.
  2. You are not to judge/comment/compare with another’s painting.
  3. Discover what your picture speaks to you only.

I slowly became engrossed in my painting and the energy within me changed. My picture spoke to me and the fears just escaped away like bubbles. The facilitator helped me to focus more on improving my picture. He teased out ideas with me that helped to create new ideas to my picture. I felt different.

With new courage, I began to see the expert artists around me in new light. I drew energy from them, from their picture and their skills. I began to admire their pictures and got inspired by them, their persistence instead of being frightened or intimidated by their presence.

I began to ponder on what made the change. I realised that I found meaning in my own picture that I painted. I listened to my heart more and less of my head. I allowed myself to be stimulated by the colour and drawings which gave me new insights and creativity. Then I began to just appreciate other paintings, the expert artists and most of all my own painting from the heart.

The whole experience at the workshop made me wonder how the families, children and youth that I work/journey with feel when I am with them. What are their fears as a service user when they come to me for help?

I became more conscious about how important it is to lead them to listen to themselves, to their heart, to their strengths within them, to go beyond their fears. I also learnt that the environment/community around is an important source of support and strength when you begin listening with the heart and less of the head.

The expert artists were just expert at their art. They were not judging, or comparing their art with the rest or even me, a small fry there. They were just being themselves, good artists with lots of energy, which eventually encouraged me to be myself with my own painting.

Having learnt about SALT, I hope to consciously Stimulate myself  to go beyond my fears, to Appreciate myself for who I am and  what I cannot be, to Listen with the heart starting with myself and to Transfer by being mindful of how a service user that comes to me maybe thinking and feeling when asking for help. I feel excited to share this new energy, learning with those around me in whatever way I can and be.


Sincerely from my heart experience

Chris Joy


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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 19, 2012 at 5:28pm

 I liked your blog very much because of how you compared the situation of you being among more experienced artists and  thus, illustrating how service users could feel being with the service provider. So, during the SALT Visit when facilitators go as human beings, not experts, it can be empowering and uplifting for the community. Thanks Chris. Warm wishes from Delhi!


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