Preparing to Paint Edith Kramer – That’s too much paint!

“Use little paint! Use less paint than you think.”

Is the mantra I have been repeating to myself while learning to paint Edith Kramer. Wax has inherent translucent properties that are crucial to its effectiveness in realistic representations in models. Therefore, during this stage, I had to work hard to add depth and life to Kramer, without losing this unique feature.

Wade Waxworks offered me the opportunity to first practise painting on wax. There, I made the most amateur mistake possible – I painted with too much paint (see below.)

My second attempt was more successful. The key to painting on wax is to dry brush oil paint onto the surface, taking the time to slowly build up the layers so that the translucency is not lost. There are also certain colours that are almost always used:

– Cadmium red (with a little violet if necessary for darker areas). Commonly used for ear areas.

– Flesh or Pale Rose Blush

– Buff titanium

– Burnt umber (great for freckles!)

– Olive green

– Naples yellow (for highlighting)

I have also looked at portrait painting on the traditional canvas, which has helped me understand how colour can insinuate anatomy. For instance, you can use highlights to ‘pick up structures’ but these must end once the latter does. Also, colours such as ‘cadmiums with black/cobalt blue/ultramarine and umber make good shadows.’ Areas of the face where there is thicker flesh are often painted with warmer colours, while where the bone is closer to the skin, cooler. Lastly, green undertones are more common on the face than I thought!

Before moving onto the final painting, I also practised on extra casts. During this stage, I have noticed that the paint started to crumble on top of the surface. Please see below photo for an example of the crumbling when I first painted at Wade Waxworks. I believe this crumbling on my casts can be due to several reasons:

  1. The surface of the cast is not clean enough.
  2. The surface of the cast is too shiny, which prevents the paint from properly adhering.
  3. The oil paints are reacting with the brushes.
  4. Too much paint!

The first point prompted me to look into conservation of wax, which gave me some tips on preparing a wax surface. Murrel, V. points out that due to the inherent ‘waxiness’ of the material, it tends to get dirty. (1971, pg. 97). Often, conservation workers in museums use aqueous washing composed of ‘distilled water with 2% Lissapol’ which is ‘brushed over the surface with a soft sable’ (1971, pg. 100). I will follow this process on the final cast before painting, allowing the surface to dry completely beforehand.

Additionally, I altered the surface of the cast through additional carving and brushing, in order to reduce the shine and help the paint adhere better. I filled any holes left by the casting process, paying attention to the temperature of the wax I used as filling – Murrel notes how ‘all tools used in cutting and finishing wax should be warmed’ (1971, pg. 102) but not too much, as there can be a colour difference in heated and colder wax.

I will also try sable brushes instead of synthetic ones.

I believe these points combined will result in a better paint finish on my model, which I will review in my last blog post at the end of the project.


Dressmaking and Presentation – Edith Kramer

My grandmother is a seamstress. Since I was little, I have watched her sew my clothes and have always wanted to learn. I was so happy to get this opportunity in this project, for which I will be making a half-scale outfit for Edith Kramer.

I have chosen the above image as reference for the outfit I will be making. It is composed of three components – a white shirt, a blue and white plaid, and on the very top, a corduroy jacket. This outfit stood out to me because of the layers, the loose fit, the muted colours, and finally, the materials themselves. Combined, these properties insinuate a character who prefers comfort in their everyday wear, and practicality. The corduroy specifically, is ‘one of those sturdy, reliable fabrics that sewers tend to take for granted.’ Altogether, I believe this outfit is a good indicator of the warmth, kindness and authenticity of Edith Kramer that I came to understand through my research, and for which I would like the viewer to recognise her for.

The corduroy fabric is also kind to the beginner sewer – it can be found in quite a few style variations and doesn’t present with much stretch. It is advised that when looking for corduroy, one should ‘look for one that has a generous, lush pile and a superior sheen and drape, which will produce a beautiful, cushy, rumpled look after many washings.’

Additionally, I also chose my corduroy fabric based on the scale. I had to recreate Edith Kramer’s jacket on half-scale, therefore it was important to imitate the size of the thread and patterns. The corduroy is made in distinctive ribs, which are called wales. These range in size, with the higher number of wales resulting in a tighter pattern. As Edith Kramer is wearing a large wale style, I looked to Needlecord 21 wales/in. Below shows the difference between a smaller and a larger wale.

After attending a pattern-making workshop, I learned I also needed a pattern. Edith Kramer’s jacket includes a Peter Pan variation of a collar. See below for my test jacket in the fabric calico. The final pattern will be adjusted to be a little larger and used for the corduroy jacket. Interfacing will be used in the collar for stiffness.

Practicing before-hand showed me some errors I made. I must remember for the final jacket:

  1. Do not sew the area under the sleeves before sewing on the collar! More flexibility and accuracy this way.
  2. Cut little triangles into curved areas.
  3. Sew the collar in between the front facing and the upper parts. This way edges won’t show.
  4. Prewash the fabric.
  5. Use the ‘low impact’ pressing technique to not lose the wale shape.

 The rest of the clothing components present in the image will be outsourced – I will look at the smallest sizes of children clothing.

Presentation – additional details

True to my benchmarks, I have also paid attention to small idiosyncratic accessories of Edith Kramer and will include them in my model. From the small hair pins that she wears, which I have outsourced at half-scale (from Wilkos!) to the major details, which are of course, the eyes. The latter I outsourced from Eyedentity, through which process I have experienced the (occasional) frustration of outsourcing.

I first ordered the eyes early April. I wanted to give myself leeway in case they were not good enough quality. Unfortunately, a week after purchase the sale representative informed me that they did not have this pair available at their locations in the UK, and they would have to be shipped from their workshops in Germany. However, due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, he was unsure when I would receive them. The best he could give me after I prompted him, was an ETA of early June.

At this point I considered my options – the size of the eyes I was seeking was infuriatingly hard to find online, and apart from Eyedentity, all other options would be out of the budget of the project by a significant amount. The best option for my project was to take the risk and order from Eyedentity. Thankfully, the eyes did arrive early June, although I was glad I kept bi-weekly contact with the company to ensure their arrival.

Photogrammetry – Edith Kramer as Physical and Digital

Along with using my Edith Kramer sculpt to create a realistic waxwork model, I also experimented with photogrammetry and 3D printing. The majority of this project focused on historical, and more natural processes such as sculpting, waxwork and dressmaking, which is why I wanted to explore a more technical and modern process as well. Taking a 3D scan of Edith Kramer proved the perfect opportunity to explore this.


  1. Take turn-around photos of the sculpt. I ended up taking 167 images of Edith from three different perspectives.
  2. Use Agisoft to process the images at the highest quality.
  3. Clean-up in Agisoft and Zbrush.
  4. Into Preform 3D printing software.
  5. Use the resin printer.
  6. Clean up of print.

Even though I processed the photos at the highest quality in the Agisoft software, there were still many areas that needed fixing. There was a build-up of material at the top, and the bottom of the scan was full of holes. This might have been because the top and bottom of the sculpt in the photos were not as clearly photographed as the rest.

By importing the scan into Zbrush, Rhino and 3DS Max, I was able to experiment and find the best way of cleaning her up without reducing quality. Zbrush worked best for this – I used the Boolean feature to fill the holes at the bottom, and gradually smoothed the extra material on top away. I re-sculpted the same texture that I did on the physical sculpt on the smoothed parts.

The final 3D print came out at a good quality. It is interesting to view both models – the larger wax and smaller resin print – side by side. Their making processes present juxtaposed representations of the same sculpt and can stand as visual depictions of how materials carry intrinsic meaning – the rawness of the wax against the cold modernity of the resin. If the former is true, it suggests that each material’s unique meaning can be utilised by the artist to present their views, ideas and emotions. I believe this relates to the work Edith Kramer was a part of during her life.

Additionally, the size of the 3D print is also an interesting comparison and relates to my earlier notes on the work of Ron Mueck, who famously manipulated the scale of his models to instigate certain reactions from his viewers. The tiny scale of the 3D print carries connotations of a little toy or trinket and presents far less detail than the waxwork. Therefore, I believe it stands as a good portrayal of the conscious choice I made at the beginning of this project – the half-size scale of my waxwork, which I chose precisely for its diminutive size.

Sculpting Edith Kramer – Anatomy and Narrative

Sculpting time! I was super excited to start making for this project.

In preparation for sculpting Edith Kramer, I wanted to build an impression of her by watching any online documentaries and talks she was a part of, and reading her work. My perception of Edith is a soft-tempered woman with a lot of experience, and a strong personal and emotional understanding. She also has a quirky attitude towards her, which is particularly displayed in this documentary video.

In terms of reference images, I used digital photographs and screen grabs from videos. I scaled them to be the same size and printed out to take measurements from. I ensured these were all from different viewpoints, in order to create an environment as similar to sculpting from a life model as possible. This would aid the three-dimensionality of my sculpt.

An impactful issue I encountered at this point, was the quality of the images. This became far more important in the tertiary details stage of sculpting, when I was looking at wrinkles and skin texture. As I couldn’t see this on the images, I also used stock images of elderly individuals to compare and analyse the way skin presents itself at that age, and to also refer to anatomy features which were covered by clothing, such as the neck and back.

Elderly woman smiling.
Anatomy of the neck, back and shoulders.

An understanding of anatomy was significant to my sculpt. Consequently, I did not only use images of different features of the face and body to, I also worked quite closely with Edouard Lanteri‘s book Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure (1965). He was a French sculptor and teacher at the Kensigton School of Art, who was quite influential to the New Sculpture movement through his Romantic style of sculpting. His book presents a thorough understanding of human anatomy, while guiding the reader through step-by-step process of building a human bust from underlying bones, muscles, tendons and fatty tissue base.

‘The book is a gold mine of technical information, the kind of reference work that should be a lifelong studio companion to the figure sculptor.’

Hale, N. C. (1965) pg. vi in Introduction to Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure

One of the numerous tips I have gained from his teachings is the way that understanding the anatomy can help a student express the emotionality of the subject, such as in the sense of the lips. In his book he describes the anatomy of the muscles surrounding of and around the lips, and how they work together to make different facial expressions, such as smiling. Getting a more thorough understanding of anatomy helped me to build more narrative into my sculpt, of which importance I have established in an earlier blog post. As such, I sculpted a soft smile with a slight upturn of the corners of the mouth to represent her idiosyncratic characteristics which I have learned from watching numerous interviews and reading her work.

Anatomy of the face. Lanteri, E. (1965) Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure pg. 14

Additionally, the beginning few chapters of Lanteri’s book emphasise practicing before commencing onto a more complicated sculpt, in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms. Thus, I began by sketching and painting Edith Kramer, after which I sculpted her facial features individually, before commencing onto a 3-day maquette sculpt. This allowed me to curiously explore both her physical features, and the material which I would portray them with. I believe these tests were fundamental to the final model, as they gave me freedom to practise and make mistakes, which helped me to aim for my benchmarks of quality I established in an earlier post.

The final sculpt, I chose to do in Plaxtin. While clay is traditionally used by the Madame Tussaud’s workshop, Plaxtin is wax based which means I did not have to keep it constantly dry, while still retaining the consistency of clay. There were some disadvantages to using Plaxtin instead of clay however – as the material didn’t dry out and harden over time, it stayed its base consistency of softness all the way through sculpting. Due to this, it was harder to sculpt in small details in the final stages, but I managed this by using cling film and a steady hand.

While Lanteri’s book was super helpful, I still struggled with getting the right anatomy in my sculpt though, particularly around the mouth and nose areas, and finally the ears. No matter what I did, and which references I looked at for help, there was something really wrong that I could not figure out. I got in touch with Val Adamson who runs a sculpting studio. I don’t think I would have ever noticed the things she pointed out! For instance, the issue with the mouth and nose area, was so obvious after she changed my perspective – I started the upper lip skin from the back of the nostrils, rather than the middle. Use the slider below to see the before and after differences.

Before (Left) and After (Right) talking with Val Adamson regarding the anatomy of my sculpt. One of the largest changes happened to the area connecting the mouth to the nose. As you can see, this whole area was brought out a few mm more to give more depth to the face. The top lip was also reduced in size to look more taught, as elderly lips often lose elasticity in the skin in this area which causes the top lip to become smaller. The eyebrows were also given more material to give the eye sockets more depth.

I believe making contact with a more experienced sculptor, was crucial to the final quality of my sculpt, as it influenced the way I approached my making process. This was a link to Edith Kramer’s teachings – a creative environment helped me to understand the restrictions of my perspective and how it is important to reach out. I think this understanding behind the making not only improved its realism and quality, but also encouraged me to deal with struggles and problem-solving in an approach based on curiosity.

Lastly, earlier in the project I predicted some problems that may have occurred at this stage (click here to read this post!). Let’s address these now:

  1. The armature was just the right size due to my experimentation with some quick sculpts before starting the final.
  2. The eyes are the right depth. Prioritising measurements throughout was crucial.
  3. By constantly referring to anatomy images, the teachings of Edouard Lanteri, and the advice of the wonderful Val Adamson, I was able to fix my mistakes. As I am an amateur at this, I would not have reached this quality without reaching out to others. Therefore, the facial features looked cohesive.
  4. This did occur once – I finished the details on the area joining the nose and the mouth while this area was still anatomically wrong. I fixed the anatomy after contacting Val, however this meant I had to redo the details.   

Overall, I had a lot of fun and frustration during this stage of the project. Most notably, I am glad I prepared by completing theoretical research behind all the materials I would use throughout the project, and the purpose, narrative and benchmarks of the model. It ensured a holistic understanding of the process, adding meaning to my making.

Statement of Intent – Brief Synopsis of Model Proposal

I am going to make a ½ scale wax head bust model of artist and art therapy pioneer, Edith Kramer. She will be sculpted and painted to a realistic quality, hair punched, and dressed in clothing imitation at half scale. She will be displayed on a wooden stand with a plaque giving a brief description of the display for a museum setting. She will be displayed at just below eye level for the average visitor.

The model will be made for a museum audience and will be representational, leaving many open-ended questions for the viewer to explore. It will invite the visitor to engage in a narrative of curiosity and quiet significance that was the professional life of Edith Kramer as a founder of ‘art as therapy’ practise. This will be encouraged by the diminutive size combined with miniscule detail that, like Ron Mueck’s work, draws attention to the model.

The model will be able to be touched by the viewer, similar to the waxwork models in the Madame Tussaud’s museums. It is expected there will be upkeep of the model over time – I discuss conservation of wax figures in an upcoming post.

I will prepare for sculpting the realistic representation by drawing quick, and more detailed sketches first. I will also complete an oil paint study to understand the relationship of colours on her face. To understand the emotional realism I want to portray, I will read Kramer’s books and watch documentaries that she participated in. This combined, will give me an idea of both her physical and professional character, which will aid in creating my three-dimensional representation.

I think it is also important to mention that while planning for this project in early January of this year, I was not aware when the country would be coming out of lockdown, so I experimented with a few ideas on what to do. Therefore, this project has been partly designed to be achievable without complete access to the University workshop. This has meant that I have had to practise creative problem-solving and curiosity, as I adapted the project to a disordered environment. I believe this has strengthened the meaning in the making of my model, as Kramer commonly advocated for a playful attitude to difficult situations and changes, supported by art-making activities.

‘She had transformed a potentially upsetting experience into creative adventure.’

Kramer, E. (1971, pg. 84) discussing Lillian who approached a terrifying thunderstorm with a different emotional attitude due to the use of creative activities.

Ron Mueck and the Narrative of Scale

Ron Mueck is an Australian artist born in 1958 in Melbourne, Australia. After starting out his career as a modelmaker for children’s TV, he became internationally known in 1997 after he made his sculpture of Dead dad. His work focuses singularly on the human figure, which he presents to his viewers through uncanny and beautifully detailed fibreglass and silicon sculptures. These present his perspective on existential topics such as birth and death, touching heavily on vulnerable emotional states experienced during these experiences.

Researching Mueck has been a significant influence on my project, most predominantly in the scaling of my model of Edith Kramer. Originally debating between creating her head bust in full scale or an alternate size, Mueck’s Two Women model’s manipulation of scale pushed me towards undersizing my model.

Ron Mueck’s Two Women showing the under-sizing of the model against a visitor.
Close-up of the Two Women faces.

‘I never made life-size figures because it never seemed to be interesting. We meet life-size people every day’

S. Tanguy, ‘The progress of Big man: A conversation with Ron Mueck’, Sculpture, vol. 22, no. 6, 2003

Senior Curator of the National Gallery of Victoria, Alex Baker, explains how through manipulating the size of his models, it ‘intensifies the physical and emotional aura of his figures.’ Mueck expands that this is because it ‘makes you take notice in a way that you wouldn’t do with something that’s just normal.’ In the case of the Two Woman, Justin Paton instigates that their diminutive size inspires ‘a kind of protectiveness in viewers, as if we’ve become custodians looking down upon the inhabitants of a small world’ (2013, pg. 34). At the same time, we also feel strangely defensive of ourselves, as the women are positioned in a suspicious pose, as if they are silently judging someone in their presence.

Therefore, despite, or perhaps due to their small size, the Two Women inspire both careful attention and solitude from the viewer, building an emotional narrative. Combined with the realistically finished look, this ‘creates a tension between artifice and reality’ (Baker, A.) that overall, results in this model’s meaning and narrative.

As such, scale can be deemed as noteworthy to the narrative of a model. My representation of Edith Kramer centres around a narrative of quiet significance of a warm and caring woman who has helped many in her life, and afterwards. Thus, under-sizing her just as Mueck did with his figures in Two Women, will help me to frame her importance to the viewer. They will be invited, almost drawn, to a realistic representation of a woman half the size we would expect to find her in, promoting quiet introspection and respect. I almost want the viewer to want to step ever closer to inspect her from up close, letting their imagination participate in an object-subject interaction of curiosity, an imitation of the theories of artistic exploration that Kramer emphasised in her work.

Narratives in Museums – Respect for Authenticity in Realistic Human Recreations

Before continuing, I would like to acknowledge the setting for which I am making my portrait bust of Edith Kramer.

In their collection of essays ‘Museum Materialities’ Sandra Dudley collates different definitions of the object within a museum setting, which all collectively acknowledge the materiality of the museum object. While materiality is, essentially, us and everything around us, within a museum setting this comes down to the physicality of the object, which triggers the viewers sensory experiences, and emotional and cognitive associations (Dudley, 2010, pg. 7).

One of the broad definitions of object materiality presented through Dudley’s collection of essays (2010, pg. 7). An object’s meaning, or ‘materiality’, is constructed both through the object’s sensibilities and the viewer’s interaction with it. Thus, its materiality sits in this in-between state of subjective perception.

This definition of object materiality also insinuates an ‘interaction between [the] inanimate, physical thing and [the] conscious person’ (2010, pg. 5) known as an ‘object-subject interaction’. Through this understanding, I would like to propose the development of a relationship between an object and the viewer, which in a museum setting happens due to the visitor bringing their own frame of reference towards the object. Each viewer will bring their own individualistic frame of reference construed from their own knowledge and life experiences. Thus, an object’s materiality is important to respect as an open-ended question left to be explored by the visitor of the museum.

‘We are material bodies in a material world, and our engagement in the flow of things can only be through our sensory perceptions.’

Susan M. Pearce cited in Dudley, 2010, pg. xix

I wanted to raise the significance of object materiality within a museum setting, as I believe that this unique and intimate relationship creates a narrative that is to be experienced by the museum visitor. As such, they can undergo an emotional and cognitive reaction, leading to educational value, which I can utilise to present the significance of Edith Kramer. This is something that the Madame Tussaud’s museums utilise – they encourage their visitors to physically engage with the exhibits –but which goes beyond just interaction.

It is not only through touch that viewers experience objects – our sight and imagination are just as important tools for engagement. Thus, along with the primary function of being a museum model, I have chosen for this portrait bust of Edith Kramer to be a realistically finished object. In ‘Realisms in Contemporary Culture’ Birke, Butter, and Auer (2013) describe how there is a ‘hunger for ‘the authentic’ in an age saturated by virtual reality, artifice and commodification.’ (pg. 6). The visitor, a likely participator of this ‘contemporary desire for authenticity’ (Birke et al., 2013, pg. 8), will make this a part of their interaction with the object. Consequently, I would like to respect their frame of reference by providing a realistic depiction of the individual I am introducing them to, leading to an authentic narrative.

If realism is the goal though, why am I not using the processes of facial reconstruction? Simply put, I am not interested in presenting an object of identification of Kramer’s features. If the visitor wanted an exact recreation of her image, a video screen could be used by the museum to meet this function. Instead, I am emphasising the narrative of authenticity, by creating a representational object for the viewer to experience. As such, the viewer is introduced to Kramer through the perceptions of the maker (me!), which relates to the work of Kramer within the art therapy field – the focus is as much on the end-product of an artistic creativity, as the process the maker took to get there. Lastly, the material from which it is made (wax) expands on the aspect of authenticity through its natural rawness and history of human usage.

In this way, the viewer is introduced to Edith Kramer through an authentic object-subject interaction, creating a representational function in an open-ended narrative. As she herself was an avid participator of the social realism art movement which aimed to symbolise the importance of others through art, it deepens the narrative through which the viewer learns of Kramer.

My representation of Edith Kramer in oil paints. A study exploring the forms of her face and emotional realism. I found it important to explore her in paint form before moving onto three-dimensional form as it represents Kramer’s ideals of using creativity as a tool for understanding and growth.
Edith Kramer in the foreground, with a portrait of herself in the background.

A Very Brief History of the Art Therapy Field

A timeline showing a (very simplified) early history of the formation of the art therapy field in the UK and US.

Having decided on my Final Major Project, I continued exploring the narrative behind my model by researching the history of art therapy.

It was interesting to learn that art therapy began forming as a field at a very similar time in both the UK and the US. Though many different influential figures were involved in both countries, they began experimenting and establishing similar ideas on the power of creativity that is inherent to art, and how it can be developed from Freudian approaches.

The timeline above illustrates a very brief outline of this process, citing some significant characters along the way. In the UK, it was Adrian Hill and Edward Adamson who helped to establish the usage of art and creativity as a therapeutic modality. They both worked frequently with patients in hospitals and sanatoriums, though had differing influences on the field – Hill developed art as therapy, while Adamson focused more on relating it through a psychoanalytical basis. They were both highly instrumental in the setting up of the British Association of Art Therapists in 1964.

Simultaneously, Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer were working on setting up art therapy through their work in the United States. Both working on a Freudian basis, they veered into different pathways as Naumberg’s practise focused heavily on the unconscious, while Kramer worked predominantly with children and emphasised art itself as therapy. Over time, their ideas inspired the establishment of the American Art Therapy Association in 1969.

Art therapy as a profession, however, is not unique to the UK and US – it has been globalised to numerous continents and countries which have all taken up their own research to expand and develop the field. For instance, in Poland art therapies developed due to the work and research done by the music therapists of Wroclaw university in the mid-1980s. Nowadays, there are several postgraduate programmes that focus on creativity and the fine arts as a therapeutic modality.

Throughout its history, Edith Kramer was a key figure to the art therapy practice. She shared what she learned in Vienna to the United States and continued developing her work further there. This emphasises how art therapy functions today – with the advent of the internet and ever easier global communication, art therapy is a growing field that is increasingly considered with more weight and power to help the wellbeing of others.

Final Major Project – Who was Edith Kramer?

Edith Kramer

I am nearing the end of my final year at University, which means it is now time for my Final Major Project! Despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, I have been excited to start researching and making the last model for my degree.

I have chosen to make a wax bust of the late artist and pioneer of the Art Therapy movement, Edith Kramer. I was first introduced to Kramer during my dissertation research, and really admire her approach to creativity and people.

Edith Kramer was born in 1916 in Vienna and became involved with art early on in her life. Her childhood learning happened in one of Vienna’s progressive and liberal school, with her first art teacher being Trudl Hammerschlag. Later, she studied under the inspiration of the artist Friedl Dickers, who has been stated as a notable influence on Kramer’s later work.

Frederika “Friedl” Dicker-Brandeis (30 July 1898 Vienna – 9 October 1944 Auschwitz-Birkenau)

In the 1930s, Kramer came to America as a political refugee, where she got involved with teaching, and later worked as a mechanic during the second world war. It was in the latter that we saw her interest in social realism art, in particular her interest in people.

The first time Kramer officially worked as an art therapist, was at the Wiltwyck School for Boys in 1950. She continued to run therapeutically oriented art programmes at Leak and Watts Children’s Home from 1960 – 1963, and later worked with the Guild School of the Jewish Guild for the Blind from 1964 – 1974. She was officially given the title of art therapist some time into her career and dedicated a large percentage of her working life to research and setting up training programmes at various universities around the US.

She worked predominantly with a psychoanalytical approach, influenced by Freudian theories of sublimation and the unconscious. However, she was not simply a Freudian copycat and merged both psychoanalysis and art together. This was influenced through her early education by Hammerschlag who introduced her to the ‘free and unconventional expression of unconscious feelings’ in art and later, by Dickers’ teachings which showed her practical ways in which art can be used by children and adolescents to process traumatic experiences. These educational experiences build Kramer’s knowledge about both art and psychoanalysis, from which the term ‘art therapist’ was coined for her.

There were multiple ideas and theories that Kramer contributed to the field of art therapy that are still used by practitioners today to make a real difference in people’s lives, just as she did. Particularly, the art therapists’ ‘Third Hand’ – a way of supporting a child’s creative process so that they may use it to accept their inner conflict and feelings. She saw a great power in the creative process that artists cultivate in helping others to make sense of their own experiences.

Kramer, E. (1977). Art therapy in a children’s community.
Kramer, R. (1978). Art as therapy with children.
Kramer, E. (2001). Art as therapy: collected papers.

Her unconventional approaches have made a lasting impact on the field of art therapy, and subsequently, on so many people in the past and future. Personally, I have been really encouraged by her ideas – I have been studying a creative degree for nearly three years and have experienced an inkling of the power of that process that she writes about so eloquently. It seems quite fitting then, that I end my undergraduate university studies by commemorating Kramer’s significance, and relating it to my own experience of creativity.

Strategic Action Plan

Building on my last blog post in which I identified aspects of my future career pathway I am anxious about, I wanted to develop more of a strategic action plan to provide structure for myself after graduation.

I started by using SWOT analysis to identify my strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. This was helpful in identifying objectives that I wanted to focus on further in the remainder of this year, and beyond.

I used this analysis to set up my nine main objectives that will give me structure for the development of my career in art therapy. I set these out alongside my Career Path Diagram, which describes a far more general yet necessary path to become registered with HCPC and BAAT, and practise as an art therapist.

These nine objectives are as follows:

  1. I need to graduate to have a better chance of getting a job.
  2. It is difficult getting to job opportunities without a car. I need to pass my driving test in July.
  3. I do not have enough clinical work experience. I will contact Occupational/Art Therapy teams at hospitals to ask for shadowing opportunities, and also look for volunteering roles.
  4. I need a job after graduation. I would like this to be in the healthcare industry because it will help me gain more clinical experience to apply for the Masters programme.
  5. I need/would like more training in the mental health field.
  6. I would like more experience in organising art workshops. I will set up ‘Sunday Workshops’
  7. I need to establish my personal brand online.
  8. I need to plan how I will manage if I get a job in the healthcare industry.
  9. I need formal postgrad training and accreditation to have enough knowledge to practise as an effective art therapist. I will apply for a postgrad Masters programme, and get accredited with the HCPC and BAAT.

I broke down these objectives into smaller steps to form my Action Plan for my career. Next I will show you an example of how I broke down one of these objectives into further action points. If you are my tutor reading this, please refer to my ‘LaunchPad Supporting Documents’ file for my full Action Plan!

Objective 3 – Gain more clinical work experience.

This objective is one of my most important ones that I will focus on in the foreseeable future – I would like to have a deeper understanding of working with vulnerable people to explore how I can use art and creativity to support them. This was part of the feedback I got back from my interviewers’ for the job I recently applied for – although they were pleased with my enthusiasm for the role and the potential benefit of harnessing my creativity, they informed me that I would have had a greater chance of success if I had more experience working with mental health. Therefore, a large part of my Action Plan is focused on this.

Additionally, an equivalent of one year’s full-time experience in the healthcare industry is important to get accepted into a Masters programme so I can receive formal training in art therapy and have the opportunity to register with the HCPC and BAAT.

In my Career Path Diagram I show that this equivalates to roughly 2,080 hours of work experience. However, after attending the virtual Open Day for Roehampton University MA Art Psychotherapy course, I have learnt that a lot of the times, these courses aren’t looking for that exact number of work experience hours. It is a rough estimate they use to judge whether you have an existing knowledge of mental health and healthcare. Saying this, I have chosen to keep the qualitative amount in my Career Path Diagram because it will give me structure and motivation.

When I am applying for the Masters course, I can also look to the BAAT organisation for training in preparing portfolios. They also offer additional training courses such as introductions to art therapy that I could consider taking part in the future.

Additionally, there are also further training opportunities (not including MA courses) which I could make use in the future before applying for the Masters course, such as Foundation courses from colleges and universities. Below are some of these:

SMART Goals and Timeframe Planning

After establishing my Action Plan by breaking down each objective into smaller steps, I used the SMART method of setting goals to apply timeframes to my objectives. Afterwards, I could use these timeframes to organise my action plan further into a six-monthly plan.

This is my action plan for the next 6 months. I am fully aware that this will probably change and have prepared to amend this.

After 6 months, it becomes a little difficult to predict and plan what objectives will become important to me. Therefore, for my 1 year timeframe goals, I have picked two of the most important ones for me: more clinical experience and further training. The latter is my main goal for my 1 year timeframe – I would like to save up enough money to apply for a Foundation or introductory course in art therapy. This will give me more of an idea of whether I would like to pursue art therapy as a career and prepare for postgraduate study. In terms of my long-terms goals, I would like to apply for a Masters course within the next 5 years.

I will make a new action plan yearly to clarify my main objectives for the upcoming year.

Sunday Workshops

An important aspect of my action plan are my ‘Sunday Workshops’ that I would like to set up. At the start, these would be workshops I would lead with friends and family to practise organising art activities.

Have a look at Art Therapy Resources for their tips and guidance on organising workshops!

These will be a chance for me to experiment, and later develop my skills to increase my confidence in leading these types of activities. I would like to develop this idea further in the next six months by contacting local museums and asking whether I would be able to set up and lead some art workshops with them.

I will also be able to use the footage of these workshops with permission of the participants on my Instagram to advertise myself and my aspirations. Combine this with my plan to do the #100daysofmeotionalliteracy challenge, I will be able to set up my online brand more effectively.

There is only one thing left to do – let’s get working!