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The Art of Therapy with Marilyn Rabinowitz

By Adeline Teoh

Art is good for you! Marilyn Rabinowitz would know. The Turramurra resident is a professional artist and passionate art therapist who guides clients to “use art materials to express themselves – situations, emotional states, problems they need to work through – instead of only using words”

After they instinctively express their feelings this way, they then “objectively look at what they’ve produced and talk about that, a type of projection,” she explains. “Creating any kind of art is in itself therapeutic and has [been] shown to reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels in the blood.”

It’s a combination Rabinowitz has understood for a long time. As a social work student, she would paint pictures for her friends even if the only materials at hand were cheap poster paints, terrible paper and one brush. “It was simply something I felt compelled to do ... a creative instinct,” she says. Since then, she has taken classes and taught herself from YouTube videos.

The results are diverse, thanks to her use of different mediums. While she no longer works in oils because of their strong odour and extended drying time, she uses plenty of other materials, including pantry items – “polenta, salt, cinnamon sticks, cake colouring – you name it” – and has a soft spot for inks: “The more I work with them, the more creative I become.”

Her wide range of styles and subjects also makes it hard to pin a ‘signature’ on her art. “It all depends on my mood at the time. My creative process is completely random,” she admits. That means anything from a quick painting in one sitting to something complex taking several sessions in her studio.

She’s currently in a flower phase. “Their shapes, sizes and colours vary incredibly and each one is fascinating to me. I walk regularly around our area and can often be seen gazing at flowers, pods, seeds and feel a sense of wonderment.”

Proximity to nature is one of her favourite things about the neighbourhood – “every visitor who stays with us comments on the peace, the greenery and the bird calls. All these are healthy for one’s psychological state” – and her recommendation for visitors is to take a walk: a bushwalk, a stroll around the streets or a turn in Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.

“With everything seeming gloomy, you cannot look at flowers without feeling uplifted,” she says. It’s an attitude she hopes her art inspires. “Most of my work is upbeat and when people say, ‘your art makes me feel happy’, I am very satisfied.”

Marilyn Rabinowitz


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