Parent Resources

Meet Jen Berlingo of Paint Cut Paste

Jenberlingopic

An art psychotherapist who is currently staying at home with her young daughter, Jen Berlingo blogs about children’s art and is pretty amazing.. Join me in getting to know her and make sure to read her tips for talking with children about their art.

***Note: Readers will have a chance to win a set of three nesting orb kits at the end of the interview.***

JEAN:  So, tell us, what exactly does an art psychotherapist do?

 JEN:  the american art therapy associaton defines art therapy as “a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.” i am dually trained in counseling psychology and art therapy. i view my role simply as a witness and guide accompanying people along their healing journey. while holding a safe, sacred space and unconditional acceptance, i invite clients to create art and reflect upon the art in session. art provides a safe container for emotional content that arises, and it often allows more direct and efficient access to unconscious parts of one’s self than talk therapy alone can provide. a trained art therapist helps the client to navigate the metaphors inherent in the materials and pieces of art that come in the service of the client’s search for meaning, self-awareness, and wholeness. I say more about this on my professional web site.

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JEAN:  I’d love to hear a bit about your background – how did you get into art therapy?

JEN:  ever since i was a child, i could articulate that i wanted to work “with art and with people” when i grew up. in my undergraduate studies, i was a communications major, which seemed like a way to translate this passion in the business world. once i graduated, i applied my education in the realm of new media and got into the internet industry at the height of the dot-com boom in the mid 90s. after about five years of working long and thankless hours in new york city, i wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my spirit whatsoever.

i left my “successful” job in search of that spark again. i took art classes, and did a lot of researching and soul-searching. as a lifelong creative spirit, i understand the healing potential of art firsthand. finding my true self again in the art i was making during that period led me toward my vocation. i then studied for three years at a buddhist-oriented school in boulder, colorado, called naropa university, in a unique, experiential program blending clinical counseling psychology, art therapy theory, studio art, and contemplative practices such as mindfulness meditation. in my internship and after graduating, i worked with individual adult clients in a private practice setting. i put a pause on my practice when my daughter was born so that i could be at home with her full-time.

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JEAN:  Can you tell us about your decision to blog about children’s art?

JEN:  i feel so blessed to be a stay-at-home mom to an incredibly curious, creative, and expressive little girl. ever since N was old enough to squish dough, art-making in some form has been a staple in our daily routine. when she was almost 2.5, we were delving into many cool art projects.

i wanted to share the creative processes that were organically arising in my house with others, as friends had already been asking me for ideas. as a former internet geek who’s been regularly blogging for nearly 10 years on my personal site, blogging is a medium i naturally gravitate toward. i knew that i’d be one of trillions of artsy momma bloggers out there, which was intimidating to me at first, but i realized that i might have a unique viewpoint to offer. unlike most art blogs i read, Paint Cut Paste focuses only on art kids make themselves and generally does not feature my own creations. as much as i love being at home with N, i’ve also been missing my career, so Paint Cut Paste helps me to bridge that gap a bit in inspiring others to welcome art into their lives.

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JEAN:  Do you find yourself using your art therapy techniques in your day to day life with your daughter? What about with yourself?

JEN:  yes, i definitely use my training in day to day life — specifically, the mindfulness part of my training has been essential in making the transition into parenthood. it is a little tricky for me to tease out which art therapy “techniques” i use, as my approach to art has become a part of who i am and how i interact with the visual world. techniques are endless — many just arise out of what the moment requires. my perspective on art is a constant in my daily approach to engaging in the creative process with my daughter and with myself. this perspective includes the idea that art externalizes one’s inner world for the purpose of transformation, healing, and learning about one’s self. each time we make art, we have the opportunity to rehearse, reauthor past experiences, sublimate shadow material in an ego-syntonic way, and to build self-esteem by putting something new into the world that has never before existed.

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JEAN:  I love your post about talking to kids about art! I’d never heard of the idea of asking (to take one of your examples), “if the duck [in your painting] could talk, what would he say?” I’m intrigued and would like to try that out with Maia next time it seems appropriate. Do you have any other tips that would be easy for us non-art-therapist parents to use with our own children?

JEN:  thank you! i loved writing that post because it helped me to make it clear, even in my own mind, how to approach N’s art in a healthy and productive way. i am not engaging in therapy with her by any means, but i do wholeheartedly believe that art is inherently therapeutic, and that she is growing and gaining self-awareness through her participation in art making. my tips for parents and caregivers along these lines are basically these:

  • research and choose developmentally appropriate materials for your child’s age and skill level in order to foster confidence while also inviting them to stretch and grow just a bit. 
  • let your child create their own pieces of art without making uninvited marks on their art work
  • take the time to reflect on, gaze upon, and/or talk about each piece of art with your child when it is finished. some things you can use as a springboard for conversation are: “what do you see?” “what color catches your eye first?” “tell me what’s happening in this picture.” “if the duck could talk, what would it say?” and you can actually have your child talk TO the piece of art and observe the dialog that follows.
  • approach each image with a humble curiosity: the artist is the expert on the meaning of their own art 
  • if you find yourself wanting to interpret someone else’s art, check your biases and own your interpretations. you could say something like, “when i look at this, it makes *me* feel…”  also, instead of saying “that must be a rabbit!” or “is this a rabbit?” try to say, “this figure over here reminds me of a rabbit.” it’s a subtle difference in being mindful about your speech, but it is very empowering for your child.
  • don’t be afraid if you see dark material in your kid’s art – art is a healthy place for it to be expressed. if you see that the content of your child’s art involves something you deem negative, sit with that feeling (sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, etc.) with your child while talking about the art, respect that there is a reason for the image to have come, and if it fits, ask the child *if* the image might need something in order to “feel better” to help support the child’s inner resources for problem solving and/or self-soothing.
  • treat each finished product with respect and care when displaying, storing, or transforming the piece

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JEAN:  What are some of your favorite art activities for young children?

JEN:  because i’m not so much the crafty type, my favorite activities are those that evolve naturally (usually from the child’s idea) and evoke genuine self-expression, often in lieu of a useful product. i most enjoy offering an array of materials on the art table, then following N’s lead and supporting the creation of her ideas as much as i can. in the art therapy world, this is known as the “open studio model.” 

i also love anything using natural materials. some of my favorite posts we’ve done are those that include a nature walk and then incorporating found objects into a child-centered art project.

JEAN:  I’m always looking for more creative blogs – will you share some of the ones you especially like to read?

JEN:  when i sip my genmaicha in the morning, the staples in my daily rss feed read are:

there are LOTS of others i subscribe to, “like” on facebook, and stumble upon, as well! 

JEAN:  Thanks, Jen! I especially love your tips for parents!

Nestingorbs Wire orb

54 Comments

  • Reply
    erica
    June 1, 2010 at 7:03 am

    love reading paint cut paste blog, too:) with summer right around the corner (YAY!!!) we’ll be using many of the ideas from all of those blogs mentioned – thank you for all you do in making art an important part of our day with our young kids!:D

  • Reply
    Kristine
    June 1, 2010 at 8:21 am

    a great interview – enjoyed reading about how Jen talks to her daughter about her artwork

  • Reply
    Joy Weiss
    June 1, 2010 at 8:22 am

    So lovely, and inspiring. Thanks!

  • Reply
    thecrayonbox.wordpress.com
    June 1, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Great post, thank you. The nesting orb kit looks wonderful.

  • Reply
    Jane Maritz
    June 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Just added another blog to my reader – thanks for a great interview! And the nesting orb kit looks like a fun project…
    janemaritz at yahoo dot com

  • Reply
    Julie Liddle, ART IN HAND
    June 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

    From one art therapist to another, well said, Jen. I enjoyed reading your interview. It’s always so fun and validating to “get to know” others of like minds out there…one of the bonuses of this techno age we live in. The odds of any of us encountering one another when I first started my art therapy career (nearly 20 years ago) would have been slim to none. I find it incredibly cool that I have been able to connect with folks like Jen, Jean, and others…so thanks for blogging!

  • Reply
    Kat
    June 1, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I’ve always thought about the possibility for becoming an art therapist… this is incredibly inspiring to read! thank you for so much detailed info :)

  • Reply
    twolittleseeds
    June 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

    This has been very enlightening and inspiring. Especially on tips to talk to your kid about their art. I had this on my screen and my son was looking at your images and he said” But I don’t have one of those. I like those, ” refering to the large pallette of watercolours! So..I had an unopened box of watercolour tubes ready for the right moment!
    Love both these blogs!
    xxx

  • Reply
    Barbara Zaborowski
    June 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Lovely interview, Jean. I must have started reading Paint, Cut, Paste after the entry about talking about the art as I hadn’t seen it before. With Jan’s permission, I’d love to share this with the other teachers at my school.

  • Reply
    jen
    June 1, 2010 at 11:23 am

    i’m not entering the drawing for the nesting orb kit, obviously ;) but i wanted to say a huuuge THANK YOU to jean for interviewing me – i am so honored to appear on one of my favorite blogs, the artful parent! and thank you all for the kind comments thus far. happy june!

  • Reply
    Susan
    June 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I love this interview and more so love the new blogs this introduced me to! Thanks so much, you are an inspiration!

  • Reply
    Rosemary
    June 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    THe nesting orb kits are awesome. Thanks for sharing your tips! It is inspiring.
    Rosemary
    [email protected]

  • Reply
    jen
    June 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    sure, barbara, feel free to share my blog with the teachers at your school.
    you (and they) can follow it on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/paintcutpaste to see when we post new art activities in your home page feed.
    or subscribe to our rss feed:
    feed://paintcutpaste.com/feed/
    thanks again for reading!

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Nesting orbs are very neat! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  • Reply
    annette standrod
    June 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I too am an art therapist who is on “Pause” to raise my two girls Bay(3) and June(2). I enjoy seeing them create and having that art therapy eye(and ear) to learn more about them.

  • Reply
    Kathie E
    June 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Great interview & I couldn’t resist the chance to win a nesting orb. All the children talk about lately are nests.

  • Reply
    marylea @ Pink and Green Mama
    June 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    A great interview with one of my favorite bloggers!!
    Love Jen’s list about talking about art with the artist.
    My girls are natural nesters and would love making some of these for our “bird tree” in our backyard!
    fondly,
    pink and green mama
    MaryLea

  • Reply
    Kerstin
    June 1, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    A great interview. I enjoy her unique perspective.

  • Reply
    Rena/Gwee (that's what Novi calls me!)
    June 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I am so proud and honored to be Jen’s Mom! She has always been very creative, even as a child collecting rocks, shells, sticks and making special potions. She continues to amaze and inspire me. She is the best Mom, Novi is so fortunate to have her. I hope her paintcutpaste site and her blogs help other Mom’s learn more about their children through art and just taking the time to BE with their children.

  • Reply
    Stacy of KSW
    June 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I just love reading your site (still have to send you the outdoor ideas this week). Thanks for introducing me to Jennifer, I can’t wait to stop by her site. Nesting orbs … now how cool is that?

  • Reply
    Tracy
    June 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Great Interview. You both have such wonderful crafting ideas. We have done several of them with great fun.
    Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Valerie
    June 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I haven’t posted a comment to a blog before but I loved this interview. I appreciate this community of parents who value art as a way to help your child become a grown up person! I teach art to preschoolers and I also find myself encouraging parents to view art as a process rather than a product, I love to observe how the youngsters open up as they create- even if it’s glueing paper and fuzz balls or spreading pain on a wide open canvas. In fact they seem to open up more when there is less of a procedure and more open-ended art. Thank you!!

  • Reply
    Amy Field
    June 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Loved the interview. Another great site!!! Keep up the amazing work!!

  • Reply
    Beth Brayley
    June 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I am an adaptive art teacher, teaching art to special needs children. I used the artful parent a lot for ideas this fall. Now I have more blogs to pull from… thanks!! i also have a 3 year old of my own that LOVES doing art. He would love these orbs.

  • Reply
    Amy Hill
    June 1, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    We love Jen and Paint, Cut, Paste at our house. We have done many of the art projects and I take notes for the future! I especially love the mindfulness and ideas to help support the child. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Phoenix Peacock
    June 1, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Great shout-out to Naropa and Art Therapy. A lot of the current Transpersonal Counseling Students in the Art Therapy track at Naropa University are following Jen on Paint Cut Paste! We love it!

  • Reply
    Gwynneth Beasley
    June 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I love your interviews Jean, I have found some wonderfully interesting people to follow through this site, and Jen is definately one of them. My eldests is 5 1/2 and I have definately learnt some interesting things from him after asking open ended questions about his drawings. I look forward to following Jen’s blog!

  • Reply
    ginger
    June 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I read the whole post from Paint, Cut, Paste. How cool that she did a career change. Not many people love what they do. I love the comments about how to react to children’s art. I’ve heard of some of this, but got many great new tips as well. Thanks for the post.

  • Reply
    Nancy
    June 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    really love the info about how to talk to kids about their art — great stuff. and man, me and the kiddos would have fun with those orbs! pick us! :) [email protected]

  • Reply
    jen
    June 1, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    whoo hoo! naropa transpersonal counseling psychology/art therapy reprazent! sorry… had to. ;) it’s just such a beautifully designed and amazing masters program. i adore my alma mater and am so blessed and lucky to hold a MA degree from this university, in this particular department.

  • Reply
    Kelly
    June 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Inspiring interview. I especially liked the “let’s talk about art” section. My daughter and I love getting ideas from you guys! Thanks for the post!

  • Reply
    kate
    June 1, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Some interesting things to think about. I wish I had more ideas on displaying my daughters art, she makes a dozen new things a day and wants me to put all of them up on the walls and ‘keep them forever’ (her words), and I do store them, but it’s a mess. I would love to hear how others deal with that successfully.

  • Reply
    jen
    June 2, 2010 at 12:08 am

    i made a little “art gallery” in novi’s bedroom with picture wire and drawer knobs and clothespins:
    https://paintcutpaste.com/art-gallery-glee/
    we rotate pieces in there. i frame some in ikea ribba frames around teh house (and rotate those, too.)
    much of our art is made into greeting cards and wrapping paper for loved ones (and novi is totally cool with this – i photograph everything digitally before it leaves our home so we can “keep it forever” in a sense)
    and i also taped 2 pieces of posterboard together with clear packaging tape on 3 sides to make a “portfolio” for the rest of what we want to keep or take down from the art gallery wall or frames.
    hope this helps some. :)

  • Reply
    Mary Beth
    June 2, 2010 at 12:39 am

    What a wonderful interview. Jen seems awesome. And I am truly flattered to be included in her list of daily blog reads. Thank you, Jen!

  • Reply
    Agnes
    June 2, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I loved this interview. I love reading how other moms quit their “successful” jobs in order to do something more fulfilling. My son is turning 5 soon and often when we start an art project, he’ll say, “You do it.” e.g., we did the styrofoam printing project for his birthday invitations. I showed him how to trace his picture onto the meat tray, but soon, he wanted me to finish it. It doesn’t seem to matter whether he’s in the mood or not–he becomes disinterested quickly. His teacher told me that he doesn’t sit at the table to do art that much. I will read Jen’s blog to get some insight. Maybe if I talk to my son differently as he’s doing art, he will be more interested in it.

  • Reply
    Agnes
    June 2, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Oops, I mistyped my email address…

  • Reply
    Rachel Hirning
    June 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Rachel Hirning said…
    This is such a clear and concise interview. AMAZING to take something so profound as the spirit in art making and make it relate-able! Thanks Jen for the work your doing in the world, not just with your daughter!

  • Reply
    Yulia
    June 2, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Thank you for a lot of inspiration!

  • Reply
    Anna - Three Sneaky Bugs
    June 2, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Love her nesting orbs! They’ve been on my to do list for a while now.

  • Reply
    annalucia
    June 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Two words: *totally inspiring* !!
    I’m a long-time Kindergarten teacher who will be retiring in 2 years….afterwhich I plan to start a very small art related program for young kiddos partially due to the lack of art in some schools/classrooms. Your blog simply thrills me! My 1st degree is in studio art (fine arts) and I am compelled to do a little bit of art daily as it’s as important as breathing, eating, and sleeping for me and those around me!!!
    Keeping fingers and toes crossed for the give-away!

  • Reply
    Heidi
    June 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    What a great interview – thanks for sharing with us! I always love discovering new blogs recommended by my favorite blogs, and this one is fantastic!

  • Reply
    Karen
    June 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    What a great article. I especially like the part about “open art,” instead of drawing a bird, let the child create. Thanks again, Karen
    Sippy Cup Central

  • Reply
    annie
    June 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Interesting interview, with good ideas to try. I’d like to enter the drawing..

  • Reply
    amanda
    June 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    thanks for another wonderful interview! i hoped over to jen’s blog and it’s great-so many fun ideas!

  • Reply
    Deb
    June 2, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    As an Artist and a home schooling mom of three kids stumbling upon this blog and now to paint cut paste has been a delight. I have one special needs child who loves to express herself through doing art projects. It’s nice to be refreshed by others.
    Keep up the great ideas/work.
    The orb looks cool.

  • Reply
    . tiny twist creative .
    June 3, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I love this! I particularly like the part about talking with your kids about the art. I had never thought through all those questions, but they really are connecting with the child.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    June 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

    So interesting! I have partaken in art therapy myself, and have been truly amazed at how enlightening and transforming it can be. I will definitely check out Jen’s blogs. Thanks for introducing her to us!

  • Reply
    Maureen
    June 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    What a wonderful interview – I’m now following her blog :) Thanks, Maureen (jnomaxx at hotmail dot com)

  • Reply
    April
    June 3, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I am trying to learn more about making art a big part of my toddler’s life so I am on the lookout for more art blogs! I love the Artful Parent, of course! I actually just used the flower printing idea with my daughter to make a onesie for her baby brother https://apgacruz.blogspot.com/2010/05/another-onesie-for-baby-brother.html
    I just finished reading a book called The Art of Teaching Art to Children by Nancy Beal and the author really focused how to talk to children about their art. She really believed that asking them about their experiences really brought out the best in their art. The nesting orbs are really cool too, we just found a nest of baby birds in our backyard!

  • Reply
    Karen
    June 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Thanks, great post.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    June 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Yes, thank you! I’m totally inspired and have now “liked” PaintCutPaste on facebook. The Artful Parent has been a new inspiration for about a month now. She’s helped me stay focused on fine tuning our art and play space. Thanks to The Artful Parent I’m discovering more great toddler art blogs and have geared up our art space and garden for a summer of daily open ended art explorations for my 2 year old. Thanks for doing what you do.

  • Reply
    Becky
    June 4, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I’m new to reading all the wonderful blogs on creating art with children. I love what I find each day. Thanks for the tips on talking to children about their art.

  • Reply
    Sarah W.
    June 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Nice interview – I follow both blogs, so it’s always fun to see writers and artists come together. And my young girls would be thrilled to work with the orbs. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Jess Eveleigh
    June 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Jen’s kid projects & ideas inspire me. Love her earthy flair!

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