Magpie Heart Art

Oh hi there. 

People friend, how are you doing? I'm so glad you are here. I hope you know you are welcome in this classroom. Even if we only get to meet online, I'm honored you have invited me to be here with you today. We're going to make some process art today by way of Magpie Hearts and it's going to be a lot of things (including fun!). 

Hey Amanda, what is process art?

Great question. To get to the guts of it, process art is the idea that the journey of creation is more important than the final product. Sometimes, if you are extra lucky, the process art  journey is an act of art all by itself. Process art is sometimes used as a tool to facilitate difficult conversations that people may not want (or be able to) discuss with words. For me, sometimes I have big feelings and can't find the words to match. Process art helps me get some of my thoughts out without trying to explain or define anything in particular. That helps me. I hope it might help you too. 

That said, process art is not a substitution for treatment from a mental health professional. It will not “fix” anything. However, process art may be very helpful in untangling our thoughts and identifying new solutions. I recorded this class to facilitate a conversation on event-specific trauma. This class is offered as a tool to assist people who have experienced…

  • Community violence or disaster.
  • A major accident.
  • Sudden loss of a loved one.
  • An acute medical diagnosis.
  • Other forms of trauma/Trauma that can be tied to a specific date or event.

This class is not for people…

  • Looking to make a decorative object.
  • Looking to replace treatment from a licensed mental health professional.
  • Children who are not yet able to write words or handle conversations on sensitive subjects.

Part 1: Introduction and Materials

This is where you get a feel for what this class is about and what we'll be doing together. 

Hey Amanda, what is a magpie? And why are we making hearts?
A magpie is bird that makes elaborate, dome-shaped nests from twigs, straw, mud, and scavenged pieces of litter and refuse. The nests are surprisingly strong and can be found all over the world, including some of the tallest treetops in the highest mountains of Tibet. Despite tough circumstances, magpies not only survive, but thrive, because of their unusual nests. Taking inspiration from the magpies and pairing their methods with the sacred symbol of a heart, we can create a powerful image. 

Supply List

  • Scraps of paper in multiple colors.
  • Multiple pens, markers, pencils, crayons, etc.
  • Cardboard. 
  • Scissors. 
  • Yarn, twine, ribbons (something you can wrap or wind around). 
  • Small bowl or box. 
  • Acrylic or tempera paint. 
  • Sparkle Bits (confetti, buttons, glitter, glue…anything small or sparkly to add in the final layer).

Optional Framing Items*

  • Shadow Box.
  • Thick glue or foam tape.
  • Wire.
  • Beads.
  • Ribbon.

*You’ll need to wait 24 hours of drying time between finishing the Magpie Heart and hanging it up, so feel free to make the art immediately and choose any display option(s) later. 


Part 2: Let's Make a Magpie Heart

In this section you will wind down a guided path of incremental steps - making short lists, drawing and doodles, cutting cardboard, wrapping and winding, stuffing and inserting, and finally giving it a good smear of color and glitz. Prepare to pause the video in between steps as needed. If one of these steps does not sit well with you for any reason, skip it or find a work-around. Don't allow temporary discomfort from seeing it through to the end. 

This class has two rules, and these are honorary, but trust me, it's important that you follow them. 

Rule 1: This is not a group project. Feel free to watch this video or make your Magpie Hearts in a group setting, but it is critical that each person makes their own heart. We will be covering some sensitive subjects and it is important that each person has a safe, private, singular space of their own. It is almost impossible to feel any sense of freedom or ownership over communal artwork. Community projects can have wonderful benefits, but please save them for another day. 

Rule 2: No artist will be asked to explain their artwork. These works are meaningful and deeply personal - if the artist feels like sharing their experience, it needs to be voluntary. If you feel it's important to facilitate a discussion about the work, try using open ended questions like "What is your favourite part?" or "Does it have a title?" or "How did you think of using...?" and allow the artist to take the lead, or, wait to have the discussion under the guidance of a licenced mental health professional. 

Please remember: How we talk about art is important. Y'all, please listen. I strongly advise against commenting on other people's artwork using well-intended words like "cute" or "nice" or "pretty" as they are often disproportionate to the intention with which the work was created. This is big stuff. Art making can be a sensitive and vulnerable process and feedback can be especially uplifting, or likewise, completely devastating. Proceed with common sense and an open mind.



Part 3: Finishing Touches

After your artwork has been allowed 24 hours to dry, take a minute to finish it off with a purposeful touch. This could be a shadowbox frame, a simple wire, a piece of ribbon, or a hole punched on the back to hang on a nail or thumbtack. This is your call! You can also keep it in a drawer, give it away, toss it out, tear it up, or throw it in a fire. The decision belongs to the artist alone. Just please take a minute to make a decision on how you want your Magpie Heart to exist in this world moving forward. And don't push it off too long!


How did it go? 

When the art making adventure is over, take time to reflect. Are you coming out of this feeling different than you went in? You might not know just yet. But if you think making art has helped you move forward in some way, please consider doing it again. Maybe even on a regular basis! Art making can be pens and paints, but it can also be music or dance or writing, or just about anything that allows you to create something that wasn't there before. 

Human beings are gifted with the privilege of knowing, each morning, we can finish the day a little better than it began. We can contribute more than we take.  We are capable of spontaneous acts of beauty at any time, day or night. Every time someone chooses to create art, they are creating something from nothing. They are bringing a glimmer of light where it might otherwise be dark. We all benefit from that light - please don't ever underestimate it!

Art can be a catalyst to many gifts this world has to offer. Thank you for letting me be here with you today. I wish you all the best on your art adventures ahead! 

If you would like to share your work on social media, please use the hashtag #magpieheartart so we can see what you made and you can be inspired by work from others. For example, if you are not feeling the shape of a heart, Aria made a magpie rain cloud, and Jaime chose to make a nest. This is art and thee possibilities are endless!

© Copyright 2022 Amanda Evanston Inc. 
Listen. Don't make this weird. I normally charge for my art classes. This one is offered for at no cost and in good faith that viewers will not resell, reteach, or misappropriate this content outside of its original intention: help people help themselves. Thanks for being cool. 

In Case We Haven't Met...

Hi! My name is Amanda. I’m a painter, a maker, a mom, and sometimes I teach art to people who think they are not artistic. Over the years I have taught thousands of individuals how to create beautiful and meaningful works of art. I believe, whole-heartedly that art making has the ability to change lives. Art helps. Art heals. I have seen it more times than I can count.

Okay. This is the part where I tell you again, I am a painter; not a psychologist. Art making can play a powerful role in mental health, but it is not a substitute for guidance from a licenced professional. Only you can decide what your healing journey is going to look like - please use good judgment and common sense. I'll be here with the paint and confetti when you are ready to come along, no rush! It's a good sign you are thinking about this and making time for important stuff like your personal well-being. I'm glad you are here!