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The Ethics of Nature and The Creative Process

janes jungle

I began teaching "The Ethics of Nature" over ten years ago. I created this continuing education course to meet the requirements of the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board. Each year I add new material - a few years ago it was poetry "My Cat Has Quit Eating" by Donald Levering (

This poem elicits exploration on the part of the art therapists and counselors taking the workshop. They question their need to "help" and ask themselves when it is best to let nature take its course. This year I added material about working in toxic environments. I feel compelled to bring up "environment" in a course called "The Ethics of Nature". Toxicity can be within an agency, a disturbed family situation, or within the natural environment when we poison the oceans and the air and cut down the forests.

The creative process includes not wasting our resources, individual or otherwise, not trying to fix what is unfixable, knowing when to let go of material that is no longer vital, and also taking risks by actively trying out and pursuing new ideas.

I have recently returned to a large pastel I began a year and a half ago when I was painting outdoors at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. I started it on the same day I had to leave the beautiful Ranch. I have been afraid to touch it in my studio, afraid to add to it, because what makes it work is so elusive. Today I approach this painting with respect, curiosity and . . . the freedom of the spontaneous mark or action, It is my intention to approach my teaching and students in the same way.

I will be teaching "The Ethics of Nature" again on July 21 and also on August 18.

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