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Passionate Longridge artist combats lockdown loneliness through virtual creative sessions

Posted on - 14th March, 2021 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Longridge, People, Preston News, Proud Preston, Ribble Valley News, What's On in Preston
Rachel Phoenix, founder of Paint The Dog Yellow
Rachel comes from a family of artists.

Paint the Dog Yellow, a new art-therapy group set up by portrait artist Rachel Phoenix, encourages it’s members to de-stress and design as they relieve negative feelings weekly through the power of art.

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Paint the Dog Yellow was named after the manic depression Winston Churchill suffered he described as the ‘black dog’. This combined with Van Gough’s way of expressing his happiness with the colour yellow in his paintings.

Local Longridge woman, Rachel Phoenix 33, said: “I want to help paint people’s black dogs, yellow.

If coming to an art peer support group can help somebody to keep going, to get out of bed, to feel a bit happier. That makes me feel good.”

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Rachel has struggled with a lifelong battle of mental health problems herself. Now on the right side of recovery she wants to teach people who may be feeling down to channel their emotions creatively, similar to Churchill and Van Gough.

Paint the Dog sessions are currently free as Rachel kindly volunteers her spare time to help combat loneliness in the community. No previous art experience is required to partake and everyone is welcome to give it a try.

Rachel encourages all newcomers to come along as she said: “Every activity can be done with paper, pencil and a black pen. Come along do some art and have a chat. Or do some art and don’t have a chat. Don’t be nervous if you’ve never picked up a pen before.”

The artist describes how she has been at rock bottom and passionately believes in the power of art to help people process emotions and feelings they have.

Although not a qualified therapist, activities she’s encouraged are based upon art therapy theories and techniques. She is no stranger to working alongside people with mental health problems as she spent 10 months running Rise and Shine Preston back in 2019.

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The Paint the Dog portfolio so far includes: creating a wheel of emotion, sunshine week collages and illustrated affirmations.

A wheel of emotions drawn by portrait artist Rachel Phoenix.
Wheel of Emotions. Pic: Rachel Phoenix.

People may feel apprehensive before sessions but Rachel is confident they leave proud of what they’ve achieved and created as a group.

With hopes to continue the art group after lockdown, Rachel wants to build a community through her love of art, she said: “It’s about the people more than the art, I know first hand mental health is horrendous and you need things to keep you going. It would be amazing if something that I run could be that for somebody.”

One member, Louise Whitwell said: “The group is helping me build my confidence. It’s a chance for me to get creative, some me time, time to socialise with others going through similar issues and to relax.”

“I was always put down during art lessons at school. By coming to the group I feel proud of my work and it keeps me engaging socially.”

Sessions run virtually every Monday and Thursday and can be found on the Facebook group or Twitter.

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Proud Preston. This, and many stories like it, show how the people of Preston are making a difference. Our Proud Preston section showcases all the charitable, kind, uplifting and great things about our city and the people who live here. #ProudPreston is alive and well, and there’s much to celebrate and be proud of, despite the challenging times we all face.

Let us know in the comments: Would you be interested in joining an peer-support art group?

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