Sue Barclay is an award-winning artist, Alexander Technique teacher, and has been a licensed DEI professional since 2020. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland where she creates beautiful works of art in her home studio. I was lucky enough to meet up with her in person on a recent holiday there and it was such a joy! During lockdown, she offered online workshops combing art and DEI and was featured in a Scotland Herald article about this. Her gentle and playful demeanor creates an atmosphere where students and clients feel safe to explore their emotions and follow their inspiration.
Q&A with Sue Barclay
What brought you to this work?
Reading Karla’s book The Language of Emotions – What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You brought me to this work. What a relief it was to start to see and understand my emotions in a new light. I joined the DEI training course so I could learn more.
Tell me about your other work?
I work as an artist and also teach the Alexander Technique. Finding ways to combine my love of mark-making and artistic practices with DEI came naturally to me, and helped me gain insight in to how I feel and relate to my emotions. Artistic practices have also helped me with emotional regulation; the simple act of picking up my crayons and channelling my emotions on to the page where they can move and flow freely helps me pause and listen to what my emotions are trying to tell me.
What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
In lockdown my partner, Richard (a professional musician), starting teaching me to play the flute. I am now able to play some simple duets with him … and this is currently one of my great joys in life!
What are some of the highlights of the work you’ve done with DEI?
These are some highlights that come to mind: working with Karla and the other trainers taking part in online grief rituals during lockdown with people from all around the world and learning how to grieve; finally realizing that I did not need to be happy all the time; identifying my feeling of “impatience” in social situations as being my anger starting to arise, and learning how to work with my anger instead of telling myself to “be more patient!”; and gradually learning to trust that all my emotions have important information for me and that many of them are not just coming forward to create havoc in my life!
Also, realizing that my fear and panic were nearly always present when an emotion arose in me that was not happiness, joy, or contentment; teaching my first online DEI workshops during lockdown to small groups, and my friend Jan sharing her drawings with me and telling me she had done a drawing a day for a year after coming to my workshops (she had not done any drawing since her school days).
What a wonderful list of things! What are your more recent projects?
Getting my Art and Emotions course ready for Empathy Academy is my most recent project. I have based this course on the DEI workbook which I am a great fan of as it is such a practical tool for learning how to work with all of our emotions. I wanted to create a course that would lead people through the workbook in a series of live and interactive 2-hour Zoom sessions, offering new ways of working with the material by introducing simple art and mark-making practices which bring our intuitive and artistic selves forward. Everyone can also work at their own pace outside the sessions and there will be a group Forum where people can share. I am delighted to be working alongside DEI Trainer and Consultant Bobbi McIntyre who is going to be monitoring the Forum with me by responding to posts and answering any questions people have.
Another lovely project I did earlier this year was creating a collaborative collage of the four families of emotions with a small group of artists on the island of North Uist as part of an art residency. This was a one-day workshop based on the DEI Four Families of Emotions and I was amazed how much energy can be generated by our emotions; together the participants created a large and beautiful double sided collage with old fabric they had painted. I wondered at the uniqueness of people’s responses to their emotions; a big, colorful, and messy emotion for one person was expressed as a small, quiet, and contained emotion for another. There was much reflection and discussion throughout the day as I introduced DEI concepts to the group, and the workshop was completed as each participant, turn in turn, laid their art work on the base sheet of the collage to be stuck down, so creating a beautiful totality of life experience, feeling, and emotion.
What type of clients do you work with?
Although my courses encourage the use of simple artistic practices and often appeal to people who have an interest in art, many or even most of the people I work with do not remember the last time they picked up a crayon or paint brush. I am always amazed at how quickly this is forgotten as each person finds their our own unique way of immersing themselves in the process of discovering how to create a dialogues with their emotions and inner self.
How has DEI most impacted your own life?
DEI has helped me feel more connected. Before DEI I knew that I struggled with emotional issues, and I think I basically thought that many of my emotions were “negative” or “bad”, and that I needed to find a way to get rid of them. No amount of yoga, Alexander Technique, or art-making seemed to change this core belief. I think my “anti-emotion training” was pretty well in with the bricks and mortar! I had been ignoring and suppressing my emotions for various reasons in different ways for most of my life. DEI has helped me understand and wake up to the importance of listening to what my feelings and emotions are telling me.
Where do you see yourself in regard to this work in the future?
When I started my DEI training one of things I was hoping was that I would find my way back to making art again (I had taken 5 – 6 years away from my art practice to do other things). I now divide my time between teaching and art making, and I am looking forward to teaching my Art and Emotions course on Empathy Academy.
Any last thoughts?
When I was telling Annette (a wonderful artist friend of mine) about the Art and Emotions DEI workshops I ran in lockdown, her response was that “mark-making is the human condition.” I love this statement as I feel it goes straight to the heart and truth of the matter … simply picking up a crayon and making marks on a sheet of paper is a very human things to do. Art is for everyone!
Sue Barclay is a dual-licensed Dynamic Emotional Integration® Trainer and Consultant. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland and offers DEI trainings, workshops, and consultations in person and online. Sue has a BA degree in Drawing and Painting from Edinburgh College of Art and is a qualified Alexander Technique teacher and Yoga teacher. Her expertise in DEI includes: feeling and identifying your emotions, learning about the specific skills and gifts each one of your emotions brings you, finding out how emotions work and learning to work with them rather than for or against them, and the empathic mindfulness and self-care practices.
Visit Sue’s website: Sue Barclay.