Awakening The Artist Within

The moment you hear ‘art therapy’ thoughts tend to turn to it being an expensive treatment that is exclusive to “real artists” and not the guy next door- or even yourself. The beauty of art therapy is that while in most cases a trained therapist specialising in this area is used, there are exercises you can try at home. And if you enjoy the process and feel the need to take the process a step further, then you can always find a trained art therapist to go deeper and explore the meanings and insights uncovered.

A few exercises you can try at home for the mind, body and soul:

Emotions: a few things to try when dealing with emotions like anger and sadness

  • Create a journal- an art journal that reflects your journey allows you to visually express your emotions.

  • Create and design a card- this can be directed at someone who has hurt or angered you (and you don’t have to send it) to express your feelings

  • Create an emotion wheel- have colours to represent different emotions. This will help you think more critically about your emotions.

  • Create a stress painting. From your colour emotion wheel you can pick colours that represent the emotion/ stress and distress by scribbling, painting it away.

Relaxation: if you want to lie back and take a breather

  • Colours are attached to emotions so use only those that calm you. Paint or draw using these colours

  • Draw in sand-with your fingers of course. Connecting with nature and drawing shapes and scenes of different sizes is a great way to clear your mind.

  • Go outside and draw or paint. Breathing in the fresh air has a calming effect-more so when you put to paper what you see around you

  • Paint while listening to music. Listening to calming sounds while painting creates a flow and relaxation sets in.

Happiness: take time and use art to depict happy thoughts and has you focused on the positive

  • Photograph what you think is beautiful and create frame for them to remind you of the beauty that surrounds you

  • Draw your vision of a perfect day with you in your happiest state. Visiting your “happy place” will have you thinking happy thoughts.

  • Document a spiritual experience- draw or paint what the experience was like for you and how you felt

  • Have a ‘soft’ project- having a soft, cuddly toy can be comforting. You can get creative with different materials and create your own softie

Trauma: these exercises can help you come to terms with unpleasant experiences-with the goal of overcoming them

  • Draw or paint your safe place. In the often dark and scary world, having a safe place and an image of that can help make you feel safe

  • Make an ephemeral artwork using materials like sand, chalk, paper or water and destroy it when you are done. Letting go is not always easy, but this exercise teaches you that it’s okay if something doesn’t last

  • Draw what scares you- when the fear is brought to light you are on the journey to facing it and learning to find ways to overcome the fear

Often times the different materials and process evokes emotions and thoughts within us. With the help of a trained therapist/counsellor the fears, associations, hopes, memories and desires experiences are laid out and explored in a safe space to hear and understand their roots.

You don’t have to be a Picasso or a Michael Angelo to create something beautiful. Using what is in your hand you too can be an artist in your own right. Art has many uses and when you think outside the box you can find solace and be encouraged to continue on the journey of healing and becoming whole.



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