Painting : The 20 best reasons to fall in love with it.

Painting : The 20 best reasons to fall in love with it.

"Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour."

Giotto di Bondone

Painting can be precise, expressive, messy, detailed, expansive, subtle, bold, realistic, abstract, technical, intuitive, etc etc. Here are 20 best reasons to love painting in all its forms.

1.  First and foremost, painting is so much fun and brings a great deal of pleasure!

2.  You can paint on a small budget. Cheaper art supplies can be fine for beginners. Even artist quality watercolour sets are often reasonably priced. Craft acrylics are also a great option to consider in order to own a good range of colours at a low price. For example Paper Artsy Fresco acrylics.

3.  Using colour is therapeutic. When I was studying art therapy we often carried out exercises where we would just paint with one colour for a whole session of wet-in-wet watercolour painting. I was amazed at the strength of the different emotional, mental and even physical responses I had to the colours. Different colours are said to have different emotional qualities but we also each have a unique personal response to each colour. Sometimes the colours that we like the least are the ones that are beneficial to work with to bring our energy fields into balance. If you would like to try following along with short videos to guide you using each of the colours in turn, try this great 21 day journey with Whitney Freya.

4.  You can use painting therapeutically to process emotions. I often start an art journal page by just writing my current feelings on the page before I paint over it. Many people weren’t taught as children how to identify and express emotions. Painting can bring these feelings out so that they can be recognised and integrated. Also by using certain colours, collage, styles of painting and process, you can powerfully work through emotions and blockages on the page or canvas. You may even find that you can express feelings and emotions that you weren’t previously able to find words for. If you are processing very difficult emotions or experiences it may be advisable to work with an art therapist.

“Painting is the passage from the chaos of the emotions to the order of the possible.”  Balthus

5.  When you get immersed in painting and are in the flow, it is incredibly meditative. The increased attention to detail increases mindfulness. Time takes on a different quality and aches and pains fall away. There is only you and the page/canvas and blissful feelings may arise!

painting

6.  Painting reduces and releases stress. A study carried out at Drexel University by the assistant Creative Arts Therapy professor investigated the effect of making art on stress levels. The results, (published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association) showed that art making resulted in statistically significant lowering of cortisol levels.

7.  You can paint portraits or self-portraits as gifts for friends and family. It is fun to paint your pets too!

8. You can paint when you are travelling, even on a train or plane with the right travel kit. Water brushes (a brush with a reservoir for water in the handle) are so handy for smaller work and mean that you always have water available. Pentel make a good range and there are many travel sized watercolour tins (like this one) that are compact and great for beginners.
9. You can join local classes and make new painting friends. You can access the plethora of painting classes online and join forums and groups where you can share your art and see other people’s creations which are very inspiring. They are generally very friendly and supportive.
10.  You can use it as a spiritual practice, a meditation. I often meditate before I start creating so that I am in the right space to begin. I make a sacred space with candles and burn sage first. I have found that the painting generally goes better when I am coming from this mindful beginning. My ego and critical voice are softened which allows the images to form almost of their own accord.
11.  There are many different mediums to use and experiment with, for example, watercolour, oil, acrylic, liquid inks, paint pens and tempera. They all have their advantages and disadvantages but if you are a beginner I advise starting with watercolour (as it is portable and playful) and acrylics (as they dry quickly and it is easy to layer or mix colours).
12.  You can do it as a parent and get your kids to join in, resulting in a shared family experience. Though beware, they may want to paint on your piece, but hey that could be a nice addition? I have collaged some of my children’s drawings into my mixed media pieces at times and it gives it a special meaning and energy. The artist Ruth Oosterman works on top of her child’s drawings to make beautiful collaboration pieces. Here you can watch one of their paintings being created.

13.  The more that you use your creativity the more creativity flows through you. How cool is that!
14.  You might even produce some canvases that you would like to hang on your wall! There are are also loads of ideas online for creating easy art that can make a colour splash or statement in your home, for example here.

15.  The fine motor skills needed to hold a paintbrush make painting a great activity for elderly people to help them keep their brain pathways healthy. It is also useful to help treat physical, cognitive and neurological issues stemming from physical illness such as strokes.

16.  You can make greetings cards that are a pleasure for friends and family to receive.
17.  You can schedule regular outings to art galleries to gain inspiration from painters through the ages. This is a great way to gain knowledge of history, culture and art techniques.
18.  Painting can improve your perseverance and resilience. Sometimes the painting does not go as planned or you struggle to render something as you imagined it. By not giving up, you can often push through to a new breakthrough or completely new element or approach that is a complete surprise. Mistakes can become something new and beautiful. The great thing is you can always add more layers.
19.   Your more finely attuned skills of observation give you a new and positive perspective on nature and the world around you.
20.  You can go on a painting holiday for a relaxing trip away as painting is now your passion!
painting

Here is a challenge:

Find a simple you tube painting video that you like and follow along.

Post about how the experience was for you below in the comments section. How did you feel before and afterwards? Did you have any strong emotional responses to the colours used? Post your images too if you are comfortable to share.

Happy painting!

Creativity for health

Creativity for health

Creativity for health.
It is my belief that we are all creative beings living in human bodies. Especially for those of us whose creativity is their main strength and talent, if it is not used and enjoyed, we will wither and stagnate. My creative blocks were a huge factor in the ignition of my illnesses, and I know now that when I don’t use my creativity, I start to feel really stressed and out of balance. We need regular times of creativity for health and well being.
Creativity can take many different forms, and my advice would be just do what you love and try new things until you find some activities that really make your heart sing. Here are some examples of activities that can bring you out of the mundane, and help you access that delicious right-brained frame of mind. This is where troubles and worries fall away and you are immersed in the act of creation, in the moment, fully engaged.

1) Writing

Journaling:

A multitude of my old journal notebooks lurk in hidden corners around my bedroom. I don’t really worry about people reading them as my handwriting back then was so atrocious that they are practically illegible. It was very healing putting my thoughts on paper, but as someone with arthritis in their hands, it was a struggle.
So this year I have investigated digital journaling and found that I love it. There are numerous apps online that are privacy protected and very enjoyable to use. I started on 750words as this is the length of writing that is similar to three pages of handwritten journaling that I first started out with in the morning pages (The Artist’s Way practice). It is a fun application that awards stickers when you are on a roll, and there are challenges and analysis of your mood each day.
Now I have moved to Journey as on this I can tag my writings in case I want to use them elsewhere and you can also add a photo to your daily writing. The immediacy of being able to type the journaling is good for me and it is possible to sync the app to all your devices meaning it is accessible wherever you are.
Journaling can be just a record of events, a way to work through issues, self-inquiry, a dream journal, or just a free form flow of writing to brain dump and allow space for creativity. Many journal keepers have found that this practice improves their writing skills and even sparks the creation of a book.

Poetry:

A friend who has severe ME writes beautiful Haiku and I find it inspiring that even in his situation of very limited energy, he can find a way to express his creativity in such a simple way. There are many poetry groups online and in most towns. It can be a lovely way to inspire each other and help express feelings and observations.

Blogging:

This is my first experience of blogging and I am loving it.  Writing my story was difficult as I don’t like to think back over all the really hard times but writing about solutions is empowering. I am being ambitious by having it in a website format and the learning curve has been very steep. There are many ways to create a simpler blog, and I think it is an amazing way to share information, and get thoughts and feelings out there. It can improve your writing, get you reading and researching, connect you with new people and be therapeutic in itself. How wonderful if others choose to read it too!

Writing a book:

There are so many resources out there to help budding authors and with the rise of social media it is possible to create a buzz around the release of a book more easily. I highly recommend the “Miracle Morning for Writers” by Hal Elrod, Steve Scott and Honoree Corder. It combines the instruction of how to do the Miracle Morning ritual with a multitude of tips, instruction and links to more resources  on writing.
http://nanowrimo.org/ is an online site encouraging people to write for 30 consecutive days in national novel Writing Month. It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. There are many writing challenge websites such as yeahwrite.me which is an online community with weekly and weekend writing challenges in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Writing a book is a big challenge, for sure, but by planning well and committing to a writing practice each day, you are well on the way.Just make a start!

2) Art Journaling

Art journaling is a similar to having a sketchbook but in my opinion, it goes deeper. An art journaling practice is done daily, if possible, and is a record of daily life, feelings and emotions. It can contain as much written journaling as one wishes or may just have a single word on the page or perhaps just an image.
As well as being extremely therapeutic, it is a wonderful way to experiment with art techniques, materials and ideas. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake at all. You can use multiple layers and even cover over personal writing with paint. It is a wonderful thing to do if you are in a funk. Just getting the emotions out onto paper in written word or scribbling, or painting, feels very releasing. Then, it can be worked on further and often something different and beautiful comes through by the end, by which time you are feeling a whole lot better. It is an excellent way to work through creative blocks as there is no one to judge it and even if you don’t like what you have created that’s ok. It is an excellent way to bring in creativity for health and well-being.

Art journaling online:

There has been an explosion in the popularity of art journaling in the last 5 years and a multitude of websites are available online to give you inspiration. When I first started art journaling I really enjoyed watching lots of step-by-step you tube videos that gave me ideas for inspiration and taught me many mixed media techniques.  Some of the artists that inspired me were Dyan Reaveley, France Papillon, Willowing, Teesha Moore, and Jane Davenport.
Wanderlust is a year long online mixed media art journey with great classes and activities. Highly recommended. Colour me positive is a weekly art journaling challenge available on facebook or by email, that provides weekly prompts to get you going and a community of like-minded souls willing to share.
Another option is Lifebook with Willowing which again has a year’s worth of inspiring art journaling videos with a gentle self-development aspect.
I also attended a local course with a group of women led by a psychotherapist in her gorgeous creative barn space. We experienced a therapeutic group process in the morning and then art journaled about it in the afternoon with her Aladdin’s cave of materials. The art journaling complemented the therapy really well. So if you are having any type of therapy, I encourage you to art journal about it. It gives your being a chance to integrate the new brain pathways, and work through any issues that have come up. Plus you have a visual record of the process you have gone through to look back on.
creativity for health

Art Journaling page above by Teesha Moore.

3) Touch Drawing

This is a technique that you may not have come across, but is so freeing and enjoyable that I have to list it here. Deborah Koff -Chapin brought this work to the world, and I was lucky enough to attend one of her workshops in the UK a few years ago, although I had been experimenting with the process many years before. It basically involves using the tips of the fingers to draw onto paper from a meditative state, allowing whatever images wish to emerge, to flow onto the paper. The technique involves rolling out ink onto a table or glass plate, and placing thin paper over the top. You place your fingers on top of the paper allowing them to move and create marks on the underside of the paper. When you peel the paper off and turn it over for viewing, the full magic is revealed.
Normally in a session one would draw a series of 10-20 drawings, each one flowing on from the last. It is also a great way to overcome creative blocks. The technique is simple, yet can produce some stunning images that speak to the soul and are unlike any other art I have seen. Have a look at the Touch Drawing website for more information and galleries of Deborah’s amazing artwork.
Creativity for health

4) Music

I have sung in a variety of choirs over my lifetime, singing classical, gospel and world music.  They have all been immensely enjoyable and uplifting.
When we sing we draw more air into the body, improving the oxygenation of our tissues and improving our breath capacity. Research done in the UK* shows that “the well-being benefits afforded by choral singing could be distinct in comparison with other leisure activities.” Singing together in a group creates an unusually strong bond, giving members the emotionally satisfying experience of temporarily “disappearing” into a meaningful, coherent body. It is an experience of “oneness” that is so valuable in these modern times and a heartwarming and uplifting way to make more connections with your community.

Physical benefits of singing in a choir include:

Improved breathing
Improved circulation and heart health
Better mental health
Increased sense of well being
Boost to immunity
Reduced pain whilst singing
Having a lot of fun!
Heart Research UK ‘s  Sing For Your Heart programme has produced studies showing that singing in a group helps to reduce stress and depression, improve memory and reduce anxiety. Singing groups are being utilised in care homes to help Alzheimer’s, for Parkinson’s patients and people with airways diseases. 
Research with a Frankfurt choir** showed that they produced more antibodies in their blood, which enhanced their immune system. This is amazing news for those of us with autoimmune diseases. What a fun way to boost your immunity and enjoy musical creativity for health! 
Of course , there are many other ways to play and enjoy music and sound. Check for local musical instrument classes, it is never too late to pick up a new hobby. Go to a local sound bath to absorb the healing frequencies of singing bowls and gongs. Drumming groups also provide health benefits and research done this year *** shows that drumming in groups improves anxiety, depression and even induces an anti-inflammatory response.
Creativity for health

5) Soulful painting

You don’t have to be a natural artist to do this. Anyone can do it. I call it soulful, as it is answering a deep call of creativity, It is free and unplanned. There is a process of allowing, which enables a falling away of preconceptions and plans, and a direct connection to all that is. Colour just flows from the brush and a journey of discovery happens as the canvas unfolds. Intuition and the right hand side of the brain take over and you are lost in a world of mark making, colour and contrast. There is no anxiety about the finished product.
Of course some tips along the way help you not to just end up with a mud coloured painting. I followed some of Flora Bowley‘s classes on Brave Intuitive painting which are so clear and helpful. She has a number of videos available on You Tube for free also. Years ago, I also read Aviva Gold’s book, Painting from the source This gives good step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the space for this sacred process, how to navigate the process and follow up on the experience and listen to the messages you have received.
Creativity for health

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