Hi, I’m Kiri, the editor of The Content Wolf Magazine, and I want to share my experience of trying painting for the first time.
Yes, that’s right. I have never painted before. I didn’t do particularly well at art at school, but one thing I do have on my side is creativity. I normally express this creativity by writing and running my content company. I haven’t ever bothered with painting because I assumed I would be rubbish at it. But, you see, the brilliant thing about art is that you don’t have to be good at it.
In fact, you can be terrible, but as long as you are enjoying the process – who cares? I’ve always struggled with wanting to be good at everything I do. So painting, just for the sake of it, is a new thing for me. I’ve been searching for a hobby that I can simply enjoy for a very long time. Like knitting, doing crafts or cooking.
Then, one day, I had a powerful urge to go and buy some paints. I’ve no idea why. I can only guess that because I’ve been through a difficult time lately, and experienced a trauma – my mind has gifted me with a wonderful new hobby to guide me through my mental recovery.
The idea that creative expression can make a powerful contribution to the healing process has been embraced in many different cultures. Heather L. Stuckey, DEd and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH
There’s a lot of evidence that painting and the arts can help with our wellbeing, emotional state and aid recovery. For example, the impact of an arts on prescription project found that 76% of participants said their wellbeing increased. Plus, there was a 71% decrease in feelings of anxiety and a 73% fall in depression.
Art and health have been at the center of human interest from the beginning of recorded history. Despite that fact, and despite the invested effort and growth of knowledge and understanding in each arena, it is interesting that we often still find ourselves struggling with the “fundamentals” of art and health and their meaning in society. Heather L. Stuckey, DEd and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH
For the last two weeks, since I started, I have painted at least one A3 painting every day. And the changes in my general well being I’ve experienced have been massive. Let’s explore a few of the benefits of painting…
What are the benefits of painting?
- It helps your brain – painting can help improve your memory.
- Problem-solving – painting can strengthen your problem-solving, when issues occur during the creative process, you figure out how to solve them.
- Keeps you mobile – it can help with mobility because painting keeps you moving.
- Helps concentration – you really have to focus on what you’re doing and the finer details require a lot of concentration skills.
- It’s fun! Which means you get a lot of enjoyment and pleasure out of it.
- It develops your inner creativity – giving you an outlet to express yourself.
- Stress release – I’m not sure there are many things more relaxing than painting in peace and quiet.
- Emotional growth – painting is supposed to help with emotional growth.
How has painting helped me?
Using painting as emotional therapy
There are very few ways these days that you can truly 100% switch off from the worries of the world. However, painting, I can now say is definitely one of them.
It’s just you and the paintbrush. You can pour your emotions through the brush and into every stroke. I’ve found the best way to paint for me personally, for me to get the most out of the experience is to just go with it. Don’t think too much about what you’re going to paint. Go with what feels right. A dash of pink here, some black and green there. Swirls, smudges, sweeps and splats. Whatever movement makes you feel something.
I’m clearly no expert and have no idea what I’m doing. But the more paintings I do, the more I seem to trust in the art and go with the first thing that comes to mind. I have to say, this is wonderfully freeing. Particularly at the moment, when we are living in a very strange world. Our lives are restricted and we feel trapped – but you can be free in the moment when you let yourself go and paint your heart out.
I don’t know about others who paint for therapy, but I feel a sort of emotional release. While you are painting, you can transport your mind to a different world. An inspiring world of colour and prettiness.
Whatever emotion I’m feeling at the time is brain dumped onto the page. Whether it’s anger and frustration or love and warmth. In the past, one of the ways I’ve gotten rid of my frustration at the world is by doing very intense sports. Like kickboxing or weightlifting. It’s only recently by painting that I’ve realised you can help dampen and calm powerful emotions like anger and resentment through doing something gentle. It’s amazing how moving the paintbrush in different ways helps channel your emotions. If you’re struggling to talk about your feelings, one way to express them is through art.
Interpreting the emotional depth of your paintings
It’s not just during the painting process that you get emotional and mental benefits. After your creation is complete, it’s fascinating to sit there and take it all in. What emotions and feelings might your painting represent? It may also be interesting to talk to your loved ones to discuss what it might represent. It could help you to realise some things or even open up difficult conversations about how you are feeling.
The most important thing is to paint for enjoyment and not put any pressure on yourself to create some kind of masterpiece, and you can do what you want with your paintings afterwards. Whether that’s storing them privately somewhere for you to look at when you wish, showing loved ones or putting them up around your home. The decision is yours.
Painting and colour therapy
What is colour therapy I hear you ask? Yes, it is really a thing. In a nutshell, it’s where a therapist talks through how different colours can impact your mood and how you feel. You can then use colours in your daily life to try and improve how you’re feeling. However, there are many different forms of colour therapy and ways of doing it. On a basic level, painting, with lovely bright colours that make you happy can obviously help you to improve your emotional wellbeing. Did you know what the colour green can help improve your concentration, and orange is a good mood booster? Play around by painting with different colours to see how they make you feel.
Painting and mindfulness
Lastly, painting is brilliant for bringing you back into the moment. Put. Your. Phone. Down! Now, pick up a paintbrush and focus on brush strokes instead of keypad strokes. Doesn’t it feel SO much better? It’s a great idea to paint somewhere quiet, away from distractions where you can completely, 100% zone out. Get some much needed you time so that your mind can rest and just be. Some people paint with music in the background but I love to paint outside in the garden accompanied only by the sounds of nature. It’s pure perfection.
So, with all these benefits up for grabs – what are you waiting for? Just give it a go and see how it makes you feel. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Oh, and I’d also appreciate any thoughts and (kind) feedback on my first collection of paintings. You can check them out here.
All images/paintings by me – COPYRIGHT Kiri Nowak @abstractartbykiri