“Art therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development and psychological theories and techniques with visual arts and the creative process to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions.” – Jonathan Golding, Ph.D. and Anne Lippert, Ph.D.
Painting may be an effective outlet for managing stress or coping with anxiety or depression or any psychological condition you may be going through. Even if you think you don’t have any artistic bone in your body, it won’t hurt to try and grab a canvas or any art-appropriate paper, a pallet, a paintbrush and a set of paint and start stroking.
This form of therapy encourages you to express yourself and reflect on your mood. Allow your hand to move in response to every single thought lingering in your mind. Let every stroke of brush resonate your emotions.
How Colors Matches Your Emotions
There is no need to think of what color to use and no need to pay heed to whatever shapes you create. Let your instincts guide you. It doesn’t really matter if the result is anything recognizable. Once you are done painting, you can analyze the colors used to see if they do match your emotions.
Every color has its universal meaning. Red is often associated with love and passion, orange denotes creativity and energy, yellow symbolizes hope and happiness, green being the color of nature relates to health and growth, blue illustrates freshness, purple is the symbol of wealth and power, brown conveys humility and stability, black represents fear and mourning, grey is subdued and quiet and may as well exemplify tranquility, and white means purity.
When combined or when different hues are thrown together, these colors may well reflect your thoughts and emotions. Based on the color theory, the use of different shades of warm yellow transmits feelings of hope and joy. Different tones of blue may reflect depression, sadness or melancholy. A contrast of warm colors like red, yellow, orange and cool colors such as blue, green, purple may very well echo the chaos going through your head. The use of primary colors red, blue and yellow communicates excitement.
The Benefits of Art Therapy
Art therapy encourages self-expression that is used in assessing a person’s mental state. This noninvasive process may help in constructing a treatment plan for a patient when necessary.
Marni Rosen, Psy.D., explains how she helps her clients through drawing and painting. “As a client retells his or her traumatic experience, art materials are offered to stretch elements of the narrative: whether through a visual representation of a thought or feeling during the event, or a direct image of the event itself. Finding the words to express trauma is a common challenge for trauma survivors. Creative arts therapies can bridge the shattered memory or painful emotion, and a cognitive-linguistic expression of the traumatic experience. It brings the absence of language into the present through art.”
Painting or creating art, in general, can be a practical instrument to help you understand yourself better. Therapists can even use the art you create to get a better perception of your psychological well-being.
Art creation can help release the negative thoughts and feelings that usually plague you when you’re stressed or going through an episode of mental illness. Painting is an expressive language that may be used to communicate emotions you find difficult to translate into words.
Learning More About Painting
If you decide to take up painting as a hobby, you may want to know what materials you may use.
First, you need to decide what paint or medium you wish to use before you choose the surface. Not all mediums are ideal for canvas. You have a choice of oil, pastel, watercolor, acrylic gouache, ink or even enamel. Oil and watercolor are always popular choices. Canvas is best for oil paint while the watercolor paper is advisable for watercolors.
A primer is needed to prepare a canvas. The fabric needs to be stretched and mounted on a wooden frame, or you may choose to purchase a stretched canvas. You have a choice between linen and cotton canvas, but cotton is a more popular choice because it is cheaper. Before you start painting, the canvas needs to be primed and sealed. Of course, you need to have paintbrushes, and you may opt to have different shapes and sizes.
There are several styles of painting but the best to start with especially when your aim is to express yourself to help manage psychological disorder is abstract.
It is always good to pick up a hobby to distract yourself from stress or anxiety or depression or any other mental state you find yourself in. Who knows? You might just have a hidden talent for painting, and you wouldn’t know unless you try.
As LMHC Daisy Denise Rodriguez says, “Art Therapy gives us a safer avenue to master uncomfortable feelings that manifest themselves in symptoms of anxiety, depression, distress, grief or pain.”