I Tried To “Art.” And Yes, It Was Therapeutic.
There's all this great advice flowing around the interwebz, isn't there? From how to raise chickens, to maximizing your skill sets during pandemic quarantines, to the best way to raise your kids to *not* be sociopaths. You can find practically anything. Some of it is even helpful. ;)
Arguably, one of the most well-covered subjects is on the subject of "self-care." That buzz phrase is so buzzy the bees are jealous. BUT, it is important. Perhaps one of the reasons it's discussed so often is because, despite our human tendency to work ourselves to a frenzy, or go to the other extreme and dive headfirst into self-indulgence, this concept of self-care seems to elude many of us.
Self-care doesn't mean laying for 20 hours on the couch whilst sucking melted Blue Bell ice cream through a straw while watching zombie shows until you, in fact, join the club. Self-care is treating yourself the way you would treat someone you truly love. But, that is not the subject of this post.
One of the recommendations we often hear suggested in engaging in some form of creative expression as a form of therapy. That could manifest as say, writing, for example. Or perhaps music, cooking, and of course, painting.
I come from a fairly creative family. My grandfathers on both sides were visual artists. My father was a musician. My niece is a gifted graphic artist. However, I'd never put my hand to either music--really, or the visual arts. So, I thought I'd give it a go.
My confession: I never really "got" abstract painting. Yeah, I admit many years ago I was more drawn to things like Thomas Kinkade. NOT that those paintings aren't lovely, but I just saw painting sort of as an old-fashioned way to capture the things we see in real life. However, art is more process than a product.
Art gives us glimpses about how something feels to the artist--which may in turn make you feel something, hopefully. I have an artist friend who explained to me that often abstract paintings are a bit of a snapshot into the artist's soul. Which then, of course, makes it clear that engaging in creating would be a fascinating way to explore what's in one's own.
I recently found my gouache collection from back in my college days and thought: "What the heck?" So, I tried it.
At first I just stared at the blank canvas and briefly thought about popping over a White Claw and turning on the TV. Instead, my muse inspired me to turn on the music and just begin. They say once you start, if you let the "muse" lead you, you'll start to paint what's inside of you. Hmm. Sounds a bit "woo-woo," I know. However, once I started my brush did seem to take on a life of its own. Mind you, this is something I've rarely ever done--so, I was surprised.
What was strange to me was how I would start painting something that made no sense at the time. Then, as I continued, it would start to form something bizarre, interesting, and sometimes lovely. Hey, if that's what's "in my soul," I guess I'm encouraged. But then, other darker themes emerged. ANYWAY, the point I'm trying to make is this:
Even if you've never, ever delved into what could truly be called "art therapy," I recommend. By the end I felt the inherent pleasure we get after we have spent some time creating something, rather than just consuming. Even if it's nothing special. There's something to it. I felt calmer. I felt inspired to do other things--both artistic, but also practical things like...say, emptying the ever-patient dishwasher.
You can start with the simplest tools. If you'd rather, you can use a completely different medium--words, music, food. Just spend some time engaging in art therapy. And, if you're willing, I'd love to see what you've created.