Art is Therapy
Hello my blogging friends. I am sure you recognize this painting since it’s the background of my blog. It is the best example I have of what I will be talking about. I did this painting one day last year to 1) Experiment with color and 2) For mental therapy at the time!
In the last few days I started reading a couple of different books. One is called “Understanding Color” by Marcia Moses. I am constantly learning and re-learning about color in painting and drawing. Watercolors present such a unique challenge in the area of mixing color. I have a few books about color, but this one has given me some fresh things to think about.
One thing I like is how she defines certain terms that have always kind of confused me, such as tone, tint, and shade. These are basic things, but I honestly don’t think about them much while I’m painting. I like how she shows examples of each in the book
Another interesting thing is how she shows how to make colorful grays even sharing how she got rid of the color Payne’s gray from her palette. This surprised me, and I don’t think I’m going to do it as of yet, but I am planning to experiment with making different colorful shades of gray and even shades of black. I for one have never liked the way the different colors of black look right out of the tube. So I am looking forward to experimenting with making different blacks also.
I have never really created a color palette and stuck to it for all I paint. I realize there are many different combinations one can make for creating a color palette. However, I have never created any conciously and kept them. I do a lot of experimenting as I work on a painting to get the colors I want for that particular image. As you can tell in my previous child ballerina painting, I could not get what I wanted, because I am still learning about what colors to use for mixing skin tones.
This brings me to one point that Marcia makes in her book. She says that artists, even art instructors, should never feel that they have reached a point when they think they know it all about art, color, etc. I so agree. I apply this thought to everything in my life. I never think of myself as having “arrived” as an artist or writer or even spiritually. There is always something more to learn and room to grow. New challenges is what drives me in my life.
The other book I am reading is called “The Art Therapy Sourcebook” by Cathy A. Malchiodi, ATR, LPCC. She explains what art therapy is and how it can help even non-artists to deal with painful feelings. She talks about creativity, being spontaneous, and mental illness. I am not very far into it, but one thing I already read that stood out to me is when she said in Chapter One, What is Art Therapy? on page 14,
“Art therapy can also be helpful in releasing emotions. In psychological terms, this experience is referred to as catharsis. Catharsis literally means “cleansing” or “purging”; in therapy it refers to the expression and discharge of strong emotions for relief.” Then in the next paragraph she says, “For example, it is known that creative activity can actually increase brain levels of seratonin, the chemical linked to depression.”
I know art therapy is not for everyone, but I just want to say if you are struggling with depression or something hard in your life, just draw or paint and see what happens. You don’t have to have an art therapist to “interpret” your drawings; just try it for fun! Releasing pent-up depression or anger is healthy for us mentally. And life is so much more enjoyable when we learn how to deal with feelings and express them in a healthy way.
Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂 (Even that is healthy in and of itself!)