As the Autumn season gains momentum and reminders of Christmas begin to appear in supermarkets, it can sometimes be challenging to find moments of peace.
Even when we manage to set aside time for ourselves, the busyness of the day often leaves our minds racing, even when our bodies are at rest.
Having a Mindful Painting Practice helps us carve out time for a little creative self-care, even if we’ve never considered ourselves artists!
Mindful Painting isn’t about how well we can draw or paint and it isn’t about creating a masterpiece- it’s simply about using the traditions and techniques of painting to help us connect more deeply with ourselves, our surroundings and the current moment.
Art and Well-being
The Visual Arts have long been associated with well-being. Whether as a tool for relaxation or self-expression, painting and drawing have long been used to promote wellness. Exciting research has highlighted the protective effects of the Visual Arts on cognitive function and Art Therapists have identified art as an effective way to help us understand and process trauma.
Yet, for many of us, Art itself can generate a degree of anxiety. Memories of highschool art rooms can often prevent us from feeling comfortable with arts and crafts, let alone helping us re-find our calm.
A Mindful Painting Practice can help us reframe our relationship with creativity. Mindful Painting places the emphasis on quality of practice, rather than quality of outcome. With the value placed on how you feel and approach your practice, rather than on what you produce, we can enjoy engaging with the traditions and techniques of painting without added pressure.
As we become more familiar with the specific skills of painting, we will find our artworks appear more confident, opening up new ways of engaging with and exploring our materials.
What Exactly is Mindful Painting?
Mindful Painting is often associated with a range of practices but it really all comes down to the mindset with which we approach our painting.
A typical Mindful Painting practice may begin with a centering or mediation practice to set the tone for the creative exercises that follow. A Mindful Painting practice, for Inner-peace and well-being can provide space and time for us to really notice those things we often overlook, such as the quality of light, the colours around us and even our own posture and inner-dialogue as we paint.
Mindful Painting sessions do not have to do-away with the techniques and skills of a conventional practice. In fact, these may provide a focus for the practice. However, the essence of a Mindful Painting Practice is not our mastery of these techniques, but rather the ways in which we approach them.
As we become absorbed in a Mindful Painting Practice, we may experience increased relaxation and positive shifts in our emotional wellbeing. Through training our minds to really notice and appreciate the present moment, we may experience a greater sense of curiosity, creativity, peace and gratitude within our lives.
Starting Your Own Mindful Drawing Practice
To experience the benefits of Mindful Painting for inner peace and well-being, you could attend a Mindful Painting Class or try this simple Self (love) Portraiture exercise at home.
Start by setting up a peaceful space in your home , where you can see yourself in a mirror, and have a pencil or pen at hand.
Start by centering. Taking time to focus on your breath, and without changing it in any way, listen to your inhale and exhale. Feel the gentle movement of your breath on your upper lip.
With your feet planted on the ground gently invite softness into your shoulders and neck.
Without taking your pencil/pen off the paper and keeping your eyes on yourself in the mirror, start drawing your face, millimetre by millimetre, moving your pencil in small scribbling motions. Where there is a slight shadow or darkness, make your scribbles closer together and apply slight pressure. For lighter areas, keep your scribbles loose and ease off the pressure.
Try to give equal attention to each part of your face, even those bits you don’t normally pay as much attention to. If you feel your attention slipping, or any negative-inner dialogue creeping in, simply pause and return to your centering practice.
You can add another dimension to this practice by choosing to repeat a mantra for self-acceptance and self-love as you complete your drawing.
For example, you may choose to repeat something like:
“This is [cheek, nose etc] is part of the body in which I live and am grateful for.”
You may like to record the experience of your Mindful Painting Practice , and any thoughts or feeling that come about, on the back of your page or in your journal.