Hi Northbridge International School Cambodia community! Do you need a switch-off? Do you want to give your mind a rest? Do you have a lot of jumbled up thoughts and feelings? Do you need a mental escape from the ‘now’ by just ‘being’ and not overthinking?
Art making can be done for great distraction and a ‘brain break’ or for a purposeful practice in processing thoughts and emotions. It can also just be done for fun and a bit of a lift!
Whatever your reasons may be for delving into doing something creative and practical, granted it will be beneficial and rewarding in one way or another. And it is a natural way of learning, raising self awareness and giving you some ‘me’ time or some ‘us’ time! Up to you!
These are my favourite five activities below. I include the sources for these ideas at the end of the article as there are many more options that perhaps you would prefer instead. But here goes my advice anyway…
1. A Mandala A Day
As mentioned in the nature mandala description, “mandala” is a term for creating within a circle.
There is an innately calming quality to working within that shape and it has been done for thousands of years. All you need is a piece of paper, drawing/painting materials of any kind, and something you can trace for your circle.
This can be a one-time thing, or can become a quick daily practice. Some people use the circle as a container and create whatever they want inside, some people use the inside of the circle as a place to create something that reflects how they are feeling at that moment. They can use this container however they want. They can stay inside the circle or create on both sides of it.
If this is something you want to do more than once, and you have any kind of drawing pad or notebook you can trace your circles in the book keeping all your mandalas in one place. They can also just as easily all be on separate sheets of paper if that is preferred or a pad is not available.
2. Journaling or Altering a Book
How to incorporate writing for those who are writing-shy
Use a thought-provoking title for your page.
Use poems, quotes, lyrics.
Look at your artwork and write down words that come to mind. Write a poem using those words.
Don’t worry about grammar or spelling.
How to incorporate art for those who are art-shy
Use color washes.
Use ephemera scraps from your day/week.
Don’t worry about making it pretty.
Art Journaling Techniques
An altered book is the process of taking a published book and turning it into a visual art journal.
Often a perk of this activity is the element of almost feeling like you are breaking some rule by creating inside an actual book. It can be an ongoing project (people work on the same altered book for years), and the sky is the limit (if you can think of a visual art technique there is probably a way to incorporate it into your book).
Hardcover with mostly text usually work best, and just start creating.
Some people decorate the cover, some don’t.
Some people work from the front to the back of the book, and some people open up to a random page every time they are going to make an entry.
Some people disregard the words on the page, and some people read the page for inspiration pulling out a few words to spark their creativity.
Envelopes can be added, pages can be ripped out. It can be painted, collaged, drawnin, etc. This can be a great long term project for pre-teen/teens and adults alike!
3. A Butterfly a Day
Optional: collage materials (eg: magazines, pompoms, sequins, googly eyes, etc.) and glue
With some scissors and any kind of drawing material you can turn a sheet of paper into multiple butterfly shapes. If you do not have scissors it can also be fun to fold the paper in half and try to rip the page into a butterfly shape that way.
You can make multiple butterfly shapes all in one sitting, or, while you are stuck at home, you can turn this into an on-going activity that happens every day/a few times a week/whenever you remember.
One of the most fun parts of this is to watch the group of butterflies grow.
So before you start, find a window, a wall, or a large piece of paper they can all be attached to and add them as you go.
If it is something you are doing across multiple days/weeks you could use colors each day that reflect some part of that particular day. You can use lines, shapes, colors, words and etc. to decorate the butterflies... there are no rules.
Make a zentangle. These fun little drawings are a great tool for letting go and helping reduce stress.
Art Therapy Exercises: Scribble Drawings
The scribble drawing exercise can be used as a tool to get away from conscious drawing and enable us to tap into our imaginations or unconscious. In the activity I approached my paper feeling loose, comfortable and calm after doing a relaxation exercise and wide arm movement exercise.
Color in a design. Sometimes, the simple act of coloring can be a great way to relax. Find a coloring book or use a mandala for coloring.
5. Gratitude practice… or just letting go...
Make something for someone else. Making something for someone else can be a great way to feel good and help someone else do so as well.
Document your gratitude visually.What things are you grateful for in your life? Paint or collage a work that represents these things.
Paint to music. Letting your creativity flow in response to music is a great way to let out feelings and just relax.