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Art for Wellbeing

Pablo Picasso once said, 'Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life'.

Around the world people use art as a therapeutic means to deal with emotional wellbeing or just to find greater peace and meaning in their lives. There is perhaps no better time for us all to explore the benefits of art for our mental and emotional wellbeing.

For a bit of fun, have a go at the Tate Quiz How are you feeling? available on the Tate website. It’s a simple multiple choice that reveals an artwork that most reflects how you feel. If you are interested, click here to see the surprisingly exuberate and carefree 1975 artwork by Rose Finn-Kelcey, 1975, that best reflected my state of mind!

The mere act of looking at art can change or enhance your mood. There are so many galleries opening their doors virtually during this time, from Tate, V&A, Royal Academy of Arts and many others, so it’s a good time to explore collections and our reactions towards art. The slower pace of life that we are all experiencing certainly allows us all to look more closely and reflect on art we enjoy or find challenging. If you would like to explore this further, Tate offers a podcast on The Art of Slow Looking which helps explore the art of mindfulness through looking.

If you would prefer to get creative to explore the benefits of art and wellbeing, we’ve given you a few activities to get you started.

Line art and mark making

Line art is one of the simplest and most basic aspects of art, but it can also contain a lot of emotion. Use simple line art to concentrate the mind and demonstrate visually how you're feeling. By focusing on the line or mark making you become more mindful, tuning into your breath while tuning out your racing thoughts, letting the line be guided by how you feel. You may even be surprised at what you create! Close your eyes and feel the flow of the pen/pencil or brush, let it react instinctively to how you are feeling. You may like to use something more unconventional, by making your own paint brushes using twigs or leaves to really get expressive!

To make natural brushes;
Cane or twigs
Natural materials - leaves/ plants /feathers
Rubber bands or tape
Palette/paint pot

Create a motivational collage
You can hang this collage somewhere you'll see it every day. Filled with images you find motivating; it'll help you keep pushing on. The great thing about collage is that you can use anything, coloured or patterned papers, tissue paper, natural materials, magazines or newspapers. Anything you have to hand. You might like to revisit the collage activity in our last article here.

Colour in a design

The simple act of colouring can be a great way to relax and has become popular hobby in recent years. The repetitive action of colouring can help tune out of racing thoughts and busy minds, instead focusing the mind on a calming and simple task. For adults and children alike this can be a really therapeutic and so simple to do. There are lots of free downloadable colouring sheets available online.

Focus the mind on calming Mandela designs. Click here for a great selection of free designs to print by Monday Mandela. Or click here for a variety of designs by The Spruce Crafts

For keeping young ones calm and occupied, click here to access free colouring sheets from Hobby Craft and click here for the latest Disney colouring pages.

Design a postcard you will never send
Use blank card to create a postcard that expresses your emotions. You don't have to ever send it, unless you choose to in these isolating times. This could be anything that comes to mind. There endless possibilities, it could be bright and motivational, or abstract and expressive. The main aim of this activity is to release your feelings. Similar to creative writing, using art to visually express your thoughts and feelings can help release any burden in our minds.

You can keep your creativity purely for yourself as an act of self-kindness or you can share your creations with us. Share on social media @cornexchangenewbury or @thebasegreenham.

Keep creative and be kind to yourself with art.