painting as meditation

This post was originally published at www.tinypainterblog.com on 8/5/15.

It is no secret that I love to paint. I am an art teacher and I teach wine and painting classes on the side. I named my blog Tiny Painter after all! Needless to say, painting is a part of my soul.

Often times when I find myself feeling stressed, under pressure, or overwhelmed - I need to take a step back an re-evaluate. More often than not, those are the times when I have let a lot of time go by since my last painting. It took a long time (many years and 2 college art degrees) to realize that not every painting has to be a masterpiece. Just because you put it down on paper doesn't mean it is permanent. Every brushstroke or pencil line does not define you as an artist or a person.

I also used to think that every work of art I made was precious and one of a kind. That it could not be duplicated. It wasn't until I became a teacher and would draw the same thing 12 times for 12 different classes that I realized 'Wait a second... If I could do it once, I can do it again!' That's all there is to it! If you can do it, you really can do it! If you can't, practice until you can!

Art and fear have been close companions throughout my life and it took a great deal of time to learn how to separate them. Even now I have to remind myself not to be afraid sometimes! But in truth, it is quite a blessing. I understand the anxiety around art-making that my students experience and that makes my teaching so much better.

Lately, I have been doing some no-pressure painting to relieve stress. When I paint I go into a very calm meditative state of mind. The worries of the world go away and all I am focused on is the feeling of paint on canvas.

If you are in search of some stress relief, I suggest giving it a go! Here are the guidelines I set for myself:

  • Don't set any expectations! 
  • Paint whatever comes to mind and anything you feel. 
  • Don't over analyze. 
  • Avoid negative self-talk. 
  • Take pride in your productivity, no matter the outcome.
  • Enjoy the process. 

Do you ever use art as a stress and anxiety management tool? If not, what do you do in those times to improve your mental and emotional health? Share with us!