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Here's why you need to start painting! The magical and often unknown benefits of painting....

I know a lot of people will find this hard to believe, especially if you have branded yourself as "not creative or artistic at all!", but painting on a regular basis can have a significant positive impact on your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing!

As Pablo Picasso said "Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life".

Gah! That just makes me want to pick up my paint brushes right now!

I invite you to consider what this means for you...and how does it feel in your body and mind, especially if you consider yourself pretty rubbish at Art? Imagine creating a piece of art work and feeling rejuvenated afterwards, life pulsating through your body and a spark of inner joy!

I believe every single one of us is creative and it is in our human nature to BE creative. Even when our ancestors had limited tools, they would be drawing on the walls of caves, using the earth to tell their stories and make their marks.

Nowadays we don't dedicate enough time to practicing and developing our artistic skills and voices. We can also have a lot of fear around making art, if we've been told in the past that we aren't very good. For example, we get marked at school on our artistic abilities and this can put us right off, but in our younger years, like in Primary & Secondary School we are still finding our voices and developing in all areas; what we make then will be totally different to what we make in 1, 2 and even 20 years time. Art is also subjective - so what one person (the teacher) thinks is great art, another doesn't and vice versa! We shouldn't base our Art on what other people think, especially because Art can be so personal (hello EXPRESSIONISM!)

Art doesn't have to be something we sell or show to others. It can be just for us, like a diary or journal.

So, I invite you (as best you can) to put fear, self-limiting beliefs and past shame, to one side and read on to find out how painting can be really beneficial to your wellbeing....

Painting Develops Creativity

If you are one of those people saying ‘I can’t paint, I’m not creative at all’, when was the last time you actually painted? Was it years ago? Were you a child? Were you an adult dipping your toe back in and then deciding you're not good so won't continue?

Creativity is like a muscle, if you don’t (work it out) engage it, it won’t develop and get stronger! There are certainly those who are drawn to more creative pursuits and those who are more logical but our brains have the ability to do both and we have the ability to learn new skills, if we do it often enough. I've been painting all my life, but only now am I starting to learn how to paint water, and guess what, it is really challenging, because I've never properly tried before! Just because I am creative, doesn't mean I know how to paint every single subject. I have to practice, just like you, to develop that creativity more and more!

Improves Motor Skills, coordination and spatial awareness.

There is so much going on when we paint - Of course we have to hold the paintbrush, mix paint with a brush or palette knife, control the amount of paint you have on the brush and the different pressures you’re using for different brush strokes. We move around the page, placing paint strategically or randomly, depending on our vision and intention. If you’re sitting, painting uses the muscles in your hands, arms, chest and upper back / around the shoulder blades. Most of us will only paint with our dominant hand, so a great way to balance out, but also loosen up before a painting session, is to paint with your non-dominant hand! This will also help with your coordination, memory and concentration!

Enhances problem solving skills

When viewing or creating art, whether your paintings are based on realism, expressionism, impressionism or abstract, you are enhancing the visual perception part of your brain, which is the brains ability to make sense of what the eyes see; for example, light and shadow, shapes, perspective and all the different colours within one subject. The grass isn’t just green when you really look at it, you notice the different shades of green, maybe some yellows, browns and other colours that come together to create depth. Problem solving on the canvas might be trying to get the right proportions and colour values, but this allows our minds to expand and think outside of the everyday box. Problem solving skills are vital for us all and are especially useful in the work place or if you have a lot of things to juggle in your personal life.

Broadens your perspective of the world.

Allowing your mind to expand and explore different concepts through art helps to broaden your view of the world and the people in it. Being open minded helps us to think critically and compassionately, so we can really learn and understand what’s going on in any given situation so that we can think or act rationally, responding in a calmer and more grounded way. Not everything is black and white!

A way to relieve stress and encourage positivity.

Put aside the fears and self doubt you might have around painting, and you get this wonderful sense of freedom and play - the kind that a child has when nothing else matters, there’s nothing on your to do list other than to play and be a kid; You are truly in the moment of creative expression and exploration. Adults generally have a lot more on their plates, more stress and responsibility, so taking time out to paint is an excellent form of stress relief.

When we’re being creative it helps release Dopamine, which is your body’s natural anti-depressant and is linked with feelings of happiness, similar to Serotonin. It can be a meditation practice for you to help focus your attention and you can always set yourself up with some soothing music and a simple painting project with no real end goal or pressure, to make it as stress free and relaxing as possible. From a mental health perspective, there’s a reason why Art Therapy is a thing and popular, for both children and adults. Art therapists or psychotherapists use art with their clients to address emotional issues that might be distressing, as a way of communicating and expressing themselves and their needs.

Self-Expression, self-exploration and emotional growth.

Expressionism is a particular style whereby the artist aims to express their own inner thoughts and emotions. This can be through art, but also writing, dancing, music and drama. It is a form of self-expression and self-exploration.

A lot of people use art as a way of exploring their emotions, leading to an emotional release and growth, which we can link back to Art Therapy and a way of working through issues we might be facing, but in a controlled and supportive environment. If you don't require specific therapeutic guidance, you can simply create your own art work and use what you feel inside to make marks on the paper or paint out your feelings. It's often said that artists are in touch with their emotions, perhaps willing to explore the ‘self’, even when it’s challenging?

Memory and concentration.

If you’ve ever experienced memory loss or brain fog, or know someone with Dementia or Alzheimers, you’ll know how devastating it can be. Research has shown that painting and making art can help enhance cognitive function and improve memory. If you don’t have Dementia, now is a good time to start engaging in some brain boosting memorisation skills, as it might help reduce your chances of getting Dementia or Alzheimers. Those who already have it will also benefit from regular painting sessions; helping to strengthen memory, coordination, spatial awareness and improve their quality of life of helping them to socialise, feel included and create something joyful. When painting you get into a state of ‘flow’, where you are engrossed in your project and time seems to stand still. This can help improve your ability to focus and concentrate for longer periods of time! Stress also has a big impact on our memory, so remember we can use painting to provide stress relief and aim to improve our memory all in one!

Boosts confidence

Painting has this magical ability of boosting our self-esteem and confidence! When you consider everything we’ve talked about so far, painting is having a profound impact on our entire being and you don't always realise it! If we pay a little more attention to the positive sensations that arise when we let go of restriction and fear, we notice our confidence is growing through every brush stroke. Painting raises your Serotonin levels which amongst supporting various other things in your body, helps regulate your emotions leading to a boost in your mood. When we feel happy and relaxed, we're naturally more confident.

I know there are times when I feel a bit down on myself because a painting didn't go right, and if I let those thoughts take over then I could spiral into a pit of self-doubt and give up forever. Is it worth it for a painting though? At the end of the day, no one got hurt, nothing bad happened, we can learn from those mistakes and try again. We can always start again!

Builds Community and Connection

Art in general brings people together, through visual story telling, individual backgrounds and ideas people have to express and share. This can be based on culture, religion, personal experiences and community values. Creative communities are more likely to work together and work on projects that boosts the community and sense of belonging.

Art classes and workshops are a fantastic way to socialise and get together with other like minded people who will support you and share in something that is fun, playful and expressive.

and last but not least... IT'S FUN

Life can be so serious and heavy at times. We need to make room for fun, playful, creative moments as much as we can, to help remind us that we are alive and life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!

We can't stop bad things from happening and of course you might be dealing with some really heavy shit; If you feel that you need support from a trained Art-Therapist or Counsellor please do get in touch and I can point you in the right direction!

We can use tools like painting, Yoga, mindfulness, dancing and other creative avenues to keep us connected to our essence and creative inner child. We can use these tools to process our emotions in a healthy, adaptive way, rather than self-destruct and cause more harm.

If you would like guidance with your painting practice or would like to explore using painting for any of the reasons I mentioned above, I offer 1-2-1 sessions and would love to support you on your creative journey! Find out more via the link below....

I also run Yoga Nidra & Acrylic Painting Workshops for adults! The perfect opportunity to try something new and get together with your community. We practice gentle Yoga and Yoga Nidra to help get our creative juices flowing before we settle into the painting practice; it's a great combination and will leave your soul feeling nourished!

I hope you enjoyed the blog today and found it inspiring or useful!

Do reach out if you have questions or thoughts on this blog!

With Gratitude, Sophie xx

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