Art versus anxiety

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Art can take you anywhere… if you let it.

Soaring mountains, castles in the sky, mossy woods. When I feel anxious, art takes me by the hand and I go on a creative journey.

Sometimes that place is right in front of me – a cat on a sofa, clouds in the sky – and I journey further into my experience by really looking at things properly. That is a form of travel too: exploring the minutia, or the impression, of one’s present surroundings. When you truly observe, it’s surprising how many layers and colours you see in your surroundings.

But it’s not just the destination of a picture that counts. The act of drawing (or painting) itself is a journey. Each mark, each alteration, is a footstep when my mind needs to ‘step outside and have a walk’.

For me this creative freedom is a whole new experience. I had tried for years to relish art, but time and again I thought my pictures weren’t good enough and in frustration I put them aside.

But the past few months felt different. I realised how much I needed art as a form of expression and a way to channel anxiety after a stressful life experience. I became increasingly interested in the process. My thoughts quieten and often I find myself smiling as I paint or draw.

And when I draw I feel interest in, and compassion towards, a subject. The interest turns my attention outwards, the compassion soften my mood.

The more I enjoy the process, the freer I feel and the more I draw. With each drawing I reinforce my sense that I have the right to draw. Because, of course, I do. The more I draw, the more I feel productive and positive.

We can do what we want with our art – sell it, keep it in a journal, hurl it into the recycling. But we needn’t worry about whether it is good or bad. If putting marks on a page brings joy, then self-judgement – or others’ judgement – needn’t gatecrash that private party. We all have those imaginary gatecrashers, daily, but I ask mine to please leave as I am busy drawing.  🙂

Even if we draw a stick person, or just one mark on a page, that’s one stick person or one mark that never existed before. It’s a bit of self-expression, a bit of experience and observation, that belongs to us and us alone. And no one can argue with the wonderfulness of that.


2 thoughts on “Art versus anxiety

  1. Thank you for this post. Even though I’m not technically an artist in the way you are an artist (photography is my preferred medium), I began doodling and drawing last summer as a form of therapy. It works! I am so thankful I got over the “I’m not an artist” issues because I needed it–those squiggles, lines, and doodles. I’m convinced they saved my sanity. I’m bookmarking your post to reblog one day.

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    1. Thanks so much Chandra! That’s so great to hear. I really wanted to share this experience as creativity is so important but SO many of us believe we’re not up to it – but of course we are, because creativity is for everyone! I only recently started drawing more and sharing it more, after years of hiding my art while I did writing and photography. It’s done me so much good to draw/make again. It’s definitely done wonders for my sanity – great to hear it’s helped you too. 🙂 Thanks for bookmarking for reblogging!

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