Mental Health: Painting As Refuge and Healer

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to find the respite offered by meditation, in ways that do not involve “sitting and being quiet and doing nothing”. Er…I do take small chunks of time to do that throughout the day, for a few seconds or a minute…but for sustained relief, nothing works better for me recently, than painting – painting pictures on canvas, not painting kitchen walls. When I am painting, I am unable to think about other things, I am able to focus, and the feeling it gives me is similar to that of walking meditation. I find it calming and focusing.

I’m also finding that it’s a little addictive – some people say that exercise is addictive, because of all those good chemicals it releases into your body. Well I get pissy lately when I don’t have time for painting. I plan other things around it whenever possible…clear space for it…I’ve made it a high priority activity.

It’s a journey – I start with a photo or an idea, but usually a photo, to paint from. If I use an image in my mind, I start getting too neurotic about it and overthinking. If I have a photograph, I have to just look at what is there, and simply paint it. It’s my own way to “paint by numbers” because basically what I’m doing is a process of “this color goes here, here and here” and “that color goes there, there and there”. I start out enthusiastic. I hit a point where things get challenging and I’m not sure where to go next and that is where I freak out a tiny bit and hate on my painting for a little while, but I keep going and refocus myself with “all I need to do is look at where the colors go and put them there” and I pull past it, back to a process of relaxation.

I always know when it’s time to stop, when I’ve done enough, done everything I CAN do at that moment, and that in itself is a reassuring recognition, and something worthy of practicing, and then applying to life in general.

You don’t have to be “good” at painting, to enjoy painting. Some of the world’s “best” painters, the ones that really move and inspire people, are the least conventional.

I missed painting yesterday, so I’ll definitely make sure I paint today. I’m overdue for a session πŸ™‚


6 thoughts on “Mental Health: Painting As Refuge and Healer

  1. If only all people realized the importance of having an artistic outlet. At the moment, I color with markers. I buy coloring books that are somewhat detailed and sit and color for an hour or so to take my mind off the stuff that drives me nuts. I get to feeling like you do when I don’t do it. I miss it. πŸ™‚

      • I found a wonderful coloring book at Costco over the holidays. They’re really big (like over a foot by maybe a foot or so) with spiral pages that can bend back so you just have the picture you’re working on. The paper is thick and quality. I got the one with nature pictures. It was pricey, but I’m really enjoying coloring with it. Helps me to take my mind off the pain I’m in.

      • Sounds like a nice one πŸ™‚ A friend of mine has been making coloring books recently and I want to get my hands on one.

        Sorry you are in pain, Penny 😦

  2. I love painting even though I’m not particularly good at it. I definitely know what you mean about going into sort of a meditative state… I can actually feel my brain being focused and calm! I haven’t painted in a long time, though, mostly because at my mom’s house there is no space to do it.

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