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Surprise! Art doesn’t have to look good!

For some people, sitting down to create a piece of art can cause distress. Will this turn out the way I want it to? Will it look pretty? Will other people like it? To understand the truly healing benefits of art, we have to toss those questions aside!

The brain is divided into 2 hemispheres: right and left. The Left side of the brain manages all things logical (equations, logic, “if, then”, etc.). The right side of the brain, however, manages our feelings and our ability to be creative.

If we go to the right brain and ask it “What is 2 + 2?” the right brain will likely get frazzled and tell you how it feels about math. Go to the left brain and ask the same questions, and you will get a confident answer! Therefore, if we use the left brain while we create art, we only approach art with logic, angles, and an expectation of perfection. Using the right brain allows us to process the feelings that are stuck in our brain and bodies. Accessing our right brain to create art takes the pressure off of a piece “looking good”. Try it out! Grab some art materials of your choice and a piece of blank paper or canvas.

Sit down comfortably in front of your paper and take a few deep breaths. Let go of “what” you are going to create.

How does your body feel? What emotions are you feeling right now? Happy? Sad? Excited? Nervous? Chose colors that represent the emotions that you are feeling. Don’t over think it, just go with it!

Next start making shapes on your paper. If your feelings had a texture, what would that be? Would they be loopy and light, or pointy and hard? Do your feelings fill the whole paper or only parts?

After you feel that your piece is complete, look at it and take a few more deep breaths. How do you feel now? Have your feelings changed, or are they the same?

There is only one rule in creating art with our feelings: NO JUDGMENT! Try to avoid calling your art “ugly”, or “bad”. Rather, appreciate your art as a process, a way to work through the feelings you are experiencing.

It’s okay to ask for help

If you or your child are experiencing overwhelming emotions, you or they may benefit from talking to a mental health professional to help work through feelings. Art therapists can help you access your feelings through art in a safe environment. Talk therapists can help you talk about the feelings you’re expressing in your own art. Being a human is hard, but therapy helps!

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