'Heart Art' 18/6/2011, Oils on Canvas, Artist: Selina Shapland
Art has a way of healing and soothing the heart and soul. I have had personal experience using art to heal. If you have felt lost, hurt, confused and deep emotional pain, maybe healing art can help you as much as it has helped me.
What is healing art? I believe that Healing Art helps mend and heal the heart. It is a form art therapy that I have used and had success with.
Healing art is all about allowing yourself to let the emotions that are whirling around inside you out through the medium of art. In essence when you engage in healing art, you are allowing the turmoil you have been through to manifest on the page and release it in a positive way. Sometimes the work is hideous and visually painful and sometimes it is the most magnificent artwork you have done to date.
Honestly, the finished piece of artwork is irrelevant. Healing artwork is about the experience of being with the emotions in a non-judgemental way and expressing yourself on the page.
The left analytical brain has probably turned the emotions over until they look like swiss cheese with gaping, "what if..." holes. So, when you come to healing art, you are giving that left brain a rest and letting your visual and creative right brain a go at helping you out. The right brain is brilliant at dealing with images helps the emotions to lay bare on the page.
Healing art is an incredibly freeing experience if you are willing to jump in and allow yourself this opportunity of visual expression.
Here's how I have used this technique: In 2010, I went through a particularly dark patch, emotionally speaking. I was hurting inside and it felt like I'd lost my way in life. Initially, I didn't know how to let these intense emotions out in a safe way. Then, it dawned on me to draw. So, I took out a black ink pen and my visual diary and started to scribble. I let my hand have the freedom to allow whatever needed to come out on to the paper. I did not sensor the experience. I just scribbled. And while I expressed myself on the page, I allowed the emotions to crash over me. Tears fell, sobs released and my chest felt broken, but when my drawing was done, my emotions were released and I felt better.
Below is the dark but expressive healing art that I did that day.
'Dark Spaces' 2010, Black ink pen in my visual diary, Artist: Selina Shapland
Don't worry, you do not need to be an artist to benefit from healing art. All you need to do is begin to trust in your right brain's ability to help you put down on paper whatever you are feeling. You can use colour, paints, stick on newspaper, stamps and colouring pencils or pens. You can finger paint - actually, I recommend a bit of finger painting because it really does help you get into a child-like mind-set of exploring creativity and that in itself is extremely healing for the emotions.
I am going to share with you one of the most difficult 'self-portraits' I have ever done. It was shortly after a relationship break up and I fell into emotional turmoil so deep that I was in counselling. As a part of letting the pain out, my counsellor encouraged me to paint and so I did. I painted a hideous, hurting self-portrait, which, in no way resembles me. But it was the culmination of the frustration, the pain, the loss and the deep sadness I was feeling. I sobbed the whole time I painted this portrait with acrylic paints and when it was done, I was emotionally spent. I remember going to bed and sleeping after I took this photo.
'Little bit lost' May 2010, Acrylic on Acid free paper, Artist: Selina Shapland
When I woke, hours later, I felt free of that emotional heaviness that had weighed me down and I was able to see the good things in life again. That is how powerful healing art can be. Creative self-expression has the power to set you free in ways you may never have dreamed.
And after surviving the eye of the emotional storm, I came, in time, to paint a new and positive world for myself. And you can too. You can use art to open yourself up, deal with the darkness and let your creative light shine into the world. Don't fear being perfect, no-one is and we will never be. That is a liberating thought to me and I hope it is for you too.
'New Cycle of Life," 11/7/2010, Oils on Canvas, Artist: Selina Shapland
If you use this healing art technique, please write a comment and let me know how you are going. Healing art is another tool to help you in your in self-care and you are worth taking care of, so I would love to hear from you.
I have not used art as a healing technique but have used writing poetry to help me with sadness and personal grief.Thanks so much for sharing your experiences in this article which I am sure will help many.
Hi Marie, Thanks so much for sharing how you have used creativity to express emotions. I think all creative express is valid and helpful for personal healing.
Thanks for sharing and commenting. It's wonderful to connect. :)