Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Final Report: Self-imposed art therapy

A couple of weeks ago, in an attempt to reduce cortisol levels in my brain and, you know, enjoy life a bit, I instituted a self-imposed art therapy practice.

The premise was simple: every day I would spend five minutes doing some art-making.  It didn't matter what it was or what it looked like.  I would just set a timer for five minutes, and make something.

I have always wanted to try painting on the pages of a book, and so I decided to try that.  I set aside a box with my paints and brushes, plus some books I thought I might want to paint (my super-meaningful way of choosing was to look at my bookshelf and pick books I figured I wouldn't mind ruining).

Each page I would scan and then pick a word that stuck out to me, and then paint around it.

Here is the result (some I like more than others, but that's okay, I share the good and the bad):

Making art out of books

Learning how to paint five minutes at a time

How making art for five minutes a day saved me

Art therapy inspired by Paulo Coello's The Alchemist

Self-Imposed Art Therapy from the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coello

Overall, it was really good for me.

Some days I spent more than five minutes, and others I stopped the instant my alarm went off.  Some days I finished a piece in one go, others would build over a few days.  It was a reminder that even five minutes a day really is better than nothing.  Of how five minutes of doing something different, of taking time for yourself, can make a big impact.

Plus, it just feels good to look back through my book and see that I have now actually done something I'd always wanted to do!  I always thought it would be cool to make art out of the pages of books.  Now I have.  Not to say that I'm "done", because I want to keep doing it, but now I've climbed the mountain of "doing it for the first time."  So often, new things feel like a big deal.  I always dreamed of making art out of books but I figured that I wasn't a good enough artist (who cares) or that I wouldn't have the time (five minutes) or that I wouldn't think of things to do (just start and the ideas come).  I thought I needed better materials (I have craft acrylics, they worked fine).

It seemed above me.  Now I know it isn't.

It's great to have another reminder that doing the things we want to do doesn't have to mean that we set aside hours a week or buy a bunch of gear or already have the skills.

Plus, making art felt so good.  It felt so good just to paint, not worrying about whether it turned into something amazing.  It wasn't something I was going to try to sell or pitch.  Sure, it would get shared with others, but not as some amazing finished product.  I didn't need to carefully craft my words or bend my mind into seeing things in a new way.  I could play.  Play!

For someone who works in theatre, it's been a long time since I just played.

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