How To Be Mindful When Making Art

How To Be Mindful When Making Art

“Art is a natural way to practice mindfulness. The colors, textures and sounds of creating pull us into the moment. You don’t need any previous training to meditate through art, just a willingness to draw like a child, with freedom and a sense of curiosity.” — Amy Maricle

Mindfulness: what is it and how do we practice it? Put simply, being mindful means to just be in the present moment. Think of it as though nothing else in the world exists right now except yourself, your selected tools, and the page before you. Go through your senses and accept everything that is happening. What does the pen feel like in your hand? Can you smell the paint as you glide it across the page? What do you see around you that could inspire the art you're creating? What kind of sounds do scraping textures into the page make? 

page with scribbled words underneath a wash of blue and black paint with a paint brush with white paint gliding over the top

Approach the blank page with a simplistic mindset. There is no such thing as good or bad. This page has no expectations of you. This page has no rules or standards you must abide by. This page is for no one else but you. 

Art journaling artist Jesse Petersen shares her take on mindfulness in making art, providing insight on how you can get the most out of your own art experiences:

"My entire life I've doodled and drawn on whatever was available to me in the moment. A scrap of paper, a napkin, the back of a grocery list. It's soothing to me. I first noticed this when I was in a class that I wasn't interested in during school, like math class. I doodled in the margins of the paper to help me feel calm, tune in, and better listen when my teacher was talking. I’m not sure my math teacher really thought I was listening, but I was! 

It feels good to make art and find that sweet spot where I’m only thinking about what I’m making. It's a sort of release. I
 find that doing art with a meditative mindset is really helpful for taking me to new places creatively. I try to put aside my to-do list, tell myself all the other things can wait right now, and that this is a time for creating. I pay attention, whether it's repetitive marks or swirling paint, to help me zone out or tap in to the creative flow that makes me happy. 

Have a small collection of your favorite art-making supplies accessible and nearby the next time you find yourself feeling down or stressed. This way, you’ll always be ready to start! 
The small collection of supplies helps with not getting into analysis paralysis on what to use. Give yourself permission to process what's happening by some meditative art-making."

Try to notice what it is for you. What works for one person might not work for you, so experiment! Share with us what helps you get in the zone!

art journaling artist Jesse Petersen working on a page in her art journal


(Quote by Amy Maricle from NYT article "How to Be Mindful When Making Art")

1 comment

  • I totally agree with this. As a psychotherapist my mind needs to be present with my clients but then I also need to find ways to be present for myself and self care. I love doing my art journal for this. It helps at the end of a day and also is a great pastime in its own right.

    Michelle Mould

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