Art as Self-Care: Lights Digi-Painting
About a week ago, I had a really scary experience. A something that triggered my anxiety/panic-button in this COVID pandemic time. Irresponsible, disrespectful, self-righteous behaviors of others that put my improving-but-still-fragile health at risk. I never saw the danger coming. I was in a supposedly trustworthy medical environment for a very necessary yearly appointment. Yet, there I was, surrounded by unsafety.
The day it happened, I almost held up throughout. My therapy techniques held me until the night … which is when I’m most vulnerable (cuz like, I’m tired, ya know?).
Well, so, I made it through the day; then, I cried that night. The fear caught up with me. I woke up the next day almost numb. Or rather, I simply felt so depleted I was barely there. I retreated into myself to try to cope and to allow the post-experience healing process to continue. I was quiet. I felt a dark, cloudy bubble surrounding me.
It wasn’t fun.
I didn’t feel well. I felt low and vulnerable.
I didn't want to talk with friends. I just wanted to be very, very, very quiet.
But, slowly, throughout the week, I gained ground. Bit by bit.
A few days "post-event," I found myself sitting in front of my computer, staring at my project planner. I knew I needed to do something to get out of my shell. But as I stared at my screen, I didn't engage.
I wasn’t ready “to work” (like blogging or story writing).
I needed something less structured. With no expectations beyond creating a healing experience for myself.
I scrolled the pages of my digi-planner until a little gem caught my eye.
I have a variety of projects: small, medium, and big, with different purposes, involving different skills sets and interests. This variety helps me stay active for almost any energy/ability/mental level. And when I run into “down” time that requires some extra self-loving and self-caring … I've made sure I have lots of choices to pick from.
The Little Gem That Caught My Eye
In any given moment, I create to let my heart and mind express whatever they need to express. I don't force myself to create anything. I just let my energy flow. Sometimes I doodle. Sometimes I I write. Sometimes I digi-paint using snaps of nature as canvases. Sometimes I use an inspiration snap to guide me wherever I need to go.
That's what happened here.
Inspiration and Healing
When I saw this little image I came across somewhere in the interwebbin werld, I felt it again … the peaceful joy this image induces in me. I’m not sure why it makes me feel so calm and happy. It's just a blurry snap of a city street and crosswalk somewhere in the world at night with lights. But I suspect it's the colors and the lights and how the pinks pop out against the darkened teals and blues. The lights and colors remind me of Christmas lights, and Christmas lights have been one of my favorite things on earth since I was old enough to crawl under the Christmas tree and fall asleep.
So with a bit of peacful joy guiding my heart, I kept studying the snap (the colors and the feel) and digi-painted, starting with a blank white canvas and some digital watercolors. I didn't do anything fancy. I simply “moused” color onto my digital canvas, seeking the experience of color. Of quiet. Of peaceful time to savor and feel safe in.
Wanna try digi-painting, too?
In case you are interested, anyone with a computer + mouse or touchscreen + pen can do what I did here (and beyond those already purchased items, you can do it for free). I used the FREE Adobe Fresco App and my mouse for the entire painting. Adobe provides an quick start-up tutorial that will have you painting in about 5 easy minutes … SERIOUSLY!
My one creative splurge for my final outcome was to add a PhotoShop Elements "Paint Daubs" filter to my image to help my lights pop a lil bit more.
You can either paint something in your heart/mind's eye, or you can find a snap/IRL-setting of something that inspires you ... and start painting!
While painting, I used a coupla different watercolor brushes (Watercolor Wash Soft + Basic Watercolor).
My goal wasn't to recreate the image. I just wanted the colors and feeling the snap gave me to guide my color choices and placement in a manner consistent with giving my painting the happy visual punch of lights against darkness in a way that makes me feel happy.
I’d just been through an experience that darkened my days, and I know that the way back to healing is to focus on the light - and I love Pink light, especially.
Focus on Positive Thoughts. Focus on Healing. Focus on Letting Go of that which you cannot control. Focus on what you can do to help yourself cope and heal and feel better again.
This painting took me about 2 hours to complete – it was a relatively quick painting (many of my creations take much longer).
In my 2 hours, I came away from my digital canvas smiling and feeling brighter than I had the whole week. I was excited to share my creation with close friends and my honeybun (which got me outta my troubled and introvert shell).
My creation time was self-caring time that allowed me to focus on something different than the fear, the scary moment in time. My anxiety quieted. My mind calmed down and found peace. This self-caring time allowed me to rest and heal in a positive and supportive manner. It was soul-soothing delicious time well spent! It gave me strong steps to letting go and moving forward!!!
So ... lemme show you what I created! As I am quite excited!!!
The first image is of my original watercolor painting, and the second one has the "splashy/flashy" filter added for a popping-of-the-lights effect.
I love both!
Health Benefits of Art-ing and Creating!
So now that I shared my experience, let's talk about the health benefits of art-ing, painting, writing, crafting, ... creating.
Creating is focused, mindful, and calming (it actually produces dopamine, an antidepressant). Art as self-care checks off a lot of boxes. It helps you de-stress. Add to all of these just stated, creating will help you feel happy and smile. It can get you connecting with loved ones again. It can help break through the dark haze holding you down.
And the good news is, evening creating (say, for instance, coloring) for 5 minutes a day can make a difference in your daily life … it’s excellent daily self-care!
When you just need a stress-relieving moment to breathe, color/doodle something for a few minutes. When you need more time to heal from a negative moment, dig in ... give yourself more time. Create something that calls to your heart and let your mind and body heal!
Speaking of mind and body ... remember the mind and body are NOT separate.
Our mental, emotional, and physical healths each influence and affect one another. For example, if you are feeling physically ill, it can make you feel sad for loss of time, like being stuck in bed and not being able to visit with someone you love. Likewise, if you are feeling depressed, anxious, stressed out, ... not yourself, you are experiencing emotional stress that can have physical impacts (emotional and mental stresses can cause the release cortisol, a hormone cortisol that can have a negative impact on your body over time, creating chronic inflammation).
- Creating art can help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress, and more.
- You can use art therapy to process trauma and mental challenges.
- Creating art helps build connections in the brain, helping to prevent memory loss. (https://www.riteaid.com/articles/the-arts-and-healthy-aging-how-does-art-affect-the-brain)
- When you color or create, you help the part of your brain that makes you afraid/feel fear relax. It is a form of mindful quietness that is Self-Care AWESOMEness!
- Even just 5 minutes a day can help!
Art as self-care, my beautiful blossoms and bright stars, is a happy, healthy, fun, healing way to process life's challenges!
Love yourself with some create time!
- write a short story
- make a collage of snaps you collect from online or IRL
- mold and shape clay
- paint ceramics
- build fused glass gloriousness!
- create tile mosaics
- ... uh, this list goes on and on!
Whatever you do, enjoy it! Let it free your mind. Give yourself a much needed rest and break! Let your tensions chill da hellz out for a while! (lol). Heal. Find peace and calm. Be well again, my amazing sweet pea!
You are worthy of this time and your art-ing to self-care!
Thank you so much for sharing this growing, healing time with me!
Take a deep breath in, and know you are loved! Cuz, I loves you SO BIG!!!
Eat something nourishing today! And know I am hugging you GIGANTIC!