I have written about how making time to practice art can be stressful. Learning new things, adding one more thing to your schedule, and going through that phase where everything you make looks terrible aren’t always very fun. But, that does not mean that art has to be a difficult chore.
While perfecting skills and technique are important, they are just one side of art. Art can be joyful. I think it’s good to experience both sides of art.
Kathy Decker told me once that when she paints she feels like she’s in another world and she could go on for hours. Making art can help you forget things for a moment, just like a good nap or watching a good movie. It can be a form of meditation, giving your brain a break from overthinking.
According to studies, making art can reduce stress hormones and release dopamine. It’s a healthy way to relieve stress. ( See: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/art-reduces-stress-says-study-521051 and https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-art/ )
When trying to relieve stress with art, the important thing is to have fun. Let go of the need to produce something that looks good. Embrace the process and not the product.
So, what are some of the things I do when I am making art for fun and stress-relief?
I doodle whatever comes to mind.
I color in pictures with crayons or colored pencils or markers.
I draw something for my kids like mazes or paper dolls.
I play with salt dough.
I fold origami figures.
I write the names of my family members in swoopy fancy handwriting.
I press flowers in books.
I take close up pictures of plants. (Especially trees. I love trees.)
I work through a problem with collage.
I read an art book or visit a museum.
I draw pictures of whatever is stressing me out as goofy-looking monsters.
I draw pictures of my favorite characters from stories I’ve read or movies I’ve watched. They do not have to look very much like the characters at all.
I do an art or craft project with my children.
I write out a favorite quote in fancy letters. Sometimes I decorate it.
I try a new braid or hairstyle with my daughter’s hair.
I sing or whistle, often to my pet birds, who like any music and are a fabulous audience.
Sometimes I attempt dancing to music, but only if I’m home alone. It’s a lot of fun when you don’t worry about looking goofy.
I try to draw things the way a three-year-old would.
I look for faces and shapes in wood grain or textured tile or tree bark or clouds.
I try to make a flower chain. Or a chain out of candy wrappers.
I draw a map of someplace imaginary.
I could go on. There are so many things to try. Do a search for art projects or artist dates or art therapy, and you would probably find more things than you’d ever have time to do.
It’s important to regularly find joy in art, and it’s good for your stress levels too. I think making sure to do something fun at least once a week is a good plan. If you’re feeling extra stressed, have fun more often. It doesn’t have to take long, and it really can help.
How does art bring you joy? What art projects do you do just for fun? How often do you try to do something artistic just for the joy of it?