Portable Art Kits: Self-Care in 5 Minutes
A couple of weeks ago, I facilitated a workshop on self-care through art. Most of the women I met in the workshop hold full time jobs while also taking care of their disabled children or parents. They are BUSY!
Like it is for many of us, finding time to do self-care is a real challenge. Whether or not you are responsible for anyone but yourself, I bet you can identify.
No matter how busy you are though, if you decide that you are a priority, you will find 5 minutes in your day for yourself. In the waiting room at the doctor’s office, during the last five minutes of lunch, or while your kids are doing crafts, you could potentially be doing art. Whether or not you feel you have art “talent,” you can the simple self-care cards these women made. In the process of making art, you can release stress, clear your mind, and hopefully surprise yourself with your creativity.
Self-care cards are a great way to get creative in short bursts. Using 2×3 inch rectangles of card stock, I showed the women how to use easy repetitive patterns, blocks of color, and layering paper for simple, but beautiful pieces. (See my samples below, as well as the links.)
There is almost always some initial hesitation and anxiety when people are not accustomed to making art, and this workshop was no different. But once everyone got going, the art took on a life of its own and it was hard to get them to stop! Most people did numerous five-minute pieces over the hour. Whenever I work with a new group or client, I am always inspired by people’s courage and creativity. I hope you are inspired by their work and their courage to create too.
Here’s some of the amazing art they produced:
How Can You Make Art on the Go?
If you like the idea of using art for self-care on the go, consider creating and carrying a little portable art kit. With simple materials, you can make your own self-care cards anytime. Use only lines, colors, and images, or incorporate positive messages, quotes, or self-care reminders.
You can learn even more with my free class The Guide to Creative Self-Care.
What’s in a Portable Art Kit?
Pens, colored sharpies, and/or metallic paint markers – the metallic ones are so fun!
Small squares of card stock (2 x3 inches)
Scraps of tissue paper, images, or handmade papers and glue
You can carry as little or as much as feels right to you. The point is to have the ability to make art at any time.
Here’s just a few samples of what you might do in 5 minutes or less:
What Can You Do with Your Self-Care Cards?
Once you have a collection of self-care cards, you may want to create a larger piece with them. You might decorate a box with special papers, keep them inside, and look at them whenever you need a lift.
You also might bind them into a small book. Just punch a hole in the corner of each card and then tie them together with ribbon. You might also create a self-care mobile, like the one pictured here. I used not only markers, paper, and paint, but also incorporated natural materials, scraps of cloth, thread, and string. I used a needle to poke a hole in each card, and tied them to a stick with a piece of string.
More Portable Art:
Resources for Caregivers:
This was their 2nd Annual CARE conference, (Connecting and Advocating Respite for Everyone) held in Marlborough, MA on Friday, May 9th.
How do you squeeze self-care and time for art into your day, your week, or your month? What are your self-care challenges? What’s the smallest thing you could change in terms of your self-care, and how could you implement it? Do you have a portable art kit? Where and when do you use it?
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What a great idea! Thanks for making this easy for us “non-artistic” busy moms! 🙂 I think this is a great idea for kids too. I could see it being helpful as your child waits for a doctors appointment (feeling anxious about getting a shot) or as a way to ease anxiety prior to a test at school.
HI Nicole: thanks for dropping by. I am glad that you mentioned busy moms. I love your suggestion about moms and kids both finding relief by doing art together.
You have such great suggestions for parents. Your latest blog post on http://www.imperfectfamilies.com about helping kids deal with uncertainty and stress is so helpful. Your suggestion about booking in downtime as a family seems so important. We are all so over scheduled, over engaged with our phones and computers. Thanks for this reminder.
This is indeed a lovely idea, and your group did some beautiful pieces. Another thought I had while reading this (aside from “I’m going to have to put one of these together for myself”) is what a nice gift this would make for the people in our lives. And I’m also digging Nicole’s idea a whole lot of making art together. I love getting together with one of my friends and creating together.
Thanks for dropping into the Maricle Counseling blog! I notice on your blog, the Mindful Music Therapist, that you indeed live up to your title. Your posts really drive home how important it is for us therapists to reflect on the work we are doing – what our clients needs might be, how we are with them, and how to be as effective as possible given these factors.
What a great idea you have about making a Portable Art Kit as a gift! I am going to have to “steal” that! Indeed, creating with others is such a pleasure. I find it’s a very different experience from solitary art making. While I sometimes can initially feel a bit more “on stage,” usually I get into the process and am inspired by what others are making, and vice versa. I’m curious whether you are creating music or visual art with friends?
All the best to you,
Amy, this is amazing. I immediately sent a link to a client that I know would love the idea. inexpensive, handy, creative, stress relief. Thank you so much for sharing!
Hi Stephanie: Thanks so much for stopping by! I am so glad that the idea could help you in your work with a client. You are one of the people that taught me the power of social networking for therapists. Your work with beginning counselors is also so empowering.
Thanks for your work.
I love Zentangle for art on the go and lately have also been inspired to start carrying some simple stamps and stamp pads to make notecards. The icing on the cake? Embellish your stamped card with some decorative washi tape! 🙂 Love the ideas in this post, Amy. I’m going to get a cute little holder for my art stuff!
Zentangle.com is such a great resource. It has really given a lot of people permission to do art who might not have otherwise, and it also makes it an accessible activity, as you point out. Your idea about carrying other fun, but small materials is great. I would imagine that you could create a few different small pouches and pick up a different one each day, as the mood strikes, or at random. What fun! Thanks for sharing your inspiration!
Hey, I’m so glad you two have connected! Gotta love social media!
I’ve heard Roia talk about using music therapy as a primary tool for clinical supervision with music therapists. It makes me think of you, Amy, using your art therapy as a primary tool for clinical supervision with art therapists.
And, of course, being neither a music therapist or an art therapist, I’m just waiting for you guys to then bring your tools on over to clinical supervision and consultation for us talk therapists, too!
I have had a couple of talk therapist supervisees who have used art in supervision to good advantage. It’s a lot of fun helping people see how useful it is to “see” a situation in a whole new way out in front of them. I’m curious how Roia uses music in supervision and how it compares and contrasts with art therapy supervision.
Thanks for the inspiring thoughts, Tamara!
Oh, my goodness! This is so true! For those of us who learned early that we were not so artistically incliined, Zentangle.com and sensitive art therapists have been a God-send!
Tamara: I’m glad to hear that you are un-learning that art is not only for those with “talent.” Other cultures know this well, somehow we need to unlearn it too! Are you creating anything?
What a wonderful idea. My first thought was to use this for my six-year old daughter to focus her emotions. I definitely could benefit from the solace of art-making, too – if only for a few minutes. Thank you.
Thanks so much for visiting Maricle Counseling! Your blog on the intersections between mothering, the postpartum experience and mental health is clever, informative, and fun. Helping your daughter recognize and express her emotions on these little cards is such a great idea. If you did it together, you could model for her, while also getting in some art for yourself. I could see creating layers of feeling by layering the cards too. Please let us know how it turns out!
This is a great idea and I have shared it with others in the Child Life community! Thanks for sharing!
Welcome to Maricle Counseling’s blog! I love your website and all of the creative and empowering resources you share with parents and providers for children with medical issues. The idea about getting a digital copy of an x-ray would never have occurred to me. Creating art out of it, and then understanding the process more and taking control in this way is so empowering. Thanks for the great work you do.
I have a lot of respect for Child Life Specialists and the amazing work you do with medically involved kids. I am so glad that an idea you found here will be included. With your population, I would imagine you might also include some black card stock and “seductive” materials such as glitter and metallic pens?
I hope you drop in again!
All the Best,
I love this idea! I have been promoting self care through art journaling in my practicum art therapy work. This portable art kit is a great way for clients to make it a part of a routine excellent idea, thank you!
Thanks for visiting Maricle Counseling’s blog. I am thrilled to hear that you are doing art journaling with your clients. I’m curious if you are working with adults, teens, or kids, and what sorts techniques they most enjoy?
I’m curious what drew you to art journaling and how you are using it? It’s great to hear that someone just starting their career is already reaching out to seek resources and ideas. I find it’s a huge part of what keeps me energized and inspired, do you? Lately a lot of my folks are loving playing with layers – with paint or paper. This gives us lots of room to play with layers of feelings, or things they want to keep concealed, etc. What about you?
All the Best,
I am mostly working with women of various ages.
I am finding that self care is a huge issue for women, so I have been looking for ideas that address that issue. I like the idea of playing with layers, I’d love to hear more about that. Thanks!
Self-care is a huge issue for so many of us. I find that women especially can feel guilty when they put their own needs first. It’s something that we all need to work at doing better though, no matter our gender.
With art journaling, it’s fun to use layers in many different ways. I’m not sure if you have used any of the ideas here, but here’s a few things I like to do:
Cutting a window or door into a page, and then putting an image or text in the window on the next page so it shows through creates a lot of interest. Also, you might try layering tissue paper and putting words underneath so that they are semi-legible. This can work with paint washes also. Or, try layering paint, oil pastels, paint, tissue paper, etc. This can build up a very visually interesting and complex surface.
Layers can be great metaphors for what we reveal, hide, or protect.
I hope this is helpful, and happy art making!
What a wonderful article! Thank you for sharing. I’ll be passing this one on!
I have used mixed media in layers like this in my own art, I appreciate the suggestion of this application with clients. Thanks so much!
I thought you might be using these techniques at least on your own. Feel free to drop back in and let us know what techniques are getting you jazzed with clients these days.