Self-Care Challenge Day 6: Painting

Painting is one of my favorite types of self-care. I let go, breathe deeply, and create. I have found that my experience varies depending on the subject matter, type of paint, and my mood.

7 Day Self Care Challenge Painting

Painting for Self-Care

Types of Paint I Use:

Acrylic: Water-based, quick drying, and versatile, acrylics are great for works  on paper or canvas, especially if I want to build up layers of color. The green and blue piece above is one I did with a fairly thick application of acrylic in my journal. Even when I start without a plan, or the intention to simply create an abstract exploration of color and transitions, I end up with nature-inspired pieces. It’s just what lives inside me. 🙂

 

IMG_3325

 

Watercolor: I love watercolors for their flow. The relative difficulty of the medium often gives me unexpected and beautiful effects. I have always enjoyed the variety of lines I can produce with a bamboo watercolor brush, like this one. And sometimes playing with the flow of watercolor and the boundary that you can create with lines of a Sharpie or pencil is fun. It’s a nice metaphor too, isn’t it? Where do you need to learn to open up and flow versus creating a hard-line boundary in your life? We will look at using watercolor in Art Journaling 101 in September.

Sun-at-Night-Image

Oil: Here I have saved the best for last. Oils were my first serious foray into painting, and they remain my favorite medium. While setup and cleanup are certainly more onerous, the rich, heady, experience of oils has always been worth a little extra time. Unlike acrylics, you can lay down color, and then lay in a second and push and pull them together to get new and varied surfaces, sometimes for hours. The pigments are rich and intense. Embarking on an oil painting requires a commitment. You give yourself over to the piece, and I love this experience of abandon and letting go.

 

IMG_2033

Music

While I sometimes enjoy the silence and hearing only the movement of my brush on the canvas and the palette, frequently I find music helps set the mood and keep me “in the zone” for creating.

During college I discovered so much wonderful Latin American and Spanish music during my adventures and travels. These tend to be amongst my staples when I am in the studio. The music I choose tends to be more quiet and jazzy, but can also shift to faster paced at times. It’s helpful to explore how different types of music influence your art making experience.

Here’s my shortlist of favorites:

Bossa Nova Brasil

Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto

Marisa Monte, Rose and Charcoal

Paco de Lucia, Luzia

Kevin Johansen, Sur o No Sur

Tell your friends about the 7 Day Self-Care Challenge using:
#selfcarechallenge on social media!

 

Comment for a Chance to Win:

What gets your creative juices flowing? Do you find you learn things about yourself through art making? What kind of music gets you “in the zone” for making art?

 

24 Comments

  1. Jamie

    I didn’t have paint. And honestly would not have thought paint was a 5 minute project. I used some markers and enjoyed it. I think the paint idea would have “flowed” better. I may try to get some paint and expand my beliefs around painting being a labor intensive and time consuming activity.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Jamie:

      Oh I am so glad you brought this up. Your piece you posted on FB is lovely. Thank you. I agree that paints have a different flow, and that it takes a wee bit more prep. However, there are ways to make it accessible. I like to keep a watercolor paint set close by, ready at any moment so that prepping takes no time at all. Using your circle idea – draw a scattering of circles on the page, then choose 2 close colors – like yellow and red, and fill the circles with a mixture of them. Working small, as you did, also controls the amount of time. Of course painting more than 5 minutes is better, and I hope you do, but the point of this challenge is to show that self-care can happen even on the busiest of days. I hope you get some paints and experiment!

      Amy

      Reply
  2. Karin

    1. my creative juices are never off. it’s a blessing and a curse. so on to question #2…
    2. for me art is my guide and constant teacher through life because art is my own voice. its a language that is visual, instead of with words. i let it speak and then i listen by looking at it or sitting with it. i love how it makes me a better person and causes my evolution.
    3. when i had a photography darkroom(before digital), Tool was my favorite to work in the dark with. the deeply reflective lyrics, and dark rhythms were soothing in their honesty.
    my palette, media, and musical companions tend to be softer these days but the intensity of the jimi hendrix experience will always remain a steady companion for their musical ‘colors and textures’.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Karin:

      “For me art is my guide and constant teacher.” I like this so much. How it has affected your evolution is obvious.

      I always feel that my art is at its best when I get into the kind of state you describe – allow art to flow through me, without censure. There have been many times where I have said to myself, “You want me to do what? It’s going to be ugly, but okay.” Of course it was almost never ugly, and almost always had valuable information to share when I took the time to reflect on the images and metaphors.

      Thanks for this reminder,
      Amy

      Reply
  3. Laura Foster

    Wow! Beautiful work -you are an inspiration to me Amy, as an artist and art therapy studen, I am so glad to have discovered you. What a Marvelous miracle, Ms. Maricle.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Laura:

      Thank you for your kind words and the play on words. I am a punny kind of gal, myself. 😉 I am so glad that we have been able to connect here too, and I look forward to connecting and networking more over time. Where are you studying art therapy? What year? Are you interested in particular approaches or populations yet, or just taking it all in?

      Cheers,

      Amy

      Reply
  4. Amy Morrison

    Amy, I’m afraid I’ve lapsed in posting comments, yesterday I took a group children to the Ipswich Audubon, they rock climbed while I fed the birds from my hand, I also took in the landscape of the pond – rich with blooming lotus flowers, I didn’t actually paint with paint, rather enjoyed the entire scene in a sensory memory type of way, I also noted the lines, textures and colors of the pond and- from the corner of my eye- took in the colors and textures of the tiny chick-a-dees feeding on my hand- black sunflower seeds are the favorite.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Amy – Lapse or not, I am always so happy to have such a talented artist, art therapist, and human sharing in this challenge with us. Your comments are always rich and thought provoking. The prompts are meant to be an inspiration, a spark, a starting point. I was talking with a friend today who has been doing the challenge, though not always commenting. She was telling me how taking the challenge has actually helped her to take a step back and reflect on how much she allows little things to get in the way of self-care, or enjoyment, or peacefulness. I understand this so well! She said that her “take away” was that she can always make time for self-care, and that part of self-care for her is to make a conscious choice to let some things go and not allow them to ruin her day by festering. I found this to be very insightful, and a great take away from the challenge. I feel like a lot of what you post speaks to making a conscious choice to choosing moments of self-care and enjoyment.

      And while I know we live at a bit of a distance, I hope to have more opportunities to connect and network on the blog, but also in person. Perhaps at the Lesley conference next month?

      Thanks for that,

      Amy

      Reply
  5. Sandy

    Amy, what beautiful, beautiful work. These piece have such movement and really draw me in to look. I love paint notes with girlfriends, so I love this challenge. I’m away from my paints because I’m in a hotel away from vacation–just have my sharpie markers. But I’m definitely going to some painting when I get home. For now I’m participating by “painting” a different picture of myself–one with an unpainted face. I never ever go out in public with out make up. But I need to workout in the hotel fitness center (self care), so I decided that it is silly to put on make up that will need to be washed off afterward. So boldly I am sitting here eating breakfast before my work with NO paint on my face. I asked myself why I was so afraid to let others see the undecorated me–scars and all. That was a good mental exercise. Then I said screw it. These people don’t know me or have the right to judge me. Actually I think I’m the only one judging me. And the reality of how silly that is hits me as I sit across from someone who is blind. Here I am worrying about how I look and this person can’t even see. Puts things in perspective. Thank you for this gift if self reflection, Amy. I might have missed all of this goodness. (However, I will not be posting photos. 🙂 Baby steps.)

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Sandy – I am so intrigued. What are “paint notes????” Sounds fun.

      AND – What a great twist on today’s challenge! How many women reading this right now can identify with feeling naked without makeup. (At least we are not like the poor stars who get photographed and picked apart – Look at the lines! She has zits! Look at the double chin!) Of course, as you point out, we ourselves are the ones doing that. I can’t recall where now, but one of the blogs I commented on this week was focusing on encouraging women to pose for artists as it would change their self-perception. I thought this was a great point because any time I have photographed someone, especially in a longer session or in a lot of candids, they got a chance to see themselves through my eyes. And because I am not focusing on all of the little imperfections that seem to loom large in their mirrors, they saw themselves differently. I think this is so beautiful. The challenge you gave yourself this morning was so mindful and lovely. Thank you for sharing about it. There may be another challenge there!!

      All the best,
      Amy

      Reply
  6. Chibi Jeebs

    Oh, the oil painting is BEAUTIFUL – I love it! I’m going to play with my watercolours after dinner.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Thank you Chibi! I so look forward to hearing about your experience.

      Cheers,
      Amy

      Reply
  7. Kim

    Paint, art & writing truly free my soul! I actually use my writing time to get me into the space to paint – it connects me to what needs to come up to the surface and be seen. It truly AMAZES me every single time I let go – truly let go & fully surrender to the painting. No plans just a quiet listening to an insistent, yet patient tug in my heart to choose this colour, that colour or line or media. Can’t believe I went 15 years with no art…WHAT a soul shifting change to make space for it again. Even if it’s just spreading paint onto a journal page or painting a watercolour bubble with a quote in my journal – so expansive, real & connected to my core.
    As for music – I tend to paint in silence or with gentle meditation/yoga soundtracks in the background. THANK you for another great reminder of how important this creative expression is!

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      HI Kim:

      Thank YOU so much for your beautiful description of your process. I love hearing how it evolves from writing to images and colors. I find the same – that when I let colors and shapes and images choose, ME, magic happens. I’m so glad that you are able to tune into this voice. Do you find it extends to other parts of your life? I’m so curious.

      Creatively yours,
      Amy

      Reply
  8. Andrea Monreal Castillo

    Today I was a little upset because I had to go to work and do some things with my students material, so when I was there I was blocked I couldn’t do anything and everything was going wrong, so I leave everything there and I went to the art classroom and I just started pinting with the art teacher, it was so great I felt better and I just leave my work for tomorrow but I know that tomorrow is going to be better because I feel better now!!!

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Andrea:

      I get the impression that you have really used the challenge as an opportunity to tap into your best self-care habits and skills. I am so glad that you are able to show us. I will have to take your advice and go straight to my art table the next time something is just not working.

      CHEERS!
      Amy

      Reply
  9. Laura

    I don’t have access to paints today so ill share my first foray into a real sized painting. For me that means bigger than 8×11! 🙂 I used acrylics and created colorful spheres and it was so freeing and fun! I love using really saturated colors. I’ve started playing with mixing colors, too. My next goal is trying to add some mixed media. Yay! Do you have any suggestions for layering a mixed media piece successfully?

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Laura:

      Wow – it sounds like you are just having a great time playing with art. How fabulous. Hm….mixed media. Well, let me speak from my own experience and say something about what mixed media means for folks who are not familiar. Mixed media is just mixing any two or more types of art materials. So, for example, adding marker to a watercolor painting, or mixing scraps of paper and paint and then also using marker or gel pen to add more color or text. Mixed media can also be 3-D – adding beads to a page in a journal and sewing them to the page. This is also mixed media. So my favorite ways to mix up media are some of the ones I mentioned:

      – Sewing onto paper – either to create designs, attach special papers, cloth, beads, whatever. You can do this by hand or with a machine.
      – Mixing different wet and dry media – For example, stamping (with ink) and then putting a watercolor wash over it. I might then also go back in with thin tipped sharpie marker to lay in layers of color in a little pattern. A paint marker might also be a way to then add text over all of this.
      – Layering papers, cardboard, etc.
      – Using natural materials like sticks and covering them with paint, metallic marker, glitter, paper, text, etc to make a SPIRIT STICK! You could do the same sort of thing with a shell and create a little altar – get the ideas flowing – the sky is the limit.

      I think part of the trick is to have a heating element to help set glue and paints so that you can keep working. I also like to have more than one piece going at a time so that if there’s something that I can’t completely heat set in the moment, I can set it aside and work on something else without interrupting the flow too much. Here’s a link to http://www.papersource.com/item/Embossing-Heat-Tool/48888801.html heat guns from one of my favorite stores, The Paper Source.

      Let us know what you come up with! What’s on your self-care menu for today?
      Cheers,
      Amy

      Reply
  10. Teresa Tatum

    Painting is definitely my medium. When you suggested writing in a journal earlier in the week, I thought I want to draw or paint in a journal instead. Today I painted a canvas I have had around for about a month. It’s layers of color, sorta reminds me of a close up of a rainbow. Definately my kind of self care today.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Teresa – It sounds like you are able to “flow” with your paints. The piece sounds lovely. Feel free to share it on the FB page if you are comfortable. Thank you for taking so many chances with us this week.

      See you tomorrow when I announce the winner!
      Amy

      Reply
  11. Kara

    Thanks to Spotify I listened to Boss a Nova Brasilia while I did my self care for the day. I chose to use gesso, possibly one of my favorite mediums, and watercolor. I like the contrast of the thick gesso and the thin watercolor. I felt like I didn’t get to create a “finished” piece but it will hopefully be the start to some self care for another day.

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Kara –

      That sounds like so much fun. Did you combine wet gesso and watercolor? Or did you “prep” your page with gesso, let it dry, and then use watercolor? I think breaking self-care into baby steps is such a great idea, especially for a larger project. Like, taking the paints out and putting them on the art table. Or, going to the store to get some needed supply.

      Thanks,
      Amy

      Reply
      • Kara

        I used wet gesso and watercolor. It easily got a little muddy looking but I think that helped me make it a quick little project as it needed to dry if I wanted to do anything else with it.

        Reply

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