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Drawing calmly: What is mindful painting?

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A chance to slow down, get creative, and connect with the beauty of nature. Mindful drawing is our new favorite activity.Learn more here by speaking with artist and author Amy Maricle

During the first lockdown of 2020, I started pulling back. I was taking a break from my side hustle after experiencing burnout, but I needed something to keep my non-work-related creative mind busy.

Taking online classes and scribbling flowers became a habit that helped me tap into a whole other side of my creativity.I found the whole process really soothing and became interested in how drawing and mindfulness combined. ,and draw yourself calmI jumped at the chance.

“I use a lot of the mindfulness skills I learned on the job to help people,” says Amy.

“By approaching art slowly and approaching it in a very process-oriented way, I find it engaging and grounding. , I think it really helps me and my students to open up their imaginations.”

Before speaking, I read a book to learn more about what careful or “slow” drawing is and tried out some exercises. It’s about regulating what you’re feeling, connecting with your breath, and paying attention to what you’re doing. All of this, he explains, helps you sink into a more calm, meditative state.

And this is the heart of mindfulness. Pay attention to the present moment and allow yourself to immerse yourself in it. When you do this, reflections about the past and worries about the future fade into the background. As someone who struggles with anxiety from time to time, cultivating moments like this is of the utmost importance.

inspiration from nature

As I read through the book, I realized that most of the patterns were inspired by nature. From soft, subtle milkweed patterns to intricate cobblestone designs, many of the exercises mimic nature’s stunning patterns.

Of this influence, Amy explains that nature has always inspired her and she was lucky to live near a nature reserve during the 2020 lockdown.

“I live in an area with access to a small nature reserve. It’s been my medicine, along with my art, during the pandemic.”

Wondering how she could support others during the pandemic, Amy realized that taking care and painting was just that. She started hosting live Mindful Her Drawing sessions on her Facebook for people to participate.

Amy’s sketchbook

overcome perfectionism

Continuing our conversation about nature, I tell Amy that what I love about nature isn’t perfect. The lines are wobbly and organic, and when I was drawing these patterns, I felt a sense of relief as if I had let go of the perfectionism within me.

Turns out I’m not alone in this, Amy shared her top tips for overcoming perfectionism when painting.

“What works for me and some of the things I talk about draw yourself calm I work in a very layered way, in series, often very small. Those are the three things that really help me to create more art more often and take and iterate on the same ideas.

“I look at it and ask a lot of ‘what if’ questions, like what if I draw this pattern with a different pen. Why don’t you add watercolor? What if you use your non-dominant hand? How about combining this with other patterns? What if we made it really, really big instead of really, really small? I can’t do 3/8 or whatever. ”

make a habit

Ever since I received Amy’s book, I’ve started using mindful drawing as a tool for turning on work at the end of the day. I have a sketchbook and a pen by my desk at home as a visual reminder to draw. It’s really fun to step away from the screen for a few minutes, put some calming music on, and immerse yourself in the pattern for a while.

Amy recommends creating a portable art kit that you can take anywhere.

“I have it in the house too. So while the water is boiling, or if my son is doing his homework and I’m helping him but he doesn’t need me 100%, ‘herd mark It’s small and unobtrusive, so you can go in and out.

“I make sure to build blocks of time, too, because the more you get 30 minutes, an hour, or more throughout the day, the more nourishment you get. And the more you practice, the more they The more you want to do it, the more you wonder where it will take you, right?”

right. Every time I open my sketchbook, whether I’m working on a bigger piece or trying something new, it tickles my curiosity in the back of my mind and urges me to sit down. slow down. draw. And see where that takes me.

Find out more about Amy’s work at Mindful Art Studio, follow her on Instagram, and get her new book, Draw Yourself Calm.

Learn about mindfulness and connect with a therapist in our counseling directory.