Free Expression

This past week was an incredibly hectic one for me. I thought having classes only Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this semester would make life easier, but I was sadly mistaken. Due to a compact schedule and my decision to get involved with four clubs/societies this year, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are jam-packed from early morning hours until the dark of night. This past week, I was on campus for 11-13 hours each day. I was mentally and physically exhausted… more than ready for the weekend.

During a very short break between meetings and classes, I headed to the art therapy studio and sat down. I looked around me and decided I wanted to make art with nothing but the materials I could find in the room. I didn’t bring any of my own supplies whatsoever. I knew I wanted to paint, but didn’t have any canvas. I found cardboard scraps and knew this would be my painting surface. I grabbed black and white paint and then neon pink and purple. I saw a box of paper scraps that were all torn book pages. I grabbed these without any purpose and plopped down in my chair.

I had no intention to create what I ended up creating. I took this time as a moment to let loose. I feel as though this past week turned me into a huge ball of stress, and I needed some ME time. I needed time where I didn’t think about school, papers, exams, meetings, forms, family, friends, emails, food shopping, house cleaning, laundry. I wanted my brain to breathe and be calm – no more voices telling me what to do or where to be.

The cardboard had a crease in it, dividing it into two sections. I decided to paint one side black and one side white. I then began dabbing the pink onto the white section, trying to create an ombre effect in which it faded into the purple. After a few minutes I began to examine myself. My original goal was to let loose in this ME session, yet I was trying to paint something perfectly. I scooped a glob of pink paint onto my brush and started to scribble it all around the white section of the cardboard. I then did the same with the purple. I was painting looser than I ever have before. I began to glue book scraps onto the piece and paint over it in some sections. At this point I was creating art entirely expressively.

I caught myself smiling and suddenly the weight of my stressors slid right off my back.

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For 30 minutes, I was my own art therapist.

Later on that night, when my schedule finally cleared and I had nothing left to do but go to bed, I found myself back in the art therapy studio. I grabbed black and white paint, cardboard, and book scraps. I created three more pieces in a similar fashion to the original pink and purple piece, changing the color scheme each time.

The first piece is definitely my favorite. I believe it symbolizes many things:

  • Art does not have to be carefully executed to be aesthetically pleasing.
  • Art does not have to depict an image or a message at the time you are creating it. That revelation may come later.
  • Free expression, in my opinion, is more soothing and therapeutic than creating an objective piece.

My excitement for my future career as an art therapist grows stronger each and every day.

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