This week we participated in the 30th anniversary for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM). This organization uses art therapy as one of the methods to help survivors of violence and abuse with the healing process. Many of the guests at the event contributed to a collaborative painting meant to highlight STSM’s use of art therapy. At the end of the evening, there was a completed painting to commemorate the anniversary.
Even though art therapy is a formal mental health profession, I realized that many of the guests that come to Grapes and Gallery comment on the “healing” that they experience during a painting session. For some, painting offers a release from a stressful day. For others, it allows an expression of creativity or feeling that is otherwise not available. More generally, painting provides at least two hours in the day where everyday problems take a backseat.
As the holidays approach, we tend to reflect on what we are thankful for and strive to find peace with who we are as individuals.This can be hard when we are constantly trying to improve. Maybe you’re trying to lose 10 pounds or want to get in better shape. Maybe you have an illness that is weighing on you. Maybe you are scared that someone important to you will not approve of what you are doing. Sometimes our self-doubt, stress, and fear of what others might think gets the best of us and prevents us from celebrating small steps in the right direction, taking pride in ourselves and holding our heads up high with a smile.
Some people come into the Gallery and immediately say that they cannot paint a stick figure. As they get into the session, they doubt every brush stroke and worry what everyone is going to think of the finished painting. They love everyone else’s painting and comment on how dissatisfied they are with their own. When in reality, their paintings might be the best in the room. As people comment on how great the paintings are, the skeptics start to take pride in their creation.
Your ability to paint does not say anything about you as a person. It does not define you, much like your physical appearance or problems do not define you. Just like life, when you step away from a painting and come back to it the next day, you can appreciate the experience and acknowledge that your creation is just as good as anyone else’s. You can celebrate the small successes and be proud of yourself.
When you decide to paint next, don’t focus on what is wrong or what others might think or even of how you might fall short of your own expectations. Have fun with the experience. Enjoy the break from your phone, work, and all of the outside irritants. Celebrate your creation.
This is why we say, “Paint YOUR day!”