Art therapy can be ugly and messy

I’m one of those people who has often believed that to be creative, to be “artistic,” you have to have some pretty damn high level skills (I’m talking Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, etc., here).

It doesn’t help that we’re raised in a society so focused on perfection. Social media, for example, has a way of adding nefariously to this perfectionistic idea that “true and worthy art” has to be glossy and marketable with many showcasing their amazing artistic creations that, let’s face it, would take a million years to replicate for any average joe.

But I’m here to tell you that creating art of any kind doesn’t have to be clean, skilful, sellable, trendy, or even attractive.

The deepest value often dwells in the grit; the ugly, messy, weird, spontaneous nature of our creations — they are the most authentic representations of how we really feel and what truly is going on within us.

So today I’m going to showcase some of my “meh” therapeutic art creations for you. No filters.

To do art of any kind, especially healing art, I want you to know that not only is it allowed to be totally mediocre and abstract, but it’s actually better if it is.

The more we think about what we create, the more contrived it becomes; the more our creations are products of the thinking mind (which we operate enough from already!) instead of the pulsating heart at the core of our being.

I hope you can feel inspired to pick up that pencil, that paintbrush, that glue stick, and know that creating art that looks like a five year old did it is not only okay, but it’s actually better than overthinking it as a 30, 40, 50+ something-year-old!

Enjoy these unfiltered examples of my own therapeutic art and may you feel inspired and worthy to create your own (regardless of how it looks or who made you believe that you “aren’t an artist” — you are! We’re all creators!):

Ask yourself:

  • If I was to create anything today without mental stories of what it “should” look like, what would I create?
  • What color, shape, or form best expresses how I internally feel?
  • How can I give myself absolute and wild permission to be messy and imperfect in my art/creations?
  • What part of me is scared of creating something ugly? How can I offer that part compassion?

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2 responses to “Art therapy can be ugly and messy”

  1. Hello into the wild, I really loved this post it is beautiful and completely insightful. It led me to think what if we lived life that way without worrying about what it looks like not only in art but maybe just in life in general. What if it was messy, what if it was weird odd and no one could make sense of it and what if it was okay that it was that way? Thank you so much for this it is seemingly steeped in serendipity!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! I believe what you’re sharing here, Danielle, is the practice of letting go and trusting life, which is the foundation of finding inner peace! It was so beautiful to read your comment, as it echoes some of my own deepest discoveries. Thank you! ❤️


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