• Rachel Ireland with Debbie Mann

Allowing Yourself to Create Art from the Heart

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

At The Creative Map CIC, we believe in getting creative for our wellbeing; as a self-care tool; for fun!

To us, this means doing whatever makes you feel happy because it makes you feel happy, by letting go of the need to create something important, artistic or perfect.

Earlier this year we filmed the content for our online course, The art unit - Your Natural Creativity - guides you through the steps to create art from your heart, including colouring in mandalas and other symmetrical shapes to express and track your emotions, painting using a positive affirmation as inspiration, and creating a mixed media piece such as a Vision Board.

In the online course, Debbie Mann, co-Director and Workshop Facilitator takes you through these activities, creating each of the pieces of art in real time. I asked Debbie to share with us how she finds her inspiration, how she uses art for self-care and for her best tips for anyone trying art as a healthy new activity.

What benefit do you think there is to someone colouring in an intricate pattern such as a mandala?

Debbie: Colouring in patterns and shapes such as mandalas focuses the mind. It takes you away, albeit only for a little while, to a place of positivity and calm.

Do certain shapes such as mandalas or flowers hold any significance for you?

Debbie: Just seeing flower shapes make me smile, I find flowers comforting. When colouring them I imagine their perfume and wonder what the flower would smell like if it were real. I find it also brings back childhood memories of making daisy chains and playing outside.

On the other hand, I think of sharp angular shapes as representing the process of letting out feelings of anxiety and worry, especially when drawing the shapes yourself and incorporating them into your piece.

Mandalas are a popular pattern to colour in – and for good reason - the image of a mandala can be seen in so many areas of nature, from flowers and sea shells to snowflakes and crystals. It is also symbolic in spirituality and seen to represent connection to ourselves and the universe.

How would you suggest someone could build art for self-care into their regular routine?

Debbie: Instead of switching on the TV or scrolling through your phone during your coffee break, why not pick up your pencils and discover just how therapeutic even a few minutes of sketching, doodling or colouring can be?

The sale of adult colouring books has risen year on year since 2015.

During lockdown I began a 'Paint by Numbers' - The Tree of Life - it helped me to feel I was using my time to create something and it passed the time in a way that felt like it was doing me good.

The picture now takes pride of place on my living room wall.

In the online course you painted a beautiful, uplifting picture over the top of a negative statement that we may say to ourselves - can you tell us more about that?

Debbie: Art can be used to release negative feelings by turning them into something good. The act of writing them down releases those thoughts, then covering them with a colourful picture brings forth a positive from that negative.

Incorporating affirmations in mood boards and artworks is fabulous for self-esteem and confidence especially when placed in a prominent place where they are seen every day.


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