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How to Relieve Stress Through Art Even If You Think You Have No Art Skills

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

by Erica Yong. |

Art is relaxing for me. It is my escape from reality, an activity I can truly immerse myself in for hours and hours. I think this effect can be felt by anyone, regardless of skill level. In this article, I will be sharing some activity ideas that are very beginner-friendly, but also enjoyable for seasoned artists.

Before starting though, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Use what you have, no need to break the bank

Art supplies can be expensive, so I think it is best to work with whatever you have lying around or to start with cheaper supplies. You can make anything with your creativity, and I believe that limiting your choice of supplies and materials helps unlock that. I find that it makes me think of different ways to use the materials or combine them, creating something that I am satisfied with.

2. Do not think too much about the result

Many people tend to pressure themselves into finishing the art or to make a “perfect” piece of work. The art is yours at the end of the day, whether it is finished or not is 100% up to you. There are pages in my sketchbook that are just pencil sketches, or drawings outlined in pen but with no colour. The most important thing, at the end of the day, is to have fun and explore your ideas.

As for making the “perfect” art, I find that having that mindset complicates the whole process and takes the fun out of it. My best pieces tend to be those that I had the most fun and did the least thinking throughout the process. Trusting my gut allows me to produce art that is more natural and genuine.

Even if you mess up or did something that did not turn out the way you wanted it to, you can try working around it or with it. Art is meant to be imperfect. Those imperfections are what make it unique.

3. Start small

A huge blank page can be intimidating for most people, even seasoned artists. I have three sketchbooks of varying sizes, ranging from a passport size notebook to an A4 size sketchbook. If I just want to unwind, I tend to go for the smaller books to draw in. It takes off the pressure of making it look good or filling the entire page.

Starting small can also mean working on the art bit by bit. It is meant to be relaxing, so go at your own pace. I like spending the entirety of my weekend afternoons on art to de-stress, while others like doing it in short periods on weeknights. Do whatever that is best for you.

With all of that out of the way, here are some ideas for things you can do to start you off:

4. Doodling

Doodling is one of the most freeing activities I like to engage in. It does not require much “skill”, just space on a paper and something to draw with. I am sure a lot of people have doodled in the margins of pages in their books during classes.

I like to doodle things from nature, so my doodles tend to be of flowers and leaves. It is very relaxing to fill a page with it, allowing my mind to wander and see where it goes. I can add text, scribble, use pens of different thickness or colour some parts of it. I can draw lines or patterns, put dots, make it small or big.

Doodling is something that has helped unlock my creativity with the different ways I can do it. However, if you are not sure where to begin, just think of what interests you and start from there.

5. Colouring

Colouring is a relaxing and fun activity. I find myself being able to be absorbed in adding colour to a page in a colouring book or to a drawing that I did for hours. There are also a variety of ways to approach a colour palette. You can use only shades of one or two colours, use only black and another colour, use any colour that strikes your fancy...the possibilities are endless. You can use colour pencils, paints, markers to do your colouring.

Bookstores sell a wide variety of colouring books for adults that feature various subject matter. From sea creatures to the scenery in a garden, patterns to cities, forests to animals, I am sure that there is something for everyone.

However, there is also the option of drawing your own colouring page. One thing that I like to do is to either draw various lines across the page, having them intersect, then colour in the spaces. Here is a recent one that I did. I used a watercolour palette lying around at home to paint it and used a black marker to line the different cells.

You can also use straight lines or shapes instead. The colours you use will give different effects, so do not be afraid to experiment. If you like doodling, I will also recommend drawing patterns or doodling in the spaces.

6. Hand lettering

I love hand lettering. It is the art of drawing letters in different styles. If you are always fascinated by fonts and signages around you, this is the thing for you. Here is a simple tutorial to start you off.

First, write the letter you want to draw in pencil. Then, add weight to the letter, which is to thicken the strokes. This is followed by outlining your letter with a pen and erasing your pencil marks. You have now created a letter! Now you can add embellishments like the examples given. Repeat the process with other letters to form a word.

Feel free to vary the thickness of the strokes, add shadows, outline it with a thicker pen or colour it. I would also recommend experimenting with thicker pens, thinner pens, colour pencils, and markers. You can also use highlighters to add shadows to your letters.

I would recommend starting off hand lettering on either lined paper, grid paper or dot paper. Paper-like these will provide a guide for the letters if you are fussy about the uniformity or thickness of the letters. Sites like Pinterest and DaFont can also serve as sources of inspiration for the varieties that letters can come in. Here is one of my earlier pieces of hand lettering. Note how I used the grid as a guide for the letters.

7. Collage art

I like making collage art for the repetitiveness of it. With paper to tear or cut, glue, and something to paste it on, you will be able to make art. The process takes time and does not require much decision making or skill. It is an ideal activity for me after a long day.

The paper you can use can range from newspapers, old magazines, colour paper, or any scrap paper. The beauty of collage art is that each one is unique, depending on the paper I use, the way I tear it, how I paste it and how much the paper shreds will overlap each other.

Here is a collage I did late last year using scrap paper and old worksheets.

After completing your collage art, feel free to use colour pencils or markers to add colour, write on it, doodle, and so on. I used my collage art to note down some of my milestones in 2019. Another option is to paste the paper in the way that it forms a picture. It can be simple, like a fish or more complex, like a celebrity.

Art is suitable for everyone and is excellent for relieving stress. If you relax, are willing to explore, and do not take it too seriously, I am sure it will be fun for you.

You can find out more about the author on Instagram.

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