With everything going on these days, it wouldn’t be surprising if you constantly feel overwhelmed with an array of different feelings. Heck, it’s normal to feel scatterbrained even when there isn’t a global health crisis going on. To help you navigate stressful, confusing times, we have a suggestion: Try art meditation, a creative twist on one of the premier mindfulness techniques.

Creative self-care is good for you because it can get you out of your head and into the present moment, helping to ground you and forget everything else for a few minutes,” says art therapist and Skillshare instructor Jennifer Patterson. And here’s some more good news: Anyone can do art meditation—even if you think you aren’t creative, or if traditional meditation isn’t your thing. And if you are an artistic person, meditation art can help you break through creative blocks.

“It doesn’t matter if you already make art or haven’t picked up a crayon since you were a kid,” says Patterson. “We all have a little spark of creativity inside each of us, and sometimes we just need a little push in that direction.” 

Meditation and Art: How These Two Practices Intersect

You may be wondering how you can combine these two practices. After all, isn’t the whole point of meditation to not do anything? Well, sort of. The art of meditation requires you to slow down, be present, and resist judging the thoughts that enter your brain. Most commonly, the art of meditation requires sitting or lying down with your eyes closed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other approaches to achieving a meditative state. Art meditation is a great alternative.

How Do You Meditate Through Art?

Both meditation and art require you to focus on the present moment. Perhaps, when you sit down in front of your blank sheet of paper, you have an end goal in mind. You want to draw a unicorn, paint something you saw in nature, or make a fun sculpture for your office. That’s great!

To truly practice art meditation, though, you can’t solely think about the end goal. You must also focus on the process, paying attention to every mark you mark, how your writing tool feels when it glides across the paper, how your hand has to adjust to drawing curves versus how it’s positioned for straight lines, and so forth. Meditation art requires you to get into the zone, to be so absorbed in what you’re doing that everything else around you fades away. For the time being, only the art project in front of you exists. 

In addition, it’s very important to note that you can practice art meditation without a final vision in mind. You could aimlessly scribble, doodle, or draw a bunch of parallel lines on a page and achieve the same effects, as long as you remain present. Just grab a marker, paintbrush, crayon, pen, pencil—whatever you prefer—and start connecting it to the page in any way.

“Drawing mindfully is all about presence,” says Skillshare instructor Neha Modi, “so if you find your mind wandering to thoughts about the past, things you should have said, worries about the futures, to-do list, etc., just gently nudge yourself to the present.”

Similar to traditional meditation, it may be helpful to remove all external stimuli from your environment, whether that means finding a quiet room in your house or taking advantage of noise-canceling headphones. As you practice meditation art more and more, you’ll likely be better equipped to sink into a meditative state in all types of environments. But for now, removing as many distractions as possible is your best bet

What Is Meditative Painting?

Meditative painting is a great example of meditation art—the main goal is to clear your mind of everything except the paints, brushes, and paper in an effort to enter into a meditative flow.

“When you paint from this place, it is less about techniques and more about letting go and just entering into the experience,” says Skillshare instructor Kristy-Lea Tritz. “This is a very therapeutic way of painting. As someone who has struggled all my life with anxiety, it has quickly become my place of serenity.”

So, to recap, meditative painting is being mindful and present while putting paint on paper.

Want to Try Art Meditation?

Creative Self-Care: Drawing as a Meditation

Examples of Meditation Art and Art Meditation Exercises to Try Yourself

If this concept still seems a little hard to understand, that’s okay! Here are some examples of art meditation exercises to help you get started. While there are no rules to how you do these exercises, Patterson suggests experimenting with closing your eyes, turning the paper as you go, and using different types of writing tools. Enjoy!

1. Fill a Page With All Types of Circles

squiggles
Skillshare instructor Jennifer Patterson draws a bunch of circles with a marker.

2. Create Groups of Parallel Lines

lines
Skillshare instructor Jennifer Patterson fills a piece of paper with lines.

3. Make All the Geometric Shapes You Can

colored pattern
Skillshare instructor Jennifer Patterson draws a bunch of different shapes.

4. Use Watercolor Paints to Splash and Splatter the Page

splatter watercolor
Skillshare instructor Yana Shvets shows how to splash and splatter with watercolor paints.

5. Find the Hidden Purpose in Your Splashes and Splatters

shapes from watercolor splatters
Skillshare instructor Yana Shvets finds hidden shapes in her painting.

6. Make Marks With the Shape of Your Brush

watercolor flowers
Skillshare instructor Yana Shvets paints flowers by making simple marks with her paintbrush. 

7. Paint on Wet Paper

watercolor
Skillshare instructor Yana Shvets shows the technique of painting on wet paper.

8. Gather Inspiration and Make It Into a Fun Design

watercolor leaf
Skillshare instructor Kacie Woeber shows how to create and color a zentangle drawing. 

9. Draw a Bunch of Tree Rings

drawn tree bands
Skillshare instructor Neha Modi draws a bunch of tree rings.

10. Draw a Curving Line Without Lifting Your Pen, Then Add Arcs

squiggles
Skillshare instructor Neha Modi shows the concept of drawing slow arcs.

Looking for Some Creative Stress Relief?

Creative Meditation: Zentangle Drawing