Self-Care Through Creativity: Turn Your Anxiety Into Art | Sarah Beth Morgan | Skillshare

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Self-Care Through Creativity: Turn Your Anxiety Into Art

teacher avatar Sarah Beth Morgan, Director + Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Hello Anxiety, My Name Is..


    • 2.

      Class Project + Overview


    • 3.

      Thirsty for Art


    • 4.

      Set the Mood


    • 5.

      Pull Inspiration from Your Emotion


    • 6.

      Pick a Direction


    • 7.

      Be Patient with Yourself


    • 8.

      Make an Art!


    • 9.

      To Share.. or Not to Share?


    • 10.

      Thank You!


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About This Class

Art can be an incredibly powerful tool for working through difficult emotions. Join animation director, illustrator and human Sarah Beth Morgan to learn how to turn your anxiety into artwork.

This class is all about the process. It’s about taking your internal struggles - your emotions and especially your anxiety - and breaking them down to create art. Along the way, maybe we’ll even relieve some of that nervous energy that’s been wrapped up inside of you. 

You’ll feel your way through emotional art-making, while learning more about yourself and your anxieties along the way. We’ll start by exploring our inner emotions and following a few actionable creative exercises. Then, we’ll bring those emotions into the physical realm - using whatever medium you feel most comfortable with. You’ll end up with a new art piece - and hopefully a little less anxiety! 

Lessons Include:

  • An insightful interview with a real-deal art therapist
  • Helpful tips for setting up a safe space to explore your emotions
  • 3 actionable art therapy exercises to help you pull inspiration from your anxiety
  • How to re-invent your everyday creative process to cater to your emotional experience

*Important Note* I am not a mental health professional - I’m just a gal who has a LOT of experience with anxiety, but your anxiety might very different from mine. The tools and ideas I mention in this class are what work for me, but they may not be the best for you. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Sarah Beth Morgan

Director + Illustrator


Hi, you! I'm Sarah Beth - a freelance animation director & illustrator based in Cleveland, OH. I grew up in the magical, far-away Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where I was deprived of bacon and cable television - but was granted a unique and broad perspective. After attending SCAD and a two-year stint in LA at Scholar, I decided to move onto literal greener pastures in the PNW and join the talented folks at Oddfellows. Now, I work from my own little studio with my fluffy assistant, Bandit.


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1. Hello Anxiety, My Name Is..: As artists, we're all afflicted with some sort of internal struggle, whether that be creative block, attempting to learn a tough new skill set or just general anxiety. What if you could take that bundle of anxiety that's wrapped up inside of you and turn it upside-down? Squish it, scribble on it, and transform it into arts? Maybe even art you're proud of? Hello, my name is Sarah Beth Morgan and I'm a freelance director and illustrator based in Portland, Oregon. I've been working in the motion design industry for about six years now, which is crazy to me. But for about two of those years, the past two years, I've been freelance. I've really enjoyed freelance, but it does come with a lot of stressful things like doing my own taxes and reaching out to clients and creating connections. But looking back, I do realize that I did start to cope with a lot of my worries by drawing, and art has always been that release for me. It's been a place where I can just experiment and play around without anybody judging me. As you can see, I've had a lot of experience with looking inward and then even using art to sooth some of that anxiety. Today's class is about taking that internal emotion, that anxiety, stress, whatever you've got inside of you and transforming that, taking that and creating art out of it. I'll be sharing tips that I've gained along my personal journey that worked for me, but since you are a different person, they might not work for you so just take everything with a grain of salt. All right. Well, let's get started. 2. Class Project + Overview: Today, we'll be working on a vague class project. Essentially, we'll be taking those inner emotions you've been experiencing and bring them into the physical realm, using whatever medium you feel most comfortable with. I urge you to use the medium you already enjoy because trying to use a new medium that you're not necessarily comfortable with yet might actually heighten the anxiety you're already feeling. The point of this class is less about leaving with something physical to share, i.e, an Instagram post, and more about walking away with a toolkit to use whenever you want to channel your everyday struggles into something more concrete. For me, I typically work in Illustration, that's my wheelhouse, so that's what I'll be using here as an example. But feel free to expand these tips into different mediums. Side-note, this class isn't meant to glorify anxiety or struggle but it's rather here to normalize mental health in the realm of art and to help you explore your inner emotions and funnel them into art you're proud of. While this class is not a certified method of art therapy itself, I am not a mental health professional, just keep that in mind. I will provide resources for you to further your own journey with that. This class is more about my own personal methods and sharing those with you and explaining how I funnel my own anxiety into art. Hopefully, you can walk away with some good tips as well. What are we actually going to do in this class? You're probably wondering at this point because I keep just talking at you. But yeah, basically first, I will introduce you to an incredible art therapist, who'll actually provide some tips on how you can use art to work through your own emotions. She'll also provide us with some actionable exercises to use whenever you're experiencing anxiety in real time. Next, we'll set the mood. I'll share my own personal tips on setting up a safe space to create your art in, especially, when that art stems from something that doesn't always necessarily feel so safe or peaceful. Next, we'll start to pull inspiration from our emotions. We use traditional art therapy exercises, like visualizing and journaling to really start digging deep. From there, after exploring and interpreting feelings, you'll decide what direction you want to take your art in. From there, we'll work out the creative process in a more traditional manner, and I'll walk you through how you can use some of your everyday tools to actually gear them towards reducing their anxiety. Essentially, you might end up with a project to share after this class, and you might not. Don't feel obligated to share this with the world. Anxiety can be a very personal thing and you don't have to feel obligated to share it. If you want to share it, go right ahead. You can share it here on Skillshare or on social media or wherever. But no pressure. This class is meant to reduce the pressure. I'm here for you. Again, just a reminder that I am not a mental health professional. I'm missed a gal who experiences a lot of anxiety and I found my own ways to cope with it. Since you're different from me, as I mentioned earlier, the tools that I provide to you here and the methods might not necessarily work for you. Either way, I really hope that this class gives you a bit of confidence to work on your art, even in times of hardship. I know a lot of these tips have helped me throughout my journey and I really hope it helps you too. 3. Thirsty for Art: Before we dive into my own babbling techniques, I wanted to sit down with a real art therapist who works in the industry. I met Youhjung through her Instagram, thirstyforart, and I immediately fell in love with her words. If you want to know the specifics, she's a board certified art therapist in Austin, Texas. She has a BA in Psychology and a BA in Studio Art and she has a Master's in Art Therapy, which is just amazing credentials list. She helps both children and adults cope with their anxiety, behavioral issues, and addiction by way of art therapy. To quote her website, Youhjung is ''An advocate of using art as a medium for nurturing the soul, healing the inner self, and for deep self-care.'' She's presented to mental health professionals in groups about how to use art as a therapeutic tool, and has held workshops and using art for self-care and stress. She also has been actively making art on her own time and has exhibited her work in New York City. In my opinion, she has such a calming presence, and is a top-notch educator of art therapy as a profession on social media. Without further ado, here's Youhjung. I'm so happy to be here to be sharing about art therapy. First and foremost, thank you. My name is Youhjung and I am a board certified art therapist living currently in Austin, Texas. I do 100 percent online art therapy/therapeutic art sessions with clients. I also have a YouTube channel that's dedicated to sharing about art therapy and healing really. So I share a lot about art therapy activities and ideas that you could do. There's a lot of different definitions out there, but from my point of view, art therapy is basically a field or practice that incorporates art-making to help people express themselves, their feelings and thoughts, and understand themselves through that process of creating art, so that we can improve or maintain our mental well-being. This is done within the guide and help of an art therapist. You don't even have to have any background or experience in art. It's really not about the technical skills, it's more about expressing your emotions and thoughts, and understanding yourself through that. It can feel quite different or sometimes it can feel very similar, because the art therapist actually really caters the session or customizes the session to your needs. Sometimes we might talk a lot, sometimes the art takes up majority of the session. But I will say most often than not, within art therapy session, it'll involve art-making. Art-making will be the centerpiece of the session and it will be central to the process of therapy. Through the art-making process, you'll connect with your feelings, you'll be helped or guided to really understand your artwork, understand yourself, understand the situation that you are going through in life, solve problems, find new solutions and this is all done through the art, using art as a centerpiece. I find that when you add art to the therapy session, that the therapy or healing process can be really deep. Also, it can be really fun. There is a lot of having fun, enjoying ourselves, but also at the same time, a lot of deep work that happens within an art therapy session that might feel really different from just the verbal therapy session. I think first of all, before I share the tips, I want to say that everyone is quite different. So each person might really have a different medium that really suits them particularly. I will say first of all, to listen to yourself, to listen to what you want to use. Go for it that you're drawn to because often times, our intuition knows best. But I do want to share a general tip for everybody who are dealing with anxiety and that is, you can start with collaging. I find that collaging can be a really easy medium to use if you are just getting started with using art as a therapeutic tool for yourself, and especially when you're dealing with anxiety or other emotions or states that feel difficult to manage. Collaging is a really great way. You can use magazine pages, you can use may be printouts from the internet, any photos you might have, anything that really has photos or texts on it, you can use as a source to create collages. Collages is great, again, because it's very safe to use, is easy to use, and it can be a very good jumping off point to making practice. Another medium I want to share with you is clay. I find that clay is really great for people who are dealing with anxiety because it can release a lot of tension that are built up in our body. A lot of times when we have anxiety, we are really up in our heads. We're overthinking, we're worrying. We have a lot of thoughts in our heads, and so it can be really difficult to get into our bodies. When you do get into a body, it feels more calm, it feels better, it feels more centered and grounding. Clay can be a really great entry point, the gateway to tap into that state of calm because it really forces you to pay attention to your body more, to pay attention to your fingers, to your senses. So when you do that, you're not thinking as much. You are more in the present moment in your body. So I find that clay can be really helpful for people with anxiety. Yeah, I want to encourage people, if you are a drawer or painter, I want to encourage you to refocus on colors. Not really thinking about trying on painting something specific, something that has a specific form or shape, but really just focusing on laying down colors and really focusing on how each color makes you feel. I think that would be really a great calming exercise for a lot of people. Using any materials that really activate your senses, your tactile senses. Great materials will include clay, a lot of 3D materials like incorporating wooden sticks, fabrics, feathers, yarns, things like that. I find that, if you know, crocheting or knitting or even weaving, those are really great techniques that you can use to feel more calm or just be creative, but at the same time working on self-care. The last thing I want to share about in terms of our exercise you can do, is actually creating mandalas. If you are familiar with drawing or painting, I really recommend using mandalas. But I know a lot of us have the idea that mandalas are often in like coloring books, and they have this really intricate, symmetrical, perfect looking designs in that way. But the mandalas that I'm talking about are not those. I'm talking about mandalas that are free form circles. Basically what you will do is have a piece of paper, draw a circle and then you will fill the circle with any colors, shapes, and lines you want to feel with, or maybe anything that may reflect how you feel at that moment, perhaps. This is a really great way to contain our feelings because we're working within the structure of a circle. I really recommend that as well. You'll have less stress, you won't be focusing on the end result and how it looks like. You will most likely focus on the process. You'll be able to enjoy the process a little bit more. You'll have less judgment because there is no end goal that you have to achieve. You're just experimenting and exploring, seeing how things go and really just acknowledge how you feel, acknowledging your intuition a little bit more in the process. I think the other big thing, other big benefit is, you'll be able to learn more about yourself. When it's less about achieving a goal, you'll pay attention as I said, to how you're creating the art. The how is so important. When you pay attention to how you're creating art, you can learn so much more about yourself. When you're actually focus on the process more, it's more open-ended. You don't have a certain image in mind that you're really trying to recreate. You're more open ended, so you're more able to express yourself. Especially your feelings and thoughts. Because of that reason, you get to learn more about yourself as well. Yes, for sure. I actually recommend people to not think about posting not think about sharing artwork because oftentimes we get into the trap of pressuring ourselves and judging ourselves, judging our artwork, thinking about what other people will think and what standards they have about our work, things like that. But it doesn't mean that sharing your artwork would always be bad. Actually, our therapists who work in community settings actually do art shows with clients. So they show artworks that clients make, and also maybe share their own artwork as well. They do this because sharing your art with the world can be very therapeutic as well. When approached in the right way, of course. When you share your art, when you do that act of sharing, you're at peace of yourself with the world. You're really owning that part of yourself, you are really owning your confidence as well. You're really validating yourself and other people. Perhaps let's give an example. If you did an artwork that represented anxiety that you had maybe, if you did show that artwork to the world on social media or perhaps in our show, you're validating other people's experience of anxiety too. You are saying this is a human experience that we experience and we could connect together through this. That's a very beautiful thing that we can do as humans, to share our feelings in our work with other people because it gives people validation, gives them self-understanding, gives them the understanding that emotions are okay. You can have the power to uplift people, uplift the community, and both to yourself. I think that we can really connect with others on a deeper level when we actually do show our artwork, but I think that we have to make sure they we're coming from the right place of mind. Not a place of trying to prove ourselves, but more of a place of connecting with other people or sharing our true authentic self so that we give other people permission to do the same. So here are a few main takeaways from Youhjung. Number 1, art therapy is a practice that incorporates art-making to help people express themselves, helps them explore their inner emotions through what they're illustrating, drawing, or experimenting with art wise. Number 2, use materials that activate your senses. Try experimenting with collaging, clay and mandalas to help calm your nerves. Focus on the process, not the outcome. It can be a lot of judgment in focusing on social media and what you're going to post, etc. If you focus more on experimenting and playing with the art you're making, that will help relieve a lot more anxiety. Number 4 is, sharing your art with the world can be very validating when approached in the right way. If you want to share your art with the world, and talk about your experience, that can be super great because you'll actually be validating those experiences for others as well. It can be very uplifting. I hope you took away as much from that interview as I did. I feel like I learned so much. I have some actionable tips to use moving forward. I'll definitely try to implement those here and in class moving forward. Yeah, just really excited that I got to chat with you Youhjung. Definitely hit her up and follow her on social media accounts, check out her blog. She's an amazing art therapists, and I just learned so much from her. 4. Set the Mood: Now I know this section of the class is not necessarily technical advice and you can use for your art. But it's a really important part of the process, and I really recommend that you start with something like this. This stage really helps me get out of my head and reduce some of those anxiety-inducing thoughts. Physically setting the mood really prepares me and helps bring me out of the mood of just being about art consistently or my thoughts. It helps clear my head. I'll often make a little to-do list like cleaning my space so it feels less chaotic, finishing e-mails, pulling out my art tools, etc, to help me feel like my time and space is ready. This is so I don't have anything else to worry about when I actually start. In addition, and I know this might be cheesy, but I might even start by lighting a candle, and cuddling my dog Bendett, and having some tea, dimming the lights. Just whatever helps bring your mood down, keeps you calm. I know everyone here might have different things that make them calm. What are yours? Make a mental list and pull out your best tools. Perhaps you're really into doing cardio or you want to do yoga. Or maybe playing a video game helps get your head in the right mental space. Or maybe it's even taking a nap and just getting some rest and clearing your head that way. Everyone has different techniques. Do whatever you need to prepare here. Everyone is different. After you've gone through your own anxiety routine, your own prep routine, let's just get into it by trying to calm our breath down. We take over 20,000 breaths a day, so we might as well be conscious of just a few of them. I personally love the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which is something I learned through my many years of yoga classes, and by no means my yoga instructor, but I just love all the breathing techniques they employ. This technique really helps you voluntarily relax your nervous system, which is in control of your heart, your digestion, and just a bunch of your internal functions. In addition to using this breathing technique throughout my day, I also just really like to use this technique when I'm laying in bed and my anxiety will not let me sleep. I think it's really great to just like focus on the numbers, focus on your breath, and it almost instantly makes me fall asleep. Now, we don't want you to fall asleep right now, but if you're laying down and trying to sleep, it really helps. Just focusing on the numbers and my breathing and nothing else just really helps clear my head. Gets me ready for bed or gets me ready to make art. Let's begin. Close your mouth, inhale quietly through your nose, and begin to count to four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight. Do this 3-4 times with your eyes closed if you're comfortable with it, just try not to think about anything else. This is more about meditating and clearing your head. Do you feel better? More common, relaxed? I hope so. I usually repeat this a few times throughout the day to keep my heart rate steady and keep my anxiety at bay. It really helps me a lot. In addition to setting the mood in my actual space, I find it's very helpful to prepare myself mentally before I start bringing so much real emotion into my art. I find it's very overwhelming to dive into a project with a blank slate like people are always like, yeah, it's great, I can do whatever I want for this project. But for me, since I have a lot of anxiety, if I just have all of these options in front of me, it's like too much. I really like to set parameters for myself no matter what the project. This is just me maybe because I'm Type A, maybe you really like working with the blank slate. But if you're like me, this might be really helpful. What's really key for me is giving myself a set of parameters. Giving myself a little structure can be really loose. That just helps me break down my thoughts. These parameters don't have to be like a traditional client project or anything. They can be really loose and you'll see what I mean. So for me what this looks like is writing down a little list. Here's a list of questions you can ask yourself to get started with some of those loose parameters that you can make your own questions and answer them yourself. There are no wrong answers here. Here are the questions that I'm asking myself. Number 1, do you want to create something full of light or would you rather portray your emotion through darkness? What medium would you like to use? Whether that'd be physical or the type of art you're creating. Do you want to create something abstract or realistic? Those are just a few questions to get you started. The best part of this is we don't actually have to follow these parameters as we work. You can break the rules as much as you want. No one's checking up on you. This is just to get yourself in the right headspace, giving you something to work off of. Because like I said earlier, blank slate is not the easiest thing to work off of. For me, I want to do something that involves light, lightness. I also want to play with some digital illustration because that's what I'm comfortable with. I also wanted to involve realism, and realism can be in the eye of the beholder. Because for me, realism just means I'm drawing like a hand or a person. For you it might mean a beautiful landscape painting. It just depends on who you are. 5. Pull Inspiration from Your Emotion: Before we get started, I just want to let you all know that everything that you see I'm doing here has never been created before. Everything you see here will be created from scratch, from my own emotions, from my own anxieties. I didn't practice in advance, so I'm right there with you. For now, let's set aside the parameters that we created earlier, and just start by doing a few warm up exercises to pull that emotion out of you. I'll go over three easy and actual exercises that can help you begin to extrapolate visuals from your emotion. After we're done here, we'll have some visual cues to go off of for when we pick our direction in the next section of this class. While doing these exercises, let's also keep in mind the tips from Yujong's interview earlier. Focus on the process. Don't necessarily start to begin to think about how you're going to turn this into a cool Instagram posts later. Instead, think about how things feel internally. Think about the how, experiments and play. The how is so important. Acknowledge your intuition throughout this process. This will help you learn a lot about yourself and about your anxiety as you move forward. The second tip from Yujong is engage with the tactile. Try to use materials that activate your senses. Maybe pull out some pastels, colored pencils, maybe even play around with some yarn or some feathers like, she mentioned. You can collage everything and put on a page. Just something that gets you working with your hands. You don't really focus on talking about collaging. She said that was a great way to get started without having to worry about yourself actually drawing so you could apply that to our first exercise here. Let's start simple. Write down 3-5 of your emotions or words that describe how you feel. Try playing with really specific words like, if you're feeling anxiety, does your anxiety feel jumpy and chaotic or maybe it just feels overwhelming, maybe you feel pressured. Use some of those more specific words to describe how you're feeling and write them down. Right now, I'm not actually feeling too anxious internally myself because I did some of those calming exercises that I described to you earlier and they really helped. This is great because I can more clearly look back and reflect on my emotions and how I was feeling. Even if you're not experiencing that anxiety right now, if you know what it feels like, write it down. If you're having trouble, maybe start by closing your eyes and using that breathing technique, the 4-7-8 breathing technique that I described to you earlier. Just write down what you see in your eyelids, what you're feeling, that could help a lot to just getting out of the real-world, closing your eyes down, and focusing. What emotions come out when you do that? Here's some of the words that I picked to describe how I am feeling when I'm anxious or having a panic attack even. Jittery, bursting, pressure, out of control. Those are the four words or phrases I'm going to use as I play with this exercise here. Next up, let's scribble some lines and shapes that actually represent the words that you wrote down. I'd encourage you to play with real tactile paper and a drawing tool if you can. You can also try stitching your emotion to an embroidery hoop. You can make a collage or even try playing your emotion out on the piano. Don't be limited to what you see here. I'm going to use Posca paint pens, and colored pencils, because that's what I enjoy the most and what I feel most comfortable with. Choose your own medium. One of Yujong's tips from the interview was actually to focus on colors. She said that's really helpful for people who experience anxiety. Maybe test out a couple different colors on your paper, check out your palate or what you're playing with, and then describe to yourself how each of those colors makes you feel. My work tends to feel very sharp and jagged with a hint of lightness to it. That's probably because I've been using these techniques to work through my emotions. I really like to counteract those jagged anxiety edges that I draw with more bubbly shapes to balance it out. But maybe not everyone's anxiety looks jagged like mine. Maybe some people's looked like a bubble about to burst or maybe it feels like they're trapped underwater. Just play around with how you're feeling. There's no wrong answer. Everyone's emotions and circumstances are unique and valid. Creating mandalas was one of Yujong's tips as well, and I thought that was really neat, so I want to play with that here. You can call it an expansion of what we did in the first exercise. Maybe take some cues from the lines and shapes you drew earlier, and apply those to your mandala or your circle here. Let's just dive into it. Start by drawing a free-form circle. It does not have to look perfect at all, I know mine doesn't, and simply fill the circle with how you feel. This circle shape gives you a structure to fill something with how you feel and it helps us to contain our feelings to that one place. Not that feeling should always be contained, but it's really nice to see it laid out on the paper like this. I really like doing this because it forces me to be abstract and focus on color and texture capturing an emotion. It's less about sketching something real and more just about getting it all out there. Now that you've created some shapes and visuals that reflects your emotions, let's try journaling and using reflective writing to actually examine what you've drawn. What do you see in what you've just scribbled down, what's going on inside of you, what's causing your anxiety, and what can make you feel better? You can write specifically about what you drew or you can just write about what's going on in your life. What's causing you this anxiety? Maybe try using some visual or descriptive words. This can be super personal and this is just for you. This is just all part of working through your feelings and processing everything. You're setting yourself up to really understand what you're going through internally, and in turn that will help you translate it into your art. I'd really encourage you to just pause this class right now and go do these exercises. Go play around and process what you're feeling. They're honestly just really great exercises that you can even use in the future when you're having creative block or anything like that. That's what I love about this. It's all about play and process. These exercises will most likely not be your final piece, so just have fun with it and let loose. There is no pressure here, but now that I have all my emotions down on the page, I can actually look to this for inspiration in creating my sketch and digitizing my illustration later on. 6. Pick a Direction: Now comes the fun part. We already did the really hard intense work of digging through our emotions to come up with some visual cues. Now let's make some art. We have all the materials we need. Let's just bring them together and I call this phase the concepting phase. Start by looking back at your journaling and scribbling exercises. I personally am going to use these as my primary image reference and I don't know how, but somehow they got a little bit dirty. You know, that's all part of the process. But if you need some image reference, there's nothing wrong with looking up some "smood", get it? Moodboard. We'll take our actual mood and emotions and pour them into a moodboard. I can show you an example of that here. I'm going to try to look for some really interesting emotional images that could potentially relate to my illustration. I really like pulling images that aren't necessarily illustration because then I can actually derive something new from that, something unique and not worry about style just yet. I really want to pull images that encapsulate how I'm feeling emotionally, how my anxiety feels. I actually like looking at Tumblr sometimes, Pinterest is great. Tumblr's fun because it's just so random. I chose a lot of these images because they encapsulate how I feel like this one on the top left is interesting because it's kind of honing in on just one body part. Sometimes how I feel when I'm stuck in my anxiety, is just like everything feels so centralized, that emotion. I can't let go of it. For the second image up here. I liked that everything was balancing perfectly and it just feels like sometimes when you're anxious, you just feel like everything has to be perfectly in place or everything else will fall apart. I love these mushrooms because they had that like bursting feelings you saw many of them and you just feel like you could squeeze them. This isn't actually an illustration, so I ended up putting an illustration in here, but I love the metaphor of a person feeling kind of stuck in furniture. It makes me think that they might not be able to move, that they are feeling suffocated. I loved this hand illustration or I guess it's more of like a painting or collage. But I love that. It's like someone trying to grab something and they can't quite reach it. Then these images in the bottom just feel like divide self for like you're really mad at yourself. I think these are really fun images and I'm going to use them as I work through my idea. Now that I have my image reference, my moodboard, plus my journal, plus my doodles and scribbles that I did earlier. We can actually look back at those parameters we set for ourselves earlier in the class. My parameters were lightness for the mood. I was going to use digital illustration. I also wanted to incorporate a little bit of realism. The reason I chose light versus dark was just because sometimes when I'm feeling anxious, I want to draw something to kind of lighten my mood. But it could be better for you and sometimes it's better for me even to explore my emotions through illustrating something darker or something that has deep mood to it. Either way is great. Either way is a wonderful release. I'm going to transfer everything over. I'm going to start showing you my screen and my mason teak here. Let's just dive into working in photoshop. As I said earlier, feel free to use whatever medium you like. This is just kind of what I'm used to, so I'm going to be playing with that. Here's everything altogether on mason teak screen, I've decided to bring everything to the digital realm now because that's my medium choice. Now that I have all of my emotions down on my photoshop document, I'm going to do a little brainstorming. Let's take what I have and make a little mind map. Mind maps are one of my favorite brainstorming techniques because they really help my brain associate different concepts. They always help me find something that's tangentially related to my initial thoughts. That in turn helps me level at my illustration to be more unique. Let's make a new layer and call that mind map. Let's just start with anxiety in the middle. If I look back at my reference, I'll talk there. What am I trying to portray? The main overall feeling I'm getting while looking at this altogether is the feeling of being scrambled and feeling like I'm about to burst. How can I show that illustration? Let's add that to the mind map. Maybe I portray these feelings through a metaphor. I know I wanted to add in a bit of realism here like a hand or a person. Maybe I showcase this emotion through a body part. If I think about that in relation to this mind map here maybe it's a hand trying to grasp something, or maybe its organs being full, which is kind of gruesome. If I look at scrambled and I'm thinking about body parts there, maybe it's kind of eyes rolling or something. Or maybe scrambled could also work in relation with legs being crossed. I'm going to make sure to add my other words here. For light, maybe it's blinding light, which maybe could relate back to eyes because they can't take in all of the light that's getting into them. It's kind of like this anxious feeling of your vision being kind of blurred maybe. For about to burst, maybe I add something like, you know when you're trying to carry five grocery bags into the house at once to save a trip? But everything ends up falling out everywhere. That feeling, whatever that is, let's just say grocery bags. I've got this very rough mind map here and looking at it and I don't really know yet what I'm going to do. But let's highlight a couple of things so that we can kind off pull out of them and use that for our sketch. If I'm looking at realism, I really like the idea of hands trying to grasp something or maybe that relates back to the grocery bag idea where things are about to burst. Maybe it's a hand, like trying to grasp something and it's just like spilling out of the hand. Maybe those shapes kind of relate back to the reference. Maybe we're looking at some shapes like this that are kind of trying to burst on the hand like these bubbly shapes. Maybe the shapes don't actually represent an object, but they're more about the emotion in that feeling. I have a lot of these visual cues to work off. This is a good place to start. For me it just helps me stay organized. I'm going to just write my idea down because that'll help me remember as I'm moving forward. When I'm looking at this line right here, I can kind of interpret it as like this hand equals me. The shapes, obviously they are the emotions I already wrote that out. They're spilling out everywhere. That relates back to about to burst. Which is that feeling I was getting when I'm looking back at my reference set, bursting, pressure, out of control. Everything that I've been working on here kind of relates back to my original exercises. That really helped me brainstorm and it's going to help me bring my anxiety into a more concrete place. See, that wasn't so hard because we did all the hard work upfront like assigning parameters, journaling and scribbling, it was pretty easy to come up with a fun idea. Now, I urge you to do the same. Go ahead and collect your materials and make a mind map. You could even come up with a couple ideas and choose your favorite one to sketch. No matter what medium you end up using. I think mind maps are great tools for connecting the dots and coming up with unique concepts. 7. Be Patient with Yourself: Let's take a breath here. Sometimes when I'm creating emotional art, it can get a little overwhelming. I have to tell myself that I can take a break. I have to remind myself that it's okay to step back once in a while, take a little rest. I just want to give you permission here to do the same. I don't want this to feel like a client project or chore or something, that you just have to get out so you can post it on social. This is something for you to explore and experiment with your emotions. Play with something that is a little more heartfelt. If you're feeling overwhelmed and you want to take a step back, completely fine. I actually worked on this piece about imposter syndrome forever ago. It started as this really tiny sketch in my bedside notebook that I woke up one night, in the middle of the night and I had this idea, someone coming up behind them maybe with scissors, just something that felt a little anxiety inducing. I had this tiny sketch for the longest time, then one day I opened my notebook and I saw it there and I was like, I should do something from this. It was really cool because I got to take a step back. It had been a couple of weeks and I got to see it in a new light. I took reference images of me posed in a certain way and then illustrated it, then actually after I did the refined sketch, it still took me about a couple more weeks to illustrate it with color and lighting. I had a lot of fun experimenting and playing with the new style that I don't typically work in. I really encourage you to take your time, take a breath here and continue forth when you feel ready. But this might not always be the case, sometimes you might feel really inspired to just get your emotions out there and that's also totally okay. Whatever direction you go in, I'm just giving you permission here to continue ahead or take a break. Either way you've made it this far already, you deserve a little pat on the back. If you're not taking a break, maybe go treat yourself to a soda or a little treat of your choosing. 8. Make an Art!: Let us talk about how you can cater to your everyday art techniques and tools toward emotional art. For me, I'll be looking at my digital brush selection in Photoshop in a whole new way. I'm going to try playing around with brushes that I don't normally use. I typically am sticking to a few brushes that I've saved because I just love how they look. But they might not actually be great at portraying the feeling that I want to show. Maybe I'll play it with something new. Remember when we talked about looking at colors and sketching them out and seeing how each of them made us feel, well, we can use that technique here too. You can use this thought process for any medium, tool or technique. If you're using yarn, you can look at the color of that or you can look at the thickness or the texture of it and see how that correlates to your emotion. If you're doing music, you could think about how each instrument sounds and how that might feel. Maybe if you use strings, that might feel a little more heart-wrenching. If you're using trumpets, that might feel a little more chaotic. It's really up to you, and you know your medium best, you know what you do best. So apply that thought process to the rest of your techniques for this class. Now I'm going to move on to the sketch phase. Because I have my Cintiq, I can easily draw on there. You could totally do this. If you're doing a digital illustration, you could do this on your iPad. You can do it on paper, whatever you want. But this is just my process. I'm going to continue forward with this. Before I sketch, because I'm going to be doing an illustration of a hand like I mentioned earlier, I think I'm going to take some reference photos. This is something I usually do because personally, anatomy doesn't come supernaturally to me. It's helpful for me to make my own reference. I'm just going to do that using Photo Booth, and here I am. Yeah, I'm going to maybe gather some things to hold in my hand and use that image of myself squishing something. Hopefully, that will lead to an idea from my illustration. All right, so that was interesting. I'm just going to go ahead and choose one of those images and bring it into sketch form. I think I like this last one I did because you can really feel the tension in my hand and hopefully, I can emphasize that through illustration as well. But I also like some of the weird elements that are in my hand in these other shots. So maybe I can take some cues from that. Since I took this reference photo myself, I feel really comfortable using it almost as a tracing reference. I'm going to elongate the fingers or play with them somehow. It's not going to be a direct copy or anything, but you'll see how it evolves. That's already feeling pretty interesting. I just abstracted the hand as I went. But I'm going to use some of the elements from the other photographs here to add some objects in. I like how its shapes are going in and out of the fingers. To come up with the shapes that I actually want to include here, I can look back at my reference and I love how they're just like weird abstract shapes. I'm going to include some of those goofy chaotic shapes in here as well. I also do love the paper look, that's interesting. Maybe I'll incorporate that in here somehow. Then I'm getting not sure where to go next. I'm actually looking at this mood board that I created earlier. I really love the balancing objects. So I might incorporate some of that here because it is supposed to feel like the objects are falling out of my hand. If we look back at our main idea, they're spilling out everywhere and currently, it's just contained to one spot. I'm going to take some of that in here as well. I love these jagged shapes because they call back to my original reference of jittery, I have got those jagged shapes in my first little doodle there. That's feeling pretty fun. I tilted the hand a little bit because I wanted it to feel more like the stuff inside the hand was weighing it down. This is really, really rough right now. The next step I usually like to take is refining that sketch and giving it a little more definition right before we go in to color. Obviously, I'm going to breakdown how I'm processing color and texture through my emotion. But first I just want to mention that this isn't an illustration class, so I won't be really talking about my technique very much. I'll just be talking more through how I'm making creative decisions based on my emotion. If you want to learn more about my illustration process, feel free to enroll for my school of motion class. I also have a couple of tutorials on YouTube. On top of that, you can also look at my other Skillshare class on here. My Instagram stories have a couple of tips as well. There's plenty of resources for learning about my illustration process. Right now I want to talk about my anxiety process. That's why we're here. Here's my sketch. I added a little bit more fragment to it. I added some shadows just so I can see where everything's going to be laid out. I feel pretty happy with it. I like that it feels like everything is out of control. If we look back at my original main idea of a hand trying to grasp shapes and emotions and their spilling out everywhere, that feels pretty accurate. If we go to the mood, I've got some cues from that I took. Then if we go even further back and look at those exercises I did on paper with my posca pens and my journaling, and even with those parameters we set really early on, I feel like we're pretty on track. The thing is this process doesn't have to be on track. You don't have to do everything according to rules. This should really be playing around with how you feel. But personally, I just really like having stuff laid out for me like this and it really helps me work through everything and brainstorm. It's really cool to see the evolution of where I started and where I ended up. It's all in this Photoshop folder, which is really fun. But next step, I want to play around with color and texture. If we look back at my reference, I have some colors there I might play with. We can even take some colors from my mood board. I also want to keep I the fact that I wanted to play with lightness. Let's keep that in mind when we're doing colors here. What is light, but also feels stressful and anxious? For me, that's usually red. Reds feel angry, but they're also not dark. Maybe it could even be like fuchsia or a really bright purple or something, which are colors I don't normally play with. In addition, I feel like creating a lot of contrast also feels a little bit more anxiety-inducing. So maybe I'll play around with some blacks or some really dark blues. You know what also feels anxiety-inducing to me is just a crazy fluorescent bright yellow, like a highlighter yellow. I don't know, these colors are all really weird and questionable to me, but I feel like we're going to be able to make it work. When I look back at my mood board, I like these fuschias from the mushrooms, so I'll add those in. When I look at this palette right here, it 100 percent gives me anxiety. I feel like we might be on the right track. But I'll probably play around with softening those a bit as I work because lightness was one of my parameters. But yeah, I'm just going to go with my gut here using these colors. As far as texture goes, I feel like I always used this inking brush which I have right now, which is great because it does feel jittery, which was one of my words from the beginning. But I also feel like I use it so much that it's not showing any emotion anymore. I'm going to work through some of my brushes, I'm just going to look at some things that haven't really played with before, and see how those make me feel. This one's interesting because it's a very dry painterly brush and it has a lot of crisp edges and that feels like anxiety to me. I'll probably save that one. As I'm going, I want to make a new folder in here and just save any brushes that I test in that folder. I'll just do that by selecting the brush and pressing this add button, and that will just make it a new brush and I can name it whatever I want. As you can see, I've selected my colors, I've selected my brushes, and I have them in a group here. Let's just see how it turns out. I haven't used these brushes before, so it should be pretty interesting. I'll play around with how to texture them and I'm going to be using masks. I am going to be using layering and clipping masks. Just follow along if you can, I won't go into my process or keyboard shortcuts or anything, but I will give you a little time lapse here. Enjoy. This goes for any creative profession when I say, don't be afraid to play and change up your materials. For me, that would be changing my brushes up. Or as you can see, I really like to play around a lot with changing the colors as I go. I feel like this is a really intuitive process, and you should go with how you're feeling. If one is color feeling a little too stressful or chaotic for you, try to switch it up. For me, here I started adding little bits of texture and doodles within my shape because I felt like they reference back to my original mood board and my original doodles. So try to incorporate some of that here if you're not sure what to do next. This whole process is about going with your gut and really trying to see how you're feeling as you're going and using that to your advantage. Just play with that as much as you can here. Here's where I landed after playing with some colors that I originally started with. I decided to go with something more light after adjusting stuff. Then I also tried to add a little bit more personality with this scribbly background texture because that's something that I implemented in my early references. I had a lot of those of control scribblings and brought them into this final color version here. I'm pretty happy with it. It's not something I would normally do. I don't usually play with textures this rough and loose. It's definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone. I feel like it'd match my emotion, so that's where I ended up. It's been a really cool and eye-opening learning experience for me. I love playing with my emotions and trying new things. Hopefully, this is working out similar for you as well. We did it. We made an art. I honestly cannot believe how much this process helps me. I love being able to break everything down into little nuggets, going step-by-step slowly and actually being able to look inward at my emotions and use those to help me make creative decisions along the way. It's really freeing, and honestly, a really big boost of a confidence for me. It's a nice release to trust your gut and just go for it. I can only speak for myself here, but I really hope that the same is true for you. I really hope you found your own technique in your own way to show the emotions that you're feeling and you got them out and they help clear some of that anxiety you've been experiencing. 9. To Share.. or Not to Share?: To share or not to share? Either option is totally okay. To recap what we talked about earlier, it's probably best while you're actually working and you want to clear out some of your emotions and your anxiety to focus more on the process. Focus on how you're feeling as you're working and don't think as much about the outcome. I think it goes without saying that it's a bit detrimental to our mental health if we're always worried about what other people think and I know it's a lot harder than it sounds to just be like, "No, I don't care what other people think." But if you're making this art just for you right now and you don't plan on putting it anywhere, that can actually be really helpful. But, that being said, if you want to put your art out there and share your experiences with others, that can be super validating. If you can own your emotions and share them with the world, that can be a huge confidence booster. You might be saying to the world, "I experienced this. It was real and I pushed through it." It will also normalize and validate those experiences for other people who might actually be feeling the same thing. Personally, putting my emotions out there has really helped me connect with others. I've had some really meaningful and potent conversations with friends and acquaintances through social media about things I've experienced, and that's been really helpful and beneficial to me. Those conversations were started by art that I made when I was feeling anxiety. I also have created art about my emotions that I've never shown to anyone, even my husband. It's really up to you here and whatever you choose to do is totally great, totally fine, 100 percent valid, and I'm just really excited that you are here to make art with me. 10. Thank You!: We did a lot here and I just want to say a big thank you for following along. I know that looking inward is not always easy, so I really appreciate you taking this journey with me. If you feel comfortable and you choose to share your art, I would love to see it here on Skillshare. You can post that up here in the Projects tab. It will be so neat to see how others choose to portray their emotions. When you upload your project, don't forget to add your Instagram or social media links as well as your portfolios so that others can see your art if they're really enjoying what you're putting out there. If you enjoyed this class, please, please, please give me a thumbs up and maybe leave a review if you feel called to do so. That'll be super helpful to make this class more visible to others who might actually also be experiencing anxiety and tough emotions, and I want to get this out to as many people as I can. Feel free to reach out with any questions in the discussion. I'd be happy to answer them. I really love normalizing and talking about mental health in the art industry so ask me any questions you want. Now, I can't leave you without a bonus treat. You did so much hard work digging deep. Check out the resources in the project description to download a PDF with mental health and anxiety resources. I've also included my Photoshop file in case you're really into digital illustration and you just want to poke around. Finally, you'll also find a collection of my favorite Photoshop brushes laid out with descriptions and names for you in another PDF. These are all brushes that are available through Creative Cloud if you have an Adobe account. I'm pointing to the places where you can download them. If you really like the brushes I used here, then you can get them for yourself. Again, thank you so much for joining this class. It's been such a pleasure. Stay gentle with yourself, and I hope you have an anxiety-free day.