Today, I’m honored to share a guest post by Amy Maricle, an artist, art mentor, and author, who works in Foxboro, Mass., and teaches creative online classes (learn more below). I’m a huge fan of Amy’s work and approach to creativity, art and self-care. Which is why I asked her to share her wonderful insights. Hope you enjoy her post, and think about how art might help you feed your soul—or if it doesn’t, what actually might. 

Self-care for me is not just about eating right, going to the doctor, and getting pedicures, (although I do love a good pedi!). It’s about feeding my soul. I need more than just self-care, I need creative self-care. Making something helps me to create balance within myself. I’ve often said creativity is like exhaling. It’s just something I need to do. And I find it takes many forms in my life.

I don’t define creativity narrowly. Sometimes I express my creativity through my cooking, decorating, or finding beautiful objects in nature. Other times I express myself through painting, dancing, or making handmade cards. There’s a huge number of creative acts we all perform daily.

I try to invite others to redefine what they think of when they hear the word “creative.” Some people are creative in telling jokes and stories, some draw, some make scrapbooks, and some make creative and helpful spreadsheets. It’s all creativity, and if it makes you feel good, it’s creative self-care.

I think a lot of people avoid engaging in the arts because they believe the story that our culture tells about the arts belonging on stages and in museums only. When this is your only point of reference about what art is, it can be really scary to follow your impulse to express yourself through singing, painting, or dancing. But there are cultures in which everyone participates in song, dance, storytelling, and painting. I believe it is natural and grounding to create, especially in community.

I don’t feel I can speak for others, but for me and the folks in my classes, having a creative self-care routine has made a big difference in our lives. Here’s some of the ways I find making art helps me:

Art connects me with nature. I like to mimic a lot of nature’s patterns and colors in my art. This feels grounding, even when I can’t get outside for a hike or a swim in the ocean.

Art helps me slow down. I tend to rush and be distracted, like a lot of us, and working on small, detailed art pieces forces me to zone in on something and focus. It’s a nice way to take mini breaks in my day.

Making art with no plan feels like an adventure, never knowing what’s going to appear on the page, and practicing facing the unknown, even on the page, feels like good practice for facing all the unknowns in my life. Delving into the experience of a flow state, where I lose sense of time also feels mysterious and spiritual to me.

The results of my other work are not always tangible. Looking at something I’ve created makes me feel I can have an impact on my world. It’s like a life-affirming stamp that says, Yes, I’m here.

I love seeing my art around my house. It connects me to my creative life and reminds me to create more. I even hang some pieces that are not technically that good but are very meaningful to me, and so I display them, because they remind me of something important, and that makes me happy.

***

If you are interested in learning more about Amy’s approach, you can check out her new class, Fluid Art where she teaches you how to use liquid acrylic paints, organic patterns, and handmade books to create a fluid art practice in your life. 

You can learn more about Amy at http://mindfulartstudio.com, or follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/amymaricle.

Photos by Amy Maricle of her beautiful art.