Art for Self-care

Art for Self-care

Art as Self-care

The use of art as self-care is well documented. Art can be therapeutic and many people say this is true. In a busy digital world, there is an urge to disengage from text-based connections with others. Drawing and sketching may help bring balance to the input your brain gets every day.


Personally, I turned to art at a time in my life when I could not deal with another conversation as I seemed to be going around in circles with the issue at the time. I’d wake up and immediately start ruminating about what happened yesterday and replay conversations and situations in my head.

I would think, “I should have said this or that” or “I should have done things differently.” There was no let up. I became weary and tired.

Art Journaling

I turned to my art journal and began again. 

I now write my thoughts on the right-hand page and draw a corresponding picture on the left-hand page. I am right-handed so it’s easier to write on the right-hand page and usually there is more paper underneath to support the pen. We used to do this type of work in grade school way back where it is still used as a learning aid.


You remember things better if you hear them, write notes about then and draw an image about them. Clearly you can go further and make a model out of cardboard or macaroni, dance it out, pen a poem, write song lyrics, sing about it or do a play.

Write and Draw

Let’s keep to the writing and the drawing. Words and image. Make notes and draw a picture about it. This technique is a basis of art journaling.

1. Aspiring Artist Activity

Art Journaling: Coffee Shop

Take your art journal, a pen and go to a coffee shop. Get a cup of coffee and settle down at a table. In your art journal please do the following:


  • Sketch the cup and maybe the people at the other tables.
  • Add the coffee shop name and logo to the sketch.
  • If you have a croissant or other pastry, draw that in too.
  • You can add as much, or as few, details to your journal spread as you like.


  • Write the time, date where you are enjoying the delicious coffee.
  • Note the coffee shop name.

You have now completed your first art journaling sketchbook entry.


Doodling is the act of drawing squiggles and mini shapes and characters on the corner of a page. It is what you do when they put you on hold on a phone call with your pen in hand. Doodling can be lines, curves, faces or whatever. But it is an outpouring of what’s on your mind and in this way it can be helpful.

Daily Art Practice

If you look carefully, you can eke out a quarter of an hour each day for your daily art practice. Fifteen minutes of drawing daily can soothe your mind.

Draw Your Day

For my daily art practice, I have a special small A5 sketchbook just for my quick daily art drawings. These sketches are unlikely to ever see the light of day, but they can often be the basis for later more complex drawings that I create.

I like the idea of letting sketches incubate until they turn into something else. Simple objects around you are great subjects to draw.

Benefits of Daily Art Practice

To establish a daily art practice is of huge benefit for several reasons:

  • You get to improve your art.
  • You express your innermost feelings
  • You can express yourself through words and images
  • You can begin to create a body of work
  • You may realise what your favorite art medium is
  • You initiate the foundation of your art style

Daily Art Practice Examples

Here are some examples I did of daily art practice with pencil sketches of flowers:

Breath Drawing

Breathing, we all do it, in and out, in and out, in and out… Regular breathing tends to be shallow and has the same count for in and out.

You breathe in for a count of three and out for a count of three. Inhale one, two, three and exhale one, two, three. This is natural breathing.

2. Aspiring Artist Activity: Controlled Breath

A controlled breath helps to calm the mind and reduces blood pressure.


Try this activity and the trick is to control your exhale.

  • Breathe in fully for a count of three, and out fully for a count of five.
  • In one, two, three and out one, two, three, four, five.
  • Fully empty your lungs in a slow controlled exhale.



On your paper and with a black pen please do the following:

  • Start at the left-hand edge and draw a line up when you breathe in.
  • Draw a line down as you breathe out.
  • Continue across the page.
  • Turn the page one quarter turn and repeat the line.
  • Continue filing up the page with your breath movement lines.
  • You will end up with an artwork that looks like neurographic art and now you can curve the intersections and color in.

Neurographic Art

Neurographic art is an art movement that I recently discovered as I was searching for art and mindfulness. I began with some basics and now enjoy making neurographic art.

Neurographic Art Examples

Some examples of my beginner attempts at neurographic art are here:


Journaling comes in several flavors:

  • Bullet journaling – to do lists and calendars
  • Art journaling
  • Sketch journaling
  • Morning pages journaling – Follow the guide of Julia Cameron and write three pages longhand every morning to dump your cluttered mind
  • Nature Journaling
  • Perpetual Journaling

Art Journaling

Art practice sketches and thoughts. Some of my examples of art journaling are here:

Sketch Journaling

To my mind, sketch journaling is drawing what you did and where you went.

Nature Journaling

Nature journaling is drawing the natural world. You would typically start with plants and insects in your own garden. This is a great activity to do with the kids or grandkids.

Perpetual Nature Journal

A perpetual journal is divided into twelve months and you capturing some images each month.

Example pages:

Pin this image to your Pinterest board.

Perpetual Anything Journaling

A perpetual journal could be for anything that interests you. The benefit of a perpetual journal is that it is evergreen and grows every month. 

Perpetual journals can easily become records of your life and can be handed down to the family like an heirloom. Think back to Edwardian women embroidering stitch samplers which show what they could do. These cloths are most desirable today as family records. Perpetual journals can be your legacy.

Perpetual Legacy Journaling

A legacy journal is one you leave behind for those that follow. Typically, it was a family history book containing the family tree, but it can be focused on what and who you are. Examples of a perpetual legacy journal that you could make are:

  • Family recipes
  • Our family Christmas book
  • Family tree
  • Family homes
  • Your gardening tips
  • Family anecdotes
  • A home book about the property and renovations you did

I’m sure you can think of many more perpetual legacy journals. 

Alison Hazel

Author Bio

Alison Hazel is a woman who shares her ongoing journey about becoming an artist later in life. She creates simple art that anyone can make. She hopes to inspire you to reach your creative potential in the area that suits you.

Read more about Alison’s story.

Send Alison a quick message.

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The Prehistoric Primary Colors

The Prehistoric Primary Colors

The Prehistoric Primary Colors

by Alison Hazel


The earliest remaining prehistoric art that early humans created can be seen in the caves at the town of Lascaux in France.

There are other areas in the world with palaeolithic art, but the Lascaux caves are famous for their color, variety and volume of images.



In this sketch, I tried to recreate the image of the bull and horse from the cave art at Lascaux.



I used toned paper and the prehistoric primary colors of black, white and red.

I also added some yellow as that was available from burnt umber.

Cave Art

Below is a photo from the caves and you can see the power of the red used.

The early artists made use of the natural bulges, cracks and protuberances of the cave walls to add almost a relief effect to each animal.



Modern Primary Colors

The modern primary colors are red, yellow and blue.

When mixed in varying degrees you can make all the colors.

Prehistoric Primary Colors

The prehistoric primary colors are commonly known as black, white and red.

The term “Prehistoric Primaries” is one way to express that the early cave painters only had a few natural colors at their disposal.

Limited Palettes

To use a limited palette in art means to only draw or paint with a few colors.

The most limited palette is black and white such as is seen in pen and ink drawings.



If you add one more color to black and white, such as the cave painters adding red, you can create dynamic images where color is handled carefully to express the meaning of the art piece.

Using a limited palette is a good way to bring focus to your artworks and set the mood for individual paintings.

Your Paint Box

In a beginner’s paintbox of say, twelve colours, there is the tendency to dip into each and every color pan available.



If you bring some discipline to your color palette you can explore your color techniques and learn a great deal about working with color as you create sophisticated artworks.

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