for better mental health

Painting has helped me through the pandemic

Wednesday, 18 November 2020 Clarrie-Anne

Clarrie-Anne blogs about how her hobby has helped eased her lockdown anxiety – and raised money for Mind at the same time.

I believe that one of the best ways to maintain your mental wellbeing is to tap into your creative side. I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember, and I also suffer with situational depression. Situational depression is a short-term, stress-related type of depression. It can develop after experiencing a traumatic event or series of events, such as lockdown. It is seen as a type of adjustment disorder, and it makes it hard for me to adjust to my everyday life following a traumatic event. For me creativity is a way of losing myself and finding myself.

Living in a pandemic I felt very isolated, which caused my anxiety to be triggered along with spells of depression

I live by myself, and during lockdown I have found it difficult because I have not been able to see anybody. Living and working in a pandemic I feel very isolated, which has caused my anxiety to be triggered along with spells of depression. Painting became an outlet for me to show my emotions on the page in the first lockdown. I was painting figures, faces and abstract art. Many of my pieces focus on the female form which I love to portray with distinctive colour combinations, giving them and myself a sense of empowerment. I then found that this could then help others by sharing what I created on social media by using a narrative that people can relate to.
 
I tend to paint in the evenings after working in the day.I find comfort in the night and have found I produce my best work at this time. The way I am feeling determines what is interpreted through my paintings. When I am finished, I have a sense of relief, peace and accomplishment.

On a day I was suffering badly with my mental health I picked up a brush and I have been painting ever since

Watercolour painting is probably one of the more challenging mediums. I had been given a watercolour paint pallet as a gift a couple of years ago, and on a day I was suffering particularly badly with my mental health I picked up a brush and have been painting ever since. I decided to experiment and explore it without the help of tutorials. This enabled me to create my own style and give me a sense of freedom to make mistakes and learn in my own way. I think it is very important not to compare yourself to others. This can be particularly difficult with social media, but your art should be as unique as you. There is no right and wrong in art, and I find painting is easy when you do not know how and you just ‘do’.
 
My advice to anybody looking for an activity in lockdown to help their mental wellbeing would be to find something that enables you to escape your troubles and makes you feel inspired, free and empowered. We all need to feel like we have a purpose, and if that purpose is helping yourself and maybe somebody else through a creative medium then I can think of nothing better.
 
After sharing my art on social media, I was very moved by all the positive comments I received. It gave me a great feeling to know that people wanted to buy my art for their homes and that they could relate to my paintings. I never expected it to develop that way. Painting for me started out as a form of escapism, and now I am selling my art though Etsy and thetinkan ltd.

I then approached my employer with the idea of creating paintings that could be auctioned to raise money for Mind. The auction went on throughout October, and the feedback was overwhelming. From initially looking at a blank page during a difficult time in lockdown, I've been able to create work that I'm proud of. It’s not only helped me but also helped others.  Combined with my fundraiser on Facebook for my birthday, I've been able to raise £1,451 for Mind. This is something that's made me incredibly proud.

I can't emphasise enough how important creativity can be for mental wellbeing

I can't emphasise enough how important creativity can be for mental wellbeing and how people can turn to painting in order to take them away from issues they're facing.

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