Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on creativity and self-expression. The approach is used as a means to relieve stress, increase self-esteem and awareness, and for post-traumatic recovery aims. Mostly, other forms of therapy use verbal language to express feelings and overcome personal obstacles. On the contrary, art therapy allows for more abstract forms of communication. This tactic involves the manifestation of elements of the subconscious, for which there is no willingness or ability to be voiced.
You don't need to be an artist to benefit from art therapy. In fact, most of the exercises do not rely on the end result that you create, but on the therapeutic effect of the ritual of the creative process itself. If you are intrigued by the possibility of relaxation through your artistic imagination, then this list of 100 art therapy exercises is just for you.
Simple art therapy techniques
1. The masks exercise. On the prepared stencils, draw the emotions of those masks that you usually wear. This exercise helps you develop empathy skills, listen to yourself, tell your story on behalf of each mask. 2. What is the feminine and masculine exercise. This is one of the simplest therapeutic art activities. First, it is discussed in groups how to create a collage on a given topic. During the creative process, the opinions of both groups are taken into account. The exercise expands the understanding of social interaction and human behavior. 3. Drawing yourself exercise. Draw yourself as a plant or animal are the easiest paint therapy ideas. The exercise helps to know yourself, to open your inner world. 4. Scratching exercise. Graphic work on a soapy lining is velvety due to the scratching of its surface. This exercise improves fine motor skills, relieves emotional stress. 5. Salt drawings exercise. If you cover colored paper with glue and salt, you get beautiful snowdrifts. You can also use toothpaste by squeezing it along the outline. This exercise develops fine motor skills.
6.Wet paint exercise. A drawing is created when paint is added to a non-dried background and shaded with a sponge or a wide brush. In this way, it is convenient to draw sunrises and sunsets, as well as the coloring of animals. This exercise develops imagination, relieve emotional stress. 7. Splashing exercise. For the color splashing technique, use a comb, brush, or toothbrush. Bright splashes will help express seasonal changes (leaf color changes, wind direction). This exercise improves creative vision, relieves emotional stress. 8. Egg mosaic exercise. Add some crushed eggshells in several glasses with multi-colored paint. Draw a picture, sprinkle it with eggshell mosaic. This exercise develops fine motor skills. 9. Monotype exercise. Spatter the paint onto the glass with water and a brush to form stains. Cover the puddles with clean paper to create a beautiful landscape. The exercise is aimed at developing imagination, creativity. 10. Invisible or Candle. Drawing Exercise First, paint a magic drawing on a blank sheet of paper with a candle, then wash it with watercolor. Such art therapy activities develop imagination, fine motor skills, relieves emotional stress.
11. Pair drawing exercise. Try to create a drawing or applique together without discussing the topic in advance. Talking during the creative process is prohibited. Creating of such therapeutic art projects develops self-regulation, the ability to constructively interact. 12. Walk in the woods exercise. While listening to music, draw a forest, transferring your feelings from unity with nature. This therapy drawing develops the imagination, helps to discover the inner corners of the soul. 13. Drawing circles exercise. Several participants at the same table draw circles of any color and size on a large sheet of paper. The middle of the circle is filled with any images, creating a chain from them. Such group art therapy techniques reveal interpersonal and group relationships and offer the potential for building cohesion. 14. A fairy tale of a butterfly and a dream exercise. Draw your dreams to the sound of music on the silhouette of a butterfly. On one wing, depict the content of your nightmare, and on the other wing, the content of your pleasant dreams. The purpose of such art therapy exercises is to study night fears, to find an inner resource. 15. Spontaneous drawing exercise. Draw an illustration for your favorite fairy tale. The exercise provides an opportunity to become aware of your real experiences.
16. My planet exercise. Close your eyes and imagine a planet in space. Draw this planet. This exercise and similar examples of art therapy develop imagination, fine motor skills, relieve emotional stress. 17. The two with one piece of chalk exercise. This is one of the best therapeutic activity ideas for collaboration. On the board or on the asphalt, the two of you need to draw a picture together with one chalk, alternately passing it from hand to hand. You cannot talk while drawing. The exercise develops cooperation, the ability to work in a team. 18. Drawing on crumpled paper exercise. Crumple a sheet of paper, tear off the edges in the form of an oval or circle. In the middle, create a drawing on any topic. Exercise trains the imagination, helps to overcome stress. 19. Ink blots and butterflies exercise. Drip a drop of ink on thin paper and roll it up or fold it in half. Expand the sheet and transform the seen image. The exercise sets you up for reflection, develops imagination and ingenuity. 20. Paint blowing exercise. Apply paint to a sheet of paper with plenty of water. At the very end of the work, blow color spots through a thin tube, forming droplets, splashes, and color mixing. Try to see the image and transform it. This exercise hones hand coordination, helps to overcome stress.
Some more creative therapeutic activity ideas
21. Drawing with charcoal crayons exercise. Take charcoal crayons to create this therapy drawing. Use charcoal along with colour pencils or wax crayons. The art therapy ideas of such activities are to relieve emotional stress by immersion in oneself. 22. Doodle exercise. Let the pencil flutter freely on the paper, draw doodles without any purpose or intention and pass it on to your partner, who must create an image from them and develop it. The exercise helps you immerse yourself in your own world, sets you up for reflection. 23. Draw a mood exercise. Paint different moods (sad, cheerful, joyful, etc.). The exercise develops empathy. 24. Rainbow exercise. When doing this, apply each strip with a partner in turn. The exercise develops the emotional world, communication skills. 25. Group drawing in a circle exercise. Discuss the idea of the future drawing in the group. The picture must be drawn, alternately passing the task to the next participant. Exercise develops empathy, goodwill towards each other.
26. Drawing with music exercise. While listening to Vivaldi's 4 Seasons Symphony, paint the landscape in large strokes. Exercise helps relieve emotional stress. 27. Finger drawing exercise. Draw a plot in the air with your fingers. Your opponent must guess the drawing. The exercise develops imagination, communication skills. 28. Draw your mandala exercise. Use a pencil to draw a circle with a diameter that matches the size of your head. Find a center and start drawing from it, depicting a specific figure, and let the composition of your drawing form by itself. This exercise relieves stress, fatigue, tension. 29. Magic paint exercise . Paint a magical land with magical colors. Stir flour, salt, sunflower oil, gouache, water and create a drawing with your hands. Exercise helps to overcome emotional stress, develops imagination. 30. Colors Life Story Exercise. Apply yellow on a sheet of paper, apply blue on top of it. So a new color was born, it's green. The exercise develops sensory abilities and imagination.
31. Inner world map exercise. In the likeness of a geographic map, create a map of your inner world. To do this, think about what feelings, states prevail in you ("ocean of love", or "mountain of courage"). Leave the "undiscovered islands" to discover new qualities. The exercise forms an idea of yourself; helps to understand and express your feelings. 32. Envelopes of joy and sorrow exercise. A lot of different events take place during the day, both joyful and sad. Make two paper envelopes. In one of them, collect your joys, and in the other, hide your sorrows in the form of drawings. The exercise develops the ability to express your feelings in relation to various life situations. 33. Family poster exercise. Stick the envelope onto a large sheet of A3 paper. Place your family photos that show the brightest events in an envelope. Add a small symbolic drawing to each photo. This exercise brings family members together emotionally and helps to strengthen family values. 34. My emblem exercise. An emblem is a distinctive sign that depicts a symbol of an idea or person. Use plasticine to make your own emblem. The exercise forms an idea of oneself, awareness of one's interests and aspirations. 35. My family's coat of arms exercise. Look at family photos. Use generalized knowledge about the history of your family to make the coat of arms of your family. Exercise forms an understanding of family values, strengthens blood ties.
36. Flower exercise. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful flower. What does it look and smell like? Make your own unique flower using colored paper, glue, and scissors. This exercise trains imagination and helps to overcome stress. 37. Cheerful fingers exercise. Take a piece of paper and gouache. Put your fingers in colorful paints and create a pattern that matches your mood. The goal of such an exercise is to relieve emotional stress, train fine motor skills and imagination. 38. Postcard without addressee exercise. If emotions or feelings about a person are raging within you, release them in a letter. To enhance the therapeutic effect, draw an additional postcard. The purpose of the exercise is to pour out negative emotions. 39. Collage from a torn painting exercise. Draw a picture and then tear it apart. Use the pieces of the drawing along with other elements to create a new work as a collage. This exercise unlocks your creativity. 40. Creation of the altar exercise. Build an altar for someone who is important to you (this could be a deceased relative, your first school love, or a brother with whom you quarreled). Decorate it with shared memories: photos, souvenirs, gifts, letters, and crafts. This activity helps you to understand the value of human relationships, as well as helps to heal wounds and find comfort in difficult times.
Original therapeutic art projects
41. Alone in the dark exercise. Create a drawing in complete darkness. Creative tension comes from criticism and condemnation of the people around. This exercise will allow you to free yourself from perfectionism and enjoy the original creativity. 42. Color your physical condition exercise.Close your eyes, relax, and listen to your body. Using watercolors, paint your physical sensations: your pulse, breathing. This is your most authentic self-portrait. 43. Zentangle meditation exercise. Create a series of patterns and repeating ornaments in black and white zenteling technique. Such an activity reveals creative potential, giving the right to a creative mistake: nothing can be erased. 44. Allow yourself a mistake exercise. Think about the traits you don't like about yourself, the failures or mistakes you have made. Focus on one of these blunders and draw it in your artwork. In this way, you give yourself the right to make a mistake, forgive your being imperfect. 45. Poetic collage exercise. Cut out inspiring phrases from old letters, newspapers, or brochures and create a collage from them. You don't need to have an initial idea, you can come up with an idea as you create.
46. Nominal drawing tool exercise. Come up with your own paint brush. It doesn't matter if you glue the toothpicks to a cardboard base or attach a skein of thread to a pencil. The purpose of the exercise is to free yourself from control over the drawing process. 47. Forgiveness box exercise. To get rid of negative emotions in relation to a person, you need to forgive him or her. Take any cardboard box and decorate it with calming patterns. You can add a letter or a photo of this person. The purpose of this activity is to create pleasant memories that connect you with this person. 48. Happiness card exercise. Choose and draw three habits for happiness. The purpose of the exercise is to become aware of your feelings, to understand where to move to improve the quality of your life. 49. My good sides exercise. To relax, relieve stress and fatigue, you can use light art exercises. Draw your good character traits. 50. Fingerprint exercise Contour your hand (palms with fingers) and create unique patterns inside.
51. Childhood memories exercise Draw your childhood memory. This will help relieve stress and fatigue. 52. Happy moments exercise. Draw an abstraction of the positive moments in your life. 53. Kindness marathon exercise. Paint a stone or a brick, take part in the Kindness rocks marathon. 54. Collage of leaves exercise. Collect a collage of leaves, twigs, glue them to paper. Then finish painting the background, draw pictures around them. 55. Imitator exercise. Create your own interpretation of a famous painting. 56. Dreams exercise Draw your dreams using exactly the shapes and images in which they come to your mind. 57. Drawing with symbols and abstractions exercise. Use colors, lines, shapes to create images that express your understanding of feelings of guilt, grief, happiness. It is important to discuss the author's reasoning for the choice of color, shape, and composition. 58. The color of my mood exercise. Each member of the group is invited to walk through a drawn maze and stop in a zone which color matches his or her mood. Further, work is carried out on individual signs (images, symbols) of mood. 59. Image and mood plastic exercise. Each participant is asked to choose a piece of plasticine of a certain color and give it a suitable shape that is relevant to the topic. Exercise is useful when dealing with aggression, destructive behavior, fears. 60. Series of drawings exercise. 3-4 art exercises are performed at once. It is necessary to develop the background of the offered drawing: next to it, depict your condition. Don't analyze or criticize your drawings, allow yourself to do whatever you want.
The magic of therapy drawing
61. Drawing on wet paper exercise Drawing on wet way actualizes the feelings associated with a person's attitude to himself, reflects a person's ability to relax, without control, to accept life as it is. 62. Drawing on crumpled paper exercise. Drawing on crumpled paper actualizes the topic of relationships with loved ones, growth and overcoming conflict. 63. Drawing on checkered paper exercise Drawing on checkered paper actualizes the interaction of a person with the system, with society, finding his vocation. 64. Drawing on torn paper exercise Torn paper artwork reflects a person's ability to recover, survive crisis periods, integrate, and change. 65. Drawing a name exercise. The focus of these therapeutic art projects is on the phenomena of identity and self-acceptance. With a wide brush and oil paint in your hand, write your name so that it takes up as much space as possible. Draw your name on a piece of paper with symbolism. 66. Visualization exercise Visualization exercise Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. The assistant pronounces separate phrases, and you should focus on their content. After that, you need to draw images of the words you heard. 67. Two randomicities exercise. Take a dictionary and pick two random concepts at random. Match them up, come up with a crazy story with these concepts, and draw a picture. These art exercises is great for training the brain and helps develop creativity. 68. Crazy geneticist exercise. Draw something that combines as many features of all the animals you know as possible. The goal of the therapy drawing is to turn off logic by focusing on creativity. 69. Mad architect exercise. Choose any 10 words. Imagine that you are an architect and your client has set these 10 requirements. While drawing on paper, simultaneously imagine what it might look like in real life. 70. Five plus five exercise. Pick any noun and draw this object. Now come up with 5 adjectives that suit him and draw them. After that, come up with 5 more adjectives that do not fit, and draw them too. 71. Naming exercise. Every time you are interested in an object, come up with a name and artistic symbol for it. Draw the symbol using paints. 72. Working with salt dough exercise. Such paint therapy ideas transform images, supplement them with new details, destroy and create again. You can mold your fear out of salt dough and destroy it, decorate it, or transform it into something else. 73. Metaphorical self-portrait exercise. Draw yourself as an object, plant, or animal that you want to be. Then write a short story about it. The therapy drawing develops flexible role-playing behavior, the formation of identity. 74. Day events exercise. Pick a day you would like to remember and draw its content in every detail. The task is to actualize the feelings; distance from negative events. 75. At the crossroads exercise. Divide the sheets into several rows, name each row one of the options for your behavior model. Model the result of solving your question in accordance with a certain model after 1 year and draw on the first sheet. Move all 5 rows this way, going further into the future each time. This is suitable for those in a situation of choice in making vital decisions. 76. Protective amulet exercise. Collect all kinds of art materials and make yourself a personal amulet to protect you from your fears. The goal is to reduce psycho-emotional stress. 77. Emotional body atlas exercise. Write down five emotions on a piece of paper: fear, joy, anger, sadness, shame. To the right of the title, you need to make a note with paints of the color with which you associate these emotions. The purpose is to investigate a group of irritants that are most clearly manifested in bodily reactions. 78. The sun exercise. In the center of the sheet, write the subject (key word), find associations to a word that reveal its meaning. Write down each association and connect it to the word in the center with a line. This is how the sun appears with the rays coming from it, which you need to color. 79. This is me exercise. Parer and pens are distributed to all participants. Each one comes up with 10 phrases that characterize him or her and depicts it in the form of a picture. The purpose of the exercise is to help the participants get to know each other better, to establish cooperation. 80. What's in your heart exercise. Take your time, use art materials you like (pencils, crayons, markers, paints) and listen carefully to yourself. Fill the drawn heart with those emotions, feelings, experiences that live in your heart.
Finishing touches from the list of 100 art therapy exercises
81. The letter of anger exercise. Spill out on paper with the help of paints all negative emotions in relation to any person or event. This exercise helps to remove negativity and teaches you to understand your emotional state. 82. I'll give the pain to paper exercise. Use a straw to blow out your pain. Place diluted watercolor paint in a cocktail straw and blow onto a piece of paper. From now on, thoughts of love, not pain, live inside you. 83. Drawing the spasm exercise. If you are experiencing physical discomfort, draw a picture of the spasm. Completion of the item from separate details, in order to form new images, helps to overcome traumatic psychoemotional conditions. 84. Cast drawing exercise. One of the simple and effective therapeutic art ideas is liquid paint cast. This exercise makes it possible to blur the meaning of psycho emotional experiences symbolically. cast 85. Depth casts exercise. Completing monotypic casts on a separate sheet with a search for deep saving meanings is a very effective art therapy crafts. 86. Colored sheets exercise. Sketch in any color as many sheets of paper as many negative words you can use to describe the pain. 87. Geometric figures exercise. Draw your pain in geometric shapes in different color range. 88. My life is like... exercise. Make a series of pictures on separate sheets. Draw your feelings today. The theme of the drawings: My life is like a road, river, mountain, game, fire. 89. Facets of myself exercise. Create a collage on the topic "The Facets of My Self" from magazine clippings and newspaper pictures. Draw the missing details. 90. Associations exercise. On a piece of paper, draw associations for your partner: if he were a color, an object, an animal, a musical composition, then how exactly do you see him or her. 91. Fell the rhythm exercise. Play the rhythm of your choice by clapping your hands, tapping the table, clicking, etc. Draw what you feel along the way. When you get used to it, play it in a different way or choose a new rhythm. 92. Plasticine modeling exercise. Sculpt the image that first comes to your mind. Modeling from plasticine, dough, clay is an effective means of modeling a new self-image, productive relationships, values. 93. The lacking person exercise. Remember childhood and draw a lacking person, thanks to whom your life could change for the better. 94. Man and the planet of his treasures exercise. From pieces of dough, mold a sculpture of a person and the planet of his treasures. Place the sculpture in paper space (the universe). Paint the dried sculpture. The goal of such art therapy activities is to reflect and analyze your behavior. 95. The letter from the future exercise. Come up with a fictional written message to yourself from yourself from the future detailing the life you want. The drawing will complement the effect perfectly. 96. Feeling to feeling exercise. Draw your feeling at the very moment (type, shape, color is determined by you). In each subsequent part of the sheet, it is necessary to draw an image of feeling in relation to the previous drawing. 97. Five wishes exercise. Write your wishes on 5 sheets. Choose the color and composition of the picture for each of them. The main thing is that the color combination matches your idea of the very desire. 98. Acceptance exercise. Cut the completed abstract drawing from a magazine or newspaper into pieces of any shape. A fragment of someone else's drawing must be integrated into your work. Glue the collage and paint the rest. 99. Reference geometric shapes exercise. Draw a circle around the point in the center of the sheet and continue spinning in a circle for one minute. In the same way, inscribe the star in the circle. Monitor your sensations as you exercise. 100. My house exercise. List all of your relatives on a piece of paper. Draw a house and place your family inside it. The goal of such art therapy techniques is to diagnose family relationships.
We offer to consider 100 simple exercises that will help you explore your inner self and unleash your creative potential. Perhaps not all of them will be useful or convenient to use specifically for you, but at least some of the list you can use on an ongoing basis. These simple art therapy techniques will help you open up new facets of yourself, as well as release stress, tension, and just relax after a hard working day.
How did you like our art therapy techniques? Which exercise did you remember the most?
Challenge Draw your 2021 with Artistro
Dates: Wed, 01/06 - 01/27 2021 is here!
Artistro is famous for its high-quality multi-surface art supplies that spark your imagination. Now Artistro is inviting you to imagine your 2021 with us. The theme is Draw your 2021.
2020 was a challenging year and let's embrace 2021 with an optimistic mindset. What do you want to achieve in 2021? What do you want to change in 2021? Tell us in your videos. You are NOT required to use Artistro supplies in your video to win, but Artistro will post your videos on their Instagram page if you win and you use Artistro supplies in your videos.
-DIY projects, crafts and creations
-Painting, Lettering, Bullet Journaling
-Rock painting, wood painting, wood burning
-Crafts with kids
Artistro will provide 5 gift cards 50 USD each to their online shop to 5 creators based in worldwide RANDOMLY. The winners’ videos that use Artistro supplies will be posted on Astistro’s Instagram page (100K followers) with credits. If you win and your video didn’t use Artistro supplies, you can make a video using Aristro after you receive the award and Aristro will post that on their Instagram page.
Contest eligibility criteria for creators and content
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