Art and Mindfulness: Connecting to Self

Artist Spotlight // Victoria 

Throughout our sessions, I discovered students were willing to create art outside of class. Many students self-reflected in their art journals without a specified journal prompt given, and created art in response to their daily experiences. I observed the majority of students exhibited reoccurring themes, often exploring individual topics of interest. Other students expressed interest in exploring the use of materials, and various artistic processes. I enjoyed viewing student’s art journal entries created outside of class because it demonstrated the willingness to self-reflect, create art, and practice mindfulness outside of our sessions. I believe it provided an opportunity for students to create personal, authentic art, which exhibited their individual interests.  

Victoria described her interest in the desert which surfaced around the time the Art and Mindfulness course began. Meditating on a regular basis, Victoria reported having visualizations. She explained reoccurring imagery of the desert during meditations, as well as noticing reoccurring images daily life and in her dreams. “I felt pulled to the desert,” Victoria explained her experience, describing it as a physical urge to be in the desert. During a conversation, she described, “I felt compelled to paint it, and when I was painting it, I felt really good about what I was doing” (Victoria, 2016).

Juxtaposing Victoria’s desert painting, she created a written narrative, reflecting on her art journal entry. She writes:

   
  
 
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   The Desert. Victoria. Watercolor. 2016

The Desert. Victoria. Watercolor. 2016

Lately I am feeling very drawn to the desert. I keep imagining desert landscapes and feeling like I want to visit. I think this is because I live surrounded by water in a place that is very humid and full of trees, and maybe no so filled with rocks. The desert is the opposite of everything I usually see... I think this means that I am seeking a new experience. A different kind of energy and am looking for a unique type of beauty. Deserts are a symbol of purification and testing. Deserts are harsh, extreme environments – barren landscapes rather than they lush tropics I inhabit. I feel like the sparseness of the desert landscape invites introspection. There we are away from building, cars, businesses, and most life. I like to imagine a full night sky of stars out there, away from everything. Without so much clutter and chaos from civilization, there is the emptiness we need to find spiritual revelation.

Victoria’s journal entry demonstrates her ability to reflect through artistic expression in order to create connections between reoccurring images and her desire to experience something new (figure 8). The journal response indicates Victoria is aware of her thoughts and feelings, and she is able to reflect on those feelings through a creative outlet.

Art & Mindfulness: Connecting to Self

Art Journal Insights // Part 2

What is your favorite part about yourself and why? Mindfulness is about understanding oneself and being aware of personal qualities, whether they are qualities that one should positively acknowledge or qualities that can be improved upon.  Having Students reflect upon their favorite quality, introduces the idea of self-reflection through art expression.

 Art Journal Entry by Alex. 

Art Journal Entry by Alex. 

            Alex created an art journal entry depicting her idea of ‘self-love’ and ‘acceptance’. Implementing various artistic processes including collage, watercolor, and free writing, Alex created a composition in response to the journal prompt. 

Her journal response included messages about ‘being aware’ and ‘being inspired by the world around you.’ These are all messages that relate to the concept of mindfulness, as well as positive self-image.

   
  
 
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   Art journal prompt by Jessie. Watercolor Pencil. 2016

Art journal prompt by Jessie. Watercolor Pencil. 2016

            Jessie responded to the prompt, acknowledging her ability to “see the good in most situations.” In her journal entry, she painted a sunflower with watercolor pencils, a symbolic representation of her self-observed positivity. In her journal she states. “Life will always be filled with trials, and ups and downs, but there is so much to be grateful for.” Jessie’s response demonstrates her ability to be optimistic and form positive relationships. It also shows her willingness to engage in self-observation, as well as create symbolic connections to her beliefs with an image of a sunflower. According to Dr. Martin Seligman, positive emotions such as joy, hope and curiosity, attribute to long-term wellbeing, which directly relates to the topic of mindfulness. (Alidina & Marshall, 2016).