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.