Site icon Guilt Free Mind

Role of painting in art therapy

Painting in art therapy

Painting in art therapy

Painting is a wonderful art form. But what is the role of painting as art therapy?

Art therapy aims at bringing out the deep-seated emotions and feelings which are difficult to express verbally in the form of art. Painting has been observed to be an intricate part of the art therapy process. Psychologists use the technique of painting to understand the thought processes and the feelings which their patients might be going through. Painting and also be used as a medium of self-expression. You do not need to go to a therapist to understand the meaning behind your painting. The role of painting as art therapy is to de-clutter and de-stress your mind. Painting and also be used to heal emotionally.

A guide to art therapy for newbies 

Painting as a child

Do you remember the time when you were a child and used to paint? Do you remember the feeling associated when you were doing the task of painting? It was a very messy activity, but it would also bring the joy of creativity. You did not think of what others thought of your creation, whether it was good bad or ugly or how much time you spend on making one artwork. The only purpose of painting was that it made you feel good and happy.

Painting as an adult

I am sure, that if I ask you to paint, you will be paralyzed with fear. Fear of the judgment of others, fear of not painting the right way, fear of self-expectation. The moot point is you do not want to make a fool of yourself. However if you look back at your childhood, it was very easy to paint. You never thought about others. You only indulged in the process and not the outcome. You lived in the moment, something which becomes very hard to do when you’re an adult.

Why should you engage in painting to destress yourself?

Life, in the current scenario is very hectic. We are constantly under pressure to meet different deadlines, fulfil all our commitments and maintain proper sleep-wake cycle. Amidst all of this, we tend to forget that all of us need some time to ourselves. Creating a painting gives you exactly that, the ‘me’ time. Your painting time is the time when you can forget all about your worries, forget your deadlines and just focus on relaxing your mind. The role of painting as art therapy is to provide a meditative experience for those who cannot meditate. It can help focus your mind and body at the one specific thing that you are working on.

Research on painting as art therapy technique

Several studies have been conducted to understand if painting as art therapy is a good option. A study conducted in 2013 investigated the effect of painting as art therapy on 30 boys who showed symptoms of appositional defiant disorder (a condition where the child tends to display argumentative behavior towards others in position of authority). The painting therapy sessions were conducted twice per week for a period of 6 weeks. After six weeks it was observed that  kids who underwent painting as art therapy shoppers reduced symptoms of operational defiant disorder compared to those who were not administered pairing as an art therapy technique.

Another study conducted in 2020 observed that the choices made by the clients in the first 15 minutes of art therapy can tell a lot about what regret are going through. The choice of material as well as the clients interaction with the materials can provide critical information to the therapist. This information will be used to guide the course and goals of the art therapy session.

Art therapy for depression; myth or truth?

Painting as art therapy is for everyone

You do not have to be Picasso Pablo to make a painting. Use painting as a method to express your emotions. Just paint without any analysis or plan. It is a heavy feeling to acknowledge what you feel and paint those emotions without allowing you your self to judge. The best part about painting, you cannot go wrong. Abstract paintings are subjected to personal evaluation. So what you paint will get deciphered in different manner by different people. Nobody can ever tell you what an abstract painting is supposed to look like. There are no formats, there are no rights or wrongs in painting.

Therapeutic benefits of painting:

There are many benefits of painting as art therapy:

Improvement in concentration:

During painting, one has to pay a lot of attention to the details. Improve the details, keep modifying to make the painting better etc. Such activities It only serves to enhance your essential skills, they also improve your focus and concentration. The benefit of painting is that these focus skills not only come in handy for your painting but also in case of studying or working.

Improve the fine motor skills

Painting improves the fine motor skills of the hand, dexterity as well as improves the hand eye coordination of the person.

The best relaxation method:

Painting can not only improve your focus, it can help you relax as well. This is one of the main benefits of painting. It relaxes as well as rejuvenated your mind at the same time.

Non verbal communication:

This is the one of the most important benefits of painting from the point of painting as art therapy technique. Painting can act as an outlet for your deepest feelings and thoughts, even those which you cannot put into words.

Enhance critical thinking

The decision from which brush to choose to which color to pick enhance your decision making skills. Painting may seem as just an art form to you. However, it encompasses so much more than just art. Painting as art therapy can make you a more decisive person overall.


A lot of times we have an image in the head, but it’s hard to replicate the same on paper. One must persevere if they intend to get their artwork to a certain level. Similarly, in life one must persevere to reach where they want to. Painting as art therapy not only relieves your stress, it fines you so much to implement in your life and make it better.
Understanding the significance of different colors in art therapy 

How to start painting as art therapy?

To begin painting as art therapy, you will need the following things

A set of paints:

Whether to plan to paint for the sake of painting or want to begin painting as art therapy, you will need a few things. Fr paints, you can pretty much use anything you can get your hands on, from food coloring to real paints. But in my opinion the best would be if you can get your hands on acrylic paints. Acrylic paints are usually available in a set of 12 at your nearest stationary shop. The paint sets are quite inexpensive. Acrylic paints have a tendency to blend well, they dry fast and can be applied as paints on paper. You can also try to work with watercolors if that is your medium of your choice. However, for beginners, watercolors may not be easy to deal with.

A few paintbrushes:

To begin painting as art therapy, paint brushes are a must. You only need two or three different types of brushes to begin the process of painting. Go for one big flat brush one medium-size rush and one smaller brush so that you can do the fine detailing. The big brushes are used to express emotions in abstract paintings so there would be perfect for your art therapy exercise.

Use paper sheets:

To start with painting as art therapy, you don’t need fancy canvases. You do not need a huge canvas or specific painting sheets to begin the process of painting as art therapy. As long as you have a few thick sheets you are good to go. You can use an drawing pad with thick sheets.

A glass of water

Water allows the acrylic paints to move and blend smoothly on the surface of paper and is needed to wash your brushes. Make sure you have a glass of water on your table before you start the painting process.

Paper towels:

Paper towels are very essential to clean up mistakes, to wipe your brushes or even your hands if you get some paint on them. If you are looking for specific color, I would suggest you try out the brush with the color on the paper towel first before you put it on the paper.

A spacious workspace

Painting as art therapy should never be done in constrained spaces. If you are working in a constrained space, your mind will not find any peace or calm since the lack of space will be bothersome. This is something that must be avoided at all costs. Go for a space which is spacious and can accommodate all your brushes your colors and your paper.

Digital painting

It is not necessary to go for traditional painting as art therapy. You can even chose to go for digital painting. Digital painting as art therapy is an amazing and a much easier option for most people. It does not require a ton of space, paints, water etc. You can do digital painting on your laptop or phone, wherever you choose. if you chose digital painting, you not only save space but a ton of money as well.


Do you paint? Have you ever thought to start painting as art therapy to get rid of your daily stress?

This is one art therapy technique which does not need an art therapist. Painting as art therapy can be done on your phone or on paper. You can do this to provide yourself a ME time and declutter your mind. Painting will not only make you feel fresh, it will also provide you time to relax.

One final thing, learn to paint without judging yourself. If you give judging yourself you will never be able to express the emotions through your painting. So when you’re painting as art therapy, declutter your mind and let your emotions go wild and free.

In case you wish to start painting as art therapy technique, but do not have the correct materials for the same, you can spend some time just viewing art creation process on YouTube. I have an art channel on YouTube, Shruti’s Art Studio. Feel free to check it out and relax. If you like the artworks or the art making process, please subscribe to the channel so you can receive the notifications about the new releases.

If you  have any queries pertaining to this post or any other post, please mention them in the comment section. You can also reach out to me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to help. If you found this post informative, please subscribe to the blog so I can send you notification about the new articles directly in your inbox.

Other articles you might be interested in:
Doodling in art therapy
A brief history of art therapy part I
A brief history of art therapy part II
Art therapy for war veterans
See you in my next blog post
Exit mobile version