Creativity and Mental Health

Artist Blog Creativity and Mental Health Mark-Making Nature Art Northern Ireland Northern Irish Art Printmaking Ruth Osborne Art

Creativity and Mental Health

The 10th-16th May marks Mental Health Awareness week in the UK.

This past year has certainly tested everyone's resilience, anxiety and stress levels. The impact on our individual and collective mental health is undeniable.
There are many simple things we can do in our lives to help lessen the impact of anxiety, stress and to support our positive wellbeing. I'm no expert but I know that simple things like getting more sleep and eating a balanced diet to spending more time with nature and finding time for creativity can support our mental wellbeing. Small acts of self-care can have a meaningful and lasting impact.
I've been interested in the Five Ways to Wellbeing for a while now as a model to support positive wellbeing and I think about these Five steps a lot when I'm designing workshops. The Five ways to Wellbeing, based on research conducted by the New Economics Foundation, encourage us to integrate the following steps into our daily lives as a way of supporting our wellbeing
Take Notice
Be Active
You can find out more about them here on the Charity Mind's website
Although I am not trained in mindfulness practice, it is something I try to use in my daily life as a method of trying to curtail worry and overthinking. Its something I use as part of my creative practice and in particular I use mindful-mark making to free up up space in my mind for creativity.

Mark-Making and Mindfulness

creativity and mental health mark-making block for printing

The principles of mindfulness are:

1.Intention to cultivate awareness (and return to it again and again)

2. Attention to what is occurring in the present moment (observing thoughts, feelings, sensations as they arise)

3. Attitude that is non-judgemental, curious and kind

So how can mark-making using simple tools like paper, pencils, paints, household objects, ink stamp pads etc. support mindful creativity?

- It keeps you aware of your body and mind, awareness of the materials we are using

- Observation of what marks you are making and how. Observing what you like or feel drawn too. Notice any feelings of satisfaction or indeed dis-satisfaction. Observe and let them pass.

- Exploration and flow. Don't judge your work. Mark-making is exploratory, playful and creative. Be in the moment as much as possible, responding to the materials, tools and the marks you are making.

Make a simple mark-making tool for hand-printed marks

Creativity and Mental Health Mark Making Block for printmakingAs a printmaker I often use print as a method for mark-making. This may be using household objects, plants and block printing inks to create patterns. Or it may be from creating my own multi-sided stamping blocks that I can then play with.

If you'd like to make one of these blocks at home here's how I make mine....

1. Find a block of wood that is comfortable to hold in your hand

2. Sand away any rough edges

3. Your block will have 6 sides. Each side can be 'decorated' with different designs and materials to create a mark-making stamp.

4. Use everyday items such as string, PVA glue, foam dots, bubble-wrap, thick card to create designs on each side of the block. Make patterns with string and apply to the block with PVA glue. If you have a glue gun you could even draw a design with the hot glue onto your block, let it dry and then stamp with it.

5. When finished use your block with an ink pad and experiment with layering your marks on fabric or paper. If you ensure you are using a water based ink pad then you can clean the sides of the block as you go. 

creativity and mental health. Mark-making block for printmaking

Older Post Newer Post