Simple projects that anyone can try
A very different post for the blog, but an equally interesting one. Laura, the writer behind ‘Laura’s Books and Blogs,’ has provided some simple, fun and helpful tips on how to use art as a way to tackle stress.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Laura for writing this post. Art is definitely not a strength of mine so I could never write about this subject, which adds some diversity to my blog!
When I’m stressed, I find myself wanting to write on my blog a lot. I know it isn’t art, but it’s an art form, so it makes sense that art helps you unwind and get rid of any tensions you might be holding onto.
I’ve linked Laura’s blog, websites and social channels down below, so please show her some love and give her a follow.
I hope you like the post!
Laura Smith is an author and blogger from Pittsburgh, PA. She has self-published three middle-grade novels: The Stable House, Saving Hascal’s Horrors, and The Castle Park Kids.
Since 2014, she has published over 200 articles on HubPages. In January 2019, she started her own blog, Laura’s Books and Blogs, where she posts essays, reviews, giveaways, writing tools and tips, and guest posts from other bloggers.
Her work has also appeared on several other blogs including The Blook’s The Thing, author Leonard Tillerman’s blog, author Elizabeth S. Craig’s blog, ProWriting Aid, Listosaur, and Support for Indie Authors. She also volunteers as an editor and book reviewer for LitPick Student Book Reviews.
When we think of ways to unwind after a stressful day, the first activities that come to mind are ones where you don’t have to do anything. We binge watch TV shows, pamper ourselves with spa treatments, meditate, etc. These are all great ways to take time for ourselves and to give our bodies a break from our endless to do lists. But what if you want to combat your stress without completely vegging out?
One activity that has helped me to de-stress and get out of my own head is to work on art projects. Not only is art a fun distraction from real life, but it allows you to be creative and productive while you do it. There is no required time frame, no set expectations, and you can still binge watch or listen to music while you work.
And if you don’t consider yourself artistic? That’s okay. Below are some suggestions for simple art projects that anyone of any skill level can try. These don’t have to be elaborate creations that you share with the world. They can be personal projects that only you will see.
It’s not about the end result. It’s about distracting your brain from your worries, if only for a few minutes.
Adult colouring books
Start slow. Buy yourself an adult colouring book and some coloured pencils. These aren’t the Disney-themed books with thick black lines that you took with you on road trips as a kid. Adult colouring books are much more intricate and tend to contain more sophisticated themes.
The pictures are usually made of small, geometric shapes which help you to focus on one area at a time. Colored pencils work best since they can get inside these small shapes without going outside the lines and don’t bleed through the page, but you can also use markers, crayons, oil pastels, etc.
While you’re coloring in a page, you’ll become aware of your patience level and your mood. Use that to your advantage. If you need to scribble a large area furiously with one color to let out some frustrations, go for it. If you want to practice taking it slow and not worry about whether or not you can finish a page in one sitting, then take your time and do it right. Sometimes five minutes is all you can manage while other times an hour will pass by in the blink of an eye.
I received an African safari-themed book as a gift one year and I’ve slowly been making my way through it. It’s a good activity to do on days when I wake up early because I can’t sleep but am not yet motivated enough to start the day. It’s also a good nighttime activity for those days when you’ve accomplished everything you wanted to do and need to decompress before bed.
Holiday signs for your home or office
If you work in an office, you know that people like to hang signs on their office doors and cubicles each holiday. Save a few dollars, and make your own unique, decorative signs.
Craft stores, like Michaels, typically carry a section of wooden plaques in various shapes. If you just paint these in holiday colors (red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, etc.) and add stenciled lettering and stickers, you have yourself a sign that you can hang on a wall or door. Acrylic paint sticks well to wood, each coat dries fast, and each bottle costs just a few cents.
This is a good project for people who like to multitask, even when they are relaxing. Painting with acrylics usually requires multiple layers of paint, forcing you to work on a little at a time. So, you can throw a load of laundry in the washer or run on your treadmill while a colour or layer dries. Or, make several signs at once so that you can continue painting as each one dries. Make ones for your home, the office, or give them away, either as a holiday, thank you, or “just because” gift.
Again, how simple or intricate you make each project is up to you. Work according to your own skill level or challenge yourself to do something ambitious. Don’t beat yourself up if a letter is crooked, or the paint is uneven. You’ll get better as you go.
Just do your best, enjoy the time you have to do it, and think about something else besides all of the things that are driving you crazy.
Artist Trading Cards
Artist Trading Cards were created as part of an art project that you can join either online or in your local community. Artists create pictures on trading-card sized paper and then they exchange them with each other, the same as you would with baseball cards, Pokemon cards, etc.
This project allows you to work in a small space with multiple mediums. Choose the materials of your choice, cut pieces of heavy paper (I like to use watercolour paper but you can buy trading card-sized heavy paper online) into 2.5” x 3.5” rectangles and start designing. You can work off of a theme, try to replicate an idea that you saw somewhere else, or just make a card from any idea that comes to mind.
These cards are not to be sold, only given away or traded. Because they are so small, they are quick to produce, and you’ll find that your collection grows fast.
It’s also an activity that you get to share with others, so it feels more like you are part of a community rather than engaging in an isolated activity. Check your local library to see if there is an ATC group in your area (or start one yourself), or join an ATC group on Facebook, Meetup.com, or IllustratedATCs.com.
One day, I came across a watercolour kit at my local bookstore. This wasn’t your typical childhood watercolour palette that comes in a plastic case with one small paint brush. This was a box that included several tubes of colours, a paint mixing palette, an instruction booklet, and a handful of pre-drawn pictures to paint and practice the booklet’s suggested techniques.
From the moment I opened the box, I was hooked, painting my way through the pre-drawn images before graduating to my own original paintings. I found myself making time at the end of each day to work on a painting or two. It helped to clear my mind and prepare myself to go to sleep. And at the end, I had a finished piece to be proud of.
It takes some practice to learn how much water to use, how to blend colours, and how to avoid bleeding one colour into another. So, you’re focused on learning the techniques rather than replaying your day over and over in your head.
What’s nice about watercolours is that, like acrylic paints, you have to take your time and let one section dry before you can continue painting. So again, you can multitask or work on several paintings at once.
They are also less messy than traditional paints. So, you don’t have to worry about staining your surfaces or wearing old clothes while you work.
This type of art also inspires calming images, such as nature landscapes, colourful scenes, and unique angles. Focusing on a calming image helps to calm your mind as you paint a wavy ocean or a vase of fresh cut roses.
Make sure that you buy the right materials, such as quality paints, watercolour paper, and durable brushes. Better materials produce better work and keep you from stressing out about wearing holes through your paintings from too much water or being unable to mix the right shade of a specific colour.
Homemade greeting cards
Like the homemade holiday signs, you don’t need to be a great artist to produce a nice, homemade greeting card. I’m not talking about the ones we printed out on computer paper five minutes before heading to a birthday party in the 90s. These are eye-catching cards made with materials that you can find at your local craft store. And no drawing skills are necessary.
Michaels sells packs of 20 blank greeting cards and envelopes for $5. They come in either white and brown paper. If you time it right, you can also get a book of scrapbook paper for $5. These books contain multiple designs that you can cut out and glue onto the cards to add colour and themes.
Buy some small stamps and ink pads, and stamp images onto the paper. Then, colour them in with coloured pencils. Decorate any remaining white space with stickers. Spell out messages with stick-on letters. Personalise cards for each person on your greeting card list.
Depending on how detailed you get, making 20 greeting cards can be a time-consuming project. So, just focus on a few at a time or decorate the entire pack in stages. One day can be for cutting and glueing, one for stamping, one for colouring, and one for adding stickers or any other materials that you can find. Working with different materials on different days keeps the project fresh and interesting. And don’t forget to decorate the envelopes as well!
Cutting and glueing are not my strengths. So, this project was good practice for me to sharpen these skills. I often found myself listening to music rather than watching TV or a movie, which is what I usually do while I work on my art. Different projects get you in the mood for different activities. Our routines can drag us down. So, finding the desire to switch things up can help to recharge your batteries.
This is another project that can be as simple or time consuming as you want it to be. It also gives you an excuse to make some art that you can share with others. The next time it’s somebody’s birthday, you don’t have to worry about running to the store to get a card. Just pull one out of your collection, sign it, seal it, and you’re ready to go. It’s one less thing to worry about.
Regain some control
The best part about working on art projects is that you are in control. You choose the project, the design, the materials, the atmosphere, the time you spend doing it, and who you share it with. Tackling an art project and coming out with a finished piece can feel like a small but significant victory, especially when the rest of your life feels so out of control.
You will also find that your entire mindset shifts when you work on your art. You will be focused on the task at hand, yet you will start to daydream, wandering from one subject to another. You’ll find yourself replaying memories that you haven’t thought in years, coming up with ideas for new projects and planning them out, or even working out solutions to your current problems.
Art clears your mind to allow it to reset and to think about things, both good and bad, with a neutral perspective. It’s both refreshing and addictive.
So, make some space for your materials and clear your schedule, whether it’s five minutes or five hours. Then, choose a project and go for it. Once you get started, you won’t want to stop!
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Smith/e/B00GSE0HLO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1546532156&sr=8-1
I didn’t realise there were so many art projects you could choose from and they all sound like they could be good fun as well as helpful for tackling stress! Although I’ve used adult colouring books before and they’re awesome, I find myself getting lost in colouring them in.
What do you do to combat stress? Do you think art could be an effective stress-managing strategy for you? Let me know in the comments down below!