Art therapy grief

Art Therapy in Grief

Art Emotions

How I found peace and inner strength in Art Therapy? Art Therapy in Grief with HappyPolka.

I didn’t know I could use paint to express my feelings. Nevermind painting an image from my dreams, having a massive emotional impact on me and other people. Plus it actually looks good! 

As a former makeup artist and wig dresser, I love blending colours and the actual process of creating The Look. When I reflect on my work for various theatre productions, the National Opera and the beautiful wigs I dressed, I still feel a wonderful tingle of excitement.

About 5 years ago my hair and make-up career came to an end and I felt quite lost. I became a mum and I  invested my time raising my beautiful little boy. My dedication to motherhood (a natural instinct that happens to us all), can bring lots of emotional struggle.  I felt a huge need for personal fulfilment and creative expression, I really missed my job. 

London 2012 Olympics


Paul (my partner), encouraged me to take up painting. He bought me an easel, some colourful paints, along with chalks and my little adventures with colours began. I now know, all the colours I painted were an emotional expression of my trapped feelings and needs. It was such fun to cover blank paper with colour energy. I felt good when taking time out in the day to paint with my son. Art Therapy began …

I  shared what had become my happy tools, with other Mums online  (Happypolka.euHappypolka.eu/en/), encouraging them to invest time in themselves, to release their emotions and become better mums, wives and friends. It was a happy time. I looked after my needs, used the most natural organic ingredients to nourish my body inside and out.  I enjoyed my new hobby, found peace in Yoga, Meditation and Breathing.  Life was good…

Then wham! I lost my life-partner. Paul’s death was extremely sudden, unexpected, tragic and brought an emotional level of pain I never knew existed. Creative use of colours, Yoga Breathing and Aroma helped me immensely throughout my grieving process, to find peace and inner strength. So much so, I am now a qualified Yoga Breathing teacher! 

I began to dig deeper into  Art therapy, colours, shapes and more. I played with Mandala stencils. They are all around my house and on the garden walls. For some reason, I didn’t quite trust myself to draw a Mandala free hand. Just before the first lockdown (back in March 2019), I ordered some bristol paper, markers and a how-to-draw Mandalas book. I had to engage my brain with something to survive this strange time and be a good Mum. I’m so pleased I did the right thing. Nothing felt better than painting, using colours, creating Mandalas and practising Yoga Breathing with Aroma to help me through grief and isolation. My inspiration came on the hardest days emotionally. I found myself completely open to this new experience, letting go of old approaches and expectations. I found a meaning to life again. 
art therapy mandala

“Art therapy is used to cultivate self-esteem and awareness, improve cognitive and motor abilities, resolve conflicts or stress, and inspire resilience in patients. It invites sensory, kinesthetic, perceptual, and sensory symbolization to address issues that verbal psychotherapy cannot reach.” 

A Brief History…

Art therapy began as a profession  in the mid-20th century around Europe and English speaking countries. Art had been used at the time for: communication, creativity in children and religious contexts. The early art therapists acknowledged the influence of aesthetics, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, rehabilitation, early childhood education and art education.

In 1942, Adrian Hill  (a British Artist) gave Art Therapy it’s name. Whilst recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium he discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting. The value of art therapy lay in “completely engrossing the mind (as well as the fingers)…releasing the creative energy of the frequently inhibited patient”, which enabled the patient to “build up a strong defence against his misfortunes”. Hill shared his findings with fellow patients and later (1945), in his book (Art Versus Illness). Edward Adamson (artist) joined Adrian Hill to extend on this work and The British Association of Art Therapists was founded in 1964, The American Art Therapy Association followed in 1969.

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