Art Therapy: Find Your Happy Place

Art therapy isn’t always about catharsis. It’s not always about healing what hurts. Sometimes the best art therapy comes from celebrating what’s good, looking at things we love, and going to that happy place where we like who we are.

We all have happy places, don’t we? For me, I’ve always felt happiest when I’m in the woods or near water. I always feel at peace in such surroundings, especially if it’s a place that’s hidden away from the rest of the world, a secret place where I can be alone with nature.

I’ve been fortunate in life to have found many such places. I love hiking trails, quiet lakes, deep woods. So, when I came to today’s “art therapy” project, I knew that’s what I wanted to create — my own childlike version of the woods and water that I love.

My little scribbled drawing took only a few minutes to make. It might not say “Happiness” to you, but that’s all right. This is my drawing representing my thoughts about what makes me happy.

I started with a blue sky and added blue water with bits of green grass here and there. But mostly I wanted trees, lots of trees. So I drew brown trees, black trees, and later added a few orange trees. Since I love autumn in the woods most of all, I added bits of orange that could be fallen leaves.

 

Woods and Water — My Happy Place

I deliberately kept this as simple — as child-like — as I could. I wanted to prove a point here, you see. I know some people are reluctant to try “art therapy” because they mistakenly believe they’re supposed to create works of art, things of beauty, finished drawings and paintings to hang on a wall.

Nope. That’s not the point. In fact, I’ve found that the exact opposite is true. The less my “art” looks like “art”, the more I feel I’m getting in touch with myself, that I’m simply expressing what I feel without any need for judgment.

I made this drawing on a small “watercolor postcard” using a set of Caran d’Ache Neocolors. These are the latest addition to my art studio, so I loved this chance to play with them. These soluble wax pastels look like crayons, but act more like watercolor pencils once water is added. They’re quite similar to gelatos.

I wasn’t attempting to use them properly. My intention was to just think about happy places and enjoy mark-making. Yes, I scribbled. I scribbled more. And even more. I made marks going this way, that way, every way. Why? Because doing it made me happy.

All the while, I thought about happy places. I recalled autumn afternoons when I’ve hiked through the woods. I thought about early mornings I’ve spent at nearby lakes. I smiled. Just thinking about those happy places made me happy.

So, ready to visit your own happy place? This project could not be easier! Just grab paper. Use whatever art materials make you happy. Then draw — anything positive, really. It doesn’t even have to be a place. It could be anywhere, anything, or anyone who brings you happiness.

Maybe you’ll do a collage of pictures, or maybe you’ll add meaningful quotations, or a favorite poem. After finishing my drawing, I visited Canva and added a few inspirational words. It just felt right.

Projects like this remind me what art really is — personal expression. Art is meaningful to us when we put our thoughts and feelings into it. That doesn’t mean “making something beautiful”. It means making something that reflects who we are and what is meaningful to us.

Today, I invite you to visit your happy place (or happy person or happy thing) through a quick art project. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, only that it speaks to you.

Then, sit back and explore your art.

  • What positive elements are represented?
  • How do you relate to your drawing?
  • How can you carry these positive feelings into your day?

For me, the positive elements in my drawing are the trees, the water, nature itself. I can relate to these positive elements because I’ve experienced them. I’ve felt the fresh air and the quiet mystery of the forest. I’ve heard the rustling of leaves as little critters scamper about. I’ve seen sunlight sparkling on the water. I’ve truly been there, done that, and it’s brought me feelings of contentment, joy, and happiness.

I can carry all of this with me through my memories… and now, I can literally carry all of this with me on a little watercolor postcard. I think I’ll tuck it into my purse so that I’ll always remember those feelings of peace that I find from my happy place.

I’ll remember, too, those words I added:

Breathe in awareness…

Breathe out gratitude.

So I’m celebrating happy places today. I’m thankful for simple little art projects like this that give me a chance to think about who I am, what I love, and what brings me happiness.

I hope you find happiness with this “art therapy” project too. And if you do, maybe you’ll share your happiness in a blog post or by adding a comment below. I’d love to hear about your happy places!

 

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