Art Therapy: A Safe Place

I enjoy doing a bit of “personal art therapy” — using visual art as a means of understanding myself, a way of healing old “art wounds” from childhood, and as an opportunity to develop greater creative expression in my art and in all of life.

I do my personal art therapy in different ways at different times. Currently I’m using various art therapy “prompts” as starting points for neurographic drawing, but a prompt can be approached in many different ways using many different media.

Today’s “Art Therapy” prompt is a good one, I think, for the tumultuous times in which we’re living. It’s all about finding a safe place, a place where we feel secure and protected.

In doing art therapy, drawing skill doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we find ways to express our thoughts and feelings. For me, that’s mostly about the colors I choose. In doing this art therapy session for yourself, you’re free to choose any visual forms — pictures clipped from magazines, line drawings in a sketchbook, abstract expression, quotes, poetry, old photographs, or anything else — and you’re free to approach the project however you like.

This is all about being comfortable, feeling secure, being in a “safe place”. So, truly, what makes you feel safe?

Are there certain colors that soothe you? A special place you like to visit? Where and how to you find that important sense of security that we all need?

As you draw, paint, cut, clip, or color, think about the choices you’re making and how each element expresses security and safety. Keep in mind that your safe place is yours. It won’t look like anyone else’s.

Since I’m doing a 100-Day Challenge using neurographic drawing, that’s how I chose to do this therapy project. Here is “My Safe Place” — which might not look very safe to others, but which represents comfort and security for me.

Why did I use such dark colors? I find dark colors soothing. I love night, seeing it not as a time for bogey-men or monsters under the bed, but as a quiet time when I can lie still and listen to the world around me. I can close my eyes and rest. I can dream. I find darkness a creative element. I always feel at peace there.

The other colors represent other aspects of peace, safety, comfort, and security for me. My “safe places” have always been lakes and streams hidden away in forests. You’ll see blue-green water, the green trees and grasses, a blue sky here — all encompassed and entwined with the mysteries of darkness.

As you do your “safe place” drawing or painting or journal page — whatever you choose and however you choose to do it — give a little thought to the “what” and “where” and “why” of having a safe place, a personal space, an emotional retreat.

In the past, I’ve often been chided about my love of darkness and the night. Was there something fundamentally wrong with me because I preferred darkness over light? Was there some evil lurking inside of me? Note, here, please, I grew up being told that I was “sinister” — being naturally left-handed — so there was always this concern that by shunning daylight I was clearly turning to some “dark side” where evil creatures might snatch me away.

This simple art therapy exercise has helped me see that I have good reason to appreciate darkness. I feel safe when I can quiet my mind, when I can let my imagination go, when I can appreciate all the wonders of nature at night. Dark, shadowy trees protect me. Quiet streams lull me to sleep. Green grasses comfort me. From high above, thousands of stars watch over me. Yes, yes. This is where I feel safe.

It’s been interesting to explore these thoughts through this simple art therapy project. I encourage you to create your own artistic version of your “safe place”. And, please, share your thoughts in the “Comments” section.

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