Another new year, another opportunity to incorporate self-expression, creativity and mindfulness into your daily routine. You don’t have to be a professional artist to reap the many benefits of a little arts and crafts. Simple activities like coloring, doodling, and playing with clay are known to decrease anxiety and boost mood.
Below are 12 simple suggestions for restorative art projects that will start your year off with serenity and ingenuity. Whether you make 2016 the year you keep a dream journal, paint into a tissue, or revamp your old beeper into a found sculpture, it’s going to be a good year.
Dreams are weird. Often times, language isn’t the best way to convey your logic-defying, physically impossible, difficult-to-untangle night visions. Instead of writing down last night’s hallucinatory adventure, doodle your favorite moments from the trip. It’s a mindful way to start the day and, who knows, you may end up a promising surrealist artist!
Creating a work of art all at once is a daunting task, we know. So why not start the process off with a single shape, even a single line? Every day, add to your image, even with a simple touch, maybe eventually adding color, paint or sculptural elements. You can also make each new detail pertain to each day, turning the artwork into a kind of beautiful calendar.
How long do you actively think about your New Year’s resolutions? A month, a week, an hour? Try writing your goals onto little slips of paper you can dangle above you when you need the motivation. I love the look of a simple Yoko Ono “Wish Tree” style mobile, Connect the strips with thread to a single branch and try hanging it above your desk.
If you have one of those old gadget drawers, full of random extension cords, defunct beepers, desktop mice and whatever else, bring out your inner scavenger and create a found sculpture. There are few things as beautiful as a circuit board. Add a little glitter, paint, feathers, yarn — whatever floats your boat — and you’ll end up with a beautiful homage to a technology no longer with us.
Portraits traditionally depict a pretty elite crowd — noblemen, patrons, Katy Perry. I suggest taking a (very) alternative route and turn one of your most humble household items into your newest subject. You may not have spent ample time gazing at the complexities of your washing machine or toaster oven, but, rest assured, they’re every bit as visually compelling as Ms. Perry.
If you already keep a diary, why not treat it as the literary masterwork I’m sure it is? Create a proper book cover for your sacred memories, in the style of your favorite memoirs or novels. Whether you opt for a serious portrait of yourself pouting with a cigarette, or minimalist graphic design with the help of some construction paper, your journal will finally have the visual accompaniment it deserves.
Tim Moore was an artist assistant who, entranced by the marks they incurred, saved his employer’s blotting tissues. The fragile canvasses accrued random blots of pigment and water, made unconsciously when washing and drying brushes. The result is the happiest of accidents. Either save blotting tissues of your own or take the concept a step further, setting out to intentionally turn tissue into canvas.
A spot in your closet. A corner in your cabinet. The bottom drawer of your desk. Paint a secret space that’s reserved for you and you alone. Like skipping underwear for a day, the miniature sanctuary will be a covert corner you can think of throughout your day and smile. You stealthy minx.
There’s something so beautiful about maps, isn’t there? The way stretches of land and sea are condensed into lines, colors and codes. Try making a map of your own, whether recounting a trip you took, a place you love, or even mapping realms of memory or imagination. I recommend looking at the work of artist Val Britton, whose cut paper maps blend reality and imagination with stunning precision.
If you can’t turn down a little occultism here and there, I challenge you to create a deck of tarot cards with your own personal symbology. Who or what would be your High Priestess? Your Sun? Your Fool? The personal nature of the cards will make future readings all the more intimate. If Benjamin Mackey created a deck just for “Twin Peaks” characters, you can do it.
Food coloring. Shaving cream. School glue. That’s all you need to create a homemade paint the texture of fluffy clouds. Just combine glue and shaving cream in equal proportions and mix in the food coloring to your liking. Then get to work creating your very own puff-filled universe.
I don’t know much about composing sheet music. But I do have a soft spot for the beauty of musical staffs, treble clefs and scales of notes. Artist Ana Prvacki celebrated the erotic nature of classical music with her “Porn Scores,” adorning sheet music with surprising drawings of miniature genitalia in conversation. You don’t have to go an NSFW route, but let the boundaries and traditions of classical music guide you on an unplayable musical journey of your own.