Colors Keep the Darkness Away –
painting for people experiencing sadness
Why “Colors Keep The Darkness Away: Painting for People Experiencing Sadness”?
I’ve been under treatment for depression for several years. I find that one of the things that is most helpful to me is my daily painting practice. Every morning, even before I have my oatmeal, I sit in front of the easel and cover a sheet of paper with color. It doesn’t matter what I create. I just need to get that paper covered. It could take me less than a minute. It could take me an hour. It could be a solid color. It could be an abstract. It could be something representational. The important thing is that I get that sheet of paper covered. By accomplishing this simple task first thing in the morning, it helps me to feel that I can conquer the other tasks that are before me for that day. I believe in the healing properties of color.
I recently had to speak publicly about my art. And my depression. As I was talking, the line “colors keep the darkness away” came out. It really struck a chord with both myself and my audience. It is one of the most succinct ways to describe the power of art to overcome our personal struggles.
While I initially envisioned this as being helpful to people with depression, I realized that I did not wish to label it as such for two reasons. Depression, like other mental illnesses, is still very much stigmatized in our society. I didn’t want anyone who might find the painting experience to be helpful to not come because of that label. I also realized that people who are not clinically depressed but experiencing great sadness would find this beneficial. I wanted to include people who are undergoing difficult life experiences like illness, the loss of a loved one, homelessness, poverty, etc.
A donation is required for each session. Donations are anonymous. Attendees place a donation in an opaque container on a table near the door upon entering. The amount of the donation is not important. What is important is that every attendee makes a donation. Paying for something makes one more emotionally invested in the experience and makes one an owner. We often feel if there is no cost, it is because something is worthless.
Intro to the Artist of the Day. Quotes by the selected artist are read if available. Works by the artist are shown. Participants can base their painting on the shown works, use them as inspiration or ignore them and create what they wish. We would be able to reach out to local artists to come in as an Artist of the Day. One eventual goal would be to have participants become an Artist of the Day if they wish to. (20 minutes)
Painting. Participants sit at tables and paint what they want for an hour. At the 50 minute mark, an announcement is made that there are 10 minutes left to paint and then we will need to clean up. Everyone is to have stopped painting, closed the lids on their paints and put their brushes in the sink at the end of the hour.
Circle Time. Participants sit in a circle to facilitate the discussion of their work. “You can show you painting if you’d like or choose not to. If you show your painting, you can talk about it for up to three minutes but you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. We all each need to be respectful while someone is showing or talking about their painting.” As a participant starts to talk about their painting, a three minute egg timer is flipped over. If they are still talking when the sand has run out, they need to be told by the facilitator that they have to stop now but are welcome to come back next time to talk and paint some more. Each person, in turn, around the circle gets to show and talk as desired.
When the last person has finished, the facilitator thanks the group for coming and participating and provides information on future sessions. The facilitator also mentions that there is a printout with contact information for local sources of help on a table near the door.
Sufficient table space and chairs for each participant.
Access to a sink
A 3-minute egg timer,
masking or painter’s tape,
Paper 11×17 inches or larger,
An assortment of acrylic paints decanted into small individual containers,
Assortment of brushes,
plastic table covering,
A board larger than their paper to tape the paper down onto for each participant. Suggested materials Corrugated plastic, Masonite, tileboard or plexiglass.
Water containers for each participant
Printouts with contact information for local mental health services, grief counseling, support group clearinghouse, etc.
Disclaimer: This is a peer group art and social activity. This is not to take the place of qualified medical attention, counseling and/or medication.
Sample registration form
Colors Keep the Darkness Away
Would you like to be notified of future session? __email ___phone ___mail
Do you need help finding resources? if so, type of resources_____________________
Emergency Contact Name_______________
This is a peer group art and social activity. This is not to take the place of qualified medical attention, counseling and/or medication.
Colors Keep the Darkness Away was created by Kymba (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.kymba.art) and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-
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