Art Classes For Healing

Art As Therapy Drawing Instruction Program, For Veterans and First Resposnders

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The Art Classes For Healing class is an innovative arts therapy program specifically catering to veterans, first responders and their families, the goal being to show students how to use the arts for healing and suicide prevention. Students are shown ways to have a conversation with their creative spirit in order to safely discharge the emotional toxic waste that develops from traumatic experiences, and replaces more destructive coping mechanisms such as alcoholism and drug abuse.

Drawing is a zen-like activity, akin to meditation, and the Drawing for Veterans class helps veterans who have served  their country achieve an inner peace through self-expression. During the class there is no pressure to “keep up” with other students, as each student is taught at their own individual skill level. The class revolves around each student’s goals, and students often learn from and are inspired by other students in the class.

Ground Rules For the Classes:

  • Sharing private emotional experiences and feelings with the class is not required or expected, although students are welcome to do so
  • There is no judgement or negativity allowed regarding other students’ art, experiences or statements
  • An open mind and desire to learn to heal are required
  • No – repeat, NO – drawing skills of any kind are required. Simply a desire to learn about one’s self through the arts

Exercises to Help You Connect With Your Creative Spirit

  • Make a scribble drawing. With this activity, you’ll turn a simple scribble into something beautiful, using line, color and your creativity.
  • Let yourself be free. Don’t allow yourself to judge your work. If you think your paintings are too tight and controlled, try leaving stuff out. Our brains are quite adept at filling in missing details, so you needn’t put down every single thing. Take a long hard look at your subject, trying to decide which are the essential bits. Put down these only, and then decide whether you want more detail or not. You’ll be surprised at how little can be necessary to capture the essence of something.
  • Draw an experience where you did something you didn’t think you could do. We all have to do things that we’re scared or unsure of sometimes. Use this activity as a chance to commemorate one instance in your life.
  • Draw yourself as a warrior. Start thinking about yourself as a strong, capable person by drawing yourself as a warrior in this activity. Draw yourself as a superhero. Many people like superhero stories. We resonate with the themes in the stories, with the dilemmas and problems that superheroes face, and we aspire to their noble impulses and heroic acts.
  • Draw a place where you feel safe. 
  • Create a drawing(s) of your worries. What worries you in your life? Sketch out images and concepts about the things that scare you the most. Everyone is frightened of something and in this project you’ll get a chance to bring that fear to light and hopefully work towards facing it.
  • Draw images of your good traits. Creating drawings of your good traits will help you to become more positive and build a better self-image.
  • Draw yourself as an animal. Is there an animal that you have a special interest in or feel like is a kindred spirit? Draw yourself as that animal.
  • Draw the different sides of yourself. In this exercise, explore the different aspects of your personality, giving each a visual representation. You might only have one or two, or maybe even twelve.
  • Draw yourself as a tree.Your roots will be loaded with descriptions of things that give you strength and your good qualities, while your leaves can be the things that you’re trying to change.
  • Design a postcard you don’t intend to send. Whether it’s a love note to someone you’re not ready to confess your feelings to, or an angry rant you know is better left unsaid, sometimes writing all the details helps deflate the issue. While writing the text can be therapeutic in its own right, designing the postcard gives even more value to the object. It also allows you to activate different portions of your brain while relaxing in a manner similar to coloring in a coloring book. Once you toss that signed and sealed letter in the trash (or tuck it away in a drawer), you’ll find its message has lost some of its power.