Be Creative Series: Sketchbook Art for Mental Health

Dear reader

This post will be part of a new series of monthly blog posts, all about how creativity, across many different creative activities, can help with your mental health. This month I want to focus on sketchbook art – mainly because October is The Big Draw, and also known as Inktober, both of which are very well known in the social media sphere.

So the question is, dear reader – have you been suffering lately with your mental health? 

I know I have. I try and do all the things I love to do, which help keep my fears at bay, but some days are tougher than others, and I think those are the days when I’m feeling like I want to do everything and be as creative possible! 

Everyone has something they turn to, to help with anxiety. Many do meditation or tapping meditations, walking in nature, sports activities like running or going to the gym – there’s so many things that help and everyone finds something (or even a few things) that works for them. Certainly the  two of the main ones I feel are good for me are writing and doodle art

This month for my Creative Series, I’m focusing on writing about the sketchbook side of art.

When I was a kid, my mum used to just give me some paper, some crayons or colouring pencils, and I’d be happy for hours (usually with a Disney film on in the background). As I got older, I still loved art, but felt there was less time to focus on art, and I felt within myself a lot of inadequacies that weren’t true. So, I would doodle on my books in classes, on my hands too sometimes, and of course in sketchbooks. I just loved to doodle, and I still do to this day.

Over the years, something happened – something I think happens to all of us… The creative things we like to do go a bit on the backburner, while at the forefront of our lives comes what we think is important – going to school, going to university, getting that good job, getting married, having kids, etc. etc. We never realise that that creativity we loved as children is who we are, that we need that in our lives more than ever, and perhaps even more so when times are uncertain.

I never really stopped being creative completely, from childhood to adulthood, or when I was working in the corporate world, but I completely understand that that corporate world isn’t for me, and right now I’m trying to rediscover all the creative wonders out there.

One thing that helped kickstart my creative journey further was by joining a local art class near me last April/May.

The art class I joined is run by Surrey Art School near Dorking (in the UK), by a really lovely lady called Ellie. From the first few times going along to the art classes, I felt like I left all my worries and thoughts behind me, while being entirely engrossed in the practice of sketching and painting. It was a combination of being creative, having people around who were also like-minded and creative (kindred spirits as Anne of Green Gables might say), the cups of tea, the calming music in the background, and the bright and generous spirit that is Ellie who teaches the classes. 

I started in the Spring/Summer term of 2019 and each term covered a nature theme that sort of carried on to the next term. I learnt so much from that time, drawing nature and animals in lots of different mediums, and the great thing was that we did use different art materials too – from inks to watercolours to charcoal. It was really great to test them all out and determine what I preferred best to use in my own art. I still have a picture of a flowered meadow created with pastels that sits, framed, in our house. 

I do miss those art classes a lot. I stopped going because I moved to Devon about 7 months ago now, but also because a lot of events went online for a time due to COVID-19. We all know it’s not forever, and hopefully I will find other art classes to go to when things open up more, or I can even join online with the Surrey Art School if the online Art Classes continue. The great news is that you can find the Surrey Art School on YouTube too and there are a few mini art tutorials already set-up. 

I really encourage doing all types of art if you do suffer from anxiety like me, or even just feel stressed. Yes, you may be saying to yourself ‘oh, I can’t draw’, or ‘that isn’t really me’, and that’s absolutely fine if you feel it’s not for you – we all find things we love to do to help us through the stress, because different things light us up.

But remember – if you feel a little self-conscious about doing anything arty, I truly believe we can all do art. You could grab an adult colouring book (some websites offer free downloads) or paint with numbers. You could get a pebble and paint spots or stripes across it. You could even go out in nature and do some bark rubbing.

We’re all about creativity, us human beings. So don’t let anyone tell you different.

If you’re not sure where to start, a class is always good. Surrey Art School is a brilliant place to go if you’re nearby in Surrey or surrounding counties, and they do stand-alone classes from pottery to calligraphy, but if you’re not in the area there’s sure to be arty classes near you, and you can always click on YouTube and find many different tutorials on all sorts of things. I also recommend Skillshare as it’s another great site that has many different arty tutorials.

So, as a last note, if you’re suffering from anxiety, do try something creative. It doesn’t have to be doodling or art-related, granted, but it certainly helps me everyday.

Love to you all, and keeping it kandid

Kate x


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