Painting for positivity might be easier than you think…picking up a brush and mixing colours isn’t all about being or becoming an artist, nor is it always about making beautiful art.


The very act of picking up the brush to start with, is a positive decision. Whether painting a wall, fence or canvas, you’ve chosen to be constructive about the immediate future; even if it boils down to knocking a job off the list.


Creative painting is my passion, yes, but it is and always has been about supporting my mental wellbeing too. Of course, at 10 years old I didn’t make that deliberate decision; it was what I enjoyed doing and the by-product was generally having a brighter outlook. I now know with absolute certainty that painting keeps me mentally well.

There is ample evidence that the arts help to overcome mental health problems.
Arts-on-prescription programmes can give rise to significant reductions in anxiety, depression and stress.”

Quote taken from: All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry Report Creative Health:
The Arts for Health and Wellbeing 2017.

Darker, more destructive thought patterns occur when our feelings and emotions are trapped. Painting helps to ease and release these trapped feelings and emotions.


Good habits

Be aware, this isn’t a ‘three sessions cure all ills’; only by maintaining the practice will you continue to keep reducing the cortisol (stress) hormone. Making painting for positivity a habitual and pleasurable feature of your life; the better your emotional outlook will become. Life will continue to have natural ups and downs, as they always have done, and you will have bad days; hopefully you’ll be quicker at bouncing back though.


Start a routine each week, having a particular place where you paint and have comforting items around you while you work. My creative space has a soft green blanket, a number of crystals I enjoy; I regularly light incense and sometimes play nature sounds or a crackling fire on the Calm app. Leaving your phone in another room is a must, there’s nothing more distracting than the pinging from someone who’s decided upon a text rally. Everything else really can wait for an hour, while you focus on painting and provide the self-care you deserve.


Personally, yellow is my most positive colour; it embodies the bright energy of the sun, the first signs of spring with daffodils and the long summer days with the sunflower. Use any paints you have, I use acrylic, but oils, poster paints or watercolours are fine. Select two or three colours you feel are positive or you are particularly drawn to; dip your brush and make your first mark on the page. The mark isn’t important, carrying on from here is important.


Ideally you won’t be rinsing your brush while painting, but it does depend on what colours (and paints) you’re using. For instance, black and yellow-the black would completely overpower any yellow, so you would need to rinse your brush after using the black.


Watch the bristles of the brush, how they flair slightly and how the paint flows out onto the surface; rather than concerning yourself with the marks you’re making. Move the brush in long strokes, gentle dabs or wide arcs; blending the colours as you go and reloading the brush as needed.

You might find it helps your practice to focus on a word, think of a positive word that has meaning to you; examples: calm, smile, energy, fierce, joy, power, strength, success, soar or love. Alternatively, painting to music, calming or dramatic, can be your guide; allow your brush movements to follow the rhythm.


Resist the urge to critic what you’ve painted, that isn’t the point. Painting for positivity and mixing colours is a mindful exercise, your focus is narrowed to the end of your brush; allowing no room for other thoughts and feelings. Allowing yourself to feel more positive with the gift of an hour for you; to feel calmer, emotionally collected and more positive about the things you need to face.

Do you think painting for positivity could support you?