Something magical happens when you take a pen or a brush in your hand and start to draw. There’s no doubting that art is more than just creating a pleasing image.
It’s no wonder that Grayson Perry’s Art Club has been such a successful TV series during lockdown. Art can be therapeutic, cathartic even. That was made clear to anyone who watched the episode where Johnny Vegas was moved to tears over creating his first ceramic piece in a very long time.
Art as therapy is nothing new, of course. It has been around for ages although the term art therapy was first used in 1942 by a British artist, Adrian Hill, who discovered the health benefits of painting and drawing while recovering from tuberculosis.
The great thing about art as therapy, though, is you don’t have to be “good” at it. Just allowing things to come out of your head and onto the page is perfect.
Norwegian artist Siri Opli says she draws and paints all the time and has done since she was a child. “I draw whenever I can just to balance my energy, she says.
“I believe that drawing is essential for us humans to process what’s going on inside us. We all draw as children but then often an adult will tell us we’re no good at it and we’re conditioned to focus on other things, so we lose that important outlet.”
And then there’s doodling which may be discouraged in school, but which is a great way to combat stress. It’s thought the repetition and rhythmic motions of sketching can activate the body’s relaxation response and counter our fight-or-flight triggers.
Recognising the healing power of art, Siri has developed an online programme called Drawing It Out which attracts people from all over the world. It’s all about freeing yourself from whatever’s a problem for you.
She says: “We literally transfer whatever we need to let go of to the paper or canvas. We’re then able to leave it there, freeing us and allowing us to stand in our own power as the big, true version of ourselves. It takes us back to who we really are.”
There are many benefits to this process. People find they sleep better, they’re more joyful and creative. People also report a greater capacity to problem solve. The Drawing It Out process gets rid of stress, anxiety, self-doubt, anger and depression, too.
“Through art, I help people remove that programming which has a direct effect on our energy and our approach to life. It’s about drawing emotions away from everyday life and thoughts. I support people as they remove these blocks in an invisible way that allows them to live an easier and more magical life.
“It’s highly personal and demanding work but hugely rewarding at the same time. I’ve seen some radical changes in people in the space of just a few weeks.”
Siri is clear that this isn’t about drawing to become an artist. It’s drawing for your own sake. However, some people have unlocked their inner artist to such an extent that they now call themselves artists.
Her own art is deeply spiritual with a freeform and energetic style that incorporates themes of empowerment, freedom, beauty and healing which she combines with many natural forms. It’s here in the pristine beauty of nature that Siri believes the true healing lies.
You can sign up for Siri’s programme or try it out for yourself. Next time you head out into nature, take a sketchpad along and sit down in a favourite spot, Just draw whatever comes and feel the release. That way, you can experience the healing power of both art and nature together.
All artwork by Siri Opli: “Drawing It Out”