The Art of Play (for Grown-Ups)

This is a play piece, a piece I made during an abstract art class.

It came into being through a combination of painting and printmaking using paint I had left over towards the end of class. While I was making it I was not thinking of the final product, I was more consumed by the textures of the paint, and the uncontrolled patterns that were created when I was able to just let go. Being able to step away from a controlled, technique based art process allows me to fully immerse myself in the process, and release the judgment that might be reserved to the art I make in a more constrained setting. 

Play is a crucial part of childhood and early human development. Play based learning is even part of many classrooms. Adults carve out space in the day for children to play, as it is almost unavoidable. For most people, sometime between childhood and adulthood play gets lost. Adults and teens may choose to spend their recreation time parked in front of a screen as a means of psychologically checking out, and although it can be helpful in managing stress, much more meaningful help can surface when we include play into our day-to-day.  

The benefits of playtime expands beyond childhood. Play time is a time to relax, to draw our attention away from the responsibilities of everyday life. There are no deadlines in play, no reports to review, no checklists to check off. Play is a space to feel young again, to unwind. Play can also be stimulating, and feeds our imagination, creative thinking, problem solving, and can act as a buffer against mental illness. Play can bring more joy into our days, and help us be more engaged in our days. 

As a mental health practitioner, I try to play everyday. Scheduling “free time” away from a screen, to participate in an activity that I enjoy keeps me smiling.

 I often combine art and play. Playful art is all about the process. When I play in the art studio I am not concerned of the artistic outcome, nor do I fixate on the quality of the creation. I make art just for the fun of it. In the creative play space I made room for experimentation, I try new things, and do my best to keep the self-critic at bay. I give myself permission to get messy and involve as many senses as I can.

Eyes Open Studio hosts a weekly art therapy and play space for educators every Wednesday. As my day-to-day connects me to educators, I have seen the effects that the pandemic has had on kids, schools, and the staff that work in them. I see the need to provide support. Group art therapy sessions can help connect to other like minded individuals.  Check out our calendar for more details.

Published by linneatheartist

Canadian Art Therapist and Death Doula. All services are currently offered online. Sharing my experiences with healing through art.

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