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It’s no secret the art soothes the soul but many people are intimidated by the prospect of creating their own art.

If this is you then you’re denying yourself the chance to be smarter and happier.

Arts, hobbies, and crafts are in the top six happiness inducing activities according to research.

What you may not know is that WHAT you draw can have a huge impact on your mood.


An award-winning study from the University of Western Australia showed a direct link between arts engagement and happiness.

Dr Christina Davies said that just two hours of involvement with the arts each week enhanced mental well-being.

This study encompassed all the arts, including music, reading, writing, colouring and drawing.


People need to give themselves permission to be creative and to make time for the arts activities and events that they enjoy.

Dr Christina Davies


There are so many benefits to participating in art projects.

Firstly, it makes you concentrate and therefore distracts you from negative thoughts you may be having.

It also reduces stress and enhances self-esteem.

As an art teacher to people with disabilities I see first-hand how creating art helps my students with their confidence, concentration, and communication.

When I started with this group several years ago, most of them had no faith in their ability to create anything worthwhile. These days they enthusiastically jump into any new project, confident in their ability to produce something wonderful.

They no longer fearfully hesitate before embarking on something new.

Some of them can start the class in a rotten mood, for various reasons, but by the end of the lesson, they are cheerfully humming and planning their art for the following week.

The fact is, art therapy can work for anyone, and you don’t need to join classes or have the adulation and respect of the masses in order to reap the benefits of making art.



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You also don’t need a lot of expensive supplies. A pen or pencil and paper is all you need to get started.

Some research has shown that what you decide to draw can have an impact on your mood.

In one study, people who drew their favourite food, such as pizza and cupcakes, registered happier moods than others.

An article featured on The Bright Side has several suggestions for creating according to your mood.

Some of the suggestions include painting a rainbow if you are sad, drawing patterns to relieve tension and knitting if you are scared. I love this last one, it reminds me of my husband’s old driving instructor years ago who used to sit in the passenger seat and knit while his students were driving.

I have another list of tried and true activities I’ve been using with great success with my students.





Are you feeling angry?

Draw zigzag lines on paper, pressing down heavily. When finished, rip the paper into small pieces and threw away in the bin.

Are you feeling tired?

Draw – paint is even better – yellow and orange stripes to cover a whole sheet of paper. When finished you can draw flowers over the top or, if you used paint, use the end of your brush to carve out flower shapes from the paint.


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Yellow and orange are energising colours – great for lifting you when you’re tired.
Are you feeling sad?

Happy faces work for me every time. It’s very simple – a circle, two eyes, and a giant smile. Keep drawing them until you feel the joy coming back.

Are you feeling scared?

Draw what scares you. When you are happy with the picture, draw a cage around it. You have just locked your fear away. Now fold the paper into quarters and file it away. Folding it means you are putting the fear behind you but don’t throw it out until you no longer need the reminder your fear has been locked away.

Are you longing for something?

Draw new versions of the thing you want on a regular basis. Anyone familiar with vision boards they have immense power to keep you focused on your dreams/goals and to attract good energy. Whenever pen, or pencil, is put to paper, even more energy is created and your focus is being fine-tuned.

My art students are enduring an almost agonising wait to move from their current residential centre to their own homes within the community. Every time their move seems imminent there are the usual issues with building delays.

Understandably this sometimes makes them angry and confused but we lift the mood by focusing on their dream/goal almost every art lesson.

When they are not drawing or painting their dream home and garden, they’ll be drawing the things about the move that excites them most. Some will draw the nearby shops (their current accommodation is not close to anything) or the easy access to trains and buses.

We recently finished mosaic key holders for the new homes. This project reignited their excitement about the move.


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Beautiful key holders help to keep the excitement and joy alive.


Check out my post-DIY Mosaic Madness – How to Create Masterpieces for more inspiration.

Another fun idea is to make a happiness map. Start by drawing all the things in your life that make you happy right now, then add things you think would enhance your happiness. Have a little road connect all the things.


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Start your map with you (that’s me in the bottom left corner and draw your happiness roadmap).

My happiness map starts with me and leads to family (in the heart on the left) and friends (to the right). The trees are a reminder of how much joy they give me. Note – I’ve only used stick figures and am clearly not aiming for a masterpiece to please the world – just me.


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My map continues to the sun – I DO adore the sunshine, my garden, house and the beautiful Blue Mountains on the left.


This is like a visual gratitude diary and vision board all in one and you are also reaping all the benefits that come with creating your own art.

The beauty of this exercise is that it can be a work in progress that you can go back to and add drawings or enhance finished drawing with colours and patterns.


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Can you guess what this is?


My clever Hubby could work out the map points leading to more happiness – but then he knows me so well.

In case you can’t work them out, it’s travel – the Eiffel Tower and Italy.

I have a lot more travels spots on my bucket list and will keep adding them to my map as part of an ongoing project.

Remember, this is for you so it is not a requirement to be a great artist and anyway, what makes a great artist?

Check out this Huffington Post article on expensive art and tell me, would you pay more than $57 million for a picture of a bottle of Coke? Even if it was by Andy Warhol?

With that in mind, check out these fun tips for painting like a pro.

In the meantime, have a gleeful week, Tamuria.





  • Oh how I love, love this post! You must have been a fly on the wall in my dining room on Monday as a friend and I were discussing creativity–especially via art. I never thought about it as a ‘road to happiness’ and I love the happiness road map. I am going to schedule a trip to my art supply store.

  • Never been a great drawer or painter.. but my creativity comes out in other ways… LOVED the mosaic though.. that was super cute and more along the lines of my creatives. Great advise too

  • No wonder I feel happy most of the time. I am engaged in creativity in so many ways. Mostly creating jewelry, but also blog writing has become a more pleasurable creative expression. Cooking, food shopping, looking for special beads to purchase. So many ways we are self expressed thru our eyes and hands. Lovethis post. Road to Happiness is the road I’m on.

  • Oh, I SO love this, Tamuria! And I can vouch 100% of the healing powers of creativity. As a novelist, writing is my very life blood. Never am I more gleeful, more tuned into life, more prayerful and engaged than when in the throes of writing a novel. Never. And not just when at the typewriter, but for the rest of my day as well.
    I learned this backward too. I once went a very long time without penning fiction, allowing other demands to take my focus. Real life got in the way, in other words. And while nonfiction of any sort kind of helps, it’s just not at all the same for me. And you know what? I went kind of insane.
    Writing fiction IS my spiritual work, as well as my earthly one. And ah, the beauty of life as I’m in it.
    Can you tell I’m eyebrow deep in a new novel? 🙂

  • As you already know, Tami, art helped to save my life! Literally. Although most of my experiences had been in the performing arts and writing, when I found Arscura – School for Living Art, that was a defining moment in my journey back to health. All art is therapeutic and yet most people (unless they believe they have a talent already), say they are not artists. I believe we are ALL artists and it is more important than ever to flex our creative muscle in whatever ways we choose to. Art is one of them. Music is another. And the list goes on. Love your idea of the map and it sounds like it is both fun and therapeutic for you. Thanks for sharing the key mosaics with us. They are wonderful and hope they get to move with their makers to their new homes soon!

    • So true Beverley, we are all artists! It’s a shame people have such high expectations that it stops them in their tracks. The point is not about pleasing other people, but to find your way to bliss and tap into creativity’s benefits to health.

  • I love this post and I love the work you do! I agree with your general idea about art being empowering and happy-making, plus I love the suggested exercises! Good going, Gleeful Granddiva! (And what a fabulous name!)

  • I love doing craft and home projects. It gives me a satisfaction that is only second to my writing. It really does help keep joy in my life. After all, we are creators why wouldn’t it bring us joy?

  • Love this post and the work you are doing in the world, much love to you.

  • I used to Doodle on notepads when the presenter at a seminar would be boring me to death by PowerPoint – the kind of presentation where the information being shared is important but the presenter ends ups reading it off the slides. That was the only way I could concentrate on the words, especially if it was a Tax presentation. 🙂

    My Mom is an artist and she equates it to meditation. I’m into more active pursuits which help to distract me and candle making is one that I love and which brings me a lot of joy. My art is expressed in painting candle holders that I gift away. Pure happiness.

    • Candle making is so much fun Vatsala, and you decorate the holders as well! They would make wonderful gifts.I love to doodle as well. I often find myself doing it subconsciously when I’m trying to find the words I want for a story.

  • Delightful and insightful. Thank you. I look forward to diving into this with my kids.

  • What great ideas! Thanks so much. I will definitely try this, and share with my peeps.

  • I have begun hearing more and more about people training to be art therapists. However, I never considering it to be a regular thing we should all participate in. I will have to give it a try. You laid out all the moods and what to do about them nicely. 🙂

  • I think it’s time that we all grabbed a glass of wine and started finger painting. Or we could spend the afternoon doing sidewalk chalk art. I enjoyed an evening out with girlfriends at Cork and Canvas a few months ago. I think we should start planning that again

    • Cork and Canvas sounds like my kind of place, Christy. I’m a big fan of finger painting too – the Goddesses reintroduced me to it when they started creating.

  • Wonderful post Tamuria! Never really put much thought into being creative with drawing to express my moods 🙂 Very interesting and looks like just plain fun to just doodle! I need to learn how to be MORE creative! Thanks for the ideas 🙂

    • Doodling is SO much fun Joan and I find it really helps me think. There are so many ways to be creative. The important thing is to set aside some time and then just jump in, unconcerned about the end result.

  • My 17 year old son and I were just talking about art. He has been getting into drawing recently but the last week or two he hasn’t and when we talked about it, it is his need for perfection that is keeping him from something he loves to do. He is afraid to make mistakes. I know that can stop me from my hobbies as well. Lately I have been doing more coloring but I love scrapbooking and when I am stuck it usually is because I am afraid of not doing it right. My motto is glue and go. Love the suggestions for what to draw according to your feelings.

    • I believe perfectionism is the biggest killer to creativity, Karen.Some of the most beautiful pieces of art were created out of a ‘mistake’.I hope your son gets back into his drawing. Love your ‘glue and go’ motto.

  • I LOVE this! Yes, art is fantastic for you!!! I get lost in time and feel so alive when I am painting. I taught an art class at my son’s school a few times last year, and I plan to make it a regular thing this coming school year… “every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up.” I want to help nurture that!

    • Teaching art to kids is so rewarding isn’t it Kimberly? Their ideas really help to open your mind and find new possibilities. I too get lost in time when I’m creating.

  • Tamuria – This is great. As I read through the various suggestions, I just kept thinking in the back of my mind that we simply CAN’T let our schools cut their budgets by cutting art and music! Love the idea of the happiness map, especially.

    • It would be such a shame to lose art and music classes in schools, Joan. I think the powers that be don’t quite understand their importance if they are considering cutting them.

  • I thought for years that I did not have an artistic bone in my body. Then I got into art and found it to be so liberating if I allowed myself not to follow the rules. It’s been a while but this is a great reminder for me that it’s time to get back to it again. I think I’ll start with my happiness map. Thanks so much Tami.

  • Tamuria,

    Loved this post it was so great to see children painting and learning to to just be creative with out any expectations. It is such a wonderful to bond with your child and gives them self esteem that lasts a lifetime. It really made me think of painting with my son. He is artistic. It’s a great stress reliever, too. Great article!

    Lori English

  • …and how to maintain it when we group – such a powerful question to ponder and get back to the child artist within….thank you 🙂

    • Maintaining it can be difficult as we take on the responsibilities, and also the doubts and fears, of adulthood. Enjoying moments of abandon, when we embrace the child artists within, helps us draw the line to happiness.

  • This is a great post, and I hope it encourages and inspires many!
    Creative expression is a natural part of life, I believe. It wasn’t until I was over 40 that I allowed it to have a place in my daily life. I used words to create peace and fulfillment. I continue to journal everyday, but it has evolved into something completely different from my beginning rather stilted words. For the last 2 years or so I’ve been including drawings and sketches with my words, and a plan for day just emerges. I suspect that this evolution never would have come if I had chosen to give it up as some point. I’m so glad that I didn’t.

    • I love how your writing journal has become such an expression of art and creativity, Jane. It’s amazing how those drawings and sketches and help lift your mood and focus your thoughts. I’m glad you didn’t give up too. 🙂

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