Sunday, 24 March 2013

Use Art to Overcome Perfectionism

Art therapy as taken from Wikipedia –  
A focus on dealing with the art-making process as therapeutic in and of itself ("art as therapy") Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

There are many forms of art such as, painting, drawing, sculpting, carpentry, and photography. Now with the introduction of apps the world of art has gotten alot bigger but this post will focus on using mediums to create art such as paint and brushes, pencils and texta’s, clay and plasticine etc. (remember those things, the things you hold in your hand?)

I will not go deep into art therapy but shine a light on how art can be healing, especially for perfectionism. I’ll go into how art has assisted my journey and hopefully inspire you to do some wonderful art to heal or share with the world.

A Journey Into Art For Healing

I have always loved drawing and creating things, when I was younger I used to watch Fat Cat and Mr Squiggle just to see the drawing and crafting parts. Then I would go off to my desk and create something, I’d spend hours on it and my mum would come in to check if I was still there.

The problem was that I never thought what I created was good enough and was never satisfied with my efforts. Sometimes I’d scrunch it up and toss it in the bin, even though I had spent hours on it.

As I got older my art and craft collections and mediums dwindled and were put out of sight. I was too embarrassed to show anyone any of my art so that part of me went to sleep.

When I had my children there was a reason to pull out the mediums again, I often had my children outside, or indoors with a shower curtain under them, painting, pasting, and drawing. It was soooo messy but soooo fun, sometimes the children would go off and do something else, and I’d still be going at it.

As they got older, they found their own joys and did not develop a love of art like I had. The art supplies were always around and ready to use though.

There come a time in my life where I was having difficulties, it was right after my dad passed away and I had become an angry controlling perfectionist. 

Steve and kids did not like that side of me at all and neither did I. I had started to get health issues relating to stress and my heart hurt.

I knew I had to do something about it so in 2006, along with personal development, I started to paint. I got a set of watercolour paint, some paper, and brushes.

I found myself just sitting there looking at a blank sheet of paper 
thinking what can I paint?

It took me weeks to put some colour on the paper, in the back of my head all I could hear was “you’ll stuff it up” “you’ll waste the paper” and “people will laugh at your art” but I persisted (part of my character is being stubborn, it has it’s good and bad sides)

Once I started, I found myself in a new world, a very big world full of colour and joy. All the difficulties disappeared and my focus was on the beauty of colours and the colours of nature.

Some of my first watercolour work

At times I still scrunched it up and tossed it in the bin (I know, not very sustainable) the perfectionist in me was still in charge.  That is when I jumped on the computer to do some research and come across abstract art.

The beauty of abstract art, I have found, is that even if you stuff it up you can just turn it upside down and say “There is my work of art” another way I looked it was, again if I thought I’d stuffed it up, I’d cut it up and create a new picture or cards or gift tags.

Here is a picture I did when we had to move home (fit’s my feeling at that time)

So there was nothing perfect about art, it just is..... Art.

That is when the controlling perfectionist in me started to heal, I started to look at life the same as abstract art - NOTHING IS PERFECT, IT JUST IS!

If something in my life felt wrong, I looked at it from a different angle, simple!

If you don't like something change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~ Mary Engelbreit

I started to spend more time in my creative world, putting bold colours on paper and moving them around to create my works of art. Slowly the controlling perfectionist disappeared all together and I knew that whatever I created could be tweaked or changed, that included my life as well.

Here is another example of creating new pictures from one piece of artwork. I did not like the big picture so I cut it up to create this - 

Around 2008-9 Steve got me the kit-n-caboodle of art supplies for my birthday – A good brush set, more paints, paper, canvas and a fancy art carry case. It was the best present EVER!


I had never painted on canvas so again I found myself just sitting there looking at a blank canvas thinking what can I paint? What is good enough to put on canvas? Yes the perfectionist raised its weary head to put in it’s two cents.

The canvas sat there until late 2012!

One afternoon I was flicking through the channels on TV and come across Wayne Clements on channel 31, he was painting a moon picture just using blues, black/browns and white/yellow. After watching him I thought, “I can do that”, so I did.

My first canvas painting was done and I was happy with it, it was on one of the smallest canvas you can get but still it was complete. (Unable to share this pic with you as my niece has it in her room) I went on to do another one the next day, again on the smallest canvas I had and here it is.

It was then I realised if I wished to keep the controlling perfections quiet I needed to inspire myself often and You Tube is perfect for that!

Another inspiration I found last year was Leonie Dawson, a creative masterpiece of her own. She is not afraid to create or send her creations out into the world and through looking into more of her work, I gave myself permission to start to do the same.

Since late 2012 I have painted 15 pictures on canvas and moved into pastel art. I can hardly hear the controlling perfectionist screaming at me now, you see sometimes being stubborn can pay off!


I have been asked to create art for other people, how awesome!

That wraps up my journey into art for healing (for now). Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak at my art world and maybe start to create one of your own.


If you have the same ACP (angry controlling perfectionist) causing you difficulties in life pick something up!

A pen, pencil, camera, paint brush, tool, clay or plasticine, just pick it up. 

Tell your ACP to shut up then chuck some colour into your world. Turn it upside down, cut it up, add fabric or trinkets and stand back to take in the beauty of your creation.

Here is a what I call my bitsa art, bits of this and bits of that.

Go ahead and give it a go, trust me it’s fun!

If you are up to it, and brave enough, send us a picture of what you create after reading this post, we would love to see it!

Thank you for reading

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