Expressive Painting was launched at the Living Well Centre last autumn. The courses run over 6-8 weeks and are led by Bryony Wildblood (Spiritual Care Chaplain). The courses are open to anyone attending the Living Well Centre as a patient, carer, or bereaved relative.
Bryony says; “these sessions combine meditation, painting and creative play, and are intended to inspire and nourish the mind, body and soul. They help people to connect with their innate creativity, and explore what happens when we get more interested in the physical process of painting, rather than the finished result.”
Each session begins with a meditation, which explores the theme for the week; this could be anything from joy, hope or aliveness, through to loss and anger. Participants then spend the session painting, with some time dedicated to sharing and reflection at the end.
Most of those who come to the sessions have no previous experience of either painting or meditation. Some participants have not painted since school; almost everyone has some experience of being told they were not “good enough” or had no talent.
These thoughts run deep for many in our culture and society. In order to create a safe space for open-hearted creativity and conversations to thrive, the sessions place alternative values at the heart of what we do. In these sessions, participants are encouraged to value curiosity, play and taking risks.
Bryony explains; “I remind everyone regularly that there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, no need for skills or talent. We do our best not to judge ourselves, or anybody else. I encourage people to be gentle and open-hearted with themselves and what they create. I also emphasize that the meditation and conversations are as important as the painting.”
Participants use mostly acrylics and poster paint, although they do explore gouache and watercolours too. They are also invited to paint with their fingers and hands (and even their feet!), and to explore texture through the use of alternative tools (such as sponges, palette knives, or the wrong end of a brush).
At the end of the course, the participants receive all of their paintings back, and are given time to reflect on the journey they have been on – both individually and together. This is often a very moving session, and many participants reflect on the positive changes they have experienced in their life since starting the course. People are often touched by their paintings, and remember how they were feeling that day. They also experience a lot of gratitude for the group, and for the stories, emotions and connections that have been shared.
To find out more about our Expressive Painting course and how to book a place, please visit our web page here: LINK.