An Art Journaling Tutorial for Self Kindness

Post by Sharyn Holmes for the Kind Kindred series.


photo courtesy of Etsy Ketsy on Flickr

I grew up with my Mum telling me how important it is to have a good heart. She still repeats this message to me and I wholeheartedly believe it is true. This is my Mum’s way of saying be kind, compassionate and generous. I was certainly raised to be all those things and more. To this day my automatic response when meeting new people is kindness, compassion and generosity. You could say that I’m an idealist most of the time and yes, sometimes being kind, compassionate and generous has not been valued by the receiver.

Somewhere along the way as we transition from child to teenager to adult, we forget that being kind, compassionate and generous isn’t just reserved for others; it is also a gift we need to deliver to ourselves. Life can be pretty stressful and when we are on autopilot taking care of everyone else’s needs, we tend to be the first person we overlook. We think harsh thoughts of ourselves, riddling our hearts and minds with criticism, belittling, self-deprecating comments and self-doubt at a time when we need the most compassion.

This tutorial is about letting go of the negative and embracing your positive. Its role is to remind you that kindness and self-acceptance are for you, too. The creative process can be a very healing, enlightening and immersive experience. This activity is pretty simple and can take just a few minutes. I invite you to take as long as you need. There is no need to rush. Give it a try and let me know how you do.

As a teenager I kept a diary and would journal all my experiences and thoughts. In my 20’s I stopped doing this, but in my 30’s I returned to journaling with a creative edge – art journaling and writing stream of consciousness style. I can type way faster than I write so this is my method of choice. I allow the words to flow and don’t read it until I’m done.

Making art in an art journal, on paper or on canvas is a practice that can turn our harshness towards ourselves right around.

You’ll need just a few art supplies to get you going with this activity. You don’t need anything fancy.

Bare essentials art supplies:

  • Art journal – regular journal or paper or a canvas if you want to make a painting
  • Gel medium or glue stick
  • A few paint brushes
  • Acrylic paints – colors you love
  • Black waterproof pen
  • White waterproof pen
  • Waterproof markers (optional) 

Whether you decide to journal, make art or both, I encourage you to try these journaling prompts:

  1. Write down all the negative and nasty things you have thought of yourself on your sheet of paper or straight into your journal. This is tough, I know. We often lock those thoughts and feelings inside and never share them with others. I invite you to try this because this is the first stage of the healing process – to release and let go of what clouds and darkens our minds. 
  2. If you’ve written on a sheet of paper, now’s the time to release. Tear that paper up or leave it whole (up to you) and glue it onto your journal page or canvas using glue stick and apply gel medium mixed with your chosen acrylic paint over the top to seal. Allow to dry. 
  3. Now it’s time to let go. Release the sadness, pain and hurt of these words by saying: “This is not the truth of who I am. I release these words which do not serve me. I am none of these negative or nasty things. I let go of these lies so that I may move forward with positivity and my true self. I forgive myself for feeling any less than my whole, beautiful and amazing self.” 
  4. Make sure the gel medium is dry before continuing. With waterproof pen or markers, write all the amazing and positive things about yourself, what you know to be true of yourself, what others have said of you and any other beautiful words or phrases that you will embody when you see yourself in the light. Write straight over the top of the gel medium and paint layer. Select a few of these words or phrases and make them big and bold, try some lettering techniques and really enhance the positive here. 
  5. Paint or draw some of your favorite images or symbols to accompany this final layer of positivity. 
  6. Now to end this activity on a high – the truth! Open to positivity and endless possibility by saying: “This is the truth of who I am. I accept these positive words fully. I acknowledge that these describe my whole self. I embrace who I am and I move forward in honor of celebrating all that is me, all that I have and all that I’m to become for my highest good.” 

Doesn’t it feel good to extend kindness to yourself? I’d love to hear how you did with this activity. Please tag me (#gutsygirlart) on social media. I’d love to see your creation from this tutorial!

Sharyn Holmes created Gutsy Girl to honor and unleash the Gutsy Girl in all girls and women. She is an artist, jewelry maker, storyteller, facilitating Creative Fire, Gutsy Gatherings and intimate transformative workshops. 
She lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband, free spirited daughter and Harry the Italian Greyhound.

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