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Painting as a hobby. Stress relieving?

What has been your experience from starting to paint? How did it affect your level of depression, anxiety and stress?

I have so many other things I need to spend my money on, but I feel like I need to have this hobby to help manage my stress.



  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edited August 2017
    I found painting a very relaxing activity.  It demands focus and attention, stops me from snacking, and satisfies the creative urge.  No matter how little I achieve in a session, I come away happier.
  • edited August 2017
    @BOB73 ,That's fantastic!!! and @painter8929 ,yes I find painting and drawing stress relieving, therapeutic, great for resolving problems, many resolve themselves and quite peaceful and quite inspiring, even brilliant!
  • I find it is both stressful AND relaxing -- a tension which keeps me engaged -- and sometimes causes me to procrastinate (like right now!)

    With respect to painting as a means to managing anxiety and depression -- I think it has the potential to go in either direction, depending on the choices one makes.  There are low low moments for sure when it feels as though an effort is hopeless lost and that as a painter I will never get to a level to which I aspire. These moments would exacerbate depression and anxiety.  When a piece turns the corner and starts to work it is exhilarating and euphoric.  The challenge and choice during the low moment is to to keep going.  

    For what this is worth, I try to select subjects that gently push me, that I find engaging, and that will not take longer than my patience and attention can handle. I try to make each painting about learning something new through the experience of painting and I have opened myself up to help and support from the forum. 
  • I'm still a tense and impatient painter. I put too much emphasis on the finish and not the journey. There is a fine balance of motivation, challenge, and rewards gained. 
  • The current WIP I am painting is probably the first one that I have really enjoyed for the majority of the time, which I'm finding quite strange given I set myself a task I wasn't sure I would have the skill to accomplish. There is a creative stress involved with solving problems but I find that to be liberating in some way. I suffered severe post natal depression with my first child and whilst I have recovered from that( many moons ago) certain sounds can trigger the feelings that I had at that time. When I am in "the zone" there is no stress, no anxiety, no bills, and no war.
  • I can talk about distracts me from other regular stuff in life for a few hours. But painting to me is not a stress reliever. Most of the time paintings do not appear the way I envisioned and I make sort of a mental compromise that ' looks better than what it was earlier'. When a painting doesn't turn up the way I planned and cannot be worked upon any longer, I feel like money, surface, paint, time, energy and effort went down the drain. I continue to paint or continued to paint for so long after frequent gaps in between due to a feeling of compulsion within me. Fool's paradise??

    I am focusing more and more on planning so that a painting is not ruined totally. I don't choose bad reference photos any longer, I make a sketch before final painting, improve my skills to retain spontaneity. 
  • I like having a creative problem to solve. It's absorbing in a way few other things are for me. When I'm painting nothing else is happening in my world and I get really pissed off when people poke their heads in my studio unexpectedly and uninvited. When I'm painting I forget my self. The only other thing that absorbs me in a similar way is reading science and philosophy which are totally different from art. The laws of nature and logic cannot be twisted by what we people would like to be the case. They just are. I like that, too.
  • We are all so wise, how come we're not rich too? Seriously though, the feelings, attitudes and philosophies expressed above I think are kind of universal when it comes to a person of some skill working at a project they chose or would have chosen for themselves. Without the frustrations there would be no challenge and with no down-side there can be no joy for when we achieve the up-side. Painting as a hobby is relaxing but when there is no challenge it is just boredom even if the activity stimulates our medial prefrontal cortex.
  • A little looney is a good thing for people who like to create things. there is smomething magical that happens when we start making things appear on a canvas. The looney lets us forget what is real and allows us to paint what we feel.
  • I think its that 'right-brain' functioning that makes painting so relaxing for me - time and all other distractions just melt away. I actually like those times when things are not going well, because I know a solution will eventually appear. I especially love that moment when you have been struggling, and them make a change (sometimes even the most tiny change), and then step back and something wonderful and totally unexpected leaps out at you from the canvas. And then you ask yourself, how on earth did I do that?
    [Deleted User]Boudicca
  • The porthole into creating art for me was a rather large canvas that my mother gave me during an exceptionally difficult period in my life. She suggested that some art therapy might be helpful in quieting my mind. I had never painted but had always loved drawing prior to this event so I had no supplies or knowledge of how to paint.

    My chief concern was that my inner critic would cause too much turmoil for me to enjoy the process so I did everything within my control to limit my control/responsibility/expectations. I gathered some left over house paint (how could I expect to create anything of any value with such poor supplies), turned off the lights and lit some candles (how could I expect to create anything of any value when I couldn't see well), turned on some spirited music (I chose The Anonymous Four, which I thought might inspire some girl power!) and pushed the paint around. When I recognised a familiar shape I continued to define that shape, without a need to understand what it was doing in the painting. That began a series of paintings and my introduction to a practice that I still reap untold benefits from daily. 

    This was the first painting I created that night -  Eventually I become unsatisfied with low expectations and moved to a more involved and traditional painting practice.
    But still - for me - painting and drawing = peace and growth.

  • @Barbara  What a wonderful story. I love this painting! This is truly a creative and soulful expression!
  • Another thought: I can't not paint! I've been painting almost every day now since I started mid-July. I stay up until 2:00 am. I don't eat. I don't take breaks. Here's my thought process:

    Body: Oh would you stop! my back is breaking, I need to go pee, when are you going to go to bed???

    Brain: Just one more... I just need to finish this one more thing...

    Also, re: the sensation of the art/subject becoming alive as you paint - I read a long interview of a writer who talks about the "Fourth Wall" that when you're in your mode as an actor, you completely become that character, when you're a writer, you become completely immersed in that story. So finally there's a name for that sensation when creating, that the creation becomes alive, warm, breathing, etc.
  • Ha! That's me too, @Renoir! I prepare to leave the studio and something catches my eye, and there goes another couple of hours!!
  • How long does it usually take you folks to complete a painting? And what size canvas do you use?
  • personally i dont think ive ever been relaxed painting. sometimes i finish a piece and feel great, other times i leave a piece very frustrated. don't know why i chose such a difficult hobby!
  • edited July 2018
    this is one of the most beautiful thread here. How we feel while painting? how I feel? 
    more or less a bit like all of you said above. Sometimes I feel blessed others I feel hopeless. it is beautiful and it can be awful. maybe one of the answer is connected on why we start to paint in general and why we choose a specific subject. I think the struggle sometimes is connected with the inner awareness that our perfect platonic world is hard to be displayed on a canvas, the eternal fight between our desire to make something immortal and the fragility of the existence. One spot of.white, the shadow on a street, the view from a beautiful landscape..I like to think sometimes somewhere my way to be will be understood. There are more or less 100 billions of galaxies with one hundred billion of stars each, maybe a millions of planets with conscious creatures, it is scary and beautiful sometimes to live looking yourself from there..and it's beautiful to think your point of view it's completely personal and yours. I paint or do things in general to share this point with the others so it's like putting your heart in the fence from here the pain when you do something which doesn't completely represent me.
    Sorry for the long post :D
  • edited July 2018
    I find painting absorbing rather than relaxing. 

    Each painting is a set of fascinating problems to be solved. But I do need to keep reminding myself that the whole problem does not have to be solved by yesterday. Doing that helps me relax and focus on the particular part of the problem at hand. I need to break the big overall problem down into do-able bits. A lot of the problem solving is best done before I put brush to canvas. If I just launch into a painting without sorting out things like composition, values and colour, and just slap paint around to see where it leads me, I feel excited to begin with, but that feeling doesn't last long and I end up in a very non-relaxed state over the mess I've made. For me, it's best to know where I'm going and how I'm going to get there. But I still discover occasional unexpected delights along the way.

    Painting for me takes too much self-discipline and hard work to be called relaxing. But because of the feeling of flow I get from it I tend to lose my self and stop worrying about other stuff. If a picture turns out ok I feel a sense of achievement. But then I need to start another to chase that feeling of flow that I get when I'm deeply involved with a painting. I find that feeling and the sense of achievement therapeutic even if a bit addictive. It sure beats gardening.

    Hope that's not a word salad. :)
  • edited July 2018
    For the most part my painting experience is intense, solving very many problems and challenges with much discipline. And I believe in trying to resolve the most important ones while fresh in my mind otherwise I run the risk of losing them, a tight schedule. Almost like tending to an emergency, so yes, there is a sense of urgency and stress which I include as part of the process. Somehow I find real refuge, solace within myself that is profound and so relaxing to be with that I don't like being disturbed from, or interfered with, and a place I return to again and again. When I find myself at war with myself, it's an important time to make peace with myself, so very important, however length of time this takes. Refuge, solitude, peace, tranquility, a tenderness, caring, relaxation and who I really am, is all there. And I like the letting go.
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