“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of colour or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.” – Mark Rothko

In this article we will talk about the history, concepts and practices related to Art Therapy and Colour Psychology.

Art therapy is the use of artistic methods to treat psychological disorders and enhance mental health. Art therapy is a technique rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being. People have been relying on the arts to communicate, express themselves, and heal for thousands of years. But only in the 1940s art therapy has started to become a formal program. 

Doctors noted that individuals suffering from mental illness often expressed themselves in drawings and other artworks, which led many to explore the use of art as a healing strategy. Since then, art has become an important part of the therapeutic field and is used in many assessment and treatment techniques.

The goal of art therapy is to utilize the creative process to help people explore self-expression and, in doing so, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills. Techniques used in art therapy can include drawing, painting, colouring, sculpting, collage or mixed media. As people create art, they may analyse what they have made and how it makes them feel.

Through exploring their art, people can look for themes and conflicts that may be affecting their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Some research suggests that just the presence and display of art can play a part in boosting mental health. People do not need to have artistic ability or special talent to participate in art therapy, and people of all ages including children, teens, and adults can benefit from it.

As a consequence, viewing or creating art helps people explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills. It is an expressive medium, which can be used to help people communicate and explore different aspects of their own personalities.

Colour is a major tool for expression through the art practice. Let’s also have a closer look at Colour Psychology.

In 1666, English scientist Sir Isaac Newton discovered that when pure white light passes through a prism, it separates into all of the visible colours. Newton also found that each colour is made up of a single wavelength and cannot be separated any further into other colours. Further experiments demonstrated that light could be combined to form other colours. For example, red light mixed with yellow light creates an orange colour. Some colours, such as green and magenta, cancel each other out when mixed and result in a white light.

art therapy
Newton, by William Blake; here, Newton is depicted critically as a “divine geometer”. This copy of the work is currently held by the Tate Collection

Researchers and experts have made a few important discoveries and observations about the psychology of colour and the effect it has on moods, feelings, and behaviours. Your feelings about colour are often deeply personal and rooted in your own experience or culture.

Why is colour such a powerful force in our lives? What effects can it have on our bodies and minds? While perceptions of colour are somewhat subjective, there are some colour effects that have universal meaning. 

Colours in the red area of the colour spectrum are known as warm colours and include red, orange, and yellow. These warm colours evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.

Colours on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colours and include blue, purple, and green. These colours are often described as calm, although they can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

Research has demonstrated in many cases that the mood-altering effects of colour may only be temporary.

A blue room may initially cause feelings of calm, but the effect dissipates after a short period of time. However, existing research has found that colour can impact people in a variety of surprising ways.

Warm-coloured placebo pills were reported as more effective than cool-coloured placebo pills in one study.

Red causes people to react with greater speed and force, something that might prove useful during athletic activities according to researchers.

Black uniforms are more likely to receive penalties. Additionally, students were more likely to associate negative qualities with a player wearing a black uniform according to a study that looked at historical data of sports teams and what they were dressed.To conclude, art and creative expression through all forms of art may have a very powerful impact on ones’ state of mind, wellbeing and mood. Perception or creation of an art piece can become a way to document, explore and process certain emotions, feelings and experiences. This practice, as a result, has an immense healing power.

Text by olha.korovina

One thought on “Why Do We Really Love Art? Art Therapy, Healing Through Art

  • Tami St George HedleyJune 4, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    Brilliantly coherent article.

    Reply

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