Art exercises – getting in touch with your creativity

Here are four creative exercises using your hands and feet as your painting instruments that literally enable you to get in touch with your creativity.

These exercises free you from the constraints of your working and daily lives. Playful, fun and absorbing they allow you to recharge and reconnect, whilst also offering you the opportunity to explore your creative voice.

Are you ready to allow yourself to indulge in raw, messy creativity… go on, give yourself permission.

Getting ready

The best paint for this is poster paint as is it is water-soluble and can be washed off you, and anything else you may get it on, easily. It is also non-toxic.

Have lots of paper to hand, protect anything you don’t want to get paint on and have something to clean your hands (and feet) when you need to.

Mix your paint into a thin creamy mixture, choosing colours that appeal to you. Recycled plastic containers are great to do this in as you can put the lids on after you have finished and use the left over paint another day.

Place your paper onto a hard dry surface (floor for feet, table for hands). You may want quite big pieces of paper if you want to create multiple hand or foot prints.

Exercise 1 – Using your hands

Hand prints– place the palm of your hand into the paint and create as many hand prints as you like on your paper. You could use just your right hand or just your left hand, but what about using both hands at the same time. You could use just one colour, or two colours, or as many colours as you feel like. Explore as many possibilities as you can. Don’t forget to clean your hands when changing colours.

Creating images with your hands – now use your hand as a painting instrument… use the side of your hand, your fingers, your palm, in fact any part of your hand that helps you to make marks and create images. How about an animal, or a landscape, a tree and building, your home…

Exercise 2 – Using your feet

Repeat the exercises above but this time using your feet. Make your foot prints with just one foot or the other foot, then walk across your page using both feet. Explore as many possibilities as you can.

Exercise 3 – Using your hands and feet

If you are feeling up for it, how about using your hands and feet together? You will need a large piece of paper, or many pieces of paper to keep your momentum going. Be mindful of protecting the carpet and having something close to hand to allow you to clean your feet and hands. You don’t want to inadvertently get paint on your carpet if you find yourself walking to get something.

Exercise 4 – Making prints from finger drawings

  1. Use a laminated surface – something that has a shine or gloss on it such as a piece of ‘plastic’ paper or a piece of acetate. You can also do this on a smooth ceramic glazed tile. Smear paint over the surface with your hands to create a colourful surface on which to draw. Next, with a clean dry finger, draw in to the paint with whatever you feel like drawing.
  2. Printing – now get a clean piece of paper and take a print of your finger drawing above. Do this by placing your clean paper over your finger drawing and gently pressing and patting the paper down. Lift off your paper and put to one side to dry. You can do this for each new image you make.
  3. Making another image – The laminated/shiny/plastic surface you have used can be wiped clean and new paint smeared on with your hands ready for you to do another finger drawing. You may want to use different colours and different thickness of paint. You can then draw into the new paint with your dry finger and print this image as per step 2 above. have fun, play, experiment and do as many as you want to.

When you feel you have finished making all your hand and feet paintings and finger drawing prints, put them up or lay them around so you can see them all.

Take time to look at them and make decisions about what did or didn’t work for you. Then put your images into three piles:

  1. The ones your felt worked for you
  2. The ones you didn’t feel worked for you
  3. The ones you are not sure about

Exploring your creative voice

This next stage is if you want to explore your creative voice through your paintings and prints. If this isn’t for you then just know that by doing this work you have connected with your playful, creative side and taken some time to decompress. You never know it may lead you somewhere unexpected.

If you would like to explore more your creative voice then, looking at all of your images:

  • Explore the ones you feel work and make notes as to why. Was it the colours, the shapes, the marks, the relationships between things, the thickness or thinness of paint, how it made you feel? Ask yourself questions about your process.
  • Do the same for the ones that didn’t work for you, focussing on why they didn’t work.
  • When you have done that, revisit the ones you were not sure about and see if anything new emerges, and which pile they now go in.

What do you feel is starting to emerge about your creative voice? Capture your thoughts in a sketchbook.

The four exercises are based on exercises in the book Explore Yourself Through Art by Vicky Barber, 2002 Carroll & Brown Ltd

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