types of mediums

Types Of Mediums In Art Used For Therapy

Why Are Some Types Of Mediums Better?

When Art is used for therapy one may often find themselves interacting with those who are not artists.

Due to this, the level of experience with various mediums will be very limited. Often the individual may have little to no experience in how to create art.

The goal here is to define what types of mediums would be best within a given situation. I will take a moment to be focused on the individual, client, or setting surrounding this process.

Later I will give a list of mediums to suggest yet first we need to build a context for them.

There are plenty of blogs detailing what art mediums are in existence yet few give insight to what they can really offer. Few can know this as well as an artist can know them.

First A Safe Environment Is Needed

This should go without saying, but a safe environment is needed. This is true not only for the person in focus, but also knowing what is safe with a given art medium.

For example knowledge of dust, fumes, proper ventilation, ect are needed.

Additionally one will clearly not give blades to an individual who is unstable or in a such like situation.

Common sense applies. Generally speaking matters like these will not be an issue in broader environments.

A Certain Medium In Art Will Often Connect With A Person

Always allow that person to try an art medium that they believe they would like. While this may seem like the obvious solution, in the end it often may not be where the person stays.

Open the person to experimentation, and this is needed for good reason.

Someone who at first may think of drawing may soon discover charcoal allows them to better connect to the emotion of art.

Within art therapy often the end goal is about this connection and drawing out or pulling in an emotion. Here is where further misleading ideas come to light.

What one may think they enjoy can be misleading for it is not what they need.

While we often think of therapy in this way of projecting imagery, know that this is not the only purpose for it.

An art medium is a vehicle which can travel both ways.

There are many different forms of art therapy. Art can also give to the artist rather than require something from them. For some it is less about the emotion and more about gaining focus.

A medium such a graphite or pen may be better suited where greater detail can be achieved.

In this case one can take the path of realism by Impressionism to see how the individual perceives their world… Or alternatively take a spin off of Concept Art to see how they wish or envision their life to be.

Taking a mind which is more chaotic in nature and delivering a focused work may be the end goal. Here you are working against the natural bent of a mind and giving to it structure which the individual needs.

Concepts like these may be contrary to what the individual naturally likes or enjoys.

Know The Purpose Of The Art Medium For Therapy

Knowing the purpose of the art medium for any art therapy is in direct relationship to how it connects to an individual.

Here we are focused on what an art medium provides and is capable of rather than the person using it.

For someone who is not an artist, painting is often more non representational or abstract for emotional works.

Pencil or pen can offer more detailed and specific representational art so they can express to real life objects.

Charcoal for example can offer a mix or blend between those two possibilities.

Shaping clay to make pottery may be beneficial for someone who is seeking order and a constructive path. Working with clay puts the hands and mind to work in a three dimensional creation.

In this way making an object is more about creating order through Form In Art than it is projecting outward thoughts or emotion.

An easy way to recognize which medium will best suit the purpose is by the types or kind of art it can be used to create.

Mediums which are more constructive can often be used for giving order, confidence, self esteem, and problem solving.

Mediums which are more representative through imagery such as drawing or painting, can often be more emotional or thought based.

Expressive And Constructive Mediums In Art For Therapy

There will be those times when both expressive and constructive art are needed. The one unfortunate part about these arts is often they require more specialized setups and equipment.

Wood carving for example allows for both expressive and constructive work for therapy, but equipment may be required.

While wood art may not be the best suited for this application, other visual arts will better facilitate this.

Again pottery or clay can not only shape objects but they can be engraved, painted, and used in mixed formats with other media. Far less up front investment is required.

An additional benefit to clay is that it can be used for sculpting. There are specific clay mediums which are used for different purposes.

These alternative mediums are more resource efficient for art therapy.

There are possibilities for someone who has a serious interest in using more complex arts for therapy such as glass work or wood art.

It may be easier to find a local specialist in these arts who would be willing in taking part in a program. Additionally for the independent individual seeking this on their own an agreement in apprenticeship may benefit you.

Photography Is A Great Art Medium For Therapy

While photography is often little thought of especially when it comes to art therapy, it is a serious and real alternative.

What one takes a picture of and how that picture is taken becomes representative of the individuals projection.

Additionally it require a constructive component in achieving that photograph. There are those who work with this as a type of depression art. It offers a unique view of the world based on how one sees it from the lens.

This art medium is more focused on an individual taking the initiative to seek out this art.

While difficult to apply within a clinical environment, it should not stop someone from using this medium. One will be surprised at what it can offer and its benefits thus it should not be underestimated.

Advice For The Clinical Environment From An Artist On How To Apply Art Therapy

It would be worth the read for anyone supervising a clinical environment utilizing art to know how monochromatic art was created in the mid 20th century.

I say this for often in a clinical environment the supervision can become too focused on the person to produce an outcome. That outcome then is used for analysis….

A little application of art appreciation is needed.

For some people more freedom in creation is required. Mixed media allows for this freedom.

In my example with the monochromatic arts those early artists would often hide messages within their works. Subtle nuances in color variation would be purposefully done to require a viewer to focus and study a work.

Within a therapeutic environment this same principle can be used but towards another means. There are times when even an artist will wish to say something that they do not want to come out boldly to say.

This principle is a key ingredient behind what is called artistic communication.

Subtle nuances within their art rather speak to the voice they wish to project. In the end, the medium of choice must be flexible to allow an individual this vehicle.

This does not have to be isolated to one specific medium as in my example. It can be carried over into any medium within art and implemented in the same way.

Types Of Mediums And Arts For Focused Work

  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Markers for children
  • Paint (paint by number can be used)
  • Stencils For Less Artistic Individuals
  • Clay For Sculpting
  • Clay For Object Creation (Modeling)
  • Photography
  • Glass for Etching
  • Wood Carving

Types Of Mediums And Arts For Constructive Use

  • Clay for Object Creations (Modeling)
  • Photography
  • Wood Art
  • Casting liquid mediums
  • Construction of craft objects
  • Assemblage (three dimensional mixed media)

Types Of Mediums And Arts For Emotional Expression

  • Paint (Watercolors are inexpensive and easy)
  • Charcoal
  • Chalk
  • Ink (example: creating ink blots)
  • Photography
  • Mixed Media on canvas
  • Airbrush Art
  • Pencil (can be used situationally)

How This List Of Mediums Apply

Note that this list is geared more for those who are not necessarily artists. Someone who has been within the arts for quite some time can easily use their medium of choice for many different applications and purposes.

More than likely they are not the ones reading this.

Indeed it is true a counselor working with a child may find pencils or crayons more effective to gain an image to a story.

A child can say things through pictures when words will not be said. Yet this is not exactly the object of focus here.

Rather the types of mediums and associated arts with application are geared more for personal well being, development, insight, and reflection.

The goal is to match the person with their situation and needs to the art medium.

Why A Single Type Of Art Medium For Therapy Can Fail

Within a clinical environment too often there is not enough investment made into offering a wider range of mediums for therapeutic purposes.

While artists themselves will always hold claim to art being therapeutic, the scientific community will always question that validity.

I find this interesting for if anyone in society is a little off in the mind, typically we artists have no issues admitting to being a little crazy.

For the average individual or client they almost never can be classified as bad off as we are. Yet art works for us artists.

The reasons why studies often fail in capturing how powerful art mediums can be in their use is due to a lack in understanding how to match them to the person. No single medium fits all.

While this may be a mystery to science it is common knowledge to all artists.

Certainly the argument can be made that for those who are not artistic then art itself would have less impact. This does not mean that the constructive benefits of focus, thought, creativity, reflection, and projection of emotion do not apply.

They are just as applicable and beneficial in any medium when properly matched.

Within a clinical environment it becomes imperative that investment is made in allowing access to more alternative mediums within art. Here an individual can be better matched to medium and need.

In doing this the success of art therapy is not only increased but also long term benefits for life are learned.

The Hidden Secrets Of Mediums Used In Art For Therapy

Too often from a clinical view art is used in a way which requires the individual to project outward what they are feeling.

This is actually not always the best way to approach art for this purpose. A medium can give rather than require one to project outward.

How does this work? An artist will often spend a great deal of time gaining inspiration before creating a piece. The projection in art they create is only after much experimentation, practice, reflection, and often this is done naturally through time.

Asking someone who is not an artist to produce even a simple image can short circuit this whole process.

The mind and emotion may not be ready for it and thus is far less effective. From a therapeutic perspective, we need to look at how an artist creates a work when they too need this inspiration.

When a writer just writes babbling words to get past writers block they are not searching for something.

When an artist doodles they are not seeking what to draw next.

A painter brushing whatever stroke onto a canvas without any form is not trying to find the next object to paint.

Rather these methods are about taking in rather than projecting outward. It is a process of overcoming an obstacle.

Here art gives to the artist rather than the artist giving the art. The flow of feeling is directed to the artist inward rather than outward.

In this way art is a two way street. From a clinical view it is not always about someone letting go. It can be about what is given for healing, inspiration, and direction.

It is important to not miss this aspect within art.

For The Individual Seeking An Art Medium For Therapy

If you are personally seeking out an art medium for the purpose of helping yourself there are some pointers I may can help with.

First you do not need to spend a lot of money. Begin with what you are comfortable with.

Secondly as you can do so, explore other types of mediums.

In this exploration and cultivation also explore the style of art you seek to use. For example non representational art may be great for when you just want to let everything go.

Focused life like art, or as best as you can make to appear life like, may be used when imagery and focus is needed.

For the more chaotic mind where focus is desired a more constructive art is often very well suited. If one does not have the money for equipment start small.

Modeling clay is great. Also other arts and crafts related constructive expression is inexpensive to start with.

One may soon find that it is a combination of these different mediums and art applications that brings the picture of what one needs full circle.