Express Yourself    

words & art | Rita Barakat                          

We all do art in elementary school, but there came a point early on, maybe with the loss of my grandmother, that art became more than doodling; it became a way to deal with the realities of life.

For years nobody ever even saw my art. I didn’t think it was good and it was personal. Through art, I found ways to say things that I could, or would not share. Art is a healthy way to deal with feelings that seem overwhelming or frustrating. Once I get going, those feelings slowly slip away, and I find peace in the stillness of creating.

Rita painting in her studio...

Rita painting in her studio...

The canvas: Your work does not have to be on canvas, it could be an art journal, a sketch pad, or even a loose sheet of paper. The surface doesn’t matter; it’s what you do with it. I love using art journals found at your local craft store. I recommend keeping and dating them so you can see your progress.

The medium: Use whatever you feel comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to experiment! You can try using paint, markers, pastels (chalks), collage (tearing & gluing other papers onto your project), anything goes! Don’t be afraid to bring in other elements for texture if desired for example sand, dirt, and glitter. If you feel like you can’t draw something, tear it out of a magazine and glue it on!

Symbolism:  You can attach items that mean something to you using glue or a gel medium. For example, if I were making art to represent my grandmother after she passed away, my colors would be dark and gray, perhaps clouds and rain (to show sorrow). I would find a way to add buttons or a needle and thread (she was a seamstress). I might use hearts (love), a dove or wings (peace). Today I would make the art about her with lighter colors, using clocks (time). Time heals our hearts; it’s not just a cliché. I remember her during happy times, so I would add sunshine (happiness), flowers (for beauty), or hearts (love). The symbols don’t have to make sense to others; it just has to make sense to you.

Color:  The colors in your art tell a story and affect the feel of an art piece. Darker colors like black and gray can portray sadness, depression, anxiety or fear. Reds, oranges, and blacks can represent anger or love and passion. Blues and greens can describe peace and tranquility, while yellows, pinks, and bright colors can represent starting over and hope.

Secret messages: Sometimes you might feel the need to express yourself in words, but other times you don’t want anyone else to read them. One way to do this is to write out your feelings directly on the project first, then paint right over it. You may leave some words exposed or cover them up entirely. You could also fold a small paper in half, write your notes inside, glue it to your project then paint right over it. Lift one side before it dries or let the paint seal it shut.

Finding the right words: Have you ever listened to the lyrics of a song and thought that’s exactly how I feel? Find a song, poem, quote or scripture that you identify with right now. It could even be as simple as one line. Use this to inspire your art piece. You may choose to incorporate the saying into your work, but it’s not necessary! You can print it out and glue it down, or tear it out of different words from a magazine.