How To Use Art To Get Clarity: A Step-by-Step Art Making Process To Stop Confusion

When life gets confusing, and you don't know why you're doing what you're doing, or you can't seem to figure out what to do next, the best thing to do is listen to yourself to find the answer. But what happens when the confusion and inner (and outer) chaos drown out your inner voice?

This happens to me all the time. As a solo entrepreneur, I call the shots; each decision I make affects my business. So when I've got 1,000 creative ideas, and even more examples of how other people are doing business, mixed with the (self-imposed) pressure to get it right, it can get pretty confusing up in the ol' noggin.

It definitely helps to talk it out with friends, loved ones, or my coach, but when I feel really overwhelmed with ideas, and my mind gets foggy, I turn to art. Art making is something that is almost always available to me, and it doesn't require a lot of time or money to get the clarity that I need.

Here's why it works:

Have you ever tried to describe something but couldn’t quite find the words for it? Maybe you had an incredible experience or witnessed a spectacular event that filled your body and soul with so many feelings, you couldn’t even begin to describe it. Turns out, this is a really common experience.

Humans developed languages to communicate with one another - to express ourselves in ways that would be understood by our peers. Verbal communication has the ability to move internal thoughts, ideas, emotions, and experiences to the external world. It also has the ability to help us make sense of our own experience; we label emotions, thoughts, and ideas with words or phrases.

However, when it comes to communicating and making sense of emotions, words often fall short. Art-making literally accesses more of the brain than verbal language; therefore, it has the ability to describe things that words can’t. Nothing against words, I mean, I’m a writer, I love words. But getting straight to the heart of the matter is the key to clarity, and art has the ability to get there.

Here's how it works:

The key to making art to facilitate clarity and stop confusion is learning how to tune into your internal experience and use it to fuel your creativity. Artists know how to do this, but the skill isn’t reserved just for them - everyone can do it.

To start, follow this simple exercise:

1. Tune in with this meditation:

  • Go somewhere quiet, and sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
  • Take a few deep breaths. Start to turn your awareness inward.
  • Then, breathe normally.
  • Notice how you’re feeling right now; take note of any emotions, physical sensations, or feelings you have (whatever you’re feeling is okay, just take note).
  • When you identify a feeling/emotion, imagine you can see it... Imagine it has physical form.
  • Answer these questions: 
    1. How much space does this feeling take up in or around your body?
    2. Does it have a color?
    3. Does it have a texture?
    4. Is it opaque, translucent, solid, heavy, light, sparkly, gritty, vibrant, pale, etc.?
    5. Is it moving?
    6. If you have more than one feeling/emotion going on, how do they interact with each other?

2. Make art:

Slowly open your eyes, and grab a piece of paper and the art materials of your choice. Using line, shape, and color, try to depict what you imagined during the meditation.

3. Evaluate & gather meaning:

Once you’ve got your feelings down on paper, step back and check out your artwork. Ask yourself, “Is this accurate?” and “Does it need anything?” Make any adjustments as necessary based on your answers. What does this artwork mean to you? Are there any thoughts/feelings/memories that come up? Write them down. What does it tell you about your current state of confusion?

4. Go further:

To learn even more about yourself and get more clarity, get the eBook, Speaking Through Art. With the help of this book and guided audio exercises, you will discover how to translate your internal experience into visual form so you can better understand yourself, process emotions, and eliminate barriers to your growth.