Shruti Narayan conducts an art workshop with children.
In its ability to help those with mental disorders and children with special needs, art may just be what ends up saving the world, so we explore its therapeutic nature.
Art is a great way to express your emotions without words. While it relaxes some people, it inspires activity for others. As it turns out, art can act an effective therapy to treat mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, stress disorders, and even phobias. At the same time, it can also help children with special needs.
Shruti Narayan, who is a contemporary artist and also works with children, explains, “When a person creates a picture, their mind becomes calm, and they become happy, because of the use of colours. Whatever is going on in their mind is now diverted to picture a flower or a tree […] so when that shift happens, the person automatically starts feeling calm.”
According to Shruti, art material is associated with tactilics (the science of touch language), as some material is soft and some is hard (when you play with, say, clay). So, immersing yourself in material or colour gives you a feeling of satisfaction.
Additionally, making art helps many children express themselves, especially in the case of children with special needs, without having to use words. Explaining how it may connect to their mood, Shruti adds, “When a child draws a picture or a makes a painting, and goes for black, blue, grey or brown in a very vigorous manner, and their lines are out (or if they purposefully spoil the image), then you can say something negative is going on in their mind.”
This technique can also be used to identify stress in children. The artist explains, “When you ask a child to draw something that they feel about the holidays (or something festive), and they depict an unhappy scene, then it is a sign something (bad) is going on in their mind. It is also because they cannot verbalise the scene but, through the picture, often we come to know what emotions they are dealing with.”
According to artist Sailesh Sanghavi, every child is an artist. He adds, “Just give them a paper to scribble, you will see the reaction on their face. We should allow our children to colour any object with any colour they want. For instance, if they want to paint a sky pink, let them do so.” According to Shruti, children have a very clear picture in their mind. It might not look logical to an adult, but that isn’t the case for the kid.
“When you draw or paint, it comes directly from your heart. So, for every colour you put into the picture, you are exhaling your anxiety, and inhaling the fresh air and fresh thoughts, which helps you in fighting the anxiety,” continues Sanghavi.
Talking about her experience with children with special needs, Shruti continues, “They have a very clear (sense of) logic. They are well aware of things, though they might not able to depict exactly what they want to. If something is going on in their mind, they will express it with their painting. So if they are drawing a particular character every time, that means something is stuck in their mind. As long as you give them the confidence that they can draw what they want, they will express.”
According to artist Nivedita Pande, art not only helps a person express, it also helps a person concentrate. “I have seen people enjoy art and forget their anxiety and every problem they are facing. Art is very therapeutic, like meditation, and also develops positive thinking. In fact, I have seen people’s attitude change in a positive way as well,” she concludes. Indeed, art can make the world a better place.