There has been a rise in the popularity of paint parties and adult coloring books amongst busy adults searching for respite. But engaging in creative activities can also help with problem solving. If you are struggling with a personal or professional challenge, take an art break and turn those thoughts into pictures. That artistic stimulation might help piece together potential solutions to the problem.
Evidence shows that artistic expression can promote critical thinking and problem solving skills. Before getting nervous about not living up to Picasso-like ambitions, remember that creating art to work through a challenge is not about crafting a masterpiece. As Hinz stated, the point is that, as people “think through the various aspects of a situation and construct images to represent their thoughts and feelings about it, new possibilities often become apparent.” But for those who are still apprehensive about their skill level, an easy and less intimidating artistic way to get those mental juices flowing is by creating a collage:
Step 1: Grab some magazines, scissors, glue and paper. Piece together images that represent the challenge at-hand and the thoughts and feelings around it. Take time with it.
Step 2: Now take a step away. Take about five minutes to just look at the image and take it in fully. What stands out? What connections can be made? Is something missing? Can something be added? The reflective distance, or ability to obtain a little separation from an expressive experience in order to reflect and process, plays a key role in problem solving (Hinz, 2009).
Step 3: Write about it. Take some time to journal about the artwork. Write down thoughts, ideas and associations that come naturally. See if any solutions arise from the exercise.
Making art surrounding life’s challenges can have many benefits. By taking the time to explore problems in new ways, through art, you are challenged to access new perspectives. This sort of exploration is helpful in forming undiscovered solutions. The artist feels empowered by the ability to tangibly reconstruct the issue at hand through organizing images. What is left is visual evidence of the problem solving process. As an added bonus, the artwork may be revisited at a later time to build upon ideas and work through future challenges.
Inner wisdom is one of our most valuable assets. But it can often go untapped due to limited perspective. So instead of feeling stuck and overwhelmed, use the power that lies within to create the solution.
If you need help navigating through life’s challenges, Fuller Life Family Therapy Institute is here to help. Learn more about Art Therapy.
Supervised by Dr. Amy Fuller, PhD, LMFT-S, LPC-S and Dr. Sheryl Corbit, EdD, ATR-BC, LPC-AT/S