Explore your emotions through expressive mark making
What you’ll need: Paper, coloured pens or pencils
What’s it for?
This activity will help you to explore your feelings. There’s more to feeling happy, sad, or angry than just the words - each feeling has a whole host of other physical and mental effects. This activity explores these effects and tries to put them in an abstract (not a picture of anything in particular) picture. This will help your emotional literacy, appreciating how different feelings have an effect on your whole organism!
Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.
How are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
How does your body feel?
Think about three strong feelings, such as anger, happiness and sadness.
Choosing ‘anger’, when was the last time you felt really angry? Try to remember very clearly the situation and how it affected you. How did it make your body feel? How did your body move? Were your thoughts racing or very still? Was it an explosive or more controlled feeling?
Now think what colour you associate with the feeling. Is red an ‘angry’ colour for you? Is black? Brown?
Without trying to draw anything in particular, move your coloured pencil / pen in an angry way across the page. Do you need to add any other colours? Carry on adding more colours and lines until you feel the picture is complete.
Do the same with the different feelings - happy and sad. Try to remember when you were feeling truly happy or sad. Remember the details around the time and how the feeling affected you. How did it make your body feel and move? What was going on in your mind?
Think about your colour associations to the feelings. Move your coloured pencils in a way that reflects the feeling - drawing in a happy / sad way. Do you need to add any other colours? Carry on adding more colours and lines until you feel the picture is complete.
Place all three pictures side-by-side and notice what is different about them.
Extra Activity: Try the same activity using different emotions. Show your abstract pictures to a supportive adult and see if they can guess which is which.
When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:
Did you learn anything new about yourself and how you experience certain emotions while you did this activity?
If you showed your picture to someone else, did they manage to guess the correct emotion? Why do you think that was possible?
Although the pictures are abstract, can you make out anything figurative in the marks you made?
Which emotion did you enjoy drawing the most? Why?
The famous child psychologist, Daniel Stern, believed that there were two different types of feelings categorical affects - like ‘sad’ and ‘happy’, and vitality affects - feeling-states that are expressed in process - like flowing, sparkling, raging. This activity helps you to explore how your vitality affects relate to your categorical affects! This can help you learn things about yourself and the way that you express emotions which will increase your emotional literacy.
Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?
If you would like to, share something about your experience with this activity with someone you live with! Ask the person who looks after you to send us an email if you have any questions or comments about the activity, or would like to send us any pictures (firstname.lastname@example.org). Don't forget to subscribe for more fun CAT activities!
Created by Ian Grundy © June 2020
Creative Arts Used: Art
Psychological Areas Explored: Emotional Wellbeing, Self-Exploration
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These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.
This website was made by CAT Corner to help you explore your feelings through fun creative arts activities. The people using the website and the people responsible for them need to make sure they stay safe (full disclaimer on About page).