my creative cortex

getting through life with creativity

The beauty in "messy" art

Hello, my creative neurons!

Last week I told you about how as time goes I'm learning more and more how the processes I use in making art affect my wellbeing. I also explained that I have two aspects of my process, which work in two different ways. These are:

  1. My art style.

  2. The art materials.

In my last post I explained the first point, about how my art style (portrait drawing and other realistic/detailed work) impacts me in a positive way.

But today I want to tell you about the second aspect of my art process that I believe greatly improves both my mood and my self-confidence, mainly in terms of how accomplished I feel after a creative session. This has to do with my materials.

I tend to use art supplies that are a bit more on the messy side.They're not so messy that I lose control, but they make my hands dirty - which I love. I've tried out all kinds of art materials in the past, from graphite and colored pencils to wet and dry pastels to acrylic paint and lots more. But here are the two main materials that I've used consistently in my years of making art:

Oil paint

When I was younger, I did a lot of oil painting. Painting in oil is amazing if you have the space for it (you should not use it in your bedroom, for example) because it takes a long time to dry and you can easily blend it together and erase or fix mistakes. But because it's paint it can easily go on your hands, your clothes and all over your work space. It's a wet medium, so it gives you a soft, smooth, calming sensation. I love feeling the paint on my fingertips.


When I draw my portraits I use a lot of charcoal. That's one of my primary mediums these days. Pure charcoal is quite hard to control, but in return it is a flexible medium. It's basically powder, and you can easily play with it to either make it really light or really dark. And the powder goes everywhere, which I think is awesome and so fun.

Aside from loving the feeling of the paint and the charcoal powder on my hands, I also like working with them because the mess makes me feel more productive. Can anyone relate to this? Maybe it's my childhood growing up on a farm with parents who grew vegetables and flowers and often having my hands covered in dirt, but when I see my hands and arms covered in paint up to my elbows, black powder in my face and having to wipe down my desk at the end of the day, I feel more accomplished.

So, in conclusion: using messy materials is very calming to me and I enjoy the feeling of being covered in paint or charocal. But the mess it creates at the end of the day also has a surprising confidence-boosting effect on me, because it shows me that I've been productive.

I'd love to hear how you experience different materials, so please share with me in the comments. And if you try any new ones after reading this, tell me how it went.

Lots of love,



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