Life of an Artist – Blog #2: Art as Therapy

Art as Therapy

Dear Friends,

Thanks for taking the time to read a bit about my thoughts and processes.
This week I thought I’d share with you the story behind the artwork on the Journals. Art as Therapy, leading on from the last blog entry about ‘The Art of Journaling”, which is also a great type of therapy.

I can’t quite remember how I discovered this method of art, but I love this technique of watercolour painting. It allows me to switch off my brain and get lost in what the colours do and how they make me feel. It’s extremely relaxing. It’s like I step out of my own way and just see what emerges. I call it my Art Therapy or Artrapy because it’s unlike a lot of the other paintings I do.

A lot of my art is based on the challenge of trying to paint real things, studying them and replicating nature in my own way. Otherwise I try to create things based on words, trying to translate words into pictures can be extremely challenging. That kind of art can make my head hurt sometimes, as it feels like so much can go wrong and there’s so many choices. Sometimes I get to a point where I’m very satisfied with a piece of art but know it’s not quite finished yet… but because I like it so much I’m scared of going back, as I don’t want to mess it up… this Artrapy method is a great practice for letting go, for just trusting in my hands and letting my silly brain have a rest.

Watercolour on paper_Natalie J Cheetham_Artrapy - Most Elusive Fish


Subconscious Unleashing

This technique is a great way of letting go and letting the subconscious unleash itself. I don’t control I just follow. Here are the three steps I use to paint these images.

Step 1: I take a piece of (preferably watercolour) paper and cover it with a thin layer of water. I make sure the paper is nice and wet.

Step 2: When it’s still wet I’ll take the largest soft brush I have and really soak it in watercolour pigments, choosing whichever colours I get drawn to and apply the pigments to the page. I don’t use the brush to make strokes, I simply dip and splatter the colour on to the paper letting the water carry the paints and colours wherever they like. I love this process, it’s like watching the world form from above, the little rivers and valleys. It can be quite an adventure to pick up the page and let the pigments run around on the page. I really have fun with the process!

Watercolour on paper_Natalie J Cheetham_Artrapy - Serenity

Step 3: Once it’s dry I’ll take at first a pencil and go around all of the outlines I see, where two colours have met and formed a border. I rarely use just a straight line, I tend to go wiggly and really honour the borders that have already formed. Then I’ll start adding eyes and mouth lines in places and already notice little figures popping out everywhere, this is my absolute favourite part when it all starts coming to life.

Then I’ll go over the lines with a darker pen, playing around using biro, fineliners, ink gel pens or charcoal pencils, it’s actually a great way of practicing and experimenting with the different lines I can achieve with the different mediums!

It’s such a fun and engaging process.

I highly recommend it to anyone, even if you’ve never picked up a paint brush before. I like to say to my students before applying the colours “Pretend you’re a 3 year old and have fun with it. Just play and observe!”

If you like this style of mine check out my Gallery Page -Subconscious Unleashing- for more.

I hope you liked this post! Is there anything you like to do, to allow your subconscious to unleash itself?

Much Love

Natalie xxx

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