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How to Draw Your Emotions

Updated February 21, 2017

While emotions aren't things you can see or hear, they are sensations that you can feel both strongly and acutely, and can have a tremendous affect upon your mood. Sometimes it's hard to acknowledge painful emotions; however, burying or hiding emotions can be destructive. Drawing emotions is a good exercise you can do alone or with a counsellor or peer group. This allows you to give something abstract a clear shape and colour, which can act as springboard for talking about your emotions.

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  1. Close your eyes and take a moment to breath deeply. Pay attention acutely to how you're feeling, both at the surface level and deep down. Don't worry about giving names to your feelings, just pay attention to the emotional sensations you're experiencing.

  2. Select the drawing tool that most speaks to you, based on the sensations you experienced in step one. For example, if you're in a dark mood, start with a charcoal pencil. If your mood is light and cheerful, choose a pastel.

  3. Use only lines, shapes and colours to express your feelings. Don't think about what you're drawing, or about to draw or censor yourself; just allow your feelings to dictate the shapes and lines you make. If mid-drawing you want to change drawing tools, you can. Continue in this manner until you feel both satisfied with your drawing and that you've adequately expressed yourself.

  4. Examine your drawing: look at the lines, colours and shapes and think about what they say and demonstrate about your current emotional state. Think about how it now makes you feel to know you are experiencing these emotions.

  5. Draw how you would prefer to be feeling on a fresh piece of paper, if relevant. Select a new drawing tool for this sketch.

  6. Tip

    Use this activity as a springboard for a discussion or to simply check in with yourself.

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Things You'll Need

  • White drawing paper
  • Drawing supplies: markers, pastels, paints, charcoals, crayons

About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

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