Painting Emotional States By Honorata

5th March 2021

Painting emotion or emotional state By Honorata

This activity is great for people who are keen to work with colour and explore their personal responses to shapes, colour and line.

It takes the pressure off from the representational aspect as is fully based on free style abstract with no visual rules in place.

This activity emphasises the personal response to colour rather than technical aspect – it is important to explain before the activity that tuning into ones own personal, emotional responses is the key.

Materials: any acrylic paints or watercolours, paper for painting, brushes.


  • Establish an emotional state to explore through painting- invite the client to explore whatever they would like to, it can be just a single emotion or a more complex emotional state.
    • Split the emotional state into single emotions: for example, confusion could be split into “worry”, “anger”, “anxiety” – this can take time as it needs some level of reflection and already is inviting to tune into emotional state, listening to it more and recognising what is going on.
    • Ask to prepare single colours or colour mixes to represent each emotion (these are your “ingredients” so one for “worry” one for “anger” and so on). This is totally down to the client what the “ingredients” can be and how they would translate into colours as well as proportions of the colours. Some prompts that can help:
    – What colour is “worry”
    – Is there more “worry” or “anxiety” in the emotion you explore?
    – What else is there- any small amounts of other colours?
    • Now invite the client to start painting abstract pieces by using the colours in a way that reflects the whole emotional state: how much worry is in confusion? Is it big and bold mark or maybe a shape? Does it dominate the confusion or just is barely visible? This part invites to visual interpretation of the emotional state as all colours will now be present on the paper. Mixing colour can happen on the paper as the painting progresses. Allow as much time as the client need to fill it is completed.
    • Try to encourage to use different brush strokes, paint shapes, overlaps of colours and even mix on paper when painting- how these ingredients (single emotions) exist in your chosen emotional state?
    • When painting is complete invite client to reflect on the process and final painting.


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