It’s Thanksgiving season once again! The time of the year, when more people remember to be grateful for all their blessings in life. It is good to take stock and be thankful during Thanksgiving, but, why stop there? Have we ever paused and introspected on what being appreciative all-year-round does for our health? It turns out, the daily attitude of gratitude does quite a lot of good for us. Scientific studies have also proven that it can promote mental, physical and social wellness, therefore enhancing the overall quality of life.
We understand, starting a daily habit can be very tough and challenging to maintain like most routines. However, we believe that the more it’s done consistently, the more it becomes an easy part of our lifestyle. The benefits are too good to ignore. Here are some fulfilling daily “attitude of gratitude” painting ideas and Thanksgiving art habits our team compiled that you can start today.
Daily Zen Paintings
The modern artist and co-founder of Gutai—the Japanese avant-garde artistic movement in the 1950s—Jiro Yoshihara painted the depiction of minimalist circles or “ensō” to symbolise “satori,” the enlightenment of Zen, the inner, intuitive experience of peace. Why not start a daily habit of meditating by painting your versions of an “ensō symbol” using ink, watercolour or gouache?
First, determine the type of paper you want to use. We recommend something that can withstand any wet medium. Second, decide on the size of the paper you wish to use and cut in tiles. Remember that our goal is to make this a daily habit, prepare at least three month’s worth of paper. Finally, using a round brush and your choice of medium, slowly paint a circle and while doing so, recollect the things you are grateful for the day. It’s best to inhale and exhale longer, whilst imagining your energy flow through your brush and into your zen painting. The circle doesn’t have to be perfect. Recreate the distinct brushstrokes of the traditional “ensō symbol” by using a round springy brush like the one from our Turner Collection.
The purpose of this quick daily exercise is to use the meditative ability of painting minimal shapes using gestural brushstrokes to recall thoughts of gratefulness that can also help you ease the mind.
A prevalent “attitude of gratitude” habit among artists is art journaling. An art journal is a visual catalogue of thoughts and emotions recorded through art, images and texts. Journaling has a more substantial impact than just recording something in memory and thus effectively aids in examining introspections. It is like a diary that promotes self-discovery and mindfulness.
The purpose of this daily habit is to reflect on the past day and remember things you are incredibly thankful for. Learn more about journaling as a therapy for a better life, also, see examples here of how artists are doing art journaling using their ZenART dotted journals.
Gratitude Daily Doodles
Doodles are drawings of shapes and lines often created absent-mindedly and are said to be manifestations of the unconscious mind. A known method of doodling for art therapy is Zentangle.
For our gratitude daily doodles, we will use a combination of the Zentangle Method and a mandala drawing. Similar to our Daily Zen Paintings, prepare three months worth of paper tiles to start a habit. Each day, using your choice of felt tip markers, write your gratitude statement in the middle and draw a shape around it. It can be a circle, a square, or even a heart. Now start drawing any lines, scribbles and shapes that come to mind. Draw around it by rotating your paper tile as you go along filling up the outer edges like you would draw a mandala. Feel the flow and don’t overthink your doodles—the result is always a charming surprise.
The purpose of this daily exercise is to use the meditative ability of automatic drawing to calm the mind, recall thoughts of gratitude while at it, a state of mindfulness and flow.
Jar of Appreciation
Another appreciation ritual that you can start for Thanksgiving is the gratitude jar. Using your choice art materials—stickers, magazine cut-outs, and paint—decorate a plain glass jar however you wish. It can be as plain or as heavily embellished as you want. This jar will be a unique vessel for your daily gratitude statements. Prepare your daily blank slips of paper that are good for at least three months to sustain a habit.
Much like journaling, gratitude statements acknowledge what a person is grateful for. Once a day, write your appreciation statements on a blank slip. Roll and stash them into your newly painted glass jar. The purpose of this exercise is to recall and appreciate something you are thankful for the past day. Here are other simple ways to kickstart a mindful living.
Daily Abstract Paintings
One of the most fun “attitude of gratitude” painting ideas that we like is a fast and easy painting. As another daily meditative habit, why not play with paint and do some satisfying spontaneous abstract art? This habit can be a colourful, free-flowing exercise that will not only help you start a mindful art routine but will also potentially propel your art practice.
Same as the daily doodles and zen paintings, prepare paper tiles. We recommend using paper that can withstand water-based mediums like what we have for our ZenART sketchbooks. You can opt to work on a journal, a sketchbook or separate sheets of paper.
Using a pen or marker with waterproof ink, write what you’re grateful about today. Keep it in mind while you start applying paint directly on the surface of the paper, gradually adding layers when needed. For paint in tubes, we recommend using our Essential Palette Oil Paint Set because of its buttery consistency. For the more fluid paint varieties, gradually pour complementary colours directly on the paper. With a small palette knife for thick paints or a single paintbrush for thinner paints, play around, experimenting on mixing directly on the paper. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with this mindful activity. The purpose of this is for you to focus on that one thing you’re thankful for and let your mind and body’s energy flow into creating something beautiful.
Gratefulness is more than having a routine and so much more than just a behaviour. We have to keep in mind that we have a responsibility to be kind to others and ourselves every day. Want to share more attitude of gratitude, thanksgiving art habits and painting ideas with the community? Or have queries about our non-toxic paints, quality brushes, sketchbooks and dotted journals? Let us know! We’d love to hear your thoughts. Stay grateful, happy Thanksgiving!
Have you checked out our new E-gift cards?
A ZenART E-Gift Card is a thoughtful gift that will surely be appreciated by any artist. (Valid only within the US) Show your loved ones how grateful you are to have them in your life. Give them the gift of art to kickstart their artful habits now.
— MEET THE AUTHOR—
Ardak Kassenova is a London based contemporary artist, co-founder and creative director of ZenART Supplies. Her visual style—contemporary impressionism—share similar aesthetic qualities with those by the French Impressionists. After 20 years of a successful corporate career, becoming a mother to two wonderful girls, and with the continuous development of her practice by taking private lessons from the best artists she could find; Ardak decided it’s time to align her life with her true passion, Art. Driven by this passion and her corporate leadership background, she co-founded ZenART.
“My heart and soul were always with Art, and since my childhood as long as I remember myself, I was dreaming to be an artist. I was painting after work, when I had time, and teaching myself through the books, videos, visiting art galleries and museums. I’ve been very curious about different techniques and styles, and therefore accumulated knowledge and experience on a variety of mediums.”
Achor, S., (2010) The Happiness Advantage: The seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work
Britannica, Satori, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Satori
Britannica, Doodles, https://www.britannica.com/art/doodle
Suraj Fine Art, Easy Abstract Painting, https://youtu.be/cZ7W7l8bNwg
Modern Zen, Enso Symbol, https://modernzen.org/enso-htm/ | https://youtu.be/-CB-JCJ4Mpw