Toolkit Color Meditation – Meditative Painting With Watercolor
How To Relax Using Simple Meditative Painting Exercises | How To Do Color Meditative Painting Exercises with Watercolor | Mindfulness Through Meditative Painting
Before heading into the color meditation painting exercises, you might be interested to learn more about drawing the face, check out our last Toolkit article – How To Draw ¾ View Face. It’s a wonderful step-by-step guide on how to better understand and draw the face from an angle.
Above is a video of how I practiced meditative painting using watercolor. No planning was done beforehand except to prepare the materials and the main themes which are also listed below. They’re just basic guides so you’ll be able to focus on your color meditation this time, but feel free to think of your own ideas once you’ve gone through those suggested here.
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How To Relax Using Simple Meditative Painting Exercises
Creating color meditation painting using watercolor is a wonderful way to relax our minds and bodies to help us let go of all the stress. Now more than ever, we deal with all kinds of stressors from different sources. The soothing properties of dipping the brush in water, adding color, and then painting on your paper is quite effective. The colors, the textures we can create, and the creative freedom helps us release all our emotions without having to say anything. More so that you don’t need to paint about anything specific, but instead to use colors to express our moods.
How wonderful that we can practice mindfulness through color meditative painting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert in watercolor or anything, this isn’t meant to be a technical exercise at all. Though I find that this is also a great way to test out a newly acquired set that you haven’t had the chance to swatch out yet. I highly encourage everyone to try this out as it’s perfect for calming the mind while also enjoying mixing and playing with your watercolors!
Before we start, prepare your materials…
Materials needed for meditative art exercises :
- A set of watercolor paints
- A sketchbook with good quality paper and thick enough GSM that can handle some water.
- A set of brushes in different sizes so you can choose which one you prefer for each exercise (don’t worry just 3-4 brushes is good enough, 2 or 3 round ones of different sizes and 1 flat brush for the washes).
- A mixing plate so you can totally make your own color mixtures.
- A jar of water for dipping your brushes in and for washing them too!
- Paper towels or sponge for wiping off or absorbing excess water.
- Your choice of soothing background sound or music (optional, of course!), in my case it helps me stay in my creative vibe.
And that’s it! Now, you’re ready to paint away!
How To Do Color Meditative Painting with Watercolor
Watercolor is the perfect medium for practicing fluid, free flowing meditation exercises. Just the simple thought of freely spreading water mixed with color feels soothing to the mind. Coupled with the colorful splashes and blends that magically just happen, it’s very ideal for conveying your mood or emotions at the moment. So, relax your mind and body and get ready to begin your watercolor color meditations.
Meditative Painting: Dots
Choose which brush you’re most comfortable using, dip it in your water, and choose your first dot color. You don’t have to prepare premixed colors on your mixing plate beforehand, you can just dab directly from your watercolor palette. You can even do both if you feel like it! Free your mind from overthinking and just go where the flow takes you. Go ahead, paint as many dots as you like with as many colors as you want!
Here I lined up my dots and used cool colors for the exercise, next time I think I want to paint them in different sizes. You can do whatever you feel like, so go ahead and paint away!
Meditative Painting: Lines
Now, let’s do some lines. You can choose to draw them horizontally, vertically, or even diagonally. Don’t think too much about the spacing or making them in even sizes! Don’t stress about making them straight, wonky lines have their own charm. Just keep on adding new lines, play around with your color combinations, and have fun with your color meditation painting!
I decided to do the first thing I start out with when I teach my students – different kinds of lines! Those that could fit in the paper I have now at least. With lines, the possibilities are endless!
Meditative Painting: Triangles
And we transition to some geometric shapes – starting with the triangle! You can totally explore all sorts of triangles here, and even flip them around! You can also play around with overlapping some of them (or all of them, why not?) by painting triangles in different sizes. Keep in mind, there are no mistakes here so just try it out!
Sometimes I end up with something that’s not my favorite, and I remind myself to not overthink it! This is meant as a calming process to practice mindfulness and not to create masterpieces – a meditative art exercise. It’s really challenging to free yourself from thoughts when you’re so used to thinking about so many things all the time.
Meditative Painting: Squares
Another shape we’ll be playing with is the square. Similar to what we can do with triangles, you can easily play around with it by using different sizes and overlapping some of them. Keep exploring your watercolor by mixing some of them together. Sometimes having a limited palette may seem a lot of mixing work, but the joys of your own self-discovery are worth it!
It’s also fun to create all sorts of patterns, especially with geometric shapes. You can play around with creating a pattern using the same sizes and with different sizes as well, so go ahead and mix them all up!
Meditative Painting: Abstract Shapes
I definitely have fun whenever abstract shapes are involved, there’s nothing more freeing than not having to draw anything representational. It’s definitely perfect for color meditation art painting. I hope you enjoy this exercise as much as I do. Set free your inner abstract creativeness and use your watercolors to let them loose!
When I look at abstract works, I know I’m not meant to see anything specific. But different people see different things sometimes. In my exercise below, one shape reminds me of a weird thumbprint!
Meditative Painting: Half Circles
Half circles remind me of half-moons and half-eaten pizzas. I’m sure it evokes all sorts of things to different people. Have fun with your watercolor half circles, just playing around with the different orientations can give you interesting patterns!
I wanted to pay tribute to the moon, so I chose deep and cool colors for this exercise. Playing around with pairing together differently sized ones can also create interesting designs. Don’t feel pressured to cover the entire paper, paint as much or as little as you want to.
Meditative Painting: Rainbows
Swatching out your watercolor palette wouldn’t be complete without painting a rainbow. It’s nostalgic of our childhood drawings where we just drew our hearts out with whatever came to our young minds! And learning how to memorize the colors in the right sequence – ROYGBIV. This is a great way to swatch out the basic colors in your watercolor palette. You can make one rainbow, two, or several. It’s up to you!
Below I used a mop brush since I wanted to make a rainbow with thick lines and with colors that would somewhat bleed next to each other. It’s interesting to wait and see how the colors merge depending on how much water is used.
Meditative Painting: Arches
Bridges and entryways, these things come to mind when I think of arches. Keep trying out new mixes and color combinations. This is the perfect time to explore everything without the fear of making any mistakes – there are no mistakes to be made in color meditation painting, just pure expression. Try using your different brushes to explore all the ways you can use it, and to create different effects as well.
Here I played around with overlapping some arches and some with smaller ones under them. It’s just exciting to see what you may end up making when your thoughts are not too constrained by rules.
Meditative Painting: Gingham or Plaid
Here you will totally be overlapping colors, there’s no escaping it. Try using different colors to see what the effect will be when they mix together. Change around your brushes too, so you can create your very own gingham pattern with varied line widths. You might even have a favorite plaid shirt in mind!
For this exercise I used a mop brush for the thick and juicy lines, a filbert brush for the medium sized line, and a #7 round brush for the thin yellow lines. This is a color combination inspired by a shirt that I have!
Meditative Painting: Watercolor Washes
Another way of playing around with your color mixtures and experimenting with the amount of water to use is by doing watercolor washes. You can create washes in shades of greens, blues, and violet for the cool tones, and shades of yellow, orange, and red for the warmer tones. And you can always mix whichever colors you like from there on out. It’s like creating your very own moodboards.
I used cool colors and created a simple wash, allowing the colors and the water to naturally mix together with some brush teasing from me. Sometimes I like to leave some parts of the paper showing, like sunlight peeking through. You can have a lot of color meshing and blending with watercolor washes!
Mindfulness Through Meditative Painting
Wasn’t that just relaxing and fun? Don’t you just feel mentally refreshed? This can be part of your everyday routine, you can do one color meditation painting exercise using watercolor for each day (or more if you feel like it!). You can think of other simple lines, shapes or patterns that you want to paint when you’ve gone through all the sample exercises here. The important thing to remember is that there are no mistakes, free your mind from other thoughts, and just be in the moment. The wonderful moment of creative exploration and mindfulness. Gift yourself with a daily mental and spiritual cleansing, you deserve it!
We’d love to hear back from you!
Which exercise did you have the most fun with? How about the one that was the most relaxing for you? Which color combinations did you play around with that turned out great? What other art or color meditations do you practice? Let us know what you think, we’d love to hear back from you. Feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll be happy to answer any queries you have.
Learn the difference between acrylic and oil paint in our next Toolkit article – Acrylic vs Oil Paint – The Main Differences. Meanwhile, have a relaxing and mindful time with your color meditation painting exercises!
— MEET THE AUTHOR—
Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She’s a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewellery designs.