Making art easy for carers


Jill Pay is an Independent Trainer-Facilitator and Life Coach and Manager at Camden Carers. She shares six ways we can tap into our imagination to uncover ideas, colours and symbols that carry meaning to us. And most importantly, how we can use art to de-stress.



Creating art can have many benefits for carers

Creativity is the stuff of life! Making art can be meditative, entertaining, absorbing, distracting and occasionally personally challenging! It can be so many things. However, as carers, the hardest challenge is to find the time and space to create something.


Let’s explore some tips and practical ways to make art accessible – and how to get started without any experience.



1. Keep our art materials ready to use

Whatever we need to create a piece of art – the materials, space, and time – all need to be easily accessible. I learned early on that even if I allowed myself 20 minutes to do some painting, if everything I needed was shut away in a cupboard, it just didn’t feel worth the effort to find it all. So, I made myself a kit!


Build our own creativity kit

Illustration of a pencil, stack of books with glasses on top, and shapes.
  • Find a box – an old shoe box, empty ice cream tub, etc (preferably with a lid) – put our art materials inside and keep it out on the kitchen table or sideboard where we can pick it up easily.

  • Materials don’t need to cost a lot. We can get perfectly good art materials, paper, pencils, pens etc in high street shops – e.g. Poundland, The Works, Tiger, and even in the supermarket. We can reuse packaging for collages, cut up old magazines, the list goes on!



2. Make time to create

The housework can wait (it really can!) When we get into the habit of taking regular short breaks for ourselves to be creative, we relax and regain energy. This helps us to be more efficient when tackling household and other chores! Make a cuppa, get our box and have some creative fun.



3. Simple ways to get started

If we’re not sure where to start, try these quick five minute creative exercises to get our juices flowing:

  • A doodle a day – don’t underestimate the value of doodling, it can be a great way into our creative flow

Illustration of a canvas on a paint stand with a question mark on it. Depicting 'what ideas should go on the canvas?'
  • Get an adult colouring book! We can tear the pages out, start playing with colours – mix it up a bit!

  • Pick one colour of crayon, pencil or paint and do some quick sketches using only that colour.

  • Play with colour mixing – using basic water colours. How do colours look together? What happens if we mix them? Which colours do we love?

  • Write some words really big and then colour them in. See which colours the words suggest to us.


Remember, this is about play. Playing is as important for adults as it is for children. Learn to let go of that critical voice – you know, the one that makes us wrong. There is no right and no wrong – it just is. No-one needs to see what we make, unless we want them to, so feel free to play, explore, loosen our imagination, and be light-hearted!



4. Take our imagination further

Once we’ve tried with the five minute creative bursts, we can explore these longer (20 minutes-an hour) creative exercises:

Picture of a Mandala inside a square

1. Create a Mandala

A Mandala is a symmetrical shape with links to Buddhism and Hinduism. The word ‘mandala’ means circle. Start by drawing a square – put a shape in the middle (I usually start with a circle) and then build out from there. Once we have it drawn, we can add colour or leave it monochrome.


2. Start a sketchbook project

Any size of plain sketch book can be used. We can fill our sketchbook with doodles and then colour them in later – in other words we’ve created our own colouring book! We can put whatever we like in our sketchbook – small collages, pieces of writing, paintings, etc. It is such a lovely, creative thing to do. We can add to it regularly, or even daily if possible!


3. Make a collage

The trick is to have a theme, that may be around colours, shapes or figures (animals, birds, etc). We can either cut or tear shapes, arrange them on our paper until we’re happy and then stick them down!


4. Paint or draw a self-portrait!

We will need a mirror or a photo to work from. This is very good fun – and can be challenging too.



5. Let creating become part of our life

Creating art, embroidery, crochet, knitting, collage – it can be addictive in the best possible way. Once we open the flow of creativity, we find ourselves wanting to do more. This is not a bad thing. It means that it’s nourishing us in a profound way.


We might find a preference for one type of art, and choose to explore it further. That’s great! Don’t hold back – give ourselves permission, the gift of creativity is beyond price. And remember, have fun!



6. Some useful resources

Illustration of buildings in the background and a location icon in front.

Do also check out Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery's virtual gallery rooms!


You may also like

Creativity and wellbeing - Writing

Carers' guide to journaling for wellbeing

Kickstart our imagination with creative writing


What's next?

Share your creative ideas and favourite inspiration videos with other unpaid carers in our Facebook community. And we also have virtual cuppas which run from Monday to Friday. Join us for laughs, a fun chat and real conversations.


Author Bio

Jill Pay is an Independent Trainer-Facilitator and Life Coach, and Breaks & Activities Service Manager at Camden Carers.