Find Your Messy Inner Being

Laura Quilligan
3 min readAug 4, 2021


Photo by Alice Dietrich

As a fiber artist I have been working in my studio hands on for 20 years. Most of the time I feel like a kindergartener going into my studio where I can be as messy as I want. It is very liberating and a sanctuary away from the digitized, restricted, logical and imposing reality of our modern world

I’m involved in a wet medium using dyes on silk. In addition to the wet medium I’m a messy painter. The messiness is unstructured, spontaneous, organic, playful and tons of fun for me. I have three large tables covered in plastic, and the floor is covered in plastic as well. Being in this messy sanctuary, I feel relaxed, validated, and simply free.

Research after research validates the results of the health benefits while doing hands on art activities. Read this research article for an example of the health benefits. An excerpt from the article;

1. Stress Relief

Research has shown that engaging in just 45 minutes of art-making significantly reduced the levels of cortisol (aka “the stress hormone”) across 75% of participants. Why? Well, it turns out, creating art is akin to meditation. It forces the mind to slow down, to focus on the details, and it helps to block out the mind’s distractions, resulting in people feeling noticeably calmer and less anxious.

I’m not advocating that all art activity needs to be messy. My excellent art teacher, Robert Bechtle who taught at San Francisco State University years ago, was very neat. However, he allowed and gave permission for self-expression in whatever way one chose as an art student. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t feel a sense of confidence now. With his encouragement I relaxed, felt inspired and embraced my immersion in painting and drawing.

Fom this experience I learned the value of being authentic and pursuing one’s own voice. Each person has a unique experience living in their own visual library.

When you color using crayons or doodle or make marks with pencils on paper or any surface, you are creating free space rooted in the present moment where there is a sense of freedom of expression; which is helpful, healthy, and freeeing, as noted in the research.

Over the years while painting in my studio I experienced the state of “flow” that occurs in the creative process. It’s important for us to let go of all the preconceived notions of success, the constant striving for perfection, the limiting validation from others, judging ourselves and others, and the ever present comparison mindset occurring with endless social media scrolling. The more we externalize our reality, and ignore our inner being, the less we are capable of finding deeper meaning and purpose in our lives.

The expressive art community has a treasure trove of information available for the benefits of art making. Read here for another very good article on the benefits of art making.

To learn more about the psychology of the flow state, read here.

Because I’m a complete right brain thinker, doing art saved me. I have always been challenged with math computations. I struggled in 4th grade, and my teacher gave me a D. It was devastating at the time.

However, the tree in our backyard became my healing focal point as I observed it’s magical beauty. It was an antidote to the shaming from my 4th grade teacher. I got some crayons and started to draw the tree. I became lost in the flow of the creative process. To this day I have a strong loving feeling towards trees.

We are all creative. When you daydream about your creative projects it can be the beginning of a wonderful adventure.

Anything goes; technicolor, black and white, clay explorations, cooking, gardening, composing, playing music, poetry, dancing your dance, or drawing on your ipad. Stay open to the possibilities of whatever arises in your creative imagination, and dive into the flow.



Laura Quilligan

Artisan, certified Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach. Your creativity is a journey of courage and perseverance. I can help with your blocks.