Art-As-Therapy – No Drawing Skills Required

Now, more than ever, art therapy has become more important to manage the stress and anxiety of living through these incredibly challenging times.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy uses creative techniques such as drawing, painting, or coloring to help people express themselves artistically while safely channeling “emotional toxic waste” while gaining a better sense of self and higher self-acceptance.

Michael Lyman provides art-as-therapy classes to veterans, health professionals, first responders and their families, at-risk teens and anyone looking for ways to cope with and channel the stresses of life’s challenges.

Below: images created by students in previous art-as-therapy sessions

Students are shown ways to have a conversation with their creative spirit in order to safely discharge the emotional toxic waste that develops from traumatic experiences, stress and anxiety, discarding more destructive coping mechanisms such as alcoholism and drug use (note: Michael K. Lyman is not a licensed art therapist).

Drawing skills are not required. The emphasis is on the process, not the end result; turning off the relentlessly self-critical and judgemental part of the brain and listening to what the spirit has to say.

To learn more about the benefits of art, visit The Benefits of Art page.

Sessions typically last one hour, although half-hour sessions are also available. The first session is free so students can determine if the sessions meet their needs. The cost for sessions are as follows:

  • One hour lessons: $30.00 per session
  • Five or more one-hour lessons: $25.00 per session
  • Thirty minute lessons: $15.00 per session
  • Five or more thirty-minute sessions: $10.00 per session

To schedule a session and for more information, send an email to, or call or text 727-492-0135. Follow Magnum Arts on Facebook for the latest updates.

Humanity, an example of art therapy created by Michael Lyman during an especially difficult week. The emphasis is on free-flowing expression, not technical accuracy. Drawing skills are not required.

Previous Art Therapy Residencies Conducted:

  • Pasco Girls Academy – Minimum security correctional facility for girls
  • San Antonio, FL Juvenile Correctional Facility – Medium security facility for male and female teen offenders
  • Columbus Youth Academy – Medium security facility in Tampa for male offenders, program included job search guidance
  • Pinellas County Juvenile Correctional Facility – Medium security facility for male and female teen offenders
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul CARES – Homeless shelter and halfway house; art as therapy program for veterans trying to heal from service-related traumas

At the Columbus Youth Academy, incarcerated teens are educated not only in the arts but in job-search skills and personal responsibility. 

This innovative program gives teens a second chance with mentoring and art instruction so that when released, they will have better coping skills and opportunities to succeed. At the conclusion, residents are awarded a certificate of completion. The program has been so popular with both residents and staff members that Magnum Arts has been asked to return for another session.

Drawing is a zen-like activity, similar to meditation; art therapy sessions help veterans and troubled teens  achieve an inner peace through self-expression. The sessions revolve around each student’s goals, who often learn from and are inspired by other students in the class.

Ground Rules For Sessions:

Sharing private emotional experiences and feelings with the class is NOT required or expected, although students are welcome to do so

There is NO judgement or negativity allowed regarding other students’ art, experiences or statements
An open mind and desire to learn to heal are required
No – repeat, NO – drawing skills of any kind are required. Simply a desire to learn about one’s self through the arts

Exercises to Help You Connect With Your Creative Spirit

  • Make a scribble drawing. With this activity, you’ll turn a simple scribble into something beautiful, using line, color and your creativity.
  • Let yourself be free. Don’t allow yourself to judge your work. If you think your paintings are too tight and controlled, try leaving stuff out. Our brains are quite adept at filling in missing details, so you needn’t put down every single thing. Take a long hard look at your subject, trying to decide which are the essential bits. Put down these only, and then decide whether you want more detail or not. You’ll be surprised at how little can be necessary to capture the essence of something.
  • Draw an experience where you did something you didn’t think you could do. We all have to do things that we’re scared or unsure of sometimes. Use this activity as a chance to commemorate one instance in your life.
  • Draw yourself as a warrior. Start thinking about yourself as a strong, capable person by drawing yourself as a warrior in this activity. Draw yourself as a superhero. Many people like superhero stories. We resonate with the themes in the stories, with the dilemmas and problems that superheroes face, and we aspire to their noble impulses and heroic acts.
  • Draw a place where you feel safe. 
  • Create a drawing(s) of your worries. What worries you in your life? Sketch out images and concepts about the things that scare you the most. Everyone is frightened of something and in this project you’ll get a chance to bring that fear to light and hopefully work towards facing it.
  • Draw images of your good traits. Creating drawings of your good traits will help you to become more positive and build a better self-image.
  • Draw yourself as an animal. Is there an animal that you have a special interest in or feel like is a kindred spirit? Draw yourself as that animal.
  • Draw the different sides of yourself. In this exercise, explore the different aspects of your personality, giving each a visual representation. You might only have one or two, or maybe even twelve.
  • Draw yourself as a tree.Your roots will be loaded with descriptions of things that give you strength and your good qualities, while your leaves can be the things that you’re trying to change.
  • Design a postcard you don’t intend to send. Whether it’s a love note to someone you’re not ready to confess your feelings to, or an angry rant you know is better left unsaid, sometimes writing all the details helps deflate the issue. While writing the text can be therapeutic in its own right, designing the postcard gives even more value to the object. It also allows you to activate different portions of your brain while relaxing in a manner similar to coloring in a coloring book. Once you toss that signed and sealed letter in the trash (or tuck it away in a drawer), you’ll find its message has lost some of its power.

To learn more about Magnum Arts’ art-as-therapy programs, email or call 727-492-0135.