An art workshop that is sure to not only increase your creative energy but one that is also therapeutic.

If you thought art was just a creative vent — a way to pass time indoors, create colourful things, an excuse to splash colour all over the floor, walls and yourself — then you are partly right. But did you know that art was also therapeutic? An effective way to improve communication, ideation, release fear, anger transformation and stress busting.

Is it complicating a simple fun activity? No, at Art n Soul — a centre for creative expression, you will gain from the therapeutic benefits of art in a fun way.

This two-month old activity centre has so far organised three short term workshops for children between the ages of six and 12. The workshop deals with activities like story painting, dream board, finger friends, enacting forgiveness, 3D mural, mask making, junk sculpture, craft for gifting and more.

The walls of the colourful centre in Anna Nagar are filled with the participants' creative output. There is an anger transformation chart, more like a comic strip, that shows the child dealing positively with the anger he harbours for a friend who poked him with a pen. “Don't do it again.” “Okay,” says the friend.

“All it takes is for the child to visualise the solution, instead of harbouring the feeling. Art helps them do just that,” explains Shakthi, who along with her sister Devi, started this creative centre.

Also on display are painted t-shirts, handmade flowers, and a bridge made out of junk. The goals chart has the children breakdown their aspirations into health goal (“I want to go jogging”), home goal (“I want to help my mom with cleaning”), school goal (“I want to make new friends, and study well”) and career goal (“I want to become a singer”).

“When we talk about therapeutic art, parents immediately think that it's not for their child. The awareness about art's therapeutic benefits is very low. Art helps build confidence and self-awareness in a child and an acceptance of their strengths and weaknesses. Through art-based activities we can help the child learn that there is never just one solution to a problem,” say the sisters.

Through a particular child's artwork the sisters found out that he harboured anger towards his father who fought with the mother. Such feelings that come out in a secure and unbiased environment like this help them deal with it. If need be, the sisters also talk to the parents about the situation and if they are open, also suggest ways to set things right.

The children at the centre are plain happy to keep their minds and hands busy painting and making things, while the parents, going by their written testimonials, are happy to see their children do something other than lounge before the television.

While having fun, if they are also benefiting from it, who's complaining? Art n Soul will commence regular after-school classes from June.

NANDITHA, V, Chennai Public School: I attended all three workshops and I loved them. I especially liked the t-shirt painting activity and I painted a princess. The workshops have made me realise that I can be creative and this has made me confident. I would like to learn more paper crafts.

ABHINANDH AJAY, VIII, Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram: This workshop is very different. It's not like the usual art class but it's fun at the same time. In the story painting activity I created a comic strip that deals with the war between aliens and the cyborgs. It ends happily though as they come up with peaceful agreement that does not involve war

.ISHIKA, III, The Schram Academy: This is the first workshop that I am attending. It is very nice. I like art and my favourite art work that I did here was the flowers. Even my parents liked it very much. I also loved the group stories and games which made it very interesting.

KARAN, II, S.B.O.A. School and Junior College: This is unlike the art classes we have in school. Through the activities here I have learnt values and learnt to set goals. My home goal is to obey my parents and help them at home. I wish to learn to draw more.

For details contact: Shakthi: +91 80 560 99 599/ Devi: +91 98 412 68 097 or mail: artnsoul.mailbox@gmail.com

Venue: R - 4 (old no 62), 14th Street, Annanagar, Chennai

Keywords: art workshop