Mental Health and Creativity

CREATING your way to Positive Mental Health

by Elizabeth Rice

I do not have it all figured out. Who does? I do however, believe that sharing one’s journey and opening up the conversation is one of the healthiest things we can do for one another and ourselves.

Personally, I have experienced a range of emotions and all levels of happiness at varying points in my life. That’s humanity, right? One constant in my life, has been the desire to create. I have always enjoyed the problem solving components of a DIY project, art in all mediums, and the pride in creating something.

My company, Concrete Theory, was created out of a weekend project. I found myself in a stressful, yet rewarding day job that took a lot out of me. I set a goal to do something I enjoyed, just for myself, every weekend. A few weekends into this journey, I discovered the medium of concrete and rediscovered how great it felt to create something.

There are two types of “funk” I tend to find myself; a compulsive urge to do a million things within forty-five minutes and the lack of desire to do much of anything. When I am feeling down or defeated it is my instinct to withdraw and isolate. Despite knowing this to be the less than ideal choice, it happens. Having a creative outlet has been a great asset when these feelings arise. Often times, taking that first step of creating something new reminds me why I started in the first place. Similarly, finishing a previously started project gets me going again and allows me to check something off the never-ending list. The sense of accomplishment (usually paired with a cup of coffee) reignites my desire to share in the community again and reminds me what I love.

Art as Meditation

by Hannah Martin

A great number of celebrated artists were known to suffer from various forms of mental illness and while I don’t know if there is a direct link between this, I can somewhat imagine what it might have felt like to create. Anyone who has suffered a mental illness and has practiced art will know that art is almost like escapism. Sitting down to practice some sort of art forces us to think about what we are doing in the current moment; it almost becomes a trance. Meditation also emphasizes the same state of mind, focus on the present moment and let everything else escape you.

I often think about how it feels to create. Meditation seems to be one of the closest ways to describe that feeling. Despite the creative process being different for every individual, there seems to be a unifying factor that brings a sense of escapism. On top of that, creativity is a form of self-expression, which implies that when we create we are reflecting on ourselves and using art as an outlet to organize our reflections.

Whether it’s writing or painting, practicing your creativity is one of the best ways to alter your state of mind, reflect on yourself and bring about positive change towards your mental health.

Resources for mental health:

Find FREE mental health resources in Milwaukee here.

Bloom Center for Art and Integrated Therapies

NAMI Greater Milwaukee

Lighthouse Clinic

La Causa

Pathfinders Milwaukee

Wraparound Milwaukee




This is Atelier

Welcome to Atelier! I wanted to make a little post here to officially introduce you to this project. I’m Hannah, a lifetime Wisconsinite and recent UWM grad, I’ve decided to start Atelier as a way to engage our community of creators in Milwaukee. I have very strong hopes that this blog will become a sharing space for artists, creators, writer and thinkers alike. From conceptual writing on the arts, to artists’ features, and all community art events in between, Atelier will be a space for all. If you would like to contribute as a writer, be featured or help organize community art events please get in touch!

To kick-off the first post here I wanted to talk about the balancing act of working a full-time job as a creative. Anyone who has ever been in this position will understand the impossibility to balancing time for creating after a long day of work. This time is the hardest by far. But there is a lot of benefit to being in a position where you can’t just be a full-time creative. Learning to make balance can be really beneficial to how you spend your time creating. It can provide a more thoughtful and well executed practice. If your time is limited, you’re going to be more intentional with what you create.

What inspired me to write about this topic was about two weeks ago, while in NYC, sitting at a bar drinking a sad excuse for an Old Fashioned (insert Wisconsin joke here), I decided to take some time off of work and spend a few days painting. Working in a digital medium can be highly beneficial but there is something quintessential about raw canvas and paints.

What I had learned by the end of my few days was that, I do indeed have my own individualistic style. My canvas ended up looking a lot like something I’d create digitally. When you don’t have a lot of time to spend developing your own style, it can seem like what you create isn’t true to you or reflective of your thoughts. In actuality, this was the opposite for me!

On my time off I also got the chance to go to the Interactive Media Lab put on by Christopher Willey, a Digital Studio Practice instructor at UWM. It’s basically an open opportunity for anyone to come and explore digital media mediums, including virtual reality! This in combination with my time spent painting kind of encompasses what I envision for Atelier, a community space where the public can come in create, learn and share plus an opportunity to focus solely on my own practice.

That being said, if you would like to work with me please get in touch! Anyone is welcome to share here, whether you want to write something or want a space to share your work. Thanks for reading!