top of page
  • Writer's pictureDionne White

Don’t Discount The Power of Small Art

Why working small is a great therapeutic exercise and can administer inner healing as well as be a gateway to accomplishing larger tasks!

We can become overwhelmed by so many things in life. This world throws so much at us.

Family, social media, church, work, school, government and world events, everyday, it’s literally in our faces.

We have to intentionally and carefully choose what to allow in our lives. Otherwise we will be consumed by it all.

It is crucial to our peace of mind that we make the best choices possible for ourselves and our families. Crucial!

Sometimes those choices may seem "small" but they are crucial.

Today I want to talk to you about "The power of creating small". I believe as an artist, hobbyist or professional, it is good and productive to our mental health to retreat to small work from time to time. Most times because of increased production people farm these tasks out. I actually enjoy them and do them on purpose.

Close up, small focused work has been proven over time as a successful therapeutic practice. Whether it is repetitive in nature or not, the point is the focus. When coupled with repetitive motions of painting, sewing, knitting, bouncing a ball, playing an instrument or even icing and decorating a cake for example, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms and quiets that "fight or flight" response and doing it upclose and focused compounds the therapeutic results.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described this phenomenon as flow: a few moments in time when you are so completely absorbed by an activity that nothing else seems to matter.

Flow, Csikszentmihalyi says, is the secret to happiness -- a statement he supports with decades of research.

(comment resource CNN)

Often times, working on large pieces can be overwhelming. Until we learn how to approach a large project or painting properly - we can become discouraged and defeated before we start. We have to balance task with skill. So here are a few tips - to help combat chaos and anxiety in your creating process as well as in life. Reuniting us to peace and a sense of accomplishment.

Start Simple and Small. Pick a subject or simply some colors that bring you joy, peace or happiness.

(Even if it is a stretch for you due to current circumstances in life)

This can be a realistic or abstract excercise. For realism choose a simple subject as a flower, or something you feel you can execute in a fair amount of time. For abstract choose a minimum of 2-3 colors. I would also choose 3-4 colors for your small realistic piece as well. You can use variations of the color along with highlights or shadows. Keep your pallet simple!

We are trying to decompress and move into flow.

So remember this....”to decompress choose less!” :) This can apply to every area of our lives!!! Right, Come on- Amen! Painting or creating small was a key to much healing for me and quieted the inner turmoil that led me into flow. Here are a few reasons I like to paint small.

I believe when you apply these you will be encouraged and empowered to do greater things!

1. INTIMIDATION FACTOR The smaller the piece the less intimidating the task. It’s training ground for your mind and for larger future tasks. Doing the small attainable exercises builds those creative and self esteem muscles. Look at it as part of your process.

Have fun with it and just do it. 2. FULFILLMENT FACTOR I believe that a big reason why we don’t succeed or thrive in life is because we don’t completely accomplish tasks. Resulting in feeling like a failure or falling short. False starts, so to speak, lead to a defeated mentality.

We are ALIVE TO THRIVE! Accomplishing projects fuels us. We were made for purpose and even doing things that are small in nature can feed our fulfillment factor.

We all need to not just feel like we are fulfilling our purpose, but we need to function in purpose on purpose. We need to feel accomplished. Other wise we have a defeated mentality like I just mentioned. Believe me I know. I lived it for a long time. ​ 3. FOCUS FACTOR What we focus on is not only magnified but it grows. Good or bad.

Years ago I began focusing on the right things and stopped looking at the “negative reflection” in the mirror. I began to “See that it was good”.

See What was good?


I tried to find the good in things. Especially me. I started with myself.

I began to intentionally speak truth over myself and claimed all God said about me!

Painting small, I feel, makes you focus more intently on the task at hand. Not to say you don’t focus on large projects or paintings, but usually when I paint large, I still have to focus on a small section then step back and look at the entire piece and check the composition, scale, and colors etc. My attention is somewhat diverted. I don't depart from that place with the piece finished. There a greater time factor involved. Everyone does it differently.​ The idea of creating small is to accomplish the task at hand in a short amount of time to reach fulfillment without leaving with apathy or be bored with what you are doing.

Which leads us to the fourth point...yield and flow.

4. FLOW FACTOR - I have learned that it is in a place of surrender and yielding that the flow factor happens. In this space of yielding- is where inner healing comes. You can even lose track of time or lack hunger in this place. What you are doing becomes effortless.

You may ask, “How can that happen through creativity? “

I can personally attest to this statement;

“when someone starts creating, his existence outside that activity becomes "temporarily suspended.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi It is in this place incredible healing, illumination and transformation can happen.

God has been talking to me about this place of yielding for 3 years now.

This is the revelation that I was given regarding 'yield and flow' just a few months ago.

He said that we enter that place of 'flow' because we yield.

When we are engaging our minds, hands, and spirits with a focused task at hand, especially repetitive in nature then we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit and we enter 'flow'. It is in this very place that Holy Spirit flows to us and through us. Ministering to our hearts and then that is expressed in our work. Giving us a form of empowerment by Holy Spirit. Resulting in co-creating in its highest form.

It is the yielding that is the ultimate element to co-creating with Holy Spirit. To yield means to give way, not resist, ultimately to give forth or produce by a naturally supernatural process in return for cultivation. You are internally entering a place of rest and now I say...

“A place of rest can also become a place of flow.”

This is the place inner healing happens when we are creating!

Goodness that is good stuff!

I haven't read the book by Mihaly on flow, but have talked to others that have. I just know this happens for me as I create and God gave me this revelation one day as I was studying creativity as a therpeutic practice, particularly reptition. I can lose all track of time and even skip meals. Flow actually propels me.

So you see there are great benefits from creating and even creating on a small scale.

Your problems and anxieties disperse while you focus on the blooming flower right in front of you that you are painting or that melody you are strumming over and over again.

You are bringing LIFE to a canvas where you might very well be experiencing void or death some place else in your life.

Whatever it is we are coming in the opposite spirit of all life's circumstances and painting life!

Painting life and speaking life. ​

Once you finish your small piece in a short setting you will have nourished your spirit, exercised your creative muscles, expressed from your place of flow and you will feel accomplished.

A sense of pride in yourself will come. You will have quieted your mind and silenced the world around you and yielded to the work of Holy Spirit.

You will have brought forth beauty and life from a place of void or death.

You will have painted the promise.

Don’t discount the power of small.”

~Dionne White

bottom of page