Art Therapy: Healing Through Creativity
Published on: June 10, 2020
Known for her dot-style of painting Amy Diener is a talented young artist living in Bangkok. She speaks about her art and how she has found comfort in it after years of dealing with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
By As told by Amy Diener to Rina Wongpanich
What is your background and how did you start painting?
I’m originally from New York and grew up in the suburbs of NYC. I started getting into art during my junior year of high school because my teacher was super inspirational. I then went on to study art education at SUNY New Paltz, where we would take plenty of art classes each semester to improve our artistic practice.
Can you tell us more about the dots and how you started painting in this style?
The dot style means everything is made of dots in my painting! There are no lines, or other types of marks present. I dip and drop acrylic paint onto the surface, and many types layer one dot on top of the other. My artwork also draws influence from sacred geometry, the Fibonacci sequence, and the cosmic world.
The process is extremely healing and meditative. I started painting dots after a low point in my life. Many times, I experience roller coasters of highs and lows, and after the lows there is a beautiful thing at the end of the rainbow, and this is my dot painting.
You have been open about your experience with anxiety and OCD. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety involving obsessive thoughts in the mind like triggering compulsions – repeated conscious behaviors that help to alleviate anxiety from the thoughts. It affects over 8 million people in the US and Canada alone: many experience onsets from the ages of 18-23. Most individuals including myself didn’t understand what they were experiencing at first and when and how to seek help.
How did you seek treatment and how has art helped you?
I went through a few therapists before finding an ideal match. I chose a therapist that was effective in treating OCD using the ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) therapy method. This method forces you to face your fears head-on, “exposing” you to your obsessions, and “preventing” or delaying you from engaging in the compulsive ritual. I engaged in ERP with my therapist weekly for about two years. I recovered gradually, but tremendously over time. I have not “fully” recovered as it will always be a part of my life, but I am at the point where it does not interfere with my daily living.
Along with seeing a therapist, I used painting to alleviate anxiety. It’s allowed me to turn my suffering into beautiful and healing art that I hope has a positive effect on the wellbeing of individuals experiencing my art.
How else has painting helped you channel your anxieties into something positive?
Although this is my personal story of overcoming OCD, there are still millions of kids and adults fighting their own battle with it today. My hope is that through my relationship with art, I can share my message, turning suffering into inspiration and beauty. My mission is to give back to the OCD community, and I donate a portion of my painting sales to the International OCD Foundation so they can support everyone to live fully.
How can parents use art to help their children with expressing their emotions or dealing with mental illness? They could sign their kid up for an art therapy class or just have their kid engage in art practices that involve healing experiences – try painting dots, explore colors, and don’t worry about the end product. Just focus on the process.
Do you have any tips on how people can utilize art to get through the current pandemic or difficult times?
Take any materials you have lying around, and experiment and play with them and enjoy the experience of creating and/ or watch some YouTube tutorial videos!
Some people may not think to try art as a form of therapy as they are not artistic enough. What advice would you give to them?
I think it doesn’t matter if you are not “artistic.” That is so subjective anyways. What one person considers “good,” might be considered otherwise by another. So please don’t even think this way. Rather, the joyful and healing process of creating art should be the focus. Don’t stress on the end result, but rather enjoy the process! This is the most important part.
Does living in Bangkok have a special influence on your work?
Yes, I am heavily inspired by the colors from my travel encounters. The vibrant color combinations of the city of Bangkok have inspired my paintings. Also, there is a strong focus on mindfulness and meditation in this city, and my work draws on these themes.
What do you do when you are not painting?
When I am not painting, I am practicing aerial yoga, Latin dancing, hanging out with friends, or watching Netflix!
Photos courtesy of Amy Diener.
About the Author
Amy Diener is a New York-based artist currently living in Thailand. She specializes in vibrant dot paintings. She’s had a long history of battling OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and wants to bring awareness and destigmatize mental health through art & mindfulness. See amydiener.com, or connect with her at email@example.com, or @amydienerpaintings on Instagram and Facebook.
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