52-Week Art Journal

Week 3: Drawing Emotion… Yes, Really

Okay, Friends, it’s Week 3… and maybe this is another small-art prompt that will be out of your comfort zone. But that’s not a bad thing! In fact, it’s good. Which we all know. But that doesn’t mean we like it. But, as I hope you found last week’s blind contour drawing fun, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to see how you feel… so to speak.


You’ll need colored pencils for today’s small art, and you’ll probably want to use a pen to divide up your page into the necessary sections, as well as for your journaling.

If you’d like a little extra time for more calm before you start, check out the bonus content video below the prompt video. I’ll be sharing more grounding techniques in the future.

Here’s this week’s prompt video. We’re going to art and write about… EMOTIONS. Scroll beyond the videos for the written prompt.



Week 3 Bonus Content: Building Our Skill at Being Present in THIS Moment



Okay, needs to be said: I am not a certified mental health care provider. Nothing I share should be considered medical advice. I enjoy learning about how our brains and bodies work, and I share from my experience of mental illness and therapeutic art.

Getting Started

The first thing we need to do is divide our page in half vertically. So find roughly the center of the top of your page, and make a line down to the center of the bottom.

Next, we’ll do the same horizontally. We need to divide our page into eighths, with two columns of four, so we need to divide our bottom and top halves in half horizontally. And, yes, it’s confusing for me to be putting this into so many words…

Here’s what you need to end up with. Well, similar. Yours may be neater. I can’t draw straight lines to save my life.

Drawing specific feelings is not a natural thing for me. I would have at least raised my eyebrow if not rolled my eyes (hopefully without you seeing me do it) if you’d asked me to do that a few years ago. And yet, here we are.

It’s a good skill. To be able to examine our feelings. And express them in different ways.

Today we’ll be using color, and line, and maybe shape.

Our first emotion is sadness

First, choose your colors or just one color if you prefer.

I found choosing colors for SADNESS was rather easy.

And the lines came easily.

Because of how heavy sadness feels, how it seems to make gravity stronger, pulling everything toward the ground… and that’s all I’m going to say, as I want your pictures of emotion to be your own.

Next to sadness

In the box next to sadness, we’re drawing HAPPINESS.

When you look at your colored pencils, what colors look happy to you? When you think of happy times, what colors do you see in your mind?

How does your hand want to move on the paper to express your version of happiness?

For me, happy feels like a perfect summer day. Warm blue-sky sun.

In the box beneath sadness

The next emotion we’re going to draw is ANGER.

Another unpleasant one.

How does anger feel in your chest?

What colors capture that?

For me, anger is hot. A painful searing hot. As well as dark, a heavy dark.

On the other side of anger

Next to anger, we’re going in the other direction to CALM.


Doesn’t that feel much nicer?

Capture that feeling with color.

After you’ve colored your calm

We’re returning to our first column… to consider and break down FEAR into a colored box.

Is fear a complicated one?

For me there are the jagged unpleasantly bright shots that jolt through my system.

And smothering dark.

As well as seeing your pictures of your feelings, I’d love to “hear” how you articulate them. Feel free to share your descriptions in the comments, or send them to me.

An antidote

Our next emotion is CURIOSITY.

This is my busiest box…

What better way to overcome something that makes us feel fearful, that intimidates us, than with curiosity?

Wanting to know more about it? Understand it? Explore it?

Don’t you think curiosity is a good antidote to fear?

Our final unpleasant emotion

Last in what proved to be our unpleasant column is DISGUST.

That feeling comes with a sneer.

And a nauseating twist to the gut.

What color is that for you? Does it have a shape?

Unfortunately, too many of us have been programmed by experiences to react to some things about ourselves with disgust.

Have you ever paid attention to your self-talk?

How much of it is kind, encouraging, accepting?

What about harsh, belittling… disgusted?

We too often forget the importance of our next emotion, when it comes to dealing with our selves.

It’s time for compassion

I wasn’t sure at first what colors I wanted to use for compassion. It has warmth and light like happiness, and calm and curiosity. It is also moved by the pain of others, and can have the heat of an anger that recognizes an injustice and is moved to defend and protect, to stand for what is right and good.

Compassion makes us softer AND stronger.

Unlike disgust, it embraces.

As you think about how you’ll draw compassion, and as you draw it, think about how good it would feel—how healing and healthy and encouraging—it would be to treat yourself with more compassion. And how that will better equip you to exercise compassion with others.

Now for our journaling

For journaling this week, choose one of our pairs…

How have you experienced these two emotions?

How are they different from each other? Are there similarities? How do they interact, or perhaps balance each other?

Thanks for showing up for yourself

I’m so glad you’ve decided to take the time to establish a habit of creative self-care. If you’d like a little more encouragement each week along with our small-art and writing prompts, sign up for my emails here.

Let me know in the comments or in a message how drawing emotions was for you!

If you decide to share with others on social media, be sure to tag me and/or use #artjournalwithmelinda.

I’ll be back next week with another prompt.

New here? Check out the 52-Week Art Journal Journey tab above to learn more.

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