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ADHD: 5 Key Strategies to Improving Concentration Through Artmaking with Focused Brushstrokes

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

For individuals seeking to enhance their concentration and focus, especially those navigating the intricate challenges of executive functioning and ADHD, harnessing the power of creative expression through artmaking can be a game-changer. Here's a well-developed strategy incorporating five distinct techniques, providing a roadmap for cultivating focus amidst the colors and textures of artistic exploration.

  1. Mindful Beginnings:

  • Start each art session with a brief mindfulness exercise. Embarking on your artistic journey with a mindful approach can significantly impact your ability to focus. Before diving into the creative process, take a few moments to engage in a brief mindfulness exercise. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and center yourself in the present moment. This intentional breathing serves as a mental reset, allowing you to let go of distractions and approach your artmaking with a focused and calm mindset. By incorporating mindfulness at the onset of each session, you create a conducive environment for concentration and creative exploration.

  1. Structured Planning:

  • Break down the art project into manageable steps. Clearly define the objectives and outline the process. This step-by-step approach aligns with addressing working memory challenges commonly associated with ADHD, allowing individuals to focus on one aspect at a time. Clearly define your artistic objectives and outline the process into manageable components. For example, if creating a painting, begin with sketching the outline, then move on to selecting colors, and so forth.  Whether you're sketching an outline or experimenting with textures, focusing on one step at a time prevents overwhelm and fosters a sense of accomplishment. This structured planning not only facilitates a smoother creative process but also serves as a practical technique that can be applied to other aspects of life, enhancing overall organizational skills.

  1. Sensory Engagement:

  • Explore various textures and mediums to engage multiple senses. Incorporate tactile elements such as clay, fabric, or textured paper into the art project. The sensory experience not only makes the activity more enjoyable but also provides a dynamic and immersive environment, promoting sustained attention. Feeling the materials and experimenting with different tools can be a source of inspiration and focus.  

  1. Cognitive Flexibility through Expression:

  • Creativity thrives on flexibility, and allowing your art project to evolve organically can be particularly liberating. Embrace cognitive flexibility by deviating from your initial plans and experimenting with new ideas. Whether it's changing color schemes, altering shapes, or introducing unexpected elements, the ability to adapt within the creative process mirrors the adaptability needed in daily life. This freedom not only stimulates innovation in your art but also nurtures a resilient mindset that can be applied to problem-solving and decision-making beyond the canvas.

  1. Mindful Reflection:

  • Concluding each art session with mindful reflection is a crucial step in solidifying the benefits of your creative endeavors. Take a moment to contemplate the decisions made, challenges overcome, and the overall satisfaction derived from your completed piece. This reflective practice enhances metacognition, promoting a heightened awareness of your own thinking processes. By acknowledging your progress and embracing the learning experiences within your artmaking, you're fostering self-regulation and a deeper understanding of your cognitive strengths – skills that extend far beyond the realm of creativity and contribute to improved focus in various aspects of your life.

By integrating these five techniques into the artmaking process, individuals with ADHD and executive functioning challenges can develop a personalized and effective strategy for improving focus. This holistic approach not only taps into the therapeutic benefits of creative expression but also equips individuals with valuable skills that extend beyond the realm of art, fostering a heightened sense of focus and cognitive well-being in various aspects of their lives.

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ADHD and Art


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