Drawing from emotion

By Yasodhara Pathanjali 

Good day, readers! How are you doing these days? Did you have fun this week? How are you finding online schooling, if you are doing that these days? I’m excited this week because my family is finally leaving Colombo after the curfew, so we will get to go and see the sea! The sea is one of my favourite things – I can get lost looking at it for ages. I’m going to take my painting stuff with me and see what I can create from that kind of natural environment.

Last week we talked about drawing from what we see, from the leaves and flowers that we can find around us. Do you know that I have an entire sketchbook just for this exercise? I collect shapes and ideas so that when I have to do a big painting next time I can be inspired by my sketches. When I’m starting on a new piece, I try not to go out and look for new shapes because I like to focus more on the movements and colours.

This week, let’s talk about drawing from emotion. When we feel happiness, joy, anger, sadness, curiosity, pride, satisfaction, etc., we can, each of us, associate colours and movements to those feelings. They don’t have to be the same for everyone; they can be just what you choose. For instance, red is usually chosen as the colour of either love or anger, but in reality, you might think that love is purple and that anger is brown. It’s completely up to you. Next time you feel an emotion, close your eyes and try to feel what colour suits how you are feeling best.

Another good way of figuring out which colours you associate with different emotions is to look at colours for a long time and see what comes to your mind. Not just one colour, but sometimes groups of colours.

Once you identify an emotion that you want to put on paper and you’ve worked out colours that represent that feeling for you, then go ahead and “wash” the paper in those colours. What that means is that you simply use brush, pencil, or crayon strokes to create blocks of colour on the paper. 

If you have associated more than one colour to an emotion or you want to express the move from one emotion to another, try blending the colours on the page in interesting formations. You can have one colour in the middle with it blending and becoming other colours around. Or you can have one colour on one side of the page, slowly blending into others as you go towards the other side of the page. You can even start with one colour, blend it to another, and then blend it back to the starting colour. Maybe you can also try doing it as a wheel. There are so many options. 

Give it a go and share what you create with me. Send me an email at

On Friday, we will choose some emotions and see what I, Anuradha, and Indumathi can come up with. I’m hoping that we find lots of variations and different ways to do it. Join us on the Little Stars – The Sunday Morning Facebook page and engage in the conversation.