How to make birth art

Note: Were you inspired by Amy Swagman’s birth mandalas yesterday? Read this short essay in which she describes how to start making birth art of your own.

The state of mind you’re in when you create artwork is the same state of mind you are in when you labor and birth.  It is a fluid, intuitive, timeless space where you accept everything as the whole and have a harder time reasoning, rationalizing and compartmentalizing.  By making lots of art during pregnancy you are practicing being in that state of mind and becoming familiar inside it so that when you give birth it’s easier to sink into that mindset.

Many people are afraid to start artwork because they’re worried they won’t do it “right” or it won’t look like how they want it to look.  Try not to engage those thoughts.  The main benefit of creating the artwork is the act of doing so, not necessarily the outcome.  There are some ways to warm up that side of your mind.  You can do blind contour drawings where you draw the edges of an object, the lines of your hand, etc. without looking at your paper.  Another more abstract method is to smudge pastels or paint all over a paper and then once it’s dry look for shapes that speak to you and draw what you see or want to see inside of them.

I very much like drawing mandalas because you’re starting with a shape, a circle, and building on it.  It’s less intimidating than a blank sheet of paper.  My process is that I think of a topic I want to create and then brainstorm what images, symbolism, colors come to mind.  Then I let those gestate in my head for a while to see what comes out of the fog.

Amy Swagman is a mother, birth doula, La Leche League leader, and artist.  Find her at The Mandala Journey.


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