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  • Norah Mooney

The Toothbrush Painting

Updated: May 22, 2021

I had one of those days this week. A day with a lot of bad news, not enough sleep, and way more reasons to doubt myself than believe in myself. I am fortunate enough to come home every night to a safe place. Where (after my little one goes to bed) I can drift into my studio and try my best to find some meaning in all of this sadness. On this particular night I was wanting to see something different than what I am used to seeing in my paintings. So, I started the painting with a toothbrush instead of a paintbrush. I do this sometimes- use different household items to paint with. Especially when I’m feeling a bit of pressure to create an image that will look a particular way. Using a new tool helps take some of the pressure off.

Side note: making images that look a particular way is also wonderful! It’s just that- what I needed on this night was a place (the canvas) to release all of the ickyness of the day. That would otherwise just stay locked up inside of me.

After I was finished painting I wrote a poem about it. Which I highly recommend if any of you out there reading this are considering trying a “toothbrush painting”. Write a little, once you are done. Even if it’s just “wow that really sucked”. Sign it, date it: the “wow that really sucked toothbrush painting”.

I will say it until my very last breath; the value in creating (as it pertains to expressive arts therapy) is what happens in the process of making it, not the currency attached to the finished product.

So get busy, I dare you. Go find a tooth brush, a dried-up leaf, or an old rag and get to it ;)

For whoever is reading this, thank you.

I'll be back next week y’all.

With gratitude,


ps. here is my toothbrush painting (in progress)


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