Make: Scribble Art Collages for Stress Relief

We are having the rare week of November 70-degree weather up here in the north, and I’ve committed to soaking up every last second of it with some alfresco art-making. Grab a blanket or big piece of cardboard, a little bag of basic art supplies, and join me in the backyard!

My relaxing little outdoor art sessions have been all about scribbling and cutting. I lay out a few choice supplies, give my head a rest and let my hands guide me…

If you can, take 5 minutes today and watch the video below – not even as much for what’s happening on the paper, but for a restful moment to catch your breath and absorb the sights and sounds.

The secret here is that this is not about the art or even the “process” really. There are lots of details beyond the process to notice. Turn up the volume, listen for the chalk running across the paper, and the sound of scissors cutting newsprint. Watch the light change as the sun goes down through the trees.

All of these situational periphery ingredients get mixed in with our art processes, becoming a part of what we make. Dappled light, soft breezes, chattering squirrels, and singing songbirds – they’re the unsung supplies of the art world! Once you’ve watched, carve out a little quiet scribbling time for yourself and your little ones together.

Find your zen and relax by making your own meditative scribble art collage for stress relief. | via barley & birch

This is also about observing the connection between art-making, our tools, our minds, and our bodies. When scribbling, instead of thinking about what you’re going to do next, let your tools explore the paper and let your thoughts drift in this direction instead…

  • How does your body guide you?
  • You might realize you’re tense or making a fist – what do the marks look like? What marks are made when you let your wrist relax?
  • Are you finding it hard to loosen up? What do scribbles look like with your non-dominant hand?
  • How does it feel to slowly drag a marker across the paper or pirouette a pencil in big circles?
  • How do your scribbles change when you work on a little piece of scrap paper? How does it feel to work BIG (on a scrap of cardboard maybe) and move your whole arm?
two of our scribble art collages sitting on a white background

If this kind of art-making is right up your alley, visit our scrap paper quick collages, scrap stamp shape collages, or hammered nature process art. Combine these art explorations with our DIY magic zen jar activity or one of the relaxation techniques used in our recycled peace gardens for a collection of easy stress relief exercises you can practice and use regularly with your little ones.

To make your own scribble art collages you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains either our own printable products, or Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • Paper – we used this kind from Bellen’s More Than Peach Project (not sponsored)
  • Your favorite mark-making supplies (markers, crayons, pencils, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • A glue stick


Scribble Art Collage Instructions:

Gather just a few basic supplies

Gather up a few of your favorite mark-making supplies. Markers, crayons, pencils, etc.

For different kinds of marks, you can also experiment with vine charcoal, compressed charcoal, chalk, oil pastels, or ink.

Set the atmosphere

This exercise is all about connecting with your surroundings and your supplies, so creating a calming atmosphere for yourself is important!

I find a lot of tranquility in being outdoors, but you may prefer a quiet room or private nook. Turn on some music or white noise. Consider the sights, sounds, and smells around you.

Loosen Up

Do some quick whole-body stretches. Try a few slow neck rolls. Make large circles with your arms. Clench, then relax your wrists. Shake your sillies out!


Put pencil to paper and start working out your stress! I always need to give myself a few minutes before I really start to loosen up and lose myself in the scribbling. I find it’s a lot like trying meditation – keep at it!

Cut and collage

This isn’t really a necessary step if you find that the most comforting part of the exercise is just scribbling. I enjoy mindlessly cutting shapes and playing with the arrangements, so this adds to the relaxation for me.

You can use a glue stick to glue your shapes down and create a collage, or you can keep your cut pieces loose and simply create different compositions.

The foundations of my career in art and design are found in scribbling exercises like these. Developing a deep connection to my surroundings and the supplies I used early on helped me explore and appreciate their range and versatility. The comfort I’ve found in working my feelings out by grabbing an art tool and listening to my body has helped me process stresses and frustrations (joys too!) throughout my entire life.

Mark-Making in Art: Inspiration

I gather a lot of inspiration from artists who push boundaries with their tools. The group below are all favorites of mine for created works that celebrate the spontaneity in mark-making through unique processes, distinctive styles, and varied mediums:

A couple of final notes: I had quite a few of my favorite mark-making tools out in the video, but you might find it’s better to limit yourself to one or two at first. Sometimes fewer decisions = more freedom.

Also, if you’re looking for a good heavy paper for art-making: I ordered this nice thick notebook from Bellen’s More Than Peach Project. Not only is it lovely paper to work with, Bellen’s project is one to support (I just got our palette pack order in and am so excited for the crayons too!) – be sure to check it out for yourself!

Find your zen and relax by making your own meditative scribble art collage for stress relief. | via barley & birch

For more ways to help your kids find calm through entertainment, grab an idea from our sensory play archives.

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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