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Scratch Painting

Its more than just a fad. For some it’s a lifesaver.


Cancer survivor Mel Evers with some of her favorite scratch paintings

Mel Evers can remember exactly when she found comfort, if not salvation, after she was diagnosed with cancer. It is where she found it, and how, that surprised her: in a scratch painting kit.

Scratch painting in action

“When I was a child I loved paint on paper, adding black crayon on top and scratching through to reveal the colors beneath,” she explains.

Adult scratch paintings are similar but much more detailed. When I was going through chemo, Scratching out the lines of the picture gave me something else to focus on. It distracted me from the emotional and physical pain.”

Mel, a former counselor and mother of 3, had always been able to use words and prayer to find peace in difficult times and to help others do the same.

But after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 she needed something more, something different, to calm her nerves and help soothe her grief.


“I was looking for something calming that could get rid of this restlessness,” she says, to help silence the churning thoughts that made it hard for her to focus or sleep.


Back then, scratch painting wasn't the phenomenon it's fast becoming today. But once Mel discovered it, she was quickly hooked.

Mel with her oncologist on her final day of chemo

"I scratch paint a little every day," says Mel

For Mel, scratch painting offers a new way to overcome challenges — emotional, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more traditional approaches. And she’s not alone.


On one Facebook scratch painting group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using scratch painting as a tool against anxiety, to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression.

Angela, a 72-year-old retired grandmother, says that scratch painting has boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a shake in her arm. Julie, a Californian mother of two, believes it’s helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior.

According to Jessica Howe, co-founder of online scratch painting store Color My World, “Scratch painting works like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation.”

Research shows such approaches work like a volume knob to turn down the body’s stress response. Scratch painting can help slow down your heart rate, relax your muscles and stimulate the brain. 


"It has a grounding effect”, says Jessica, “because you're totally in the moment. Gently pressing the stylus to the page, feeling the texture as you scratch off the black layer, revealing the bright colors with each scrape — it just feels really good.”

Scratching through to reveal the colors

Indeed, the soothing nature of scratch painting is not lost on art therapists. “There’s a meditative aspect to it because you’re doing the same motion over and over,” says Katie Smith, an art therapist who uses scratch paintings as part of her practice. “There’s also the psychological benefit of creating your own beautiful masterpiece.”

The Dream Castle scratch painting kit

This mirrors Mel’s experience. “As a counselor I’m fascinated by how easily scratch painting becomes meditative,” she says. “By carefully scratching off each line of the design, I can lose myself in a way that feels healing.” 


Mel spends about 8 hours a week scratch painting, mostly at night, when her children are asleep and she can sit quietly at the kitchen table and gather her thoughts.

Still, she understands that scratch painting is neither a miracle cure nor for everyone. “If someone was diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t just visit them and say ‘You should scratch paint, and that will cure you,’ ” she explains. “I don’t believe that.”


Nonetheless, scratch painting has given her a sense of power in a life that has spun wildly off plan.


“Being able to sit there and actually control that little world in my scratch painting has helped me kick off a new chapter of my life,” she says. “I don’t know if you ever fully heal from trauma. But scratch painting has certainly helped me start a new life again.” 

Mel's husband Chris was an amazing support through her cancer treatment

Scratch Painting

Its more than just a fad. For some it’s a lifesaver.


Cancer survivor Mel Evers with some of her favorite scratch paintings

Mel Evers can remember exactly when she found comfort, if not salvation, after she was diagnosed with cancer. It is where she found it, and how, that surprised her: in a scratch painting kit.

Scratch painting in action

“When I was a child I loved paint on paper, adding black crayon on top and scratching through to reveal the colors beneath,” she explains.

Adult scratch paintings are similar but much more detailed. When I was going through chemo, Scratching out the lines of the picture gave me something else to focus on. It distracted me from the emotional and physical pain.”

Mel, a former counselor and mother of 3, had always been able to use words and prayer to find peace in difficult times and to help others do the same.

But after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 she needed something more, something different, to calm her nerves and help soothe her grief.


“I was looking for something calming that could get rid of this restlessness,” she says, to help silence the churning thoughts that made it hard for her to focus or sleep.


Back then, scratch painting wasn't the phenomenon it's fast becoming today. But once Mel discovered it, she was quickly hooked.

Mel with her oncologist on her final day of chemo

"I scratch paint a little every day," says Mel

For Mel, scratch painting offers a new way to overcome challenges — emotional, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more traditional approaches. And she’s not alone.


On one Facebook scratch painting group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using scratch painting as a tool against anxiety, to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression.

Angela, a 72-year-old retired grandmother, says that scratch painting has boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a shake in her arm. Julie, a Californian mother of two, believes it’s helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior.

According to Jessica Howe, co-founder of online scratch painting store Color My World, “Scratch painting works like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation.”

Research shows such approaches work like a volume knob to turn down the body’s stress response. Scratch painting can help slow down your heart rate, relax your muscles and stimulate the brain. 


"It has a grounding effect”, says Jessica, “because you're totally in the moment. Gently pressing the stylus to the page, feeling the texture as you scratch off the black layer, revealing the bright colors with each scrape — it just feels really good.”

Scratching through to reveal the colors

Indeed, the soothing nature of scratch painting is not lost on art therapists. “There’s a meditative aspect to it because you’re doing the same motion over and over,” says Katie Smith, an art therapist who uses scratch paintings as part of her practice. “There’s also the psychological benefit of creating your own beautiful masterpiece.”

The Dream Castle scratch painting kit

This mirrors Mel’s experience. “As a counselor I’m fascinated by how easily scratch painting becomes meditative,” she says. “By carefully scratching off each line of the design, I can lose myself in a way that feels healing.” 


Mel spends about 8 hours a week scratch painting, mostly at night, when her children are asleep and she can sit quietly at the kitchen table and gather her thoughts.

Still, she understands that scratch painting is neither a miracle cure nor for everyone. “If someone was diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t just visit them and say ‘You should scratch paint, and that will cure you,’ ” she explains. “I don’t believe that.”


Nonetheless, scratch painting has given her a sense of power in a life that has spun wildly off plan.


“Being able to sit there and actually control that little world in my scratch painting has helped me kick off a new chapter of my life,” she says. “I don’t know if you ever fully heal from trauma. But scratch painting has certainly helped me start a new life again.” 

Mel's husband Chris was an amazing support through her cancer treatment

Scratch Painting

Its more than just a fad.

For some it’s a lifesaver.


Cancer survivor Mel Evers with some of her favorite scratch paintings

Mel Evers can remember exactly when she found comfort, if not salvation, after she was diagnosed with cancer. It is where she found it, and how, that surprised her: in a scratch painting kit.

Scratch painting in action

“When I was a child I loved paint on paper, adding black crayon on top and scratching through to reveal the colors beneath,” she explains.

Adult scratch paintings are similar but much more detailed. When I was going through chemo, Scratching out the lines of the picture gave me something else to focus on. It distracted me from the emotional and physical pain.”

Mel, a former counselor and mother of 3, had always been able to use words and prayer to find peace in difficult times and to help others do the same.

But after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 she needed something more, something different, to calm her nerves and help soothe her grief.


“I was looking for something calming that could get rid of this restlessness,” she says, to help silence the churning thoughts that made it hard for her to focus or sleep.

Mel with her oncologist on her final day of chemo

Back then, scratch painting wasn't the phenomenon it's fast becoming today. But once Mel discovered it, she was quickly hooked.

For Mel, scratch painting offers a new way to overcome challenges — emotional, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more traditional approaches. And she’s not alone.

"I scratch paint a little bit every day," says Mel

On one Facebook scratch painting group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using scratch painting as a tool against anxiety, to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression.

Angela, a 72-year-old retired grandmother, says that scratch painting has boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a shake in her arm. Julie, a Californian mother of two, believes it’s helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior.

According to Jessica Howe, co-founder of online scratch painting store Color My World, “Scratch painting works like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation.”


Research shows such approaches work like a volume knob to turn down the body’s stress response. Scratch painting can help slow down your heart rate, relax your muscles and stimulate the brain.

"It has a grounding effect”, says Jessica, “because you're totally in the moment. Gently pressing the stylus to the page, feeling the texture as you scratch off the black layer, revealing the bright colors with each scrape — it just feels really good.”

Scratching through to reveal the colors

Indeed, the soothing nature of scratch painting is not lost on art therapists. “There’s a meditative aspect to it because you’re doing the same motion over and over,” says Katie Smith, an art therapist who uses scratch paintings as part of her practice. “There’s also the psychological benefit of creating your own beautiful masterpiece.”

The Dream Castle scratch painting kit

This mirrors Mel’s experience. “As a counselor I’m fascinated by how easily scratch painting becomes meditative,” she says. “By carefully scratching off each line of the design, I can lose myself in a way that feels healing.” 


Mel spends about 8 hours a week scratch painting, mostly at night, when her children are asleep and she can sit quietly at the kitchen table and gather her thoughts.

Still, she understands that scratch painting is neither a miracle cure nor for everyone. “If someone was diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t just visit them and say ‘You should scratch paint, and that will cure you,’ ” she explains. “I don’t believe that.”


Nonetheless, scratch painting has given her a sense of power in a life that has spun wildly off plan.

Mel's husband Chris was an amazing support through her cancer treatment

Scratch Painting

Its more than just a fad.

For some it’s a lifesaver.


Cancer survivor Mel with some of her favorite scratch paintings

Mel Evers can remember exactly when she found comfort, if not salvation, after she was diagnosed with cancer.  It's where she found it, and how, that surprised her: in a scratch painting kit.

Scratch painting in action

“When I was a child I loved paint on paper, adding black crayon on top and scratching through to reveal the colors beneath,” she explains.

Adult scratch paintings are similar but much more detailed. When I was going through chemo, Scratching out the lines of the picture gave me something else to focus on. It distracted me from the emotional and physical pain.”

Mel, a former counselor and mother of 3, had always been able to use words and prayer to find peace in difficult times and to help others do the same.

Mel with her oncologist on her final day of chemo

But after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 she needed something more, something different, to calm her nerves and help soothe her grief.


“I was looking for something calming that could get rid of this restlessness,” she says, to help silence the churning thoughts that made it hard for her to focus or sleep.


Back then, scratch painting wasn't the phenomenon it's fast becoming today. But once Mel discovered it, she was quickly hooked.

For Mel, scratch painting offers a new way to overcome challenges — emotional, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more traditional approaches. And she’s not alone.

"I scratch paint a little every day," says Mel

On one Facebook scratch painting group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using scratch painting as a tool against anxiety, to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression.

Angela, a 72-year-old retired grandmother, says that scratch painting has boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a shake in her arm. Julie, a Californian mother of two, believes it’s helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior.

According to Jessica Howe, co-founder of online scratch painting store Color My World, “Scratch painting works like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation.”

Scratching through to reveal the colors

Research shows such approaches work like a volume knob to turn down the body’s stress response. Scratch painting can help slow down your heart rate, relax your muscles and stimulate the brain. 


"It has a grounding effect”, says Jessica, “because you're totally in the moment. Gently pressing the stylus to the page, feeling the texture as you scratch off the black layer, revealing the bright colors with each scrape — it just feels really good.”

Indeed, the soothing nature of scratch painting is not lost on art therapists. “There’s a meditative aspect to it because you’re doing the same motion over and over,” says Katie Smith, an art therapist who uses scratch paintings as part of her practice. “There’s also the psychological benefit of creating your own beautiful masterpiece.”

The Dream Castle scratch painting kit

This mirrors Mel’s experience. “As a counselor I’m fascinated by how easily scratch painting becomes meditative,” she says. “By carefully scratching off each line of the design, I can lose myself in a way that feels healing.” 


Mel spends about 8 hours a week scratch painting, mostly at night, when her children are asleep and she can sit quietly at the kitchen table and gather her thoughts.


Still, she understands that scratch painting is neither a miracle cure nor for everyone. “If someone was diagnosed with cancer, I wouldn’t just visit them and say ‘You should scratch paint, and that will cure you,’ ” she explains. “I don’t believe that.”

Mel's husband Chris was an amazing support through her cancer treatment

Nonetheless, scratch painting has given her a sense of power in a life that has spun wildly off plan.


“Being able to sit there and actually control that little world in my scratch painting has helped me kick off a new chapter of my life,” she says. “I don’t know if you ever fully heal from trauma. But scratch painting has certainly helped me start a new life again.” 

“Being able to sit there and actually control that little world in my scratch painting has helped me kick off a new chapter of my life,” she says. “I don’t know if you ever fully heal from trauma. But scratch painting has certainly helped me start a new life again.” 

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