PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 21, 2022) — Active-duty service members at the Presidio of Monterey experienced “The Joy of Painting” on Sept. 16 thanks to Better Opportunities for Single Service Members and Army Community Service’s Family Advocacy Program.
Jillian Santillanez, FAP victim advocate, taught service members relaxing breathing techniques before the event—showing them how to relieve stress and increase the oxygen flow to their brains for improved creativity.
“The idea behind this event tonight is to promote and provide information on stress management and release,” Santillanez said. “Anybody who is creative is welcome to be here and anybody who is not creative, but just wants to do something with their hands, is welcome here.”
Service members took advantage of a wide range of art supplies—paints, colored pencils and markers—to create beautiful works of art. Those who did not feel like creating an entire work by themselves could also choose from a variety of creative coloring books designed for adult relaxation. Others could follow along with a Bob Ross instructional video on painting.
More than 30 service members attended the event at the Hobson Recreation Center, which is also the location of BOSS headquarters. The Presidio is home to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, which includes service members from all branches of the military. For most, it is their first military assignment after basic training.
Santillanez taught service members breathing techniques such as “box” breathing, a four-step technique based on a series of four counts.
Hugo Ambriz Tena, Better Opportunities for Single Service Members advisor and recreation specialist for PoM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said BOSS sponsored the event to help service members destress and find a creative outlet.
“We’re able to take their minds away from their classes and just have them here and focus and open their minds to creativity,” Ambriz Tena said. “I always want BOSS to be an outlet for them to destress and self-care more than anything and just hang out and meet people.”
Meeting people can help service members inside and outside the classroom, Ambriz Tena said, because service members studying the same language can help one another—especially if one is at a higher level of instruction. The organization also had a target-language karaoke event planned for later in the evening.
Santillanez said she mainly wanted students to decompress and be creative, and that’s what they did.
Airman Basic Colin Caviness said one of the reasons he decided to attend was because he goes for a walk near his barracks nearly every evening and he wanted to paint the sun that he sees setting behind a hill.
It was Caviness’s first time painting, and while he modestly said he had hoped for a better result, he plans to try the breathing exercises again, hoping he can replicate the relaxing experience he had when Santillanez taught them.
Airman Basic Serena Perkins said she attended because she loves to paint, but hadn’t in a while, and the event allowed her to exercise the creative part of her brain.
“I’ve had a lot of fun,” Perkins said. “I haven’t had a chance to do anything like this in a minute, so this has been really nice.”
Airman Basic Elodie Hollant said he had never painted before in his life but enjoyed the event and could see himself using the breathing techniques when he is stressed.
Hollant said he had fun discovering where his mind took him while painting.
“I decided to go for some abstract art,” Hollant said. “I like the fact that when I draw a couple of lines, it develops into something bigger. I’m just now noticing the human shape and some figures. I never meant to draw them, but that’s what appeared on the paper.”
Keep up with upcoming PoM BOSS events at https://presidio.armymwr.com/programs/boss