Creating art is relaxing. I often notice a kind of “let down”, a “settling in” to the art activity when children and youth come to my studio (or elsewhere) to create art. Most children find it easy to really focus on what they are doing and while they are creating art, they are not thinking about other things. They may be excited about what they are creating but they are excited in a grounded and calm way. Creating art can very meditative. Studies have shown that when tested after creating art, people’s cortisol levels went down significantly, irregardless of their skill level or prior experience. This was most true with younger participants in the study. Cortisone is the “stress hormone” and increased levels of stress interfere with learning, memory, and general health as well depression and mental health.
Creating art helps you look at the world in new and different ways. We have fixed ideas about art. We often think we need to paint something particular like a beautiful scene or a still life. Everything around us can be the subject of our art practice; sketching common items like salt and pepper shakers, your shoes or your pet can teach us a great deal and provide inspiration for more artistic pursuits.
Creating art helps us express ourselves. There are many things all of us would love to express but have no words for- joy, sadness, delight, confusion, peace, anger. Like music and dance, art is a wonderful way to express some of these emotions. People often feel “lighter” after working on a piece of art. Art is a fantastic way to express yourself without having to talk.
Creating art helps us learn to make choices and problem solve. Every step involves making a decision: what color to use, how to make a line, what size to make something. With every choice the object becomes more and more their own.
Creating art stimulates the imagination. It is such a great thing to have an active imagination. For one thing, you will never get bored. The ability to imagine other ways of being helps to create empathy in children. Imagination is thought to be “exercise for our brain” and benefits both the memory and the intellect. Through art, children create something that, until that point, was only imagined. Creating art is a terrific outlet for an active imagination.
Creating art lets us respond to our mistakes in a positive way. Some of my own favourite pieces have come about because I made what first seemed to be a huge mistake. I had to be resourceful and figure out a way for the piece to work. Responding in this way to art can help up use our mistakes positively and solve problems in life as well.
Creating art brings together the generations. As a parent, I remember dropping my kids off for their activities. I loved swimming lessons or going to the library or hiking because we could do these things as a family. Creating art is something all generations can enjoy doing together.
Creating art offers satisfaction and a way to make where we live more beautiful. Children feel satisfied and proud when they have finished a piece. They can put it their room, give it as a gift, put on the fridge or even better, frame it and hang it in a place of pride in their home or school.
Creating art is pure fun! Creating art has a wonderful element of play, so that even when we seem to just be “fooling around” or doodling, we are learning new skills and expanding the possibilities in our life.