Art is a universal language. From the beginning of time, mankind has told stories through pictures whether that be drawings on cave walls, leather, or stone, etc. Through the ages, artists have conveyed history through drawings, paintings, architecture and sculptures. We can see how they share their emotions, whether that be joy, sorrow, anger, or peace through expression and color in their art.
I have always believed that there’s a healing and calming power in art. In my own personal life, I find a time of the quietness and solitude when I paint.
According to a study published in the journal Art Therapy, three-quarters of the participants who took part in a 45-minute art making session had significantly lower cortisol levels.
Participants’ written responses indicated that they found the art-making session to be relaxing, enjoyable, helpful for learning.1
If you can pinch clay or hold a pencil, if you can touch, see, smell or hear, art is for you, says Mallory Montgomery, an art therapist at Henry Ford Health System. Through art, even people who don’t view themselves as creative end up reconnecting to that childlike sense of play and enjoyment they had when they got their first box of crayons in kindergarten.2
On June 18, 2019, I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. I know that my faith in God has carried me through this time, but I also know that painting has given me that special place where I can get away and quiet my mind. Painting helps me to focus on something else even if only for a few hours. We all need time to escape and relax from all the busyness and worries of life, and art can provide that.
Because I have experienced the value and benefit of painting, I decided to teach watercolor classes to people who are facing health challenges like myself, looking for ways to destress, calm themselves, and those who just want to meet new friends. I cannot tell you how many times I hear people tell me how calming the classes have been to them. They look forward to coming to my classes, not only to learn something but just for the fact that they can get away from their busyness, find a quiet time to sit and paint and exercise their creativity. I always tell my students that we are not trying to create a masterpiece. We are here to learn but also to have fun. There’s no pressure to create amazing pieces. If you end up creating a masterpiece, then that’s awesome. But the goal of my classes is to provide a safe space for people to learn, create, explore watercolor painting and to meet people and make friends. I teach them simple techniques and show them how to apply those techniques and create beautiful artwork. I want them to be able to go home and use the techniques they learn and create that safe space at home.
Do you know that art helps connect your mind and your body? When someone sits down to paint, both his/her mind and body are engaged in the activity. It not only provides a safe place where the participant can get away from negative feelings, thoughts and fear, but it also helps them forget their problems for the time being and focus on creating something. It helps them feel that they can and have accomplished something good. Dr. Lawrence Katz, an internationally recognized pioneer in neuron regeneration research, found that mental decline was due mainly to the loss of communication between brain cells.3 Creating art helps train you to concentrate on details and pay more attention to your environment. I often see my students get totally immersed in painting and having a wonderful time.
There is no right or wrong in doing art. You are not going to get in trouble because you dip the brush the wrong way or you use the paint the wrong way. Art encourages creative thinking and self-expression; it lets you think outside the box to come up with your own unique expressions and solutions.
Many hospitals as well as communities now provide opportunities for people to get involved in art as a tool to improving their wellbeing. Some hospitals, like the one I am part of, have incorporated art activities as part of their support programs to help with healing. For the elderly, loneliness and isolation can easily lead to depression and other health issues. Having them participate in art classes provides both social and creative outlets.
Art is a natural remedy for many of life’s challenges.
I have worked with cancer patients, survivors, the elderly, and people of all ages. Many of them have told me that they have started painting at home after taking my class because they have found the activity to be very soothing and beneficial to them.
If you need some get-away time from your stress, busyness, worry, or whatever it is that is weighing you down, come to one of my classes and enjoy some me-time, relax, have fun, create something beautiful, and meet new friends. Check out my classes below or contact me.
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