It’s no secret the art soothes the soul but many people are intimidated by the prospect of creating their own art.
If this is you then you’re denying yourself the chance to be smarter and happier.
Arts, hobbies, and crafts are in the top six happiness inducing activities according to research.
What you may not know is that WHAT you draw can have a huge impact on your mood.
An award-winning study from the University of Western Australia showed a direct link between arts engagement and happiness.
Dr Christina Davies said that just two hours of involvement with the arts each week enhanced mental well-being.
This study encompassed all the arts, including music, reading, writing, colouring and drawing.
People need to give themselves permission to be creative and to make time for the arts activities and events that they enjoy.
Dr Christina Davies
There are so many benefits to participating in art projects.
Firstly, it makes you concentrate and therefore distracts you from negative thoughts you may be having.
It also reduces stress and enhances self-esteem.
As an art teacher to people with disabilities I see first-hand how creating art helps my students with their confidence, concentration, and communication.
When I started with this group several years ago, most of them had no faith in their ability to create anything worthwhile. These days they enthusiastically jump into any new project, confident in their ability to produce something wonderful.
They no longer fearfully hesitate before embarking on something new.
Some of them can start the class in a rotten mood, for various reasons, but by the end of the lesson, they are cheerfully humming and planning their art for the following week.
The fact is, art therapy can work for anyone, and you don’t need to join classes or have the adulation and respect of the masses in order to reap the benefits of making art.
You also don’t need a lot of expensive supplies. A pen or pencil and paper is all you need to get started.
Some research has shown that what you decide to draw can have an impact on your mood.
In one study, people who drew their favourite food, such as pizza and cupcakes, registered happier moods than others.
An article featured on The Bright Side has several suggestions for creating according to your mood.
Some of the suggestions include painting a rainbow if you are sad, drawing patterns to relieve tension and knitting if you are scared. I love this last one, it reminds me of my husband’s old driving instructor years ago who used to sit in the passenger seat and knit while his students were driving.
I have another list of tried and true activities I’ve been using with great success with my students.
HOW TO DRAW THE LINE TO HAPPINESS
Are you feeling angry?
Draw zigzag lines on paper, pressing down heavily. When finished, rip the paper into small pieces and threw away in the bin.
Are you feeling tired?
Draw – paint is even better – yellow and orange stripes to cover a whole sheet of paper. When finished you can draw flowers over the top or, if you used paint, use the end of your brush to carve out flower shapes from the paint.
Are you feeling sad?
Happy faces work for me every time. It’s very simple – a circle, two eyes, and a giant smile. Keep drawing them until you feel the joy coming back.
Are you feeling scared?
Draw what scares you. When you are happy with the picture, draw a cage around it. You have just locked your fear away. Now fold the paper into quarters and file it away. Folding it means you are putting the fear behind you but don’t throw it out until you no longer need the reminder your fear has been locked away.
Are you longing for something?
Draw new versions of the thing you want on a regular basis. Anyone familiar with vision boards they have immense power to keep you focused on your dreams/goals and to attract good energy. Whenever pen, or pencil, is put to paper, even more energy is created and your focus is being fine-tuned.
My art students are enduring an almost agonising wait to move from their current residential centre to their own homes within the community. Every time their move seems imminent there are the usual issues with building delays.
Understandably this sometimes makes them angry and confused but we lift the mood by focusing on their dream/goal almost every art lesson.
When they are not drawing or painting their dream home and garden, they’ll be drawing the things about the move that excites them most. Some will draw the nearby shops (their current accommodation is not close to anything) or the easy access to trains and buses.
We recently finished mosaic key holders for the new homes. This project reignited their excitement about the move.
Check out my post-DIY Mosaic Madness – How to Create Masterpieces for more inspiration.
Another fun idea is to make a happiness map. Start by drawing all the things in your life that make you happy right now, then add things you think would enhance your happiness. Have a little road connect all the things.
My happiness map starts with me and leads to family (in the heart on the left) and friends (to the right). The trees are a reminder of how much joy they give me. Note – I’ve only used stick figures and am clearly not aiming for a masterpiece to please the world – just me.
This is like a visual gratitude diary and vision board all in one and you are also reaping all the benefits that come with creating your own art.
The beauty of this exercise is that it can be a work in progress that you can go back to and add drawings or enhance finished drawing with colours and patterns.
My clever Hubby could work out the map points leading to more happiness – but then he knows me so well.
In case you can’t work them out, it’s travel – the Eiffel Tower and Italy.
I have a lot more travels spots on my bucket list and will keep adding them to my map as part of an ongoing project.
Remember, this is for you so it is not a requirement to be a great artist and anyway, what makes a great artist?
Check out this Huffington Post article on expensive art and tell me, would you pay more than $57 million for a picture of a bottle of Coke? Even if it was by Andy Warhol?
With that in mind, check out these fun tips for painting like a pro.
In the meantime, have a gleeful week, Tamuria.