By Jennifer R. Statham
Since the beginning of homosapien life on Earth, humans have sought to express themselves through art. As recently as 2014, archaeologist discovered cave drawings in Indonesia of hands and animals that date back nearly 40,000 years.
Though paleoanthropologists don’t know the exact meaning of the cave paintings, most believe they were created for social, supernatural or religious rituals and ceremonies. Paleolithic art proves there’s an innate need to communicate emotions or information to others.
Fast forwarding in time, we find example after example of modern artists who are famous entirely for their emotional and introspective paintings. For example, Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch artist whose work spans the late-1800s, clearly used his paintings, such as “Starry Night” and “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear,” to convey various psychological states in his life.
Furthermore, doctors began using art therapy techniques during the late 19th century and by mid-20th century “Art Therapy” had become a legit professional practice in fields treating mental health. (Read more about Adrian Hill, who coined the term ‘Art Therapy’ here.)
Art Therapy Benefits
According to Art Therapy Blog, the average person can experience a “general sense of relief and overall better mental health” using art therapy techniques. Additionally, “art therapy can help improve various mental and physical symptoms including, but not limited to, reducing pain, anxiety, and tension. It can be beneficial to those who have mental disorders, severe or light emotional abuse, cancer, post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), people who are bipolar, and a variety of other serious ailments.”
There is no doubt there are numerous health benefits for anyone creating an art piece. Just to name a few more perks, Be Brain Fit says art participation can encourage creativity, boost self-esteem, provide a sense of accomplishment, and increases brain connectivity and plasticity.
Listed below are four exercises, which are great places to start to begin experiencing the benefits of creating art.
Art Therapy Exercises
- Create with friends – Websites online such as LifeHack suggest creating art in a group is one of the easiest ways to experience its health benefits. Groups such as art clubs “meet regularly to explore different media and forms of expression at each gathering.” Likewise, gatherings such as the At-Home Paint Parties offered by Fabric & Frames are also great for a quick dose of mental restoration.
- View affirmations – A Bible verse such as John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it,” can be a powerful spiritual reassurance. Creating a poster or painting with your favorite affirmations can make you feel better when you view it in times of self-doubt or struggle.
- Use what you know – Therapeutic Recreation Therapy online says making a playlist to listen to while painting has remedial benefits. Listening to music can keep a good vibe going while creating art. Music affects my mood and helps me concentrate, so I like to create playlists to set the vibe before beginning each of my paintings. Taking something you already like or use and combining it with an art project like painting can be quite satisfying. Recreation Therapy also has several other therapeutic paint projects using what you know and what is around, such as Wheelchair Painting, Window Painting, Ziplock Painting and Newspaper Art.
- Focus on emotion – Painting or drawing your emotions can help people gain insight on how and why different colors and lines convey various feelings. Intuitive Creativity gives a list of many color and paint activities to get to the heart of your inner emotions, for example, creating an emotional color wheel, a meditative painting, or painting a mountain and a valley.
Jennifer Statham is the Owner of Fabric & Frames, a North Alabama-based service that provides on-site or at-home paint or craft parties, a craft blog about all things involving fabrics or framed items. Fabric & Frames also provides handmade or sewn crafts for sale, such as ready-to-ship fabric banners, magnets, and art decor. Jennifer also takes orders for commissioned sewn pieces or paint projects. Find out more about Jennifer and Fabric & Frames at here.
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