The Benefits of Art

In this article, we are referring to Fine Art rather than the Arts in general. Art in the context we refer to includes: Drawing: Pencil, Charcoal, Pastel, Pencil Crayon, Pen & Ink; Painting: Oil, Acrylic, Gouache, Tempera, Watercolour; Calligraphy; Perspective Drawing; 3-D Object Construction; Clay; Collage; Mixed Media; Clothing Decorating & Fabric Painting; Beadwork & Jewelry-Making; Cartooning; Pop-Up Images; Paper Crafts, Mosaic, and more!

ART has the following benefits:

1. Art is Fun

Whether an artist’s style and method is detailed and precise artwork or random and shambolic artwork, or even somewhere in between, they will always agree it is fun. In art, there are no duties and obligations, just fun. Even if art is the way someone makes their living, for them it remains fun.

2. Art Assists with Anger Management

Sometimes the act of art-making involves some physical force such as kneading or fisting clay. We can stand at an easel and stab the canvas like a swordfighter or we can splatter paint to create a special effect. The use of physical energy channeled creatively can relieve many negative emotions such as anger.

3. Art Brings out the Inner Child

Getting creatively messy reminds us of a time when we did not care if we splashed paint on our face or on our clothes. When we allow ourselves to apply colour randomly or in a pattern, it feels like playtime. In art, we often return to basic shapes like squares, circles, stars, hearts and triangles, the first forms we learned to recognize as babies.

4. Art Builds Confidence

The accomplishment of a finished artwork made with our own hands, is rewarding. We receive affirmations from others regarding the completed piece and in turn feel good about ourselves and our abilities. This encourages us to do more of the same and build on past successes.

5. Art Decreases Restlessness and Disruptive Behavior

In art, the practical process is necessary before the end-result is possible. In the process, artists can sit, stand and move about to fetch the tools they need or to better see their creation. The emphasis on the process towards an end product, eliminates any requirement to sit in one’s place as we are required to do during a theory lesson. Being fully in control and participative in making art, we use up much energy and become engaged in the process.

6. Art Develops Hand and Eye Coordination

Art is a 2D illusion of our 3D world. The more we make art, especially observational drawing, the more we train our hand to present an illusion of the objects we are depicting. As a discipline, this can positively affect accurate ball skills, graceful movement and memory skills.

7. Art Distracts from Pain

Because art-making requires concentration on the task at hand, the artist can momentarily forget about their physical or emotional pain. Thoughts and actions affect our attitude and mood so when our physical, emotional and mental self is engaged in creativity, our pain is reduced by a re-direction of focus versus dwelling on the negative.

8. Art Encourages Freedom and Experimentation

Art and art-making has very few rules and this sets us free. As an example, there is no rule that states paint has to be applied with a brush. We can use sponges, sticks or our fingers. In the art-making process, we can try so many different application and mixing techniques and subject matter composition possibilities are infinite.

9. Art Expresses Emotions Nonverbally

Art can be biographical as themes and circumstances affect us at different times in our lives. Colour usage and subject matter when used consciously are ways to vent and communicate. When these are unconsciously used, they help others to better understand us.

10. Art Helps to Create Self-Identity

Creating art assists us to find our preferences, from colour choices to subject matter to use of media. We can express ourselves as literal self-portraiture, or in symbols of ourselves, or ourselves in relationship to our surroundings. Artists explore ways to sign their name and over time, develop a unique artistic style.

11. Art Hones Problem Solving

When we picture an idea in our mind, we must then figure out how to materialize it. With today’s choices of materials available to buy, recycle, or combine, we need to make some decisions and possibly even do some research. When our artwork is not looking as we envisaged, we must stand back and assess why, and then figure out what we can change, add or take away.

12. Art Increases Concentration

When pattern-making for a design, we need to concentrate on the rhythm we are creating. When we are capturing subject matter in front of us or when we are depicting something from our imagination, we need to concentrate on proportions, forms, colours, tones, and overall compositional balance.

13. Art Instills Appreciation for Our World

Whether we are depicting subject matter from nature such as a tree, the sun or an animal, or whether we are using pebbles, feathers or shells to create a work of art, we become mindful of the many beautiful things our world provides for us. In our modern world, we can also appreciate the convenience of pigments in tubes and that art-making materials are constantly being re-invented to be user-friendly, environment-friendly and non-toxic.

14. Art is Engaging and Alleviates Boredom

During Art Classes, time flies. Art Students can hardly believe how the hours fly by and this is because the act of making art, requires us to use all of our senses and develops several abilities, not just visual. We use our whole brain (left and right) and our emotions are stimulated, all in positive ways.

15. Art Offers Unobtrusive Social Experiences

For people who are shy or introverted, an Art Class is a place to be amongst others with no demands on anyone to speak. The artwork and art-making process becomes the focus rather than the artist, thereby making people who are shy feel more at ease.

16. Art Provides a Sense of Choice and Control

An artwork that we create is exactly that… it is ours, the work of our mind and hands and no-one else. An art teacher can guide us in techniques, compositional balance and ways of seeing, but ultimately the artist is in control.

17. Art Relieves Stress and Anxiety

To reduce the cortisol hormone in our bodies, expert advice includes finding ways to have fun, to relax, and to be creative. Hobbies tend to tick all these boxes and art makes for a great hobby.

18. Art Stimulates Right and Left Brain functions

Much of what we do in life is linear such as making lists, following directions, and reading, while art-making stimulates our brain to think, see and act more spatially. The ‘Mozart Effect’ is well-researched and is a name given to the fact that participation in the Arts which are right-brained functions, assists with left-brained activities and learning.

19. Art Taps into the Imagination

Art can be the depiction of dreams including what we see when we sleep or what we desire. Through art, the artist and their audience can be transported to worlds of ‘what if’ and exaggeration. Even if we use another artist’s work as inspiration, our piece will still be original.

20. Art Teaches Patience

Certain artistic creations require drying time before the next step such as papier-mache, clay-work or mosaic-ing. Other artworks require finicky work with a needle, tweezers or tiny 000-size brush. The act of knotting, cutting and pasting takes patience too.

Larna Anderson, BFA,