I’ve always loved making art. When I was in elementary school it was my favourite subject and I was lucky to grow up in a home that encouraged creativity and artistic expression. This week I’m talking about the power art has to teach you new things, how it can help you process emotions, and the ways which creativity makes life better.
Benefits of Artistic & Creative Practices
Even if you’ve never painted or thought of yourself as artistic, you might want to consider exploring art. A study by Girija Kaimal, cited in Study Says Making Art Reduces Stress, found that “45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent”. The study goes on to explain that making art can relieve stress for anyone. So why not stop by your local arts and crafts store and invest in some art supplies that could help you reduce stress?
I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and it felt fitting while writing this post I came across the line in her book “while the paths and outcomes of creative living will vary wildly from person to person, I can guarantee you this: A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.” You don’t have to believe me, but take it from Liz, creativity is crucial.
My friend, and former camp counsellor, Nicki Gallo wrote a really cool article, I Played Every Day for a Month And This Is What Happened, about incorporating play and creativity into your everyday life. She wrote “One doesn’t have to wait for vacation or the weekend to bank up all our play days. We can invite play into our daily lives. It can be simple and weird and whatever you want it to be.” I love this idea and the reminder that creativity and playfulness truly can be incorporated into everyday life.
A Range of Applications
Art is a stress reliever and creativity makes life more interesting and enjoyable, but why else is art important and cool and helpful? I’m glad you asked. Art is more than just pretty pictures, it can be used in a wide range of ways to process emotions, stressful or traumatic experiences, or as a source of knowledge. Allow me to introduce you to Art Therapy & Performative Inquiry.
Art therapy is the use of “art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem” (American Art Therapy Association). Giving it Form: Exploring Conflict Through Art by Marian Leibmann explains art therapy can “help people work toward creative solutions… using art to explore conflict can help us to increase our understanding of conflict in a holistic way”. An experience of this I have encountered is when I had the opportunity to hear Shannon Moroney speak at a gallery about her experiences of trauma and the incredible way art helped her to express herself in a way she couldn’t with words.
Performative Inquiry is a concept so obscure it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. It is a perspective that argues art as a way to do research and develop new knowledge about the world. The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research by Henk Borgdorff states that “research in and through artistic practices is partly concerned with our perception, our understanding, our relationship to the world and to other people. Art thereby invites reflection”. I got to explore this concept in my final university term and through my own assignments I realized making art truly does have the power to produce new knowledge and help you to see the world in a new way.
Creating art can be such a cathartic experience, as Carrie Fisher once said “Take your broken heart, and make it into art”. I really love that quote (hence the title of this post) and I have found from experience that art can be a powerful avenue to express hard emotions and find healing.
Yes YOU can make Art
We are all amateurs at some point, but it does no good to limit yourself because everyone starts somewhere. Comparing your first painting to a Van Gogh is silly. Comparing your shower singing to a Grammy award winner doesn’t seem fair. When you remove the standard that you are trying to live up to you can appreciate yourself and your creations for what they are.
Exhibit A: Last year I was in a course that required I do an art project, so I bought a watercolour palette. When I was done with the project I kept painting because I had so much fun with it and it has become one of my favourite types of self-care. I’m not planning gallery shows anytime soon but I try to dedicate time a few days a week, even just 15 minutes, to paint and be creative and I really enjoy it!
Recently someone told me they aren’t artistic because they can’t paint and that made me sad because there is so much more to art than that. Art comes in many forms; writing, photography, painting, drawing, dancing, music, etc.
So what is this week’s take away?
Making art has the capacity to help you work through complex emotions, discover new things through artistic research, or it can just be a fun way to de-stress. Creativity is important, making art – even if you’re really bad at it – can make you feel happier, and I highly encourage you to do something artistic in the coming days.