Painting embraces all the ten functions of the eye; that is to say, darkness, light, body and colour, shape and location, distance and closeness, motion and rest ~Leonardo da Vinci
Known for being a pastime that’s endured for centuries as both a vocation and an occupation, painting remains to be one of the most revered and enjoyable hobbies today. Painting, however, is not limited to being just an artistic endeavour, but also enjoys many health benefits. It’s extremely effective therapeutic and calming techniques, for one, can help increase mental and physical health.
When one is totally immersed in a creative endeavour, you may find yourself in what’s known as a state of ‘flow’. This meditative-like state focuses your mind and temporarily pushes aside all your worries. Creating art provides a distraction, giving your brain a break from your usual thoughts. In fact, there are many reasons to pick up a paintbrush but here are my top 10:
- Positive mindset: Painting teaches you to be attuned with aesthetic of your visual environment and makes you appreciate the beauty in and of life. You gain a new appreciation for the texture of a tree’s bark or the fur of a cat; of the various highlights and shadows playing on even the barer of white walls. Embracing the beauty around you gives you a more positive outlook on the world and can even decrease the risk of mental illness.
- Boosts creativity: Whether the painting is abstract or realistic, minimalist or chaotic, paintings are modes of artistic expression. Abstract art requires the artist to create interesting, non-traditional pieces, while realistic art requires the artist to come up with imaginative ways to make the image come to life. Artists yearn to be innovative, to create — or even recreate — something with a personal touch, a new flair that reveals one’s deepest expressions and motivations.
- Concentration and healing: People who immerse themselves several hours painting or creating something enter a purer area, in a very strong state of concentration; they abstract themselves from their surroundings and time passes by without noticing it. Physical pains fade away; it is almost like entering another dimension without leaving our body. This concentration state is called Alpha; one part of the brain is conscious and the other pulls the unconscious out. There is more concentration because a pure energy is transmitted to what´s being created, and we can spend hours without feeling tiredness, pain or other conditions (unlike other activities.) This is a state similar to that achieved through praying, meditation, music, aromatherapy, and being in love. There have been cases of miraculous temporary healing in painters, musicians who, when in this state, are able to move their atrophied hands or don´t feel pain when creating or executing. Painters Renoir, Gauguin, and musician Andrés Segovia are examples of this.
- Emotional intelligence: Emotions are part of the creative world we all have inside. Making those emotions flow through painting helps create harmony between the heart and mind, which leads us to experience happiness, love, empathy and peace. Within this chaotic world we live, the visualisation and relaxation that we obtain through painting are tools that in the long run, benefit our emotional, organic, energetic and spiritual being.
- Sharpen fine motor skills: From broad backgrounds to fine details, practising painting improves hand-eye coordination and boosts motor skills. This is helpful in improving fine activities such as typing and handwriting, but painting can also improve coordination in broader activities such as participating in sports.
- Perseverance: Even the most innovative ideas have the possibility of being terribly executed. If a painting does not turn out the way you envisioned, you become determined to fix the problems until the piece becomes what you want it to be. This cycle of trial and error can last seemingly forever at times but can make a more capable, more determined person. When faced with disappointment, you adopt the notion that with hard work, you will be certain to improve, enabling you to further reach your goals in life.
- Self-confidence: Just as knowing hard work yields better results, finishing a painting that you are happy with feels great and gives you a boost in self-esteem. Getting positive feedback from your peers also increases the sense of self-assurance that comes with making a work of your own.
- Cultural knowledge: Painting increases your appreciation for visual art by teaching the variety and difficulties of learning techniques. Knowledge of popular modern and historical art pieces and trivia provides you with a knowledge that can be shared, promoting sociability within various cultures and degrees of company. Relating with others will foster bonding, increasing social skills and leading to higher levels of happiness.
- Critical thinking: Choosing which brush to use or which paints to mix to create the exact colour you need makes you a more decisive person. Though it may seem like deciding on “just art”, these types of decisions promote problem-solving skills and teach painters to develop innovative techniques to approach new situations. Decision-making skills make your mind more efficient and this ability can alleviate stress.
- Non-verbal communication: Painting inspires you to communicate your deepest thoughts and feelings; even those that you may not be able to express verbally, through your art. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and communicating what those words may be — whether they reflect current worldwide events or personal happenstance — being able to communicate on a nonverbal level can serve as a healthy release of emotion.
So it’s up to you, for your health, your amusement or personal goal, let’s paint!
I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint ~ Frida Kahlo