Lately, my daughter completely dove into the preparation of easter artwork. Already three weeks ahead of the “festival” she started: She watched hundreds of YouTube videos with easter inspiration, meanwhile, she drew, painted, and cut as much as possible. She painted with a brush, she painted with her fingers and she put colorful washy tape around her different kinds of artwork. She was in full swing and nothing and nobody could stop her. The art of making art!
I sometimes wish I could have this ability to completely let loose into creating. Without thinking, without doubting, just go with the flow. As grown-ups, we always tend to keep ourselves busy with “the important stuff” (e.g. work, household) not allowing us to think of our creations as art, whether it is cooking or preparing a sophisticated excel file. In addition, we doubt our work, tell ourselves it´s not good enough, we should be working on the important stuff and make sure we accomplish something BIG in life. Who am I to pursue my dream?
“I think there’s a certain amount of shame that accompanies the sense that you should have accomplished more by a particular age. That the dream belongs to a different kind of person, a younger person, an able-bodied person, a person without kids […] You’re only valuable if you’re young. You’re only valuable if you’re the smartest person in the room. You’re only valuable if you’re pretty. You’re only valuable if you’re thin. You’re only valuable if you accomplish THIS by a particular age, if you hit the bestsellers list, if you sell a novel if you have an adaptation made. It’s all BS. It’s all designed to make you feel bad, so you don’t achieve. So, I’m here to say you need to ignore that. That you are in a war with the existing culture that we have that does not want you to make art. And your job as an artist is to make art when no one cares and when no one is looking.”
Does this sound familiar? The world is full of expectations and we frivolously believe we have to fulfill them all. But the only thing we have to comply with is our own needs and cravings to live a fulfilled life. Making art is one possibility to enjoy life AND train our brain.
The benefits of making art
Research has shown that making art does not only stimulate our brain, excite our imagination, and make us more observant, but also enhances problem-solving skills, boosts our self-esteem, and leads to an overall reduction of stress. (also read “The benefits of Art” by artloftasia)
This study showed that the brain was highly active during these tasks. Making art activates the medial prefrontal cortex, the brain’ reward center, causing the spread of dopamine (the so-called happiness hormone) between the different regions of the brain. In addition, it enhances the self-perceptions of your own creativity (the participants had to answer questions before and after the three different art tasks evaluating their level of creativity). Doing artwork does not only help to stimulate our brain, which reacts with a boost of dopamine dumping, but also leads to an increased perception of our own creativity.
This does not only apply to “real artists” – according to Girija Kaimal we all should try to tap into our creativity from time to time, no matter the skill level. Her theory is, that making art helps us to navigate problems which arise in the future and therefore imagine a more hopeful future. All along history, since we were cave-dwellers, this might have been the reason to draw, paint, write and sing – no matter what others were saying. It´s time to step into our power and completely let loose(“The 4-point Life Hack to your Creativity”).
Don´t focus on the outcome, don´t focus on what you should have accomplished or can accomplish with your art in the future. Take the art of making art as a way to thrive, evolve and imagine a better future.