Sawyer Burton, Staff Writer
Art is the expression of creative and imaginative thinking. It is putting your thoughts, personalities, and feelings into the world outside of yourself. It gives you a way to communicate things you don’t always know how to say out loud. Whether you express those thoughts and feelings through painting, music, acting, dancing, sculpture, even interpretive shadow puppeteering, is entirely up to you.
Studies have shown that art improves your mental health in measurable, palpable ways. It can relieve stress, improve our memory, increase empathy, and boost our self-esteem. Let’s explore how participating in the arts produces these desired outcomes.
Art helps reduce stress by providing a mental distraction. Instead of stressing out about that math test you took or your friend’s relationship problems, you can focus on the intricacies of whatever art form you choose to do. In painting, there is so much to learn about mixing your paint colors. When singing, getting that voice inflection just right is more technical than most people realize, a worthy challenge every vocalist must overcome. Every single medium has unique challenges and rewards. Finding your unique voice in your art form, literally or figuratively, is one of the most worthwhile endeavors one can undertake.
This makes art is one of the most accessible pastimes one can spend their time with. Art is not competitive unlike sports, such as football or baseball. There are no set rules in the art world, no boundaries. For some people, this turns them off from the idea of picking up a brush or putting on their dance shoes. For others, this is one of the major reasons art is appealing. Even with no experience, no “natural talent”, and no clearly marked path forward, anyone can make art at any time. It’s never too late to start discovering what you have to offer your medium.
Once you do discover your personal niche, the only way to go is up. Learning on the fly and improvising only improves your repertoire. The more you create, the more you are able to create. When working with a positive feedback loop like that, anything is possible.
After a while, you will find it becomes more and more exciting to bring your ideas to life. As your experience increases, you have the opportunity to feel flow. Psychology experts have determined that experiencing this flow, or “being in the zone” as it’s commonly known, can lead to long-lasting satisfaction. Completely throwing yourself into a task that you are intrinsically motivated to accomplish can lead to what many describe as a “joyful state” of flow. Art is the perfect medium for reaching this peak state of creativity.
Feelings can be hard to express, and sometimes, spoken language can be limiting. Thoughts and feelings can’t always be accurately summed up in a concise and amiable sentence. Both obscure mental processes and simple gut feelings alike are often failed by words. This is where artistic opportunities really shine. Injecting those inexplicable impulses into your work is what makes good art... well, good. In this sense, art is an important tool of self-expression in the belt of anyone who has ever felt anything they found difficult to put into words; AKA everyone.
Even with the accessibility and lack of pressure art offers, starting out can still be a daunting process; it’s easy to start doubting yourself. “What if it doesn’t turn out like I want it to?” “Everyone else seems like they are already better than I am at art, what is the point if my art isn’t as good as theirs?” It’s important to realize that everybody feels this way. We all start somewhere, an unsteady start is inevitable. Like all the things you want in life, art won’t always come easy, but that’s exactly what makes it worth pursuing. Push yourself, and what you are capable of may surprise you.