Art… Just saying the word brings a sense of calm. Art, as in all creative activities, has long been known to relieve stress, enhance concentration & memory, strengthen fine motor skills, raise confidence and uplift the spirit. No matter what your capabilities are, you can benefit from art.
We are not going to go into all the studies that have been done. An article from the 2010 American Journal of Public Health titled The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health by Heather L. Stuckey, DEd and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH reviews them for us. What we are going to do is relate what we at Able Heart Studio have observed and experienced over the years.
We have worked throughout the years with people who have had physical, mental, and behavioral issues. It wasn’t until we could slow down and take some time doing art that we noticed some changes.
A student from the past who kept to himself and became agitated if he had to interact with others in the group, would become engaged and participate if we worked with wood. He was good with his hands and even spoke to people while he was working.
Another student who was always anxious and doubtful about herself and her abilities has gained a great amount of self-confidence. She used to rush through everything and would get upset if it didn’t come out the way she thought we wanted. She has since learned to slow down, take her time, look at what she’s doing before she does it, and think about what she likes. Her artwork has become more deliberate and creative and she has become more relaxed and even makes jokes in class.
Yet another student who has minimal control of his fine motor movements has been creating awesome pieces of art. Sometimes we use masking or stencils to help our students and sometimes we let them try things freehand. One time we noticed this student really concentrating. He was following a chalk outline on his painting without the use of a stencil and he was doing a great job. He was so proud that he could control his hand that much.
Our classes are a place where it’s possible to try new things and experiment with different art mediums. Art creates opportunities to experiment, adjust, figure out how to make something work, or to change your mindset and try again. Physical flexibility as well as emotional flexibility are great skills to have and art is a fun, safe way to practice those skills.