Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Thoughts on Art

Usually I post tutorials on my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to write a little bit about my philosophy on life and art.

I am art & art am I
Some people might sound a little cliché when they say their life IS art. For me, I have been blessed to be creative from the time I was born, I studied creative fields in gradeschool, graduated college with a degree in art, and am happily employed with an art company, while all of my freelance activities center around creating art. My life IS art. And, for those of you who know me, I am a very happy, and fairly relaxed/low-stress person.

Is art the reason I am happy and relaxed? I don't know. I can't separate art from any aspect of my life. But, from the basic research I have recently been reading suggests, if I DIDN'T have art, I would most likely not be as happy, relaxed, or low-stress.

How Much Creativity?
Just about every research paper I have read so far* has stated that about 30 minutes of art is all it takes to notice significant reduction in stress. I read studies about college students during exam week, dementia patients, people who have anxiety disorders, and many more. In every case, the group which made art, in some form, was better. Older patients required less medication and had fewer medical complaints, college students lowered stress levels, and people were generally better. Some people only did one session, some people met once a week, some people joined clubs or took classes at a local facility. No matter what form of art (music, dance/ theater/performance, creative writing, or visual arts), it helped.

I want to be _______ (fill in the blank)
I hear people all the time say that art is cheaper than therapy. True!

I grew up poor, but we always had a pencil and some paper. That's how we were kept busy. But, what it came down to, is that we had to do something. Mom would not tolerate whining. If you wanted to do something, or become something, then don't just whine about it, take steps to become that!

If you want to be happy, truly happy, what are some steps that you can take to make it happen? Take yourself to your happy place and MAKE it happen. I tell the kids I teach art to that I have time to either be a media consumer or a media producer. I don't have as much time to appreciate art because I am too busy making or experimenting with art. That's not to say that I don't love going to galleries and museums, and getting inspiration, but I have a finite amount of time each day, and the only way to get better is to spend a good portion of that time actually producing instead of just appreciating.

So, if you hear yourself saying, "Gee, I wish I was an artist." STOP! The only way to become an artist is to BE an artist. Tell yourself you are an artist, then, spend some time each day producing art. But you have to start today!

Just do it
This year we were given a piano. I have never had a piano, I have always wanted one. I took a few months of a beginning piano class YEARS ago (I could find middle C and figure out from there, sort of), but I never thought of myself as someone who could do music. Having a piano, meant I wanted my young daughter to take piano lessons. In chatting with the piano tuner, I found out he always wished he could have studied art, so we traded lessons for our small children. I teach them art, and he teaches my daughter piano. I am NOT taking lessons from him, I really don't have time to commit to a regular schedule.

But, I had a desire to learn for myself (more than just Mary Had a Little Lamb). So I started, on my own, with a simple piano book, and now I can plunk out many songs. I found that with practice, I can now decipher music! Conversely, the piano teacher's wife, is showing some real aptitude for drawing, even though she isn't doing the art lessons with the kids, she is listening, and taking the time to practice and observe.

Am I ready to play for a church congregation? No. Am I embarrassed that I miss a lot of notes? NO! I know that I am learning, and I know that if I just keep it up, maybe in a few years I  will be ready to play something greater, with a whole lot more sharps and flats. But that's not my driving goal. My goal is that I have always wanted do it, so I am doing it! And, I feel better inside and I see that I am better now than I was 5 months ago when I started.

Helping others become more
My parents were schoolteachers. About half my siblings and spouses are schoolteachers. I wished I could have been an art teacher, but those are an endangered species these days, so I became a graphic designer and teach on the side. Teaching is a key part of my happiness as well.

Why do people teach? Something about helping others find new things in themselves brings a deep inner satisfaction. Also, it has been said that the teacher learns more than the students when they prepare lessons. I find both statements to be true. I learn so much more when I get organized to teach something to someone else, and it fills me with happiness when I see a student of any age "get it"...whatever the concept is.

If you want to be a better artist (musician, dancer, jewelry maker, seamstress, baker, etc.), offer to teach a group of kids/beginners that same skill. They won't judge you for how much you do or don't know, and your mind will be expanded as you prepare for the lesson. I actually have offered to teach classes that I knew nothing about, knowing that this would give me a great opportunity to learn for myself. I have never regretted those opportunities, rather, I am thrilled that I got those chances to learn more for myself.

Copic/Imagination International, Inc.
I feel blessed every day that I work for Copic/Imagination International here in the USA. Our company was organized by a former art professor, so art education is very important to our entire business structure. We want people to learn, because it makes them happier end users. We see how people have improved self-esteem as they learn a new skill, we see how excited they are when they have a completed work of art, and we see how they get fired up and tell their friends. That's what art is about! Personal growth and what it can do to improve your personal sense of wellbeing.

Set a goal
I want you to take a moment and look at your art process. Not at the end product, but at how you get there. How can you become more, and how can you help others achieve their goals? Sometimes all it takes is a kind word, or a shared idea, or if you are confident, teaching a class on a new concept.

Then, YOU will become part of their process to relieve stress, lower anxiety, live longer, and have better memory. That will help you achieve your happiness goals, and relieve stress, live longer, and have better memory...see? When you help others, it helps you as well!

So, start today. Make a goal to spend 30 min. a day, or week, or month, or whatever. Be creative. Improve yourself. Help others improve. I can validate, firsthand, that you will be a happier person, and more importantly, you will actively be working to become what you want to be.

*I can't site all my sources...just run a google search on "Art Therapy, memory" or "Art therapy, stress" and you'll find all sorts of great stuff. I read at least 15 different articles, but I'm not claiming to be accurate in my research. I'm just writing my own opinion on all the stuff I've been reading.


Karen said...

thank you for this, I really agree wholeheartedly and this encouraged me to get started on a few small art projects i've been wanting to learn. :)

Luisa said...

Just found your site through Split Coast Stampers today....I really appreciated your last post, will keep reading.

Tameko said...

Well said....I feel inspired and ready explore even more! Thanks for sharing this.



byAnnette said...

Thank you for your post today. I am in the beginning stages of a project that I would like to do and show others but have little experience with. Thanks for the push to move ahead with it!

Jan Castle said...

It really is true for me too...I get a sense of well being when I am able to show someone how to do a technique - it's a win-win situation and we both grow! Thanks Marianne for your thoughts...I never analyzed it before, and you are right on target!!!

nckaren said...

How right you are! It took me a long time to figure this out for myself, and in fact, I'm still discovering more about "doing." Thanks for sharing this article - and thanks for the talent and inspiration you share with many of us who love Copic markers! Happy day!

Take care and STAY POSITIVE! Trena said...

I love this Marianne!! I took it to heart when you shared this message with us at the Intermediate Copic cert. class in Chicago. I've been saying "I'm an artist" ever since! I'm feeling it too! Thank you Sister for your encouraging spirit!

Take care and STAY POSITIVE!

Life and Knits said...

Thanks for this post. Just what I needed to hear (read). I've recently gotten into copics and love how therapeutic it is to color.

Looking forward to the next certification course in the Southeast.


Renee V said...

Very inspiring article! Thanks for taking the time to share :)

Thanh Vo said...

Spoken like a true artist. Thanks for this, Marianne!

StampinwithAloha said...

Thank you Marianne for the encouraging me to practice my coloring and believing I can become better at it. It used to be stress inducing not being able to color inside the lines or not getting the shading correct. As I have practiced, I have improved, and it has been a bit more relaxing to color. However, I tend not to practice as often as I should. Thank you for the reminder!

Jeanette M. said...

I really enjoyed your post, Marianne. I volunteer in a kindergarten class and just love working with the kids - especially the arts and crafts. There is no better feeling than when a little one is so excited to make something special for their family. It is amazing to see how creative the little kids are! (I learn a lot from them.) They create from the heart. This has helped me believe in myself and to keep working on my colouring. Using Copics is a wonderful stress reliever.
Thanks for a great post!

Reflective Art Studio said...

Stunning... Darling I am so so glad I was able to meet you and I am looking forward to many more of our conversations. Truly- I had to pull myself away. xoxo thank you for sharing youself and your lovely talents.

Unknown said...
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Kelly Pyron said...

Thank you so much for writing this! I have never met you, but you seem like someone I would want to be friend with! Ha! Your attitude about life and art are AWESOME! Glad I ran across your blog this morning! :)

gobeagirl said...

I love playing with my Copic markers and I really love seeing how much my cards and my coloring have improved while I have enjoyed playing. I really enjoyed reading this, and I must say that I am going to start making more time each day to play just a little more with my pens. Thanks for the inspiration! Hugs Lisa G
By the way, if you read this, could you please let me know how I can order a Copic 2015 catalog? I want one so bad. I know I could down load it, but I am a paper person and I really want to have one to look at and bring with me. Thanks so much Lisa G

Tina Rathbone said...

Hi Marianne,
You mentioned that you can't "site" your sources.
Just a friendly reminder: the correct word is "cite."
I'm a life-long editor and copy editor, so if you ever need one, please email me at : tina@tinarathbone.com.
Thanks so much for the two classes I took last year in San Diego,
Tina Rathbone

Tina Rathbone said...

Hi Marianne,
You mentioned that you can't "site" your sources.
Just a friendly reminder: the correct word is "cite."
I'm a life-long editor and copy editor, so if you ever need one, please email me at : tina@tinarathbone.com.
Thanks so much for the two classes I took last year in San Diego,
Tina Rathbone

Jan Castle said...

WooHoo for you Marianne!!! Great outlook on art and life. I have thoroughly enjoyed your classes at Main Street and see an improvement in my artistic endeavors....thank you sooooooo much for sharing your talent and encouragement!
Paper Hugs,