You Don't Need Talent to Benefit from Art
July is World Watercolor Month, a celebration to raise awareness of the importance of art and creativity in the world. Some of the benefits of art are obvious—it adds beauty to our surroundings and brings pleasure to those who participate in it—but there are numerous other benefits that are not as easily observed.
Studies have shown that people who participate in art can benefit in a variety of ways, including:
- Enhanced brain function
- Raised levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that contributes to a sense of well-being
- Reduced depression and anxiety that are often symptomatic of chronic disease
- Enhanced fine motor skills
- Increased emotional balance and self-esteem
- Reduced boredom
“We know that, in general, exercising our creative selves enhances quality of life and nurtures overall well-being. We all are creative—not just a select few,” said Dr. Barbara Bagan, a board-certified art therapist.
Even those who feel they have never been artistic or talented can still experience the benefits of participating in art. “It’s the process, not the product,” according to Megan Carleton, an art therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Beneficial art is not limited to that which is made with paints and brushes. “Expressive arts, including visual arts, music, dance/movement, writing, and poetry, are empowering tools that can assist in the aging process,” Dr. Bagan said. And, one does not necessarily need to create art to enjoy the benefits. Observing expressive arts can have some of the same positive effects on the brain.
There are many ways to participate in art for little to no cost: Listen, sing along, or dance to music on the radio; visit an art gallery or museum online; paint with a children’s watercolor set; sculpt with modeling clay; sketch with pen, pencil or chalk; use colored pencils or crayons in an adult coloring book; write a short story or poem; create a collage or mosaic with colored paper or small tiles; reproduce your favorite painting using pieces of recycled household items.