Updated: Nov 13, 2020
If you were to ask anyone who engages in creative art/activities about whether they feel this has a positive affect on their well-being, I’m sure the vast majority of responses would be an overwhelming ‘Yes!’. This could be for a variety of reasons including its cathartic or relaxing benefits, a break from the norm of everyday life or simply as something that brings enjoyment.
Whilst there are obviously many modalities of art that one can delve into such as painting, music, writing, drama and up-cycling, art can also be done either as a solitary or social activity. With this particular post though, I will focus on the benefits of art and creativity as a solitary pursuit.
So, let’s break this down a little. What would I be doing if I were creating art?
Many literal definitions will mention such things as the ‘use of one’s imagination’ or ‘creative skill’ or ‘an expression’ of this to produce something that is to be appreciated for the simple fact that it was created. So I would be creating something unique that did not exist before and something I would more than likely not be able to replicate with the exact same detail.
Art allows you to start with a basic idea or thought and create something that has not existed before and chances are, you will be highly invested in the activity for this reason.
As this is something you are vested in, you will want to see the results pan out just like you imagine them to. Obviously, this cannot always be the case and variables will pop up every now and then that force you to act more immediately instead of being able to effortlessly follow a script or pre-planned action to success.
The process of creating art also mirrors many situations we face in life and how we see ourselves in our life. This is why I believe art is not only an important part of well-being, but also a valuable tool for teaching children skills they will more than likely need in later life such as creative problem solving, self-expression, self-esteem, re-framing situations and articulating thoughts.
For example, let’s say the creative activity I want to do is paint a picture of the Sydney Opera House.
It would be reasonable to assume that I would originally envision my painting to look like a straight-up photographic result of what I imagine it to be, to what is painted on the canvas. It would also be quite reasonable to assume that unless I was trained to do so, this would more than likely not be the result.
Would this indicate failure to achieve my goal?
If anything, it might be failure to reproduce everything you see to perfect scale, colour and detail on the canvas. But if my goal is to paint the Sydney Opera House for the enjoyment of painting, or expression, then no. I would have succeeded.
But if my goal was to produce a painting of what I see as accurately as possible and I didn’t, would that be a failure?
From my perspective as the artist, the process of painting that picture would have highlighted at some stage that I may not have the ability or desire to reach the goal of reproducing exactly what I think it should look like in exact detail. To solve that problem, I may be best to look at outcomes that may bring me as close as possible to the goal or to reframe the problem and achieve another, yet just as valuable goal. This may be in the form of concentrating less on the scale and detail in the painting and shifting focus more to the style of the painting and create more of a unique interpretation. In short, the process may have looked like this:
1. Imagining my ultimate the goal (painting the Sydney Opera House in exact detail)
2. Encountering a problem (ability to produce exact detail),
3. Coming up with solutions/adjusting my goal (aim for basic shape/colour accuracy, adjust style) and
4. Result (friend says “Hey, what an awesome painting of the Sydney Opera House!”)
Although this was not my exact goal when I originally set out to paint the Sydney Opera House, I would have to be quite hard on myself to say that I failed. The fact that another person has correctly noticed the subject of my painting and appreciated the result means that I did achieve the crux of the goal, but maybe not the exact way I had envisioned it. To me, this now has opened up new options to how I could create in the future and highlighted some new goals to explore. The compliment about my painting would have also come from someone who had no idea of the process I had gone through, they were just simply appreciating its existence. This can be closely related to problems encountered in everyday life and especially within achieving set goals. Whilst most people will see the result, they will more than likely know very little of the process that went in to achieving it.
Art/Creativity and you.
Creativity is a great way to foster problem solving skills. When one encounters a road with a huge wall blocking the way, is this the end of the journey? Or does this mean there are a few options that have yet to be fully explored? Over, under, around, or simply straight through? Exploring these at length can also foster new information about the problem or maybe, alternative paths or solutions. The destination may still be the same, or it may change to a more fitting and desirable one.
This is why I believe art/creativity is important for everyone in life. If you are not currently creative or have not been for some time, there are many various art/craft/creative workshops in the hills area that are affordable and can teach you the processes and techniques of the medium as well as provide a great social environment. If you like to fly solo, creativity can be done almost anywhere with anything that allows you to express your imagination and create what is yet to exist.
At AHRLEE Counselling, I can also help you develop a plan to integrate more creative activities into your life that align with your interests and help improve well-being.