Lunch at the hermitage, oil, 16x12", 2012
Lunch at the hermitage, oil, 16x12", 2012

A few days ago I was asked about why painting is good for you and the reasons why an elderly person should take painting lessons into consideration as a positive activity for them. I thought this was an interesting question and an excellent topic for my blog.

One would think that the first reason is because it gives pleasure, at least that is why I paint! Being able to do what one wants provides great satisfaction.

After a little more meditation and research from a psychological, social and medical point of view, I have found many more benefits for the physical, mental and spiritual body not only of children but adults as well. Since I mostly teach adolescents and adults, let me summarize the information in this way:

1. Communication
Art makes us more human; it helps us to communicate in a different, personal language. This is a great benefit for all people and mainly for those who have conditions with a lack of communication or problems expressing themselves such as: shyness, autism and other disabilities.

2. Therapy
Painting is an individual activity even in the workshop or classroom; the student enters his/her own world, a world full of possibilities. Stimulus of the creative mind allow the student to positively isolate from reality, which provides a mental rest that lowers stress and generates relaxation and happiness feelings. This is especially significant for people with aggression or nervousness conditions.

3. Self-esteem
Working in a non-competitive, relaxed environment (the teacher plays a major role here) will enable the student come closer to greater personal achievements; this will strengthen his/her individuality and self-esteem. This is especially significant for people with codependency, traumatic conditions and elderly people who need activities that can strengthen their autonomy.

4. Mobility
Learning to hold and handle a brush and/or pencil will help regulate the hand movements and stimulate brain connections at the same time the skill is being developed. In elderly people, painting helps them strengthen their fine motor skill.

5. Concentration and Healing
People who immerse themselves several hours painting or creating something enter a purer area, in a very strong state of concentration; they abstract themselves from their surroundings and time passes by without noticing it. Physical pains fade away; it is almost like entering another dimension without leaving our body. This concentration state is called Alpha; one part of the brain is conscious and the other pulls the unconscious out. There is more creation because a pure energy is transmitted to what´s being created, and we can spend hours without feeling tiredness, pain or other conditions (unlike other activities.) This is a state similar to that achieved through praying, meditation, music, aromatherapy, and being in love. There have been cases of miraculous temporary healing in painters, musicians who, when in this state, are able to move their atrophied hands or don´t feel pain when creating or executing. Painters Renoir and Gauguin and musician Andrés Segovia are examples of this.

6. Mental Health
Painting helps us get distracted from our problems; it helps us take anguish out and transform it in something nice, which is given a title. This helps us identify the feelings and increase our expression capabilities. This is especially significant for people with nervousness, mental conditions (like schizophrenia) or people going through an emotional imbalance like a break-up who use the visual expression to achieve catharsis. Adults who learn to paint fight the fear to confront themselves, learn to persevere and are encouraged to create something that belongs only to them, a personal project, unique and enormously satisfying.

7. Brain Activity
Drawing and painting stimulate both the left and right brain hemispheres. The first deals with the rational, logic elements and the second one maximizes our creativity and emotions. Painting is helpful during the growth and development stages of children as well as in adulthood when it is very valuable to fight illnesses like Alzheimer. Painting boosts imagination; the imagination of Alzheimer patients, whose memory starts to vanish, is strengthened.

8. Emotional Intelligence
Emotions are part of the creative world we all have inside. Making those emotions flow through painting helps create harmony between the heart and mind, which leads us to experiment happiness, love, empathy and peace. Within this chaotic world we live, the visualization and relaxation that we obtain through painting are tools that in the long run, benefit our emotional, organic, energetic and spiritual being.

9. Art Appreciation
Practice, understand and talk about art creates a better understanding of it. Individuals see themselves reflected and motivated by the work of others, which also allows us to be a receptor of this type of communication, which dates back to the beginning of human history.

10. Culture
The knowledge that a person can achieve when learning to paint enables him/her to understand human history through art.

11. Fun
Learning how to paint has all the benefits of good entertainment: we laugh, socialize, learn something new, feel motivated to finish what we start, appreciate nature and feel passion for something good..

So it's up to you, for your health, your amusement or personal goal, let's paint!


References: Presa Libre.com, www.agifes.org, www.inteligenciaemocional-portal.org
Art is my philosophy!


Translation thanks to Mauricio Parra Campos mparracr@hotmail.com

Topics: Art | Creatividad | English | Painting | Therapy