brain benefits of creative arts

Thinking about art is good, making art is better!

The Brain Benefits of Creative Arts

We know that viewing art can affect us in positive ways, open us up to new experiences and enhance our quality of life. But did you know that trying to paint a masterpiece is better than just looking at one? In this post, we’ll take a look at the many brain benefits of creative arts and how to make use of the various art forms to help your brain stay sharp!

Every time you participate in a complex activity such as participating in creative art-making, your brain creates new connections as different parts of the brain communicate with each other. With the development of new neural pathways, researchers have found that people who create art show remarkable improvements in:

  • cognitive function and problem solving abilities
  • stress-relief and emotional well-being
  • the development of personal expression and self-awareness
  • psychological resilience and capacity to recall information and memory processing

The benefits for those who create art are significantly higher when compared with those who simply study art appreciation. The take home message here is: creating art has a positive impact on the brain.

Why is it important to maintain a healthy brain?

Chronic illness, diseases and conditions are on the rise
More and more people are living with chronic illnesses and diseases and are facing longer recovery times and hospital stays. Art-making is an effective preventative tool in managing chronic disease, and physical and mental health stresses (depression, anxiety, chronic pain), and is becoming an essential and vital component to our health care system.

Baby boomers are aging in Canada and dementia and other cognitive/memory health issues are on the rise
Creative outlets such as dance, drama, singing, painting, and writing have profound social, medical, physical and emotional effects on those who participate, especially in older adults. Studies show that those affected by Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases flourish when participating in creative activities. Expressive and creative arts promote healthy living and enhance brain function as we get older. See this graphic on the implication of Dementia in Canadian society and the significant role of creative arts is now taking in wake of this medical crisis.

The brain can be shaped and re-shaped and adapt – participating in art allows the brain’s two hemispheres to work together at the same time!

How can you experience the brain benefits of creative arts right now?

“Drawing is an amazing process that requires precise orchestration of multiple brain mechanisms.

–Dr. Lora Likova

Go back to basics: pick up a pencil and draw!
Yes, adult colouring is seriously in style, but did you know that doodling and drawing, as well as coming up with your own ideas of what to draw (instead of just colouring in the lines), uses all five regions of the brain? Drawing involves spatial orientation, visual processing, memory, precise motor planning and motor control as well as movement and other diverse cognitive functions. See Dr. Lora Likova’s research for an in depth look on the affects of drawing on the brain here.

You can also pick up one of these top doodle/journal books to get you started:

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel takes the time to ask important questions about life and dreams and encourages creative and thought provoking responses through catchy prompts.

The Happy Book by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder offers creative prompts, places to make lists, fill in the blanks, drawing, and activities and wacky ideas focusing on what makes you glad and happy.

Take a Line for a Walk by Robin Linda has gathered some of the best drawing prompts from artists, architects, and illustrators in this spiral-bound book awaiting your creativity!

How to be Happy (Or at Least Less Sad): A Creative Workbook by Lee Crutchley is a supportive and interactive book that engages readers who may have anxiety and depression by putting things into new and different perspectives.

Try drawing with both hands at the same time!
This gets both the left and right side of the brain working at the same time! Simply start with one piece of paper and two pens and create designs that are mirror images from each other. For further directions, click here to see the a video of how to do it!

Express your creativity with music!
If you play an instrument, be intentional this week and set aside some time to play some tunes. Music is good for your noggin! Want to learn more about this? Check out this article on music and its benefits for the brain.

Listen to music while doing something creative!
If you don’t play an instrument, do the next best thing and groove to some music while doing something creative. The combination of motor skills and cognitive functions is what activates our brain muscles! Try knitting, needle work, crochet, animation or Manga, car kits, boat or airplane kits to put together or even Lego! Drawing to music….now that’s mind-blowing!

Brain Benefits of Creative Arts: In The Studio

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Hopefully by now we’ve convinced you of the brain benefits of creative arts. We have plenty of things in our art studio that will spark your imagination and flex your brain muscles and really get those creative juices flowing!

Drawing tools and sketching objects
We have a wide range of pencils, pens, charcoal, chalk, and other drawing tools as well as objects to sketch. We have a changing selection of still life objects for you to use based on your own interests. The selections range from large branches, shells and textured feathers, to miniature replicas of cars, embroidered lace, stones, and playful figures such as ceramic birds. We always have a mirror on hand for those self-portraits!

Origami and Paper Cutting Crafts
Origami and paper cutting crafts are great ways to participate in a creative activity and engage the brain. They develops fine motor skills, activate the right and left hemispheres of the brain, allow for imagination and require attention, patience, and the use of memory. Most of all, they help you develop pride and satisfaction in your work! If you’re interested in origami, we have an assortment of origami kits, books on origami and a beautiful selection of origami paper for you to choose from. We also have several types of paper and books on paper cutting and projects ready to go at any skill level!

Creative Cues
We several prompts that we call “creative cues,” that act as starting points to get your creative juices flowing! “Creative Cues – Images” are a collection of images and quotes that help to inspire and facilitate the beginning of the creative process and allow you to narrow down your focus. “Draw Straws” are straws that have instructions at the bottom of each end. You simply choose a straw and draw whatever it indicates. Examples of this are: “Draw something that starts with the letter M;” “Create an image only using circles;” “Re-create a scene from your most recent dream,” and many more!

You can see examples of what we have in the studio in the images above, as well as the image below. We look forward to seeing you in the studio!

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Producing art gives our brain a workout and creates optimal brain health! When we participate in doing something creative, we help our brains and ourselves become happier and healthier!