Dive Into Art

Flying artist drawing dreaming bird

As we walk down the street we may see a painting on a building or a sculpture in a park. Art is all around us and if we take the opportunity do a little art ourselves we may end up benefiting from the experience.

First a fun fact that is also a good distinction to know. What is the difference between art and crafts?

There is an actual difference. Art is unstructured activities that allow for exploration of the imagination. Crafts are more structured activities that have a specific goal.

When looking at how art has the potential to benefit us, looking across the life span is helpful approach.

What do children learn from doing art?

Creativity, imagination, inventiveness and self-expression – Art materials and say a blank piece of paper are just waiting to be used and filled in with what our minds can create. While engaging in the art process children exercise their creativity and imagination. Furthermore, with art children can express themselves in varies ways revealing their internal world. In other words, children are learning about symbolic communication as well as they pick what colors or shapes represent their feelings as an example.

Development of own interests, goal setting, and confidence – Through experiencing different arts and crafts children might find a particular interest like painting that they can go on to learn more about. Children can learn about perseverance and goal setting in the context of learning more about the interest as well as develop confidence as they continue to master or spend more time exploring that interest.

Academic understanding – As the brain thinks in images, it can be helpful to children to have art around to help them understand academic concepts. Additionally, work becomes more playful and interesting with the addition of art and children learn well through play and engagement of multiple senses.

Life lessons and skill development – During the process of creating art, children learn more about communication and social skills; problem solving and decision making; the importance of appreciation of other’s ability and acceptance of one’s own abilities; how to follow directions; and can benefit from the development of fine motor skills. Doing art also presents the opportunity for language skill development as opportunities are provided to learn words for colors, shapes, and actions.

Cultural awareness – We live in a diverse society which means children see images of different groups that may be confusing to children as they may be mixed messages. Adults have the opportunity to help children understand and recognize that choice is involved when an artist makes a piece which helps teach the concept that what they may see is a person’s interpretation of reality.

It is not only children that can benefit from art and crafts. Everyone across the life span can benefit. Research is beginning to show that crafting can help people who suffer from anxiety, depression, or chronic pain. There is also some evidence that suggests crafts can ease stress, increase happiness, and protect the brain from damage as we age. Since crafting utilizes different areas of the brain, a person’s memory and attention span are activated while also involving their visuospatial processing, creative side, and problem-solving abilities. A study out of Germany that looked at 28 people between the ages of 62 and 70 offers that when someone engages in the production of visual art their effective interaction between parts of the brain improves. This same study also concludes that making art has the potential to delay or even negate age-related decline of certain brain functions. More work will be needed around this topic, but there does seem to be good reason for hope.

The joy of art is that one doesn’t have to be the best artist in the world. Art invites imperfection and play. So even if you think that you are the worst artist in the world and have no artistic talent, give it a try because art really doesn’t have to look at certain way. It is your process and your time. Make it your own and have fun!

Resources and References:
PBS Parents – The Importance of Art in Child Development
Greater Good – Why We Make Art
CNN – This is your brain on crafting
Livestrong.com – What Are the Benefits of Arts & Crafts for Children?
The Washington Post – Top 10 skills children learn from the arts
Huffpost Arts and Culture – Study Says Making Art Is Good For Your Brain, And We Say You Should Listen

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