The following is a guest article written by Denise Fletcher. Exploring the World of Art is an essay that Denise wrote and provides a good introduction and overview of art along with some suggestions on how you can incorporate art into your life to help reduce mental stress and fatigue. There are some great everyday sources of creativity, as well as some great tips for people new to the concept of art as a catalyst for healing. As someone who struggles with bipolar disorder, Denise uses art therapy to help make a difference in her life. She is also the author of A Thread of Hope, a book of poetry, prose, and artistry that explores the boundaries of mental illness.
Exploring the World of Art
by Denise Fletcher
In a world gone awry, art can become a welcome release from your troubles and is a very important part of healing from trauma. Art is both fun and relaxing and a great stress reliever. Art can be utilized as a method not only to express your deepest thoughts and feelings, but as a tool to get to know yourself better and to discover your hidden talents. Create art for art’s sake. Art does not always have to be for public consumption, competition or for material gain. Art should definitely not be used as a way for others to analyze your psyche. If your art is very personal, it may be best to use discretion and share it only with trusted friends or family. Ask others you know for their personal perspectives on art, but do not let them discourage you from exploring new modes of personal expression. Make it your goal to try your hand at something new and different that you’ve never done before.
When determining what types of art that you would like to pursue, you may consider exploring the world of art by visiting your local community center or art gallery. Take a good look around your community to get a sense of where your interests may lie. Art takes many forms, such as sculptures in the park, flower gardens, rock formations, and paintings, drawings or photos hanging on the walls of Churches, libraries or local restaurants. Other valuable resources for various ideas are craft and fabric stores, bookstores, or art supply stores. Taking a walk in the woods or walking along the beach will stir your imagination and may bring out the collector in you. Shells, rocks, petrified wood and other assorted nature items are great resources for craft projects like mobiles or collages. The more you observe your environment, the more you will become attuned to the many art forms available to you. Even baking cakes or cookies can become an art form!
It is always helpful to take a class to learn a new skill and art is no exception. There are many opportunities for classes through art centers, community colleges, or even at craft stores, depending on the level of your interest and skill. If finances are a problem, then consider checking out art books or video tapes at the nearest library. There are innumerable experts who have written how-to books on many different art forms, such as jewelry, woodworking, quilting, computer graphics, etc. You can learn almost anything you want to know in self-help books. If you live in a large city, there are large Institutes of Art which are open to the public where you can tour exhibits by world-renowned artists. These displays change with the seasons and are full of amazing works of art that bring fresh ideas no matter how many times you visit.
Find a relaxed atmosphere such as a coffee shop or reading room and bring a spiral notebook or journal with you to jot down notes. Challenge yourself to write a short poem or song on something that is of value to you. Give yourself some personal time to reflect on your creative goals.
Contemplate such questions as:
What types of art do I like most? Least?
What methods of art would I like to learn?
What is my primary interest? Secondary?
What subjects would I like to concentrate on most? Least?
What points do I want to convey?
What is the best way to express a particular point?
What motivates me to create art the most? Least?
What are my future goals?
Write your own questions related to art and write down your answers in your notebook. Your questions and answers will change over time. Keeping an art journal is a good way to measure your progress. If you are proficient in a particular skill which you would like to share, you may consider teaching a class or volunteering with a non-profit agency which specializes in the healing arts. My challenge to you is to embrace your inner child by doing any creative activity which brings you joy and which helps you to focus on the present moment.
Denise Fletcher is the author of “A Thread of Hope” available through Chipmunka Publishing.