Recently, my friend and I attended a live sketch class. We came with our pencils and sketchpad to draw a live model. The young man did a series of different poses of varying lengths; we worked our way up to 20-minute sketches over the 2-hour session. And I loved it! I felt so proud that not only had I done something new – I hadn’t attended a live model class before – but also I was proud of the art I produced that night. I hope to continue to draw and not only with a pencil but also with brushes and paints. Most of all, I would like to try to paint something using bright watercolor paints and professional watercolor brushes. Especially given that painting, drawing art and mental health research show a positive connection, including a better mood.
Benefits for both art creators and viewers
A few years back, the adult coloring book trend took off. Internet ads and storefronts promoted these books and the nostalgic act of coloring as a meditative practice to lower stress and anxiety. And they’re not wrong; a significant amount of studies identify the act of making art as very therapeutic. Artistic activities can draw people’s attention to details and the environment, mimicking the experience of meditation.
Furthermore, art therapy is widely in use to help patients forget about their illnesses and focus on positive emotions, lowering the stress hormone, cortisol, significantly. In fact, even viewing art can prove beneficial, as those who spent 35 minutes or more during their lunch break exploring an art gallery reported feeling less stressed.
Aside from the popular bullet journaling and adult forms of coloring, sketching is a great way to act on the benefits of creating art.
5 benefits of drawing art and mental health (and physical health)
There are numerous ways sketching can improve mood and better mental health and physical health overall. The five benefits of sketching are:
1. Helps creativity.
Drawing offers you the ability to think in a different way than you’re used to. In particular, sketching encourages open-ended thought and creativity. That’s why it’s such a popular activity for kids.
2. Enables more strategic thinking.
The cognitive and cerebral benefits of drawing are endless. Plus, sketching helps to build new connections and pathways throughout the brain.
3. Art and mental health: Boosts holistic health.
The activity mimics that of meditation, helping with both relaxation and stress relief. Drawing relaxes the brain, giving it a break from the strain of continuous concentration. The result can be better mental health overall.
4. Improves communication skills.
Because sketching is visual, and there is often no text present, you’re forced to communicate through pictures. Thus, this process leads to better decision-making skills and understanding of different feelings and emotions.
5. Helps with coordination.
The more you draw, the more you improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Infographic on drawing art and mental health
Lastly, Invaluable created this neat infographic that explains some of the benefits of sketching. It also shows some ways to use the meditative practice as a way to manage different emotions.
Whether you’re feeling anxious or sad, use the ideas as inspiration, and just start drawing! Does the research on art and mental health surprise you?