Seeing as an Artist

April 06, 2015 2 min read 1 Comment

It's unfortunate that art is one of the first programs eliminated in school budget cuts, but it's little wonder. Taxpayers often view art class as little more than directed play or history lessons with pictures, not worthy of funding. For me, learning art means learning to see. The opportunity to learn about art is a quality of life issue.

As the daughter of an artist, I received a few lessons on seeing early in life. Recognizing reflected light and color, beautiful grays, lost edges, atmospheric perspective, or the color shift in cast shadows added to my awareness of my surroundings. Seeing this way makes it possible for me to enjoy the present moment more often and fully appreciate life. I can only imagine that people who focus on patterns or abstract shapes see those things more often out in the world and that the experience boosts their quality of life.

I walk with a friend every morning for exercise. As the seasons change, we walk in the pitch dark, sunrise, and full sun. It's on those walks that I realize how my art background helps me see differently. At first, my walking partner used to think I was nuts going on about the purple in the tree trunks. But over time, she too learned to see more, and now she's hooked.

Seeing as an artist helps me avoid being bored, enjoy the present, and find interest and beauty. In this video game world, I think it's more important than ever for those of us who have found value in the visual arts to sing their praises, if for no other reason than to give our next generation something to do when the power goes out.

What do you think is the value of art? Tell us in the comments!

Cheers,

Lynn Powers

LynnPowersArt.com


1 Response

Sojna Widmer
Sojna Widmer

April 21, 2015

Hello there….God created our brains to lean on the left side or the right side. Some individuals are lucky enough to lean on both sides. But the right brained individual HAS to HAVE the creative exercises to survive and live. Art is theraphy and is very healing even to a left brained person. Today I read an article out of Mayo Clinic about Alzheimers. I am including part of the article here. Art seems to be necessary for better brain function as we age. So Art is VERY IMPORTANT! Enjoy your day.
Sojna Widmer

Pursuing a hobby in middle age may prevent more than just boredom. A recent Mayo Clinic study found that people who engage in and stick with creative and social activities in midlife may maintain better brain function by the time they hit their mid-eighties than those who don’t.

More than one-third of Americans over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s disease as of 2015, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and that number is only expected to surge as baby boomers gets older.

The study, which was published in the journal Neurology, followed participants of theMayo Clinic’s ongoing Study of Aging. Those who had engaged in artistic, craft, and social activities in midlife and late life had significantly lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment – 77 percent, 45 percent, and 55 percent, respectively – than the less engaged study participants. What’s more, those who reported regular computer use in late life showed a 53 percent lower mild cognitive impairment risk than those who did not.

Related: Over 60? Time to Move It or Lose It

The arts and crafts activities reported by the subjects covered a wide range, including ceramics, quilting, pottery, sewing, woodworking, painting, drawing, and sculpting. Social activities included going to the movies, plays, concerts, and events with friends. Types of computer use included playing computer games, emailing, shopping online, and surfing the Internet, Roberts says.

Scientists believe that creative and social activities help develop new connections between neurons in the brain and assist brain cells in maintaining their functions as we age, says Lyn Geboy, PhD, an environmental gerontologist and principal at Cygnet Innovations Group, a healthcare consulting firm in Milwaukee that designs programs to support older adults, their families, and people with dementia.

“The adage ‘use it or lose it’ totally relates to the brain,” Dr. Geboy says.

It’s never too late to start a new hobby: Participants who began creative activities later in life also showed a lower risk of developing cognitive decline, but the researchers found it was those who started artistic, craft, and social activities in midlife who benefited the most.

“The overall implications from the study would be to begin [creative activities] by age 50 and continue throughout life,” Roberts says.

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