Slowing Down with the Help of Art
Carol Gould, Fine Arts Instructor 5-12

“Making Art is good for your health” states the headline of the NPR article in my Life Kit inbox. I couldn’t agree more! We have heard from many experts that making art, be it knitting, pottery, collaging, doodling or just plain coloring in an adult coloring book can lower our stress, and improve our mood but we often forget that the act of being creative can help us feel empowered and lead to healthy habits like creative problem solving and positive future thoughts. 

Taking time to sit down and make a card for a friend, drawing a sketchbook page, or embroidering a cool design on an old pair of jeans should not be reserved for “a rainy day”. Giving ourselves the gift of creative time can connect us to our hearts, and to each other. It can be a form of prayer as we share creative time mindfully with the creator. 

Ideally, this practice of making would be free of worry about “good enough” or a pressure to make many of something to sell. Hopefully it is just a time to let our imaginations and hands play, rejoice, and savor the moment. 

In our Forest Ridge Art studios, we encourage this practice. We do teach fundamental art techniques and encourage students to learn how to draw a glass pitcher realistically, and how to throw a 10” cylinder, but we also invite them to fill a sketchbook with whatever they love. We encourage learning that can only happen from welcoming mistakes, and we ask students to try and “just see what happens”. 

Life seems to be so busy now for young people. There are so many pressures for excellence starting so young. Students are often pushed academically, athletically, and socially to do more, and be more. There can be a mood of never enough time, never enough success. I believe that slowing down and taking the time to make something, to be creative just for fun, is the salve for our tired hearts and our anxious minds. 

Try setting aside 45 minutes, device free, three times a week to pull out a simple kit of nice paper, pens, maybe some watercolors and give yourself permission to play. The NPR article says you can kick off your creativity habit by remembering that you don’t need to be an Artist to enjoy creative expression. Focus on the making and let go of expectations. Then just enjoy that feeling of stress relief and positive energy. 

If we as adults' model this ‘making time’ for our children and each other, we can reinforce the idea that investing time in ourselves, our well-being and our connection to our hearts and the creative force is important. Now that sounds like time well spent.