October 3, 2011
BCC-Chalk-Art

Art can be Inspiring when Concrete is Your Canvas

Art doesn’t have to last a long time to be inspiring. I saw a lot of smiles on the faces of artists and pedestrians alike when the Art Club at the Boulder County Campus sponsored a Sidewalk Chalk Art Event on Sept. 22. Students and instructors came outside into the beautiful end-of-summer weather to help surround the  buildings with chalk art.

Twenty minutes of fresh air, sunshine and a little sidewalk chalk art can tweak serotonin and melatonin production to give you a boost in mental and physical energy that lasts for hours and helps you sleep better, retain and recall information, and regulate mood swings.

Changing Our Focus can Trigger New Brain Activity

When stuck on finding a solution to a problem or recalling important facts, my grandmother swore by the power of “thinking about something else.” She was right, too. Often as soon as I  stop trying to remember the name of a film or quote, and do something else, the answer just pops into my head. While this may seem capricious, there is scientific evidence to support the idea that changing our focus can trigger new brain activity and the ability to understand what we are already looking at in new ways. Much in the same way that purging a computer’s cache files can cause the old images to be replaced with fresh versions, when we look away for a while and then come back to a problem, we have an improved ability to see what is actually there.

If we have deadlines and demands, and things are not  moving along as we’d hoped, sometimes we’ll stop for a break to redirect and spark our flagging spirits with nicotine, caffeine, or sugar. While those can have their uses, none compares in potency or effectiveness with the chemicals and electrical flows our own brains can produce.

Making Art Releases Endorphins

Medical studies show that the act of making art stimulates many areas of the brain and causes endorphin release, which makes us feel good and helps to keep us going through exertion. Even the act of observing art causes measurable increases in brainwave activity in subjects.

Playtime with Art

As a professional artist and art instructor, I have experienced the rejuvenating effects of a little “playtime” with art, both in doing it myself and in looking at what others have done. There is great power and energy flowing in creativity.

When you can’t find that creative spark, some call the Muse, you can try tapping into it by absorbing images of great photographs or paintings in a book. This can help loosen up mental logjams and get creative energy flowing again; a great benefit of “play,” and one we too often overlook as busy adults.

Even if You Don’t Consider Yourself Creative

Creative time is important for everybody, even if you don’t consider yourself “artistic.” So go ahead, treat yourself to even 10 or 20 minutes of creative expression or appreciate the efforts of other artists, and see how much it can spark new energy and ideas! Find inspiration in the works of great masters or a child’s artwork.

About the author:

Sarajane Helm is an FRCC student and an instructor with FRCC Continuing Education as well as a professional artist whose Web site is http://polyclay.com.