The Summerland Advocate-Messenger - Reliable, Trustworthy Reporting, Capturing The Heartbeat Of Our Community

By LuAnn Schindler



February 20, 2020

You could always tell when I had attended a faculty meeting.

The margin of my legal pad was outlined with daisies of all sizes and colors, a result of sitting through the bi-monthly after-school requirement. As soon as the principal uttered his last words, I’d slip across the hallway, toss the paper on my desk and start speech practice.

Those doodles were the closest thing to art I could create.

Don’t get me wrong. I can visualize how something should look, see how texture and color add dimension to a piece, but create it myself? You’re crazy.

It’s the gene I did not inherit from my mother. Now, she was an artist. She drew freehand, sketched out what she needed for work, created masterpieces from scratch.

I can do that in the kitchen and with words, but hand me a brush and ask me to paint an abstract piece on canvas and it ends up looking like something Zekiel, our four-year-old grandson, drew.

What’s happening in my mind when I’m making retro flower power daisies on the side of a Page? Sure, I told myself it was a survival tactic, but in reality, I found it relaxing, a way to de-stress from the constant motion associated with working in the classroom.

I imagine it’s the same process when I write. Painting with words is a natural form of expression and I like experimenting with different words and styles to communicate.

Albert Einstein reportedly said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” But creativity, especially working with visual creative art, is essential for one’s health.

Truth is, everyone, no matter the skill level, should engage in creative artistry regularly. It doesn’t matter if it’s drawing with chalk or painting or cake decorating or making a blanket ladder. The process, from start to finish, is what matters.

Girjia Kaimal, a Drexel University researcher in art therapy, theorizes that creating art allows predictive and narrative capabilities to merge to create alternate choices and futures.

In other words, when you’re in the creative zone, you’re making decisions, focusing on the process instead of the outcome. You’re going with the flow, you’re developing hope.

The artistic process activates the reward center in the brain, a sense that you’ve accomplished something that matters, even if you’re the only audience.

Kaimal, in an article in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, shows evidence that creating art can lower stress and anxiety. In the article, Kaimal and fellow researchers measured cortisol levels of 39 healthy adults. After 45 minutes of creative time with an art therapist, cortisol levels were lower for 75% of participants.

Creating art brings focus, lets you reflect, by increasing theta wave activity in the frontal areas and alpha wave activity in the frontal and central areas of the brain.

While some may consider art a hobby, something to concentrate on in spare time, it’s really an essential part of daily life, a means of problem solving and an effective way to reduce stress.

Even though I’m no longer teaching, I still catch myself drawing chains of daisies, in multiple neon colors, along the sides of my reporter’s notebook, usually when I’m contemplating which direction to take a story.

I see potential texture, add color for dimension and take a deep breath, ready to tackle the day through the written word.


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