Feb 11, 2011

Art From The Heart Keep Learning!

Getting older dosen't mean you have to give up your art!!!!

Today I had a phone call from one of my first students. It was nice to hear her voice and visit with her, however, I felt so sad at the end of the conversation. She had painted for years after she quit coming to class but in the last several years she hadn’t picked up a brush.

When I asked her why she just said she didn’t seem to have any interest anymore. She said as she had been getting older she found her interest just sort of went away. I then asked her what she had been painting up until then and she told me that she had been painting the same things she had been painting years ago, landscapes.

Her landscapes we really very good and I know that she did sell some, how sad to give that up.

This started me thinking. We are about the same age, and I am still painting almost every day and still in love with it! So being the inquisitive person that I am I started thinking of why I still loved my art.

Here are some conclusions I have come up with.

I am a person who loves to learn new things. I love to explore and seem to always be searching for new knowledge. I find the world around me quite intriguing. I always want to know more about a subject so I do a lot of research, I would say I am always hungry for something new!

I love to try painting new subjects and using different palettes. I love to experiment with designs and compositions. Doing the same things over and over gets me very board very fast.

I love to start a new project and find the designing and figuring it out is very stimulating. I actually love to have a problem that I need to solve.

Once I have learned something my brain uses less energy to accomplish the task…the results….eventual boredom. . My brain needs a constant flow of new challenges.

So herein lies the answer; We need to keep learning!

New research has found that if you do the same boring thing time and again it is potentially harmful to the long term well-being of your brain. Studies have shown that people who do not participate in regular learning activities throughout their lives have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain is like a muscle and it needs exercise! The more we use it the more we can keep using it. Even doing the same old things in different ways can help your brain stay young.

If you don’t learn new things as you age your brain will actually start disconnecting itself.

Instead of a person who has a sharper and more efficient brain you end up with an old person sitting in a chair waiting to die.

That may be the way older people used to end up but not today, scientists have given us the answers we need to keep a young healthy brain as we age so why not use them!

So how do we really go about this, first take stock of what you are painting. Is it the same thing you have been always painting. Are you still stimulated painting this? Do you still enjoy painting?

If not it is time to start exercising your brain.

Try something new, a new technique, a new medium or subject matter will keep your brain young.

Take a class with a teacher you admire. If you can’t do that find a good instructional book and paint something totally new to you.

If you can travel take a “photo” vacation and take hundreds of photos of places you would like to paint.

Read some new books on art history and painting techniques.

Watch some of the great free art videos on the internet…there are thousands to watch.

Visit all the art galleries and museums in your area.

Study an old master that you love.

Get a group of friends who paint together and meet once a week to paint. This can be very stimulating to the brain.

New learning enhances cells in the hippocampus, a part of the emotional and memory center of the brain, by exercising our brains you can not only keep your brain young but improve your health.

Your mood will be happier, your memory will improve and your whole life will be better. This brain exercise increases our cognitive abilities, helps build better relationships with family and friends, and gives us the opportunity to be able to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of the creative experience thought out our whole lives.

Older people don’t have to end up just sitting, with keeping our art in our lives by learning new ways to do things, we can keep our minds young using the creative talents we have be blessed with. Creativity helps reduce stress and lets us cope more easily with the psychological effects of aging and illness.

The American Art Therapy Association, says that the creative process of art is both healing and life-enhancing. Art is a form of expression, communication and pure pleasure.

Why give up this wonderful gift? Get off the couch and start learning something new and give new meaning to your life….

Sharon Teal-Coray

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