Creativity and Mental Health

Recommended book:

The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence

This book was written by an experienced art teacher. She shares her teaching methods and understanding of the process of creation.  The basic assumption, that underlines  her method, is that learning to draw is not so much learning physical technique or coordination but it is mainly learning the ability to see. In seeing the author does not mean the passive act of gazing at the world, but a deeper sense of sight as if seeing things for the first time. As a rule we tend to look at things without noticing. We  recognize, but we don’t really see.  The exercises in the book are directed at making us look at the world  in a fresh way, to cast off the conventions that limit us. Her book is full of testimonies and pictures of people that have learned to draw for the first time in their lives.

It is intriguing to take her basic tenant in a more abstract, or metaphorical,  way. To learn to sense what is really out there, in our world, instead of being captives of our past, conventions and belief systems.  There are many approaches, or traditions, that hint at this journey under different theoretical and philosophical guises. For example, Buddhism recommends the practice of  mindfulness, living in the present and being aware of both thing internal and external to us.

How can studying to draw contribute to our mental well being? It is my belief, that the more we learn diverse skills, particularly those that are new to us,  we learn to utilize unused areas of our brain. This in turn enhances our brain functioning, and ultimately our  well being.