Art……so much more than a pretty painting!

For those of you that have any kind of creative streak, whether that’s in art, music, writing, performing, etc you will understand what I mean when I say art is good for your soul.

Art is a strange subject though, as whenever it’s talked about with those who wouldn’t describe themselves as ‘arty’, usually people’s automatic response is something along the lines of ‘I’m rubbish at art, or I can’t draw to save my life’. Which makes me think, where do we get these opinions about our own artistic ability from, after all, isn’t art subjective?

I’m not attempting to get all deep here, most of all because I don’t feel I have the knowledge and experience to back up any argument, but I believe art brings so much more than being able to be a well-accomplished painter/writer/singer in the more traditional sense. Recently I’ve realised its a way for me to be in the moment, I guess a form of mindfulness, which I think we all struggle with due to our busy lives.

A couple of years ago I tried meditation for the first time, just by using the simple app HeadSpace. At the time I was struggling with the break up of a long-term relationship and needed to find ways to reduce my worry about the future. To be honest, I previously thought meditation was just a load of hippy nonsense, but I now realise that was a pretty naive view and have developed a better understanding of its potential benefits, as well as how difficult it can be! The difficulty I have with meditation is also really apparent when I’m doing yoga where I still struggle with the meditative aspects of the class. Like many, I find my mind wandering to everything from what I could make for dinner, where I have to be next and the million other things that life throws at us. Quite opposite to this is meditation that comes with art, which comes much more naturally to me, as I’m focusing on what’s in front of me, rather than trying not to think about external things.

The reason this has got me thinking about the benefits of creative arts is that in the past few years there has been a lot of focus on how the school curriculum is changing and one of the most fundamental changes is the reduction of the creative arts and more focus on academic subjects like Maths and Science. Now I’m not going to get all political here, as it seems to me that all political parties are too far removed from the impact education has on children/future of our society, and are more interested in short-term gains,  i.e if you reduce focus on the education of health and fitness in schools, it’s pretty obvious to me that it’ll have a long-term impact on the country’s attitude to their health!

Whether you think you are good at art or not, I think creative subjects at schools really matter, after all not all of us are academics and I believe subjects should be designed for all types of children of all different talents and abilities. I was a pretty average student at secondary school, in terms of the more academic subjects, but I loved art and thanks to an amazing art teacher I found something that I not only seem to have a talent for but also an area where I felt supported and was given praise for, which to me was priceless.

As an adult, I think creative arts can help support people of all walks of life and situations, whether that’s as a form of meditation, art therapy, social interaction, or for no other reason than you love doing it. If we lose the arts from our curriculum, will that lead to similar problems faced by society surrounding the lack of education about health and physical education in schools?

The painting that I’ve been working on since the beginning of the summer(featured on this post), has been a labour of love and self-discovery, (overcoming frustrations and the lack of confidence in my own ability), learning (as I had never painted with a palette knife and oils before) and creative mindfulness, something I have only recently discovered thanks to people like Wendy Ann Greenhalgh

I know everyone’s relationship with the arts is different, but unlike some subjects like Maths and English, which are basic requirements to life (apart from Algebra which I still argue was a waste of time!!), the arts give us so much more. They provide a freedom to express ourselves, to create our own identity and in some cases to find what you really have a passion and talent for. Surely we don’t want to remove those simple pleasures for the next generation?

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