How Painting Helps Mindfulness

So many people return home after enjoying one of our painting holidays and feel so refreshed and recharged that it made me start to wonder about the psychological and emotional benefits that painting provides.

Visiting Italy for an entire week, while enjoying delicious food in a beautiful country with like-minded, fun people and doing something you truly love will obviously give you a boost.

However, maybe there is more to it? Could it be possible that painting itself is good for our emotional and mental well-being?

There was an interesting study conducted by neuroscientist and psychologist Kelly Malbert, that indicated that painting might actually reduce anxiety and depression by stimulating those parts of the brain that depression affects.

There are other psychologists who compare this experience to complete absorption and concentration that you experiencing while painting to a mindfulness practice like yoga or meditation. This is true for everything from life drawing to paint by numbers style offerings.

Apart from neurology, the following are 7 additional ways that painting can positively impact your health:

  1. Helps to Develop Creativity

That might sound obvious, but what may not be as well-known is that both the left and ride sides of the brain are stimulated by painting.

With painting, the left side of the brain is used to deal with logical and rational challenges – for example, how to structure a painting – while more creative challenges are handled by the left side of the brain, to help the painter visualize their work prior to even getting their easel set up.

Painting exercises the entire brain, it strengthens your mind and triggers dopamine activity within the brain. Basically, it is an aerobic exercise for your brain!

  1. Emotional growth is nurtured

As the saying goes a picture can tell a thousand words. Painting has the potential to be a highly cathartic experience, which allows you to access those feelings that are buried deep inside your subconscious.

Painting also can help you deal with your feeling by providing physical shape to them, and eliminating the anguish that is involved when those feelings remain hidden.

In fact, art therapy is often prescribed by psychologists for their patients who have sustained psychological trauma. Creating art can help to release emotions in a non-threatening and safe environment. 

  1. Develops problem-solving skills

It is rare for a painting to come out exactly as you expect it to. Lack of technique and experience, limitations of your palette, and changes in light can mean that what you are attempting to achieve when you first start out will hardly ever happen.

There are two benefits to this: to begin with you learn very quickly to deal with being disappointed, and that over time -often by way of repeated mistakes – to realize that whenever a door closes, another door opens. You also learn to quickly adapt and develop creative solutions to issues with your painting. 

For a painter, thinking outside the box starts to become second nature.

  1. Improves concentration and memory

Painting sharpens the mind and boosts memory function. Just like the heart is exercised by the runner, painters exercise parts of the brain that are responsible for concentration and memory.

Painting to practice creative activities on a regular basis like painting has been shown to have a lower chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.

  1. Relieves stress

Painters are able to enter their own world, this allows them to – at least on an unconscious level – to separate from the strains and stress of life. No office politics, no mortgage – just shade and color, and how can I really do justice to those amazing poppies and that impressive terracotta roof?

Painting allows you to escape your daily problems and struggles. It lifts you up. When you focus on your painting, you can achieve what philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto refers to as “transfiguration of the commonplace,” where your painting becomes comprised of meanings that go far beyond what their literal worth is.

Your painting might turn out exactly like you thought it was going it, but just by studying it, and contemplating it, its beauty gives you a lift.

  1. It can help with your healing process

You might struggle with capturing all of the beauty of a cypress-studded skyline or hilltop town, but just making the attempt can have a very significant positive impact.

Painting is very meditative: it helps take you away from yourself and frees you from physical limitations. Gauguin and Renoir are two famous examples of painters, who through the transcendental bliss of painting, were able to move their atrophied hands to experience incredible temporary healing.