Tuesday, January 03, 2006

art therapy

Lately several blogfriends (Brian, Caroline and Andy) have touched on the idea of working with your hands as a kind of therapy. While thinking about it and discussing it, it occurred to me that the kinds of brain function required to make something, be it a gourmet meal, a bookcase, a garden or whatever, are very different from the more abstract functions of reading, working at an office job, web-surfing, even working out personal problems. (Making visual art is great because it engages both the tangible and the abstract functions.)

The act of tactile work, where every action you take is a kind of practical problem-solving activity, seems to unblock those pathways of more abstract reasoning and emotion. At least, that's what I've discovered as a painter and even when doing the more mundane tasks related to prepping for and finishing a painting. I love my camera and I have endless fun creating photo manipulations, but in the end it gives me more satisfaction to hold something I created in my hands. Meantime, the act of painting has focussed a section of my brain in such a way that I'm able to solve all my -- and the world's -- problems as well. Of course when the painting goes badly I want to embed it in the nearest wall and can't get my mind off the negative cycle of obsession that it creates. But that's another couch session. Coincidentally, Rudy recently sent me a link to this article on how art therapy benefits cancer patients.

Being Rudy, he also has these items for the appearance-conscious. Only the hippest need apply:

...t-shirts for the compulsive doodler

...something every man should have

...I'm still not sure what this is

...and now, accessorize!


Blogger Caroline said...

I've noticed that it does Jim the power of good to cook.... luckily he's noticed too! Perhaps if I got him one of those T-shirts he'd start doodling more...

Engaging sensually as well as at other levels is less easy when the work is virtual but I've been attempting to do sumi-e style painting digitally and it works well as it uses the whole body. Though not in the way of that gadget in your 3rd link!

Of course there really is nothing like being able to smell what you're doing (4th link) but there are plenty of times I'm glad I can't smell what other people are doing!

Which leaves me your 2nd link... perhaps the gadget could be turned into an art device and patterns and pictures drawn in the hair on a man's back... hmm...

3/1/06 1:36 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

I hope the comment above wasn't too silly... I'd taken it as a challenge to tie in your 4 Rudy links to the main subject of your post...

Its been a long day...


3/1/06 1:47 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

There's no such thing as too silly, Caroline! I thought it was very clever, something I attempt to be/do sometimes when I have several of these unrelated links.

3/1/06 3:08 p.m.  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

Good stuff Andrea. I think I'll take this tactile information to heart as I venture through my week. Hopefully it will "unblock those pathways of more abstract reasoning and emotion" for me. Now where did I put that poinsettia and that carton of eggs?

3/1/06 3:28 p.m.  
Blogger MuseTigerBrooke said...


Nice textures! Your correct there is nothing quite like doing it with your own hands.

oh and i kinda sorta infected you! now you have to post five random thoughts about yourself and infect five other people. kisses <3 TigerBrooke

3/1/06 9:31 p.m.  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Oh blah another infected one ... better get to work with those hands!

3/1/06 10:30 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My belief in UFOs has now been confirmed. Hallelujah!

http://www.detlefjumpertz.com (on the blower to Agents Mulder and Scully as I type)

4/1/06 1:07 a.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Soooooo The time of "I like my men hairy" is over??????? :o(

4/1/06 7:56 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea, there really is something to the art / healing connection. I had a nervewracking procedure done to remove a suspicious mole this morning. My husband was surprised to find me painting the night before and putting the finishing touches on this morning on a little art project I am doing for my niece and nephew. I think it really helped distract me -- took my brain to a zone other than fear. I've always felt that cooking was my "therapy", but art works too.

Gotta get me one of those chalkboard t-shirts...You could draw a picture of how you feel!

4/1/06 10:27 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Brian: So? What can you show us?

Musetigerbrooke: Argh! I may end up being a spoilsport and giving this one a pass. I posted so many facts about myself in the fall that I don't think it's fair to subject this blog to any more. :)

Anonymous: Can I smack you with them? :)

Detlef: So *that's* what it is!

Merlinprincesse: I like my men hairy, hairless, mid-hair. But when I turn them over, it's a different matter...

Teri: Yes! "Zone" is the perfect word. Wish I'd used it.

4/1/06 11:04 a.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

i was looking at your work again the other night and it is amazing how your photos are just another extension of your paintings! Truly for you more than any other artist I have seen your photos and paintings could almost meld together! Hopefully you will have a show combining the two or maybe you have already but your photos are so much an expression of your work! you take picures of the same kinds of work that you paint and then you change them and add and then they look even more like your paintings! Brilliant

4/1/06 4:49 p.m.  
Blogger Anonymous said...

That was Hellcat ... NOT anonymous! And YES try slapping her!

4/1/06 4:54 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Val: Wow. You know, I never noticed that or thought in those terms before, but now that you mention it, the way I choose my subject matter, compose my photos, and then manipulate them is very much like how I approach a painting. You are very insightful and observant!

Anonymous: sorry about that. I thought I was being polite by using her comments name. I'm being very cautious since she buried me in her litter box.

4/1/06 5:22 p.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

you know how i figured it out was by looking at your photos on flickr, it showed me the way to your paintings!

4/1/06 5:45 p.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

lovely painting!! Great trees!

6/1/06 8:22 a.m.  

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