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!