The art of painting has been around as long as humans have been. More than 40,000 years ago, early humans created the first paintings in the world – on cave walls. While scientists and researchers may spend their entire lives studying these paintings, there’s no way to know for certain what compelled those humans to paint. Was it to tell stories? Or to express themselves beyond language? It could be both and neither of those reasons. What we do know for sure is that several millennia down the line, we’re still at it; we’re still painting. And modern science has found that painting is more than just a craft, it provides numerous mental health benefits as well.
It boosts overall mental well-being
Painting is considered a great way to improve your well-being. It enables you to manage and regulate emotions, as well as handle psychological distress. Tons of therapists and psychiatrists even employ painting activities in their treatments. Mental health researcher Dorien Eising found that painting alleviates anxiety, depression, and stress. Persons who engage in painting experience a boost in confidence and feel more engaged and resilient.
It can be a grounding technique
Grounding Techniques are strategies that help distract a person from traumatic flashbacks, memories, and negative emotions. It lets you pull away from these challenges by refocusing on the present. This is what painting does and it is best seen in works by Asian national artists that mostly feature genre painting. They’re able to create magnificent paintings by observing the things around them, from farmers plowing through fields to abstract pieces.
That being said, paintings don’t exactly have to be still-life for you to employ a grounding technique. You can just draw on what’s happening around you and be inspired by the things you see, hear, smell, and feel. This creates space between yourself and distressing thoughts and feelings.
IT HELPS IMPROVE IMAGINATION AND PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS
Perhaps one of the reasons why painting has always been part of human culture is that it allows the imagination to run free. Professor and art therapy researcher Girija Kaimal says that this might serve an evolutionary purpose; she posits that art helps people naviagte and anticipate future problems. Indeed, painting involves a succession of mental activities, from deciding what to paint down to choosing the right brush size and type. Ultimately, painting enhances the brain’s ability to interpret and translate the mental image you have onto the canvas.
IT CREATES COMMUNITY
Paintings spark conversations, just look at how we’re still talking about paintings on cave walls in the modern world. By joining art communities and painting programmes, you’re able to build social connections with other like-minded individuals. One such community has been formed among plant lovers through the Pinot & Picasso plant gallery sessions, where participants can all paint greenery together. Through similar programmes, people can express themselves through art, knowing that they’re understood and accepted. This eases feelings of isolation and loneliness.
For something that’s done on an easel, painting does a person a whole lot of good in the grander scheme of things.