DARKER EVENINGS … DARKER MOOD?
How I envy those who are currently experiencing their spring and summer. I say that as one who has had more than enough of the rain and the dark evenings already. For many, once those darker evenings are with us, there is a lowering of mood with one of the causes possibly being insufficient natural light and actual sunshine. For others, it can mean lonely evenings spent in front of the television and nobody to communicate with. ITV are currently running a campaign to get people talking, especially to get younger people talking. As a part of this, they have been holding up a sign in lieu of an advert encouraging conversation to begin. Great. It really is good to encourage those who have been in front of the television, often whilst simultaneously texting, communicating by social media, to talk to those actually there with them. How much more healthy to communicate when face to face. However, I am sure that I am not the only person for whom this is not possible, as we are by ourselves. I am concerned that the message could actually click this aloneness over into loneliness. Hence for me, I will usually switch straight over or take the opportunity to go to the kitchen and put on the kettle!
For a few years, I have struggled with getting out and about at night. I have cataracts, but I am told that they are not yet ready for surgery. In one way pleasing as I am assured that I am doing something right as I have slowed down their progress. However, my eyes get tired, and car headlights completely dazzle me. I am fine on motorways as I am separated from on-coming traffic. It’s the lanes with which I struggle due to the car lights coming round corners to blind me – to such an extent that my eyes automatically close. Not a good thing when you are driving! Then I discovered the wonderful yellow driving glasses that allow me to get out at night. They look dreadful, but what the heck. So long as I remember to take them off when I arrive at my destination, no problem. However, there are still lots of evenings in behind closed curtains, so out with the arts and crafts.
YOU REALLY DON’T HAVE TO BE GOOD AT IT
Some of us are talented when it comes to drawing, painting, being of an artistic bent. Then there are some really talented folk when it comes to crafting, design, being of a creative bent. Then again there are those wonderfully creative people who can turn their hand to any format in any medium.
However, research shows that you don’t actually have to be good at such things for it to help you. I quote from Nick Darlington’s article in Lifehack – ‘Not all of us are artists. But all of us can paint, sculpt, draw, sketch, and do some forms of an artsy thing, on varying levels. Some of us are just naturally more gifted than others, but it doesn’t matter. If you enjoy it, do it. You really don’t have to make a living out of it, and if you are unsure as to whether you might enjoy it, still do it. Not only is there a possibility that you might like it, but also a possibility of making you mentally healthier. Yes, you heard it – mentally healthier.’ Research has shown that art can ‘reduce negative emotions and improve positive ones.’ The end product is something to show for your work. Just as my effort in wool ‘painting’ which I now have framed and displayed in my hall. Add in the fact that producing the piece is a great means of distraction – distraction from worries, concerns, poor mental and also physical health.
I have attended several glass based courses over the past couple of years. Not a medium I had had any experience of working with. The ‘doing’ could at times be a challenge for me, but with support, I achieved, having gone on to find the process stimulating, rewarding and at the same time relaxing. A great combination. We were transported away from any problems to engage with our creative selves. I am currently eagerly awaiting the arrival of the glass panes that were created on my last visit. Panes to slot into a lantern which will take pride of place in my Christmas displays. All the more special as it was made by myself – with help from Verity when my eyes let me down – and will bring back memories of a lovely, lovely time.
This feeling of pride, in both ‘doing’ and achieving a finished product is how those with physical or mental ill health feel about the work that they do with Verity. They see an improvement in their fine motor skills as well as their creative skills. Skills that they may have been struggling with due to illness or injury.
I suggest that you click through to Verity’s web site and check out her nature-inspired glass work – a great idea for a gift for that special person in your life!
HOW TO BE CREATIVE
We can all have a go at being creative. It is a topic that I often talk about with clients and have addressed in earlier blogs. Obviously it’s great if you can attend courses – as I have done with Verity and as I did when I made the wool picture. Having that support is good. It allows you to try ways of expressing yourself which you may choose to pursue or set aside as not being right for you. It allows the toe dipping process to take place without buying any new ‘stuff’. A Google search will give you plenty of local classes to check out. A good way of independent toe dipping is at places such as Hobbycraft, or the Aldi specials aisle for children’s art and craft kits. They come with all you need, including instructions, for that first try. Also, they are cheap. Have a mooch and check out what you fancy having a go with, then you are set for experimenting on those cold, dark evenings. Always better to be prepared and there are plenty of these kits around at present ready for Christmas.
SOME OF THE KITS AVAILABLE
A quick mooch round my local Hobbycraft came up with plenty of inexpensive ways to try a piece of artwork.
There is making a sun catcher. A simple, short toe dip with the finished product of a sun catcher to hang to sparkle in the sunshine, and to remind you that you made this.
You could use a printed canvas – and there are plenty to choose from. Whilst canvases are usually for use with oil or acrylic paints, these can also be worked on with crayons and felt tips which are probably more readily available. There are also adult versions of the paint by numbers that I used to love doing as a child.
Then there are the many books available – either the colouring books with a wide range of topics, or books to take you through the steps of ‘how to draw’ things. This is very much how my Dad took up his later-life painting.
You could give a foil engraving kit a go. These come with the picture drawn out for you, but no reason why you shouldn’t adapt this a bit once you have got used to scraping. Again, the process is doable. It can easily be picked up and put down. You have a finished product that you could display, or maybe use to cover a box lid, or a journal.
If you don’t feel that picture producing is for you, then check out some of the simple crafts available – included in my pick are –
Decoupage – there is a big choice of ‘things’ to cover including a whole range of boxes that you can then use for storage of your bits and bobs. I still have a box that I made years ago. I used ripped up gift wrap as there wasn’t the large range of specialist decoupage paper that you can buy now. It can be fun to use magazine pages. You could use all faces, or parts of faces, animals, whatever floats your boat. Be inventive and get those creative juices flowing.
There is a whole range of small cross-stitch kits available with subjects that are fine for adults – the ones I chose were of camper vans and a butterfly. They can be cheaply and easily framed or used to make little covers or even cards. You can then go onto larger projects if this has appealed to you.
Then there is felting. I have enjoyed my time spent felting and have a project set up ready for after Christmas. Again, there are plenty of cheap kits that are suitable for any age range.
Finally, if you feel really unsure, maybe you have a box or drawer that includes mementoes, a collection of things from a holiday. You could get a deep frame and arrange your collection so that you can have them on display. I have done this with my Dad’s wartime medals, previously in a box in a drawer. I can now display them in my ‘family history’ corner.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE GOOD AT VISUAL ARTS
We are all creative in our own ways, so give one of the so called visual arts a go. I have included some crafting ideas as I feel that these have the same influence over our well-being through their doing and the appreciation of what you have achieved. Not only is ‘being good at it’ not a pre-requisite, neither is having previously done any creating via visual art. Chances are though that you have done lots of paintings, drawings but as a child. You probably loved slapping on the paint, drawing whatever came into your head and then feeling proud of your achievement. A pride reinforced for most children by their piece of work being pinned up at home, maybe stuck on the fridge for all to see. Sadly, that freedom of expression and pride in our efforts was spoiled for many by an enforced requirement to consider form, colour, sizing, perspective. With that freedom removed, for many, so was the love of creating visual artwork. Re-kindle that freedom to have a go.
But, don’t take my word for it. Research has proved that it benefits art virgins, returners, those who doubt their abilities.The experiment, using three different mediums, showed that ‘Cortisol levels were significantly lower following the session. In fact, 75% of people demonstrated lower Cortisol levels. They didn’t differ based on prior experience with art-making, media choice, race, and gender.’
So, what is cortisol? It is the body’s main stress hormone, responsible for the flight or fight response. To quote one of the participants - “It was very relaxing. After about 5 minutes, I felt less anxious. I was able to obsess less about things that I had not done or need[ed] to get done. Doing art allowed me to put things into perspective.”
So don’t put yourself down, rather, have a go. Enjoy and reap those benefits. As for me, I have been inspired by a friend’s recent Facebook post showing artwork done on corrugated metal. Great artwork for in the garden. I will enjoy researching the best materials to use, how to prepare the metal and seal the painting as well as the style I will go for. Nothing fancy, instead rather primitive as in the picture – included at the beginning. Then on with experimenting before I give my creativity free rein and embark on my first piece of corrugated art work.
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