Drawing is good for mental health

sketch of art materials Science says drawing is good for mental health. Not only does it make you happier it is good for your brain. Print.com recently ran an article by Robin Landa. Draw Yourself Happy: Drawing, Creativity and Your Brain makes some very interesting points in favour of establishing a drawing practice.

Researchers have found that drawing not only effects the brain but also improves makes you happier. I think most people who draw know this but it very nice to have science back you up on this! So, instead of an art practice being a guilty self indulgence it becomes an activity that promotes good mental health!

Another confirmation of a personal belief, is when I talk about the muscle memory of drawing things like an elipse or a circle or even a straight line – I discovered I am not talking rubbish. Discoveries like this is always a relief and obviously just has to shared. (She says with a grin)

In another piece of research “Drawing on the right side of the brain: A voxel-based morphometry analysis of observational drawing” used voxel-based morphometry which is a scanning method, used in this case to study how observational drawing effected the brain. They worked with art students and non-art students and measured the volume and performance of grey and white brain matter while drawing. Guess what they discovered?

… drawing relates to changes in fine motor structures in art and non-art students. Also, the scans revealed that the art students had more grey matter in the precuneus in the parietal lobe, an area of the brain linked to a wide spectrum of integrated tasks, including creativity, visuo-spatial imagery and more.

So put simply (I think) is that when we draw we grow more grey matter in the area of the brain that is responsible for things like creativity. What this says to me is that practice really does lead to improvement because what is happening is that your brain is developing. So the mantra practice, practice, practice makes scientific sense.

Also when drawing dopamine is released but, as James E. Zull points out,

the dopamine is released in the newest region of cortex, the part that we use to create ideas, make decisions, and plan our actions. Thus, we feel rewarded when we create new objects or actions. And since creativity is based on the decisions made by the creator, the reward system kicks in when we are in control and inventing things that we have thought of ourselves.”

This  little nugget had me thinking, particularly the phrase “the reward system kicks in” I think it kicks in even stronger when others recognise the activity. The reward is enhanced in social situation which explains why various internet drawing challenges work so well. This is my hunch, but I am sure somewhere in the world researchers are looking at social learning and the internet. What do you think?

Anyway over cuppa do pop over and read Robin Landa’s Draw Yourself Happy: Drawing, Creativity and Your Brain

sketch of art materials About the images. These are a couple of recent sketches. I have decided that this blog needs a redesign so I am drawing art materials and working out ideas. These were done in a Strathmore mixed media sketchbook which is 5.5 in x 8.5 in (14 x 21.6 cm) using artist pitt pens, Derwent watercolour pencils and watercolour paint. Click on the thumbnails to be takes to larger versions.

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6 Responses to Drawing is good for mental health

  1. Kristin says:

    LOVE these little sketches and watercolors – I’m a total sucker for drawings of everyday items and you’ve done a lovely job with paint tools – thanks for sharing!

    • sharonb says:

      Thanks Kristin – I am enjoying the every day nature of them too! I am trying to figure out why the idea attracts me – I think it is accessibility that I like

  2. Juno says:

    I have so enjoyed reading you recent posts. We have had a dodgy internet connection recently so have not been able to comment but have managed to look and read. Great work and delicious food for thought. Thanks Sharon 🙂

  3. Yes! Great post and excellent article. So much to consider here. In my opinion learning to draw/ paint should be prescribed by doctors!

    • sharonb says:

      I thought the science behind developing the brain and there fore the more you practice the more brains you have for the activity (literally) really interesting. Confirmed my goal to draw daily

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