We have all heard the excuses before, “why should I draw if I suck at it?”. It is easy to feel defeated if you feel like you have put a lot of effort into a piece of art and it does not come out like you hoped it would. Even if it looks like a mess, I am going to tell you why you should keep making art. Even if you suck at it.
Science Thinks Art is Good for You
Decades of research have demonstrated that in people with dementia and other progressive neurological diseases, the ability to create art remains long after speech and language have diminished. Research has also brought to light that creating visual art can reduce stress and promote relaxation in people who are hospitalized or homebound due to illness.
So even if you do indeed suck at making art, you are going to be doing your brain a huge favor. If these dementia patients are anything to go off, you will see the benefit in enjoying the creative process of art. It might be because art helps people communicate their emotions in a way that words simply cannot, enabling people who are making art, even art that sucks, space to process their emotions. Outside of art they could struggle to truly express any strong emotion.
Art is Good at Prevention
Recent studies suggest that to stave off cognitive decline, doing creative activities could be more effective than merely appreciating creative works. A study from 2017 indicated that people over 70 who did crafts projects had a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment than those who read books. And in a 2014 study, retirees who painted and sculpted had greater improvement in spatial reasoning and emotional resilience than did a similar group who attended art appreciation classes.
As you can see, getting stuck into art seems to improve your odds against cognitive decline. You can bet none of these aforementioned retirees were Picasso level artists, yet they gained so much from just enjoying the process of creating art. If you are looking to stave off the effects of a growing mind, get some paper and a pencil out and draw.
It is Ok to Suck at Art
Art has so many benefits for anyone who engages in it because the benefits come from the journey not the final product. Most people who sit down and enjoy sketching something they care about are not looking to be the best in the world, and neither should you. Children enjoy art so much because they are totally present, they are not thinking about the goal of the action, they are simply doing. They are exploring and enjoying every second of their mental expedition.
As we grow older, it is easy to fall into a failure avoidance mindset. This kind of approach to life inhibits use in so many ways. So, get that sketch pad out and fail. Failing at drawing is one of the most important things every artist does with their art. Because every failure is an opportunity to learn something. A chance to gain a nugget of wisdom that will improve your ability to create in the future.
Overall, making bad art is good for you. Even if it does not come out as you imagined it would you are still exercising important muscles in your brain that will keep your mental health afloat and reduce cognitive decline as you grow into retirement. And lastly, failing is ok. We often learn the most from our failures. Victories feel great but usually do not lead to a big lesson at the end of it. If you are going to fail, fail spectacularly.