Roy Adsak wisely asserted that: “Great art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us”. Indeed, art and its subsequent impact has the power to alter perceptions and thus can act as a vehicle for instigating change in the world via its viewers.
So, how can it change the world? (and us simultaneously). Art, especially the act of drawing, prompts individuals to be more reflective and thus can act as a form of meditation. It’s no surprise that this recognition has manifested in the plethora of mindfulness colouring books (for adults!) seen today. It draws one’s focus away from the otherwise omnipresent allure and grip of social media and allows for one to connect with oneself – which is critically important in a world where we are so disconnected from ourselves.
Art also promotes an open mindedness to uncertainty and helps individuals embrace their fear of failure (since you can never fully predict an outcome in art). This – just like in life – is what makes it fun – it’s unpredictable, yet incredibly rewarding. In this sense, art is an organic process that enables one to become fully present and relish the moment, rather than the outcome (that society is pre-conditioned to focus upon). It has taught me lessons translatable to life that although certainty is comforting (in art and life) it doesn’t allow for growth. Real art and real living is all about embracing risk. When we try to control one’s drawing to look at specific way or attempting to make it “perfect” looking we stagnate its impact, potential and critically its character. In many of the drawing assignments we did for this class, we focused on observational drawing which requires total focus on the object or photo of the object. It is in undertaking these drawings that we become more aware and our drawings come to life due to the subsequent authenticity and lack of pretence that ensues. The detail one is able to create from observation, creates a sense of beauty and an awareness of it. For example, following this class I found myself more detail oriented and appreciative of beauty’s intricacies.
Art is a calming form of meditation and for some, self-medication that helps dissipate anxiety and grounds oneself. Furthermore, observing other’s art allows us to empathize with other’s experiences - which lends it self to innovation and creativity. People are often quick to categorize art as a solitary discipline, yet it’s impact is undoubtedly holistic infiltrating all aspects of life, especially our Psychology. The insight we can glean into other’s lives from art can have an emotive impact on us as viewers.
Thus, art is a lesson in living. Art changes us, it can thus subsequently impact the world. Art connects us to ourselves, helps overcome fear of failure by helping us embracing risk. In this sense, art is a connection to our most authentic self and helps us to be sufficiently courageous to “live” and not just “exist”.