This week we celebrate International Day of the Artist and all of the beauty and profundity art can bring to our lives. Not only the appreciation of art and history of art but the very act of painting and drawing, Goldster believes, can enrich us as we age.
“Any focus on art I think is a good diversion from the realities of now,” thinks Goldster art tutor John Skelcher. “We’re tapping into a very powerful force.” John feels we don’t celebrate artwork enough. “The more of us practising art the better. For me any opportunity to celebrate art is great.”
He also points out that this week, coincidentally or not, is Pablo Picasso’s birthday. Obviously a controversial figure in the age of #metoo, but a very important artist nevertheless. “He was totally creative throughout all of his life,” underlines John, but diplomatically points out “he has some baggage!”
John defines art very broadly – also including craft and those who are performing. “It offers us an insight into what it is to be human.” He philosophises.
Of course women’s art is now more in the spotlight than ever before, with an increased emphasis on diversity in the art world. Ever since art historian Linda Nochlin’s pioneering 1971 essay ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’, artists, art critics and art historians have been moving to redress the balance that the notion of artistic genius is predominantly white and male.
New critically acclaimed books by Jennifer Higgie ‘The Mirror and The Palette’ about 500 years of female self-portraiture and Katy Hessel’s ‘The Story of Art Without Men’ – the latter a riposte to Gombrich’s famous textbook ‘The Story of Art’ which, in the first edition, contained no women artists, also seek to redress the balance. “It is not the bastion of men,” counters John, “it is the bastion of humanity.”
“It’s like meditation, tapping into a higher frequency”
He cites female artists and writers like Juliet Aristedes who are making an important contribution.
John is keen to emphasise that the benefits of art are for all and to encourage everyone to participate in pursuits such as painting and drawing. ‘We read all the headlines about the movers and shakers in the art world – the Damien Hirsts and Tracey Emins, but it's not about millions of dollars.”
John explains that when you create art you are going into a spiritual zone, unaware of the passing of time. “It’s like meditation, tapping into a higher frequency,” he says. He talks about the left brain and right brain, and how drawing and painting are on the right side of the brain.
“In terms of the emotional benefits, people who engage in making art have a greater sense of emotional well-being”
“What we tend to do in the West, in terms of schooling and career, is very left-brained. The left brain function controls speech and is very encyclopaedic. However, drawing is on the right side of the brain. What it does is to remember in pictures. The perceptive sides of our cognitive function are being neglected and we’re missing out.”
Dr Zara Quail, Goldster’s Clinical Scientific Research Lead is clear that there are important proven mental health upsides to creating art. “In terms of the emotional benefits, people who engage in making art have a greater sense of emotional well-being,” she says, “art is a cognitively stimulating activity.”
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Goldster Art Classes Gallery