Marie attends my classes excited, and even though she is chronically time-diffused, she now arrives on time. After nearly every effort she exclaims "I like that!" Her watercolor on the left perfectly embodies her sunny personality.
Marie is an artist living with cognitive limitations, some of them from birth, some from age. Her efforts reward her, as they do anyone, in the following ways:
They allow her to express her emotions when words fail
Marie exudes cheeriness and her paintings reflect her personality. Her work illustrates emotions she isn't always able to verbalize. Students, friends, and therapeutic professionals recognize that making art gives space for expression when words fail.
Artmaking gives opportunity for pleasure
Her willingness to engage with simple step-by-step instruction means she enjoys success which boosts her morale. She enjoys giving her paintings to family or friends who welcome them, thus enriching and strengthening her relationships. Accomplishment feeds positive self-image.
Her brain gets a boost
Marie concentrates on her work, giving full attention to how she makes marks and applies color. Studies document that full engagement in any craft, whether it be painting or writing or music strengthens brain cells and slows down age-related memory loss.
This last benefit is a combination of the first three. Art requires you to concentrate on what is immediately in front of you. It is the ultimate mindfulness exercise. Your brain rests from anxiety and sadness, at the same time giving you an emotional outlet for these feelings. Taking time to enjoy the creative process by looking at, making, and sharing art gives pleasure and defuses sorrow.
I come to the facilities and residences as the art-teacher however, I am ever the student. Marie's happy greetings and generous hugs remind me of the goodness in the world. Her exclamations of pleasure, "I like that!" tutor me in enjoying the gifts of creative expression.