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10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art

10 Things You Never Knew You Could Learn From Art

Art is a way of expressing beauty, emotions and feelings. It can help us make sense of the world we live in. Jerome Stolnitz argued that it cannot generate truth or knowledge, unlike science and math.

The ancient Greeks had great arguments about this. Plato thought that the literary arts were only useful in stirring our emotions and overindulgence might lead to a certain imbalance. Aristotle thought art was important in providing a certain emotional catharsis so that we could help ourselves to come to terms with tragic emotions. He saw it as being much more beneficial.

Let us look at 10 things that you can learn from art.

1. Art can help us to be creative

We might see a painting in a gallery or simply take a photo of a sunset. These are all expressions of art. They bring out the creativity in us. We may want to draw something or play around with different apps on our phone to turn a simple photo into something original and beautiful. You can play around with the bubbly effect, Monet impressionism, artsy spirals or adding words. Yes, there’s an app for those and many more!

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2. Music can lift you up

If you play an instrument, you have so many opportunities for expressing your mood. Even just playing around on the guitar can be therapeutic. You might choose to listen to rock, rap or a classical symphony. Studies show that listening to upbeat music really does affect your mood positively.

3. Writing as therapy

When I was a teen, I wanted to express some thoughts through poetry so I sent some poems to a publisher. Unfortunately, they were turned down. The rejection letter stated that “there would be little demand for this work on the general market.” My career as a poet ended there but I have continued to write articles, fiction and diaries all my life. Writing enabled me to express emotional trauma and other frustrations. It was a safety valve. Even if you never write a story or poem, writing down your thoughts and feelings is great therapy.

4. A painting can stimulate curiosity

Let us look at the painting, At the Moulin Rouge (1892/5) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It can stimulate a curiosity about night life in 19th century Paris, the social mores in vogue at the time, fashion, the life of Toulouse-Lautrec and his difficulties caused by his unusually short stature. The more we find out, the more we want to read and discover what life in Paris was like at the time.

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moulinrouge

    5. Any work of art will help us appreciate beauty

    It may be a sculpture, a painting, a sunset, a poem, a story. Whatever it is, we should try and think about it because there is beauty here. We can lose our emotional baggage and get lost in the contemplation and wonder of that beauty.

    6. 100 things you must do before you die

    You know the series. There are films, places to see, things to eat, books to read, museums to visit. The list is seemingly endless and we have a lot to get through. The idea is a great one because it constantly reminds us about the gaps in our knowledge and culture. It is a great way to create neural connections in our brain and keep our minds alert. It is also a wonderful way of increasing our awareness of the beauty around us.

    7. Exploring and seeking answers

    Far too often in life, there are many problems that can have more than one solution. It is the artistic experience that teaches you to explore your emotions and use your judgement. These points are beautifully summed up in the poster written for schools by Stanford Professor Elliot Eisner. He firmly believed that art education was one of the essential keys to student learning. The poster is entitled 10 Lessons the Arts Teach.

    8. Art can help us to be better people

    Can you resonate with somebody going through a pleasurable or traumatic experience? If you can, you may have learned how to empathize. When you were a child, you started to learn these things through stories, games, music, poetry, and so on. It is these experiences that move and transform us from an early age. We are learning how to reach out to our fellow human beings. Science and math can never teach that!

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    9. Art can make you happier

    The British philosopher Alain de Botton has very definite views on how art is displayed in galleries and museums around the world. His book, Art as Therapy is a joy to read.

    De Botton protests that there is far too much emphasis placed on biographical and technical details on the picture label. There should be much more emphasis on how the painting makes us feel and why it creates happiness, contentment, and peace. Monet’s Fruit Trees is a perfect example. Now, how many museum catalogues talk about these feelings and emotions? Not one, I guess.

    Monet2

      10. Art can help you to express your individuality

      All we have to do is look at the street artists who can express a universal language by being totally unconventional, rebellious and risqué.

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      If your desire for creativity is not up to going out at night on a dangerous street art mission, there are other ways to express your individuality. The best of all is cooking. You can explore different tastes and textures with food. It can become a very personal thing. No surprise that people now ask, “What is your signature dish?”

      It is fascinating to observe how food and art have been intertwined through the ages. In early and medieval times, eating and paintings of food were crude to say the least. Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian and he was hoping that cooking would become more inventive by replacing the ubiquitous meat dishes.

      As you slave over that hot stove, just think that cooking is one of the first art forms human beings invented.

      “Cookery is naturally the most ancient of the arts, as of all arts it is the most important.” – George Ellwanger

      Featured photo credit: art/telmo32 via flickr.com

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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