How art can help you be happy + well

 

Did you know that our own levels of happiness result from 50% genetics, 10% circumstance and situations, and 40% results from our intentions and effort? Long-term happiness is due to our own personal effort and striving to live a meaningful existence.

There’s also what’s called being in a state of ‘flow’ which is where, like mindfulness, you are completely engaged and consumed by what you are doing, with little or no awareness of time, and feel a strong sense of creative drive and focus to complete a task.

The level of one’s positive emotions increases from engaging in something that creates this depth of flow. It must challenge us in some way to encourage us to grow, develop and improve.

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I’ve created art in one way or another for as long as I can remember. I grew up with a rather creative family and there wasn’t one of us that couldn’t be found making something. I was a storybook maker and writer, a builder or constructor, an artist and a musician as I was growing up. All children start off with an innate creativity that brightens their smiles and engages their souls. It’s as we grow older that we slowly step away from our creativity due to discouraging words, negative feedback, interests of other kinds or simply laziness. As an adult, today my passion lies with painting and drawing and there isn’t a day of the week where I won’t be drawing something.

I can easily describe myself as a positive individual with an optimistic view of the world and enthusiasm for life. This has been partly influenced by my family and through life experiences, but also due to my own motivation for developing a positive attitude and enjoying what life has to offer. There are many things that contribute to my happiness and wellbeing but I have never been happier than when I’ve been sat down with my sketchbook and drawing materials. Believe it or not I actually immensely enjoyed high school because I was given time to pursue my passions through my lessons and assignments, in particular of course, visual art.

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I’ve read that drawing is a way of being mindful; a meditative practice. Drawing or painting of any kind is something that I find captures my immediate and whole attention. Time is forgotten, the world around me disappears and I become so engrossed in making pencil marks or mixing watercolours to create something beautiful. My skill has developed over time and it has taken many years to get to where I am. My skills, personal style, and preference for subject matter are ever changing and the process of learning new skills and acquiring these is one of the things that make creating art so wonderful.

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My subjects are primarily natural; plants or insects. I also like to draw and paint female faces as well as children and animals. I draw these subjects because I find them beautiful and there’s something about them, specifically plants that inspires me and fills me with awe. Drawing these things also creates a calmness within my practice and it’s less about the final product and more about the process. I find drawing details of leaves and seeds particularly meditative as they require so much concentration and pencil control, and once finished it produces such satisfying results that gives me a sort of euphoria. Such deep engagement in a creative process really does prove to me how art can be a form of mindfulness and results in relaxation, enhanced awareness and lower stresses and anxiety.

One problem with loving drawing so much is the constant sitting involved. Sitting at desks is not good for your spine and hips and with the back problems I have I certainly notice when I’ve been sitting for too long. When I need a break I go for a walk either at the National Park or the local beach. During these walks I have time to get out of my drawing headspace, take a refreshing look at things around me and appreciate what I have in my life. The fresh air, sights and smells enables my creativity to continue to flow without hesitation and replenishes me. When I’m out for my walks I often find little bits of nature that inspire me to create images and sometimes I take photos or place the natural items carefully into my bag to take home and sketch.

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I work part-time as an early childhood teacher and outside of these hours I spend nearly all my time painting or drawing. Drawing is my one true love and I am mesmerized how one single object such as a drawing pencil can create so many different marks and meanings to represent something. Working part time has enabled me to pursue my passion in creativity. Of course, money is tight but I couldn’t be more content with my weekly routines and it is very important for me to find time to remove my stressed out teacher headspace and replace it with calm and clarity from doing the things I love. Art is my saviour; if I come home stressed, I grab a cup of tea and sit down to my sketchbook. Or I grab my iPad to surf Pinterest and Instagram in search of mediums to draw and recreate into artworks. If I’m having a hard day or week, thinking momentarily of what ideas I have to get down on paper and thinking of times to sit down and create them calms me and helps me push through the difficulties knowing there will be time for recovery during my drawing.

Happiness comes from being involved in meaningful (I can’t stress that word enough!) experiences and finding the things you love and doing them. Happiness is all about ‘doing’ and ‘being’, not ‘having’. For me, drawing is the main source of my happiness and I ensure time is prioritized for me to enjoy doing the things I love.

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You can find me and my artwork on my website http://chloe-duffin.squarespace.com or on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/ForestandFolk

Chloe Duffin

Chloe Duffin

I live in Adelaide as a part-time illustrator and part-time kindy teacher. My artwork has a strong focus on nature as this is a huge passion of mine and I can’t get enough of the natural environment. I try to promote positivity, wellbeing, mindfulness, compassion, love, health and joy through my illustrations as I believe these make the foundation of a meaningful existence. Find me on Instagram @chloeduffin08; Facebook - Chloe Duffin Illustration; Etsy - ForestandFolk and Society6.
Chloe Duffin

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