Art Is Good For Us

NOT in the slow lane, YET

The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. NOT in the slow lane, YET is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will be health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear at least once a month on my website or by email if you choose. Come walk with me.

Oil paintings from my July 2023 exhibit



Art is good for me whether I  see it,  or  feel it, or create it.   It increases my happiness, lowers my anxiety, boosts my creativity, and stimulates my mind.

I felt the effects of art as a small child in a one-room rural school in Wisconsin.   It did not come from taking  art classes.  Our solo teacher had more than forty students in grades 1-8 to teach reading, writing and arithmetic.  There was  little time to teach art.  I spent hours with a box of cards having  a picture of art on one side and a story about the artist on the other.  I tried to reproduce the art with pencils and crayons.  Drawing was pleasing.  It was an opportunity for self-expression.  Dreaming that I might see an  original piece of art from my cards in a museum in France, or Spain, Italy, or England was inspirational.  It gave me a purpose in life.

As an adult, I was fortunate to be able to travel to many countries where I saw great works of art. My husband enjoyed art too.   Our first destination  in a  country was usually an art museum. It was exciting to see the  magnificent sizes of some paintings and the surprisingly small sizes of others. I always enjoyed contemporary art, more abstract than representative art.    I collected art, at least as much as I could afford.  That gave me a sense of purpose.  I was connected to the world through art. 

When I retired I decided to learn to paint.  For the past twelve years, I  have taken art classes online, in a cultural arts center, and from four local artists.  I currently take zoom classes from an artist.  Talking through my work with instructors and observing others has helped me improve my skills.   It is therapeutic for a slight essential tremor that has developed in my right hand.  Even as I sometimes struggle using small brushes, I tell myself,  “This is good for me.” It improves my hand-eye coordination, my problem-solving skills, and attention.  

 I took human figure painting three hours a week for five years.  I was intently involved in trying to bring the personality and form of the model onto canvas.  After the three hours of  painting, I was in a Zen mood as I put down my brushes and observed my  art. It blew away feelings of anxiety and depression.  It helped focus my mind.   During times of challenges, it helped stimulate my mind and improve my sense of well-being.  

Through painting, I developed an artsy friendship group,  a mixture of ages and backgrounds born through painting together.  We helped one another with art projects,  visited exhibits together, and developed a fondness for one another.  I miss being an active  part of those groups.  My world has gotten a little smaller without them.  Carrying all my supplies and parking downtown to take part in group instruction is getting difficult. Getting to evening show openings is difficult.   I‘ve switched to zoom with an art teacher and the companionship of a few artists in my care facility.  We have a lovely art studio where I can leave my easel and supplies.  Life is still exciting,  and art is still immensely enjoyable.

Creating art is challenging.  I make a few accommodations to age and  declining endurance. I have trouble painting  fine lines and small  objects. So, I go bigger and more abstract.    I find it hard to paint for three hours, so I am happy to paint for an hour or so at a time.  I am so happy that I can still find joy in art.   It improves my emotional and mental well-being whether it is by creating it  or seeing it or feeling it.

Visit an art museum. Create your own piece of art.   It is never too late to learn to draw, paint, and sculpt. Most communities have senior art classes.  There are online tutorials about how to start an art project.  Many are excellent. 

Want to know more?

Mental Health Foundation (UK)  How Arts Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

The Mental Health Benefits of Art: Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups

.Everyone can create art…imagination.