LT ARTicle October 2012 | Need to chill? Take the ‘Art’ pill by Saskia Fernando

I may have to close down my gallery for saying this, but it is a fact that the majority of artists tend to be rather mad in some way or form. Take Van Gogh cutting off his left ear or Picasso’s notorious womanizing, for decades artists have lived their lives extrovertly and extraordinarily. One would question, is it artistic expression that makes artists’ characters so unique? The debate of the chicken and the egg could easily ensue, however with the growing use of art therapy for people with emotional trauma, convicts and patients suffering from various other psychological difficulties, the similarity between those who are drawn to art seems to lie in the mind.

Let’s start at the beginning by asking ourselves how we feel when we look at a work of art. Very often darker works make us less amused and decorative or spiritual paintings make us feel calmer. This is the simplest way to look at a human beings relation to art. For someone who has been looking at art for many years, the eye begins to comprehend beauty in a more complex manner. Beauty is defined by the skill of the artist and the intensity of the concept that lies beneath their work. A black swan with swirls around it can bring out an intense emotion within the viewer. Words from a song written by an artist can take one back to the past. Politically expressive work can invigorate the way in which one expresses ones own political opinions. This is the effect that art has on viewers and is responsible for that underlying joy that every collector possesses. The pleasure that leads them to fill rooms with paintings that appear to possess very little purpose.

Art therapy facilitates artistic creation to heal the human mind. Post-tsunami organizations worked with young children to aid them in dealing with the psychological effects and the large painting of a woman and child outside our local prison is proof that art therapy is being used for convicts locally. For those with the simple need for relaxation, art is a method of meditation that calms the mind and acts as a means of externalizing emotions.

So how does one start appreciating art? Simple really, just visit galleries and exhibitions. It’s as simple as knowing what you like and don’t like and trying to understand why it affects you in that way. Begin by looking at a work and observing your reaction to it. It may not affect you at all; there are many who prefer to have art that does not affect them emotionally or psychologically and this is a personal choice. This process of observation can build your confidence and help you get to know yourself. If you wish to take it one step further these galleries will also have information on where you can take art classes locally. You will certainly gain gratification and a sound mind by sketching your flower vase on a notepad rather than staring at the computer screen every evening, and who knows, you may just be Sri Lanka’s next Frida Kahlo.

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