Tapping into the Secret of Power of Art

martian creature made of K'nex

Is this a toy, or is it art?

We all need a break from work

Yesterday most of us enjoyed a day off. We may have spent the day at a backyard barbecue, playing a round of golf or puttering around the house, but whatever the activities, we took a break from our normal work. Most of us needed it.

Our modern calendar is sprinkled with such holiday weekends. Mankind has understood the importance of holidays for thousands of years. Taking periodic breaks from our daily work is good for us. It rejuvenates our thinking and our enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, we cannot take a holiday whenever we want one. But we can find ways to renew ourselves even in the midst of our daily routine. Prayer and meditation is one such technique.

Making art is another.

The power of creating

Many of us know instinctively that activities like gardening, cooking or writing can be therapeutic. Scientific studies confirm that engaging in creative activities helps combat negative emotions, reduce stress, improve overall health and enhance our capacity to think. That’s right, flexing our creative muscles is not only fun, it’s good for us. However, just like physical exercise, we benefit the most when we do it regularly.

Whether you consider yourself to be a creative person or not, you are made in God’s image, and therefore have the capacity to create. There is a piece of us that comes alive when we exercise that capacity. Our masterpieces can be a flower bed, a delicious meal, or a puppet show with the grandkids. Art is anything that comes from inside you, anything that springs from your creative spirit.

sandcastle 1

This is art.

sandcastle 2

And so is this.

Making time for art

But how often do we ignore that creative part of us? How often do we allow the busyness of life, or the drive to succeed at work, or the importance of our ministry efforts to swallow up every spare hour, leaving no time or energy for “unproductive” activities like art? And those of us who work in creative fields can be just as guilty, so focused on our work-in-progress that we forget to take time to make art just for the sake of making art.

On top of that, it is much too easy, when feeling stressed or burned out, to pick up the remote and simply veg. In this world where information and entertainment are only a click away, we need to rediscover the benefits of disconnecting. We need to stop consuming and create something instead.

I know it’s true in my own life. Many of my happiest moments occur when I am absorbed in creating something—a new story, the backdrop for a play, a scrapbook page, a sandcastle. It doesn’t really matter what I’m creating, the joy is in the doing. And yet weeks go by when I plod through life, doing what is necessary, but not taking the extra effort to make something just for fun.

Taking my own advice

So last week I decided to reform myself. I took a trip to my favorite basket shop and let the vast assortment of designs inspire me. I came home with several patterns and a modest amount of dyed reed. (I still have plenty collecting dust in the back of a closet.) And last weekend I scrapped my writing goals and made a basket.

It felt good.

And the basket turned out pretty nice, too. I guess it’s like riding a bike, the old skills come back, even if it’s been a while.

basket being rimmed

A basket in the final stages.

How about you? When was the last time you created something new or unique, just for the delight of making it? Today? Last week? Last year?

If you can’t remember, maybe you need to take a creativity holiday and make some art.

Related posts:

When “Unproductive” is a Good Thing

Don’t Let This Happen

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