Hard science about soft pastels! And slowing down...
In this recent post by American art therapist Cathy Malchiodi, we learn that there is some evidence to suggest that certain art materials can produce specific beneficial effects - something art therapists have believed for a long time, but have not been able to scientifically 'prove' until now.
In this case, the study found a link between using oil pastels and gouache (water based) paints for just ten minutes, to improved mood, and reduced stress in the body. These effects did not occur when pencils were used. This is very interesting, and we probably should not read too much into it, but there are more studies emerging in the arts and health field, which suggests there is much more to discover about the benefits of art-making in the future.
In the meantime, I have been down a very interesting rabbit hole, which resulted in the arrival of a book called Slow by Brooke McAlary in my post box this morning.
It all started last July, when I attended a quilting weekend in Adelaide, specifically to participate in a class called Slow Journalling by artist Ro Bruhn. This workshop involved dyeing fabric, printing, making a fabric journal, and hand sewing in the journal, which I loved, and which I have been obsessively making ever since, see below for a recent example using Shibori dyed fabric.
I was already interested in the 'slow' movement, and I had definitely heard of slow food (well, I have a slow cooker anyway).
I saw Brooke's Slow book in Folio Books last month, and decided to buy it, after receiving a book token as a 'thank-you' for facilitating an art-making session for medical students at the University of Queensland in April.
I have since listened to a few podcasts by Brooke and her husband Ben, as they detail their 'slow adventure' of selling their home and spending a year travelling slowly around North America, partly to promote the book, and partly as an experiment in slow living. As they both earn their living in creative industries (writing and film-making), they talk about creativity a lot, as well as the benefits of being in nature.
Its mid-winter in the Southern hemisphere. Winter is a great time to slow down and practice some self-care, whatever that means to you. A daily creative practice can help slow us down, and getting out into nature is also very relaxing. If you have some ideas on improving your mood, and increasing relaxation, this could be a good time to practice! Enjoy the school holidays, if you are taking them. I always appreciate the reduced traffic in the city, even if I am still working...it feels like the volume has been turned down a couple of notches. And Breathe...