Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Creativity
Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Creativity
Earlier this week on our Facebook page, we posted a link to Why Quilting Improves Your Health in Ways Even Exercise Can’t Manage, a health study extolling the benefits of quilting (they also refer to other creative endeavors and hobbies) and creativity.
“The University of Glasgow team concluded that all hobbies — ‘from reading to train spotting’ — should be looked at for their mental and physical benefits. They interviewed quilters and found the activity helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being, particularly among older people. The use of bright colours was ‘uplifting’, the activity distracted from the stress of work, and quilting offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side. Professor Jacqueline Atkinson, co-author of the study and a quilter herself for five decades, said: ‘Doing something that engages you and that you enjoy is key. As adults, we don’t often do enough that includes fun and play.”
Interviews of quilters found that the hobby “helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being...
As I have transitioned to my “Dream” business of Artistic Artifacts, I find that my time to create is very limited. If I continue to let the paperwork control my life, the “dream” business will turn into the nightmare. I have to schedule time to create, make sure I touch some fiber and have a portable project. I get cranky, and more, if I ignore these things.
The quilting world specifically has broadened my circle of friends across the country, and the support, encouragement and exchange of information between members in this community of artist business has been unmatched in any other industry I have worked in (and there have been several)! That quilting keeps me healthy can only be enforced by the care of my friends. I created the quilt pictured here for Donna DeSoto’s Inspired by the Beatles: An Art Quilt Challenge, choosing the song titled A Little Help From my Friends. It illustrates how important creativity and friendships are to me.
In this blog posing I’m sharing some thoughts from creative friends about the study’s findings, and we’d love to know what you think too — leave us a comment below, or email us, especially if you’re including a photo of your art (please do, and let us know if we can share it). Comments or emails received by Monday, August 3, 2015 will be eligible for a random prize drawing: I’m putting together a little surprise creativity project starter package! (See our followup post for more thoughts and photos too!)
Kathlyn “Kat” Avila-Reyes (art quilts pictured here) is an amazing artist! She says, “I’ve always enjoyed gathering, touching, and placing bits and pieces of fabric together; it’s cathartic! I especially love vintage fabrics that have come from an old dress or blouse...every small scrap of fabric holds a memory, it’s a small treasure with a lineage of times gone by.
“Placing each little piece together is like a puzzle of goodness, of ‘I remember when....’ or an imaginative time of dolls, tea parties, and aunties stitching hems. I get totally lost in the stories my fabrics tell, they are as comforting as a grandmother’s hand and hot tea on a cold night. What can get any better than that?”
Fiber and mixed media artist, author and teacher Diane Herbort thinks that one big benefit to being involved in quilting and other types of fiber arts is “I always have something to look forward to. It is an incentive to get all the ‘regular’ work done. You could say it is the nice colorful carrot dangling from the stick that is the drudgery of life and work.”
Creating as a form of motivation...I can get behind that concept! Diane’s art quilt Reverie is pictured here, consisting of painted and printed paper, cotton fabrics and metallic trims and machine stitching (click photo for a larger view). Visit Diane’s website for more of her lovely work.
“I believe friendships are formed through shared experiences,” writes Cyndi Zacheis Souder of Moonlighting Quilts. “The friends I’ve made through quilting are the core of my social circle. I care about them, I rely on them, I treasure them.
When I lost my sister to ovarian cancer, my quilting friends kept me afloat. When I need opinions, help, or good conversations, they are there. They are my tribe. I would not have found these amazing friends if we did not have quilting in common.”
Pictured here is a celebration quilt Cyndi created, a portrait of her sister Vicki that is titled Memories.
On Saturday, August 8, 2015 Cyndi will be teaching Designing Meaningful Memory Quilts at our shop, where you can learn to draft an original quilt design that pays tribute to the memories of the original owners of treasured linens, clothes, photographs, etc.
“The happy dance I do when my quilt project is coming together is far more beneficial than the exercise tapes gathering dust on my shelf.”
The above quote is from Chris Vinh of StitchesnQuilts. Okay, so now who out there is going to cross-stitch that into a sampler for me? ☺
Chris does amazing quilting and fiber art — visit her Etsy site to view. Shown here is a quilting and beaded batik panel by Mahyar. Chris has created so many beautiful samples for me to display in the shop and show off how creatively these materials can be used.
“Art has a great effect on my mental, spiritual and physical health,” writes Etta Stewart. “I have learned that I need that time each day to focus on something other than daily living, and the other is to take myself on an art date.
“Last week, my art date happened to be going to Quilt Odyssey with friends. I wanted to share the experience of seeing our Blue ribbon with other quilter friends.” (Etta and her friends won First Place in the Group Quilt category for Kaleidoscope of Colors, pictured above; detail below.)
Etta shared that she and her friends spent a total of seven hours at the quilt show, between viewing the quilts and perusing the merchants mall. Obviously that counts as physical exercise too! Visit Etta’s Pinterest boards to see some of the many ways she fills her creative well.
“Managing stress isn’t always easy for me,” shares Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution. “First born, over achiever, go, go goer that sort of says it all. The best medicine I have found is what I call Stitch Meditations. I tried for years to do ‘real’ meditation. It just never took and I always felt like I was doing it wrong. But, I knew I needed a stress reducer that was simple and didn’t take much time to do. I love both machine and hand stitching and I find both very relaxing. However the tactile nature of hand stitch won over and I started creating simple small collages using only hand stitch.”
One of Liz’ stitch meditations is pictured here — visit her website gallery to see many more. “These meditations are really important to my mental health not only because I slow down and enjoy the meditation,” says Liz, “but they give me a sense of connection to my art on a daily basis…even when life has me otherwise occupied.”
NiYa Costley, a friend from Judy’s Altered Minds, (JAMs) notes that “I can't quilt when I am upset — spend too much time with the seam ripper if I do. I can crochet though. Get lots done because I move even faster than normal when I am upset....and it does serve to calm my nerves.” Pictured here is some of her beautiful crochet work.
“I also will do Zentangle as a way to calm and allow my mind to freely roam,” says NiYa, who feels that her membership in JAMS has allowed her “to meet new artists who do different kind of things that I had never considered before, like Kinetic Quilting, and entering juried shows like the recent Mixed Media show at Del Ray Artisans Gallery.”
Read our followup post for more thoughts and photographs from our Creative Minds.