The obvious and unarguable benefits of engaging in an art class

I have been mentioning in my articles for numerous times how huge the gain from learning drawing, sketching and painting is. I noticed that people rarely paid attention to that, and most of them are still convinced that drawing and painting is only for those who want to be artists or already are involved in creative activities.

However, there is more and more proof that learning and doing arts is a unique activity which boosts brain activity and development of new neurons and their connections that there is no doubt:  drawing, sketching and painting is the best exercise to keep our brain fit, thus, preventing early memory loss and age-related dementia.

I recently read about a new brain fitness trial which was carried out at the Newcastle University in a population of 30 volunteers divided in 3 groups for 8 weeks. One group was walking for 3 hours a week, the second doing puzzles and crosswords, and the third group took part in art class 3 hours a week. All participants were tested before and after their respective activities.

Reference: What’s the best way to fight memory loss?

The best results undoubtedly showed the art group, which is no surprise to me because I’ve observed that during all years of teaching. I would like to just mention that I have been working with student groups of 5-30 people for almost 35 years, and those who did arts quite often excelled in ANY area of their life.

Is everybody able to draw? Yes, everybody is able to draw, but in order to do so they have to learn seeing and processing the object of interest in their brain so that the hand knows what it should be doing.

Along with maintenance of good brain health and memory, it is a fantastic, rewarding leisure activity.

Once one knows how to draw, they can forget about camera, image processing on computer, they can forget about copying photos.

Well, those who want to master drawing from life, must count on 10,000 hours, at least that’s the estimated time frame to learn drawing flawlessly and effortlessly.

Although, the benefits are so obvious, we all know that majority of people will admit they cannot draw. In fact, the truth is they don’t know how to look at something, how to pay attention and how to abstract oneself from other parts and surroundings while drawing one part of an object. The ability to draw is based on our visual ability to process the visual information and to make our brain move the hand with pencil. Basically, the visual perception is the key to drawing.

Therefore, before we draw, we have to learn pay attention and notice relationships between parts of an object, its layout, size and to reproduce this all on a correct scale. That means, most people see things, but they never focus enough to memorize what they see to the extent they could draw this from memory.

What are the usual problems when starting out with drawing, sketching and painting? Well, it depends on whether one is at the class only for the result, or for the process. Process is good for everybody, but results are evident after some longer time. I have sometimes people who want to achieve excellent results right away, in 1 workshop or 1 class, or they think, it’s not worth continuing. While we get better, we can still enjoy a lot and give our brain the necessary exercise.

how to draw still life


Here: drawing and adding first watercolor layers to still life

Detailed drawing which I made much darker in order it was visible

how to draw still life


Rough value sketch for watercolor

Still life sketching

The entire drawing, had to make it darker in order it was visible

how to sketch


Floral detail sketch: when my paper is too small, I do drawing on separate sheets and adjust them on the main painting


how to paint still life


First washes


Second suggestion: watch, learn seeing and exercise focusing ability.

Third: drawing is not the same what copying photos, transferring images from photos or printing off outlines, etc. Once one gets used to flat objects in a photo, they will have much harder times to ever learn drawing in reality. Reproducing photos also does not facilitate the brain activity as drawing for real does.

All people who wanted to participate in drawing and sketching classes noticed soon that they are seeing everything in a different way.

Would you like to boost your memory and have some pleasurable pastime? Join the club. We are starting out next week.

I’m sharing some pictures which show different types of drawing.

We usually draw with very light lines for watercolor painting.

We can sketch out main values if the reference object can go bad or disappear soon.

drawing still life


Creating a drawing or sketch library is a good thing because we can reuse our drawing when we need it again.

how to draw still life


Sketch for painting

drawing still life


Outline drawing for watercolor

apples drawing

Apples, drawing

I actually completed one still life only 3 years later, but since I had a sketch, there was no problem.

In my opinion, the only way to draw is using real objects, real setups or ask somebody to be a model. Everything else is reproducing photos. Some do this very creatively, some not that much, but only drawing for real makes one free and allows not to depend on any devices.

0 Replies to “The obvious and unarguable benefits of engaging in an art class”

  1. I really have done most drawing and painting from photos, but I am going to try and do something from a real object… Not sure what to try first though.. I’ll maybe do some flower or something…. Diane

    1. Very nice! Simply learning to re-create any object is great. I use anything which is in the garden or on the table. However, I’m obsessed with large drawings (eyesight!) and complex things. It’s completely ok to draw 1 leaf or one cucumber, as long as it’s somewhat pleasure.

    1. Well, nobody should be struggling with drawing. Just like I said, we have to exercise the ability to see, therefore, look at that object you are drawing intensely. I am going to continue this post because it started to become too long. I find that many students do not look at the object they draw or paint at all, they look at the paper or canvas all the time, and it should be straight the opposite.

  2. These are beautiful, skilled drawings, and thank you for a very interesting read. I remember in a drawing class I gave, quite a few years ago now, a woman said she had never seen this way before; and was quite fascinated how drawing from keen observation, had opened up a new way of “seeing” things, even when she wasn’t drawing. I found this wonderful to hear. Hope you have a lovely creative day! Cheerio, Janette. 🙂

        1. I think everybody suffers from this condition here and there. I’ve noticed, however, there are people who never have a problem making themselves 100 times more important than they are. You have plenty of great material which simply asks to be published.

        2. I’ve never had ego to spare. I’ve been granted a meager portion I’ve spread out over my art attempts, like too little butter on toast. But I won’t give up, dented ego or not. 🙂

        3. That’s just the right thing to do. We have to keep working on whatever makes the most sense for us. I like this comparison: too little butter on a toast. I know what you mean. I believe it’s better in this case to have too little butter than make everybody eat only butter which is an extremely inflated ego. We are seeing this all over the internet nowadays. I personally prefer people who really have done something, but they don’t expect this to be the message written with the largest letters on every wall.

        4. Yes, everything takes effort and work. Being busy is great, the only drawback of this is we still have to do everything else while rich people can focus only on the area they want to and hire help for all other things. That’s why it’s so complicated: there’s family, laundry, cleaning, dishes, cooking, house and garden and personal things, too. That takes away lots of time which we could otherwise spend on the subject we are most interested in.

        5. That’s the main issue with everything. I was watching some program late at night, and that made me feel very bad because people spend 14 K for 1 night at some resort, and I never make that in 1 year. Not being self-employed, because the globalization and the main trend of cheaper everything does not leave any space for tiny businesses. I am missing a lot private small bakeries and grocery stores where one can buy everything almost home made.

        6. I make way less than that. I simply know that many people are in even a worse situation. For me, some medications are covered, quite a lot are not, but most stuff goes to art supplies and medications. I cannot pay for housing.

        7. Well, you’re doing better than me. I make zilch at the moment. If it weren’t for my hubby, I wouldn’t have time to write at all. I would be working super long hours in an office, and would seldom see my kids.

        8. Nothing nice about that. I have to say the same, if my husband didn’t have patience and understanding how that is when one just spends money on arts and brings in close to nothing, I would be sewing again wedding dresses for others, because I can’t imagine teaching in Canadian schools, kids are very very spoiled here. I also was dealing with all those health issues, pretty much did the minimum and made from arts 3K and from writing 3K last year. Some months zero. This is what I mean, and when I hear somebody spends 14K for 1 night at a resort, I feel that things just don’t add up. I am happy you have a chance to write and I am happy I get some time for arts, although, that’s not often. I have again large dental job about new products to write, that will keep me busy until the end of August.

        9. I know. This is called globalization and everything has to be cheap or it’s not competitive. 10 years ago I could make 30K doing the same. This is how it goes: not good. Thanks to all work going to China and India, believe or not they take there also Latvian texts and do them at an abnormally bad quality. It’s also all devices and CAT tools, voice recognition software, etc.

        10. That isn’t right. It’s destructive to local living. I guess it’s good for developing countries, but bad for anyone trying to make sense of the documentation. And it’s killed some companies here.

        11. This is totally destructive, and it seems just getting worse and worse. I cannot imagine how these governments imagine people can live without work or when work is paid with peanuts? I mean, we work a lot and that just doesn’t result in any income, and that is not right at all. I know, this has killed even fairly large companies, not to mention tiny businesses. It is profoundly awkward and wrong. Outsourcing all work so that some major companies get higher profits is killing lots of jobs here. Not only that, who’s gonna pay taxes if they cannot find work that results in some kind of decent income?

  3. Thank you so very much for continuing to,share with us all your ideas, your encouragement and your enthusiasm, it is infectious and you do get me off my seat and into action.

    1. Thanks Aquileana! I am trying to promote creativity as much as I can since there’s already way too much consumerism and too less personal touch to many things, in fact, I was just thinking I should post on the other blog how much globalization and trending on the Internet makes people loose their personal features, their true identity and the uniqueness which we all are given. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Wonderful Post Inese, and its good to know drawing is health benefit and keeps our brains active.. I get totally absorbed when in my art..
    Loved all of the talent that you have shared .
    Love Sue <3

    1. Thanks Sue! Practically, that’s all one needs: some hours either every day or at least 2-3 times a week of learning about new shapes, objects and value and line relationships, and they might maintain a good brain health. There has been a lot of research, but I don’t think we need any research, whenever I look at all people who are doing a lot of hobbies, arts and crafts at old age, I have to say they all have perfect memory and no sign of brain aging. Drawing is calming and mind cleaning activity, as well. I hope more people go for it!

      1. So do I Inese.. 🙂 and I find that those with such hobbies are ‘in tune’ with themselves, content and focused at the same time.. Its good that science is now seeing this 🙂 .. Thank you also for following my gardening blog.. 🙂 xx

        1. Well, science is desperately seeking for Alzheimer’s cure and also is trying to prevent the brain aging whenever possible. I think most people ignore such things as hobbies with lots of learning on a daily basis because it seems just too simple. The choice is always ours and we mainly are what we consume and what we do or don’t. Well, I also have one more blog, therefore, I know it’s sort of difficult to refer traffic to that, too, because not everybody reads what I’m writing. Have a blessed Sunday!

    1. It definitely does. Art also teaches us decision making hence we need a decision every second or even more frequently, it helps hugely with brain flexibility and visual memory, leading to overall improvement of memory. The more challenging the art task is, the more new neurons one develops and extends the life expectancy of the existing ones. People who do art and artistic exercises have better stress management because they add a very important coping mechanism by first thinking and then doing (which beginners quite often miss) and kids who engage in arts have much better results in all disciples. It’s proven by now that it is the entire brain which participates in creation of something, not the right side. Art has lots of benefits and prevention of age related dementia is just one of them. I watched a program where old people who were at old folks place could participate in visual art programs, some were 85-90 years old and their paintings were amazing, but most of all they decreased the depressive states which accompany people when they don’t have any new challenges in their lives.

Your comment is greatly appreciated