As a teenage girl, one of my absolute favorite things to do was to catch the train down to the Chicago Art Museum and wander the halls for hours, getting lost in the works of art of Monet, Renoir, Morisot, Whistler and many others. Somehow, when I was there, all my worries melted away and I would be in a world of my imagination.
Viewing a work of art to which I was drawn to was like an open doorway into another universe. It felt like the artist was communicating straight to me and inviting me to come in and explore. And so, I did, at which point it felt like that universe became mine too because I created an illusion of my own back into it. That universe and work of art was alive. It had the power to engage me so fully and bring me into a newly created world in that moment in time. I mean I felt I was myself walking under the Branch of the Seine near Giverny (Mist) which Claude Monet depicts in on the paintings from the series “Mornings on the Seine.” I felt the mist on my skin, as I walked, and imagined what life would be like there in that moment. I was really in it.
It was then that I realized that such art had the power to take me out of any misery I may have been experiencing in life and made me forget my worries. I was feeling calm, peaceful, imaginative and found myself able to create into the future.
More recently, I read a study which spoke about how observing art which you enjoy viewing can actually reduce cortisol in your body which is the so called “stress hormone”, and releases endorphins - the feel-good chemicals that counteract emotional distress.* How about that?
But to me, engaging with art that you really love, is much more than happy chemicals being released in the body. It is a way to inspire us to look at the world a different way, and create within in. This in turn, improves the quality of our lives.
I encourage you to explore the world of art, if you haven’t already, and let it take you on a journey that will create a very positive impact in your life and no doubt, bring some happiness with it.
*Normalization of salivary cortisol levels and self-report stress by a brief lunchtime visit to an art gallery - Angela Clow with Cathrine Fredhoi, University of Westminster 2006.