Art as stress relief: Draw, paint at these Atlanta workshops

Whether in person or virtual, learning to draw or paint can be a hobby that helps your health.
Whether in person or virtual, learning to draw or paint can be a hobby that helps your health.

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Studies have shown that drawing or doodling helps you relax, but the idea has even more merit as a pastime for those who want to increase focus, enhance creativity or boost their mood.

New York magazine considered drawing as one of the best new hobbies to try during quarantine, when folks had extra time to develop the craft and were looking for something with instruction online. Now that people are emerging from their pandemic cocoons, you can still tap the benefits, along with the online instruction, and level up the benefits with in-person art classes or socializing while you paint.

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For the price of a class or a few pads and a set of drawing pencils, it’s hard to beat the advantages of creating art. Research credits the hobby with numerous benefits, even for people who aren’t artistically inclined.

According to a 2017 study published in the Arts in Psychotherapy journal, for example, “Visual self-expression helps with attention and improves health and well-being.” Researchers at Drexel University and the College of New Jersey drew this conclusion after studying participants who engaged in “self-expression tasks” of coloring, doodling and free drawing.

They discovered that overall “the three visual arts tasks resulted in significant activation of the medial prefrontal cortex” and “participants improved in their self-perceptions of problem solving and having good ideas.”

A 2019 study by developmental psychologist Jennifer Drake at Brooklyn College found just 10 minutes of drawing provided a mood boost when participants drew to express or distract themselves over the course of a month. Drake’s findings were published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Even more significant, Drake noted this effect was the same across a range of randomly selected participants, regardless of any artistic skill or promise — or lack thereof.

Ready to tap into all that artsy goodness? Here are locales in Georgia for nurses who want to create artwork, whether you’re a newbie or resuming the hobby:

Studio Sessions: Sculpture in Motion

This July 27 workshop is just one of the single-session art classes for adults offered by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. It takes as its inspiration the concurrent exhibit of Alexander Calder’s mobiles. Class participants construct their own three-dimensional pieces, and materials are provided.

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Art classes for adults at Spruill Center for the Arts

Atlanta’s Spruill Center for the Arts offers classes for adults in various media, including drawing, painting and decorative arts.

Most classes, like beginner or intermediate figure drawing, meet for five to 10 weeks.

There are also dozens of “make and take” sessions, including “Cool Beans Mosaics” and a two-session “Get to Know Watercolor Pencils” workshop.

Vinings School of Art classes for adults

While Vinings focuses on encouraging kids to create and appreciate art, it also offers classes for adults. A few options include seven-session painting classes that include a canvas and supplies, including one daytime option that might be more convenient if you work a night or swing shift. The school also offers one-on-one instruction.

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Social outing art nights

If a group of friends want to paint or you want the benefits of socializing while you create, there are always the classes that meet in the evening and feature adult beverages and the opportunity to paint with a group of jovial classmates. If this is appealing, options in Georgia include Painting With a Twist at several sites throughout the greater Atlanta area, including Alpharetta, and Masterpiece Mixers Paint and Party Studio in Roswell.

Painting With a Twist also offers another fun option for those new to painting or getting back in the swing: At home art kits. They come with the same supplies you’d expect at a social evening and video instruction you can do from home.

And if you just want to try to reap a few benefits by drawing or doodling at home or on breaks, part-time illustrator Liza Corsillo offered these tips in New York magazine’s “The Strategist” column.

She advised newbies to select tools that “encourage you to stay loose and limit self judgement whenever possible. Of course, you can draw with anything you have at home, including your toddler’s crayons and the back of a phone bill. But using slightly nicer materials will make what you’re doing intentional and help you focus.”

To Corsillo, the toughest parts of taking up drawing as a hobby are not judging yourself and figuring out what you should draw. “It’s best to start with everyday objects: a coffee mug, your favorite tchotchke, a can of beans, the fire escape across the street, or the corner of your bedroom,” she advised. “You want something simple and basic and, unlike your roommate’s cat, something that’s not going to move before you’re done.”

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