Photo Credit: Rifka Schonfeld

 This book is for people who don’t have time to read it.

You don’t have a second to catch your breath.

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To smell the roses or the coffee.

Your life is getting more and more full and crazy.

Which is why you need to add one more thing to your to-do list: Make art.

Seriously, art? Yup.

 

That’s the dedication page of a wonderful new book for kids and adults entitled Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are. In it, Danny Gregory, a busy advertising executive, explains why we need art in our everyday lives and gives us the tools to incorporate it in a meaningful way in just five minutes a day.

In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published a review titled “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public.” In that article, Drs. Heather Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel review one hundred studies that have analyzed the relationship between creativity and both mental and physical health. The overwhelming conclusion: Art-based interventions are effective in reducing physiological and psychological outcomes of health issues. That means that according to medical science, art can have a positive effect on your health.

In addition, Dr. Robert Epstein of Harvard University published an article in Psychology Today entitled “Capturing Creativity.” In it he explains that greater creativity leads to greater happiness. The process of creating is itself a source of happiness for many people. In addition, creative powers help us work through the small problems that we encounter on a daily basis. To that end, Epstein points out four ways to boost creativity in your life: capturing, challenging, broadening, and surrounding. But, that’s enough material for another article!

Danny Gregory makes a similar claim to the American Journal of Public Health and Psychology Today about why art is important in our lives. He explains:

 

Making art will make you saner and happier

You don’t need to think you have “talent” to make beautiful art

Art making can fit into the craziest, busiest, most hectic and out of control lives – even yours.

And it’ll take just a few fun minutes a day.

 

Gregory argues that in an ever-changing world, art is a way to mold the world to our specifications – to make sense of it. “Creativity isn’t a luxury. It’s the essence of life. It’s what distinguishes us from the mush. And it’s why our ancestors survived while other less adaptive critters perished. They responded to change by being creative in some way, by inventing a new answer to the chaos.”

 

Below are some of the benefits of making art on a daily basis:

            Be here. Now. When you draw or paint the world around you, you see it as it actually is. You are forced to clear your mind and really look at the things around you. In a sense, art is like meditation. It allows you to fully reside in one place. And, all you need is a pen and paper. Incidentally, you don’t need to work with a real piece of paper. You can use a post-it note or the back of envelope. It’s not the product, but the process that is important.

            Tell Your Story. If you do choose to use a sketchbook, and spend 5-10 minutes a day sketching, you will be creating short vignettes of your life. Through your sketches, you will be telling a story of your life in bite-size pieces. Your art will help frame the important moments and allow you to distinguish between the mundane and the sublime.

            A Different View. When you draw an object, even if it’s not perfect, it can take on beauty. There’s a lot of beauty in a piece of toast with a bite out of it, a chipped washing cup, or the fine lines on your hand. Creating art allows you to recognize the beauty around you, even if you didn’t originally know that it existed.

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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.
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