Sarah West: Art’s influence

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“You know art relieves depression,” someone recently told me. Last week, during each studio class, I presented a question. “How does art influence your daily life?” I asked. Each person, varying in age from 5 to 80, provided a unique response.

“During art –when I am painting- I only think about this,” a student answered, while emphatically pointing to the canvas with his paint brush. The conversation continued with analysis and explanation. One shared thought lent itself to another. Even the most candid student seemed compelled to contribute a thought to the ongoing discussion.

A six-year-old explained that art is empowering. “When I learn how to paint and mix colors and I go home and keep practicing… you see, I don’t just paint here. I take what you teach me and keep on painting at home all the time, and I like to share what I do with others,” he said with his expressive Southern accent and confident smile. That same day, a compassionate, and humble middle school student remarked with apprehension events in which the artist experienced bullying. Amid a studio filled with young art students, I stood astonished to learn of this disappointing account. Admittedly I was angered to know that such unfortunate torment had been cast upon the most noble among us. The student went on to explain that after being bullied, the student retrieved a sketchbook and began drawing. “The more I kept drawing, the better I felt.” I continue to reflect upon those words.

In one year, so much can change. In one studio, an outpouring of comfort and concern finds us all  when we need it most. Brushstrokes have marked milestones. From week to week, we recount life events: the birth of a student’s grandchild, the loss of a loved one, many fights against cancer, ability impairments, the winning of a softball game, a band competition, and good grades. I revisit fond memories of the early years, my first students, and weekly in studio we reminisce about each person’s first and often favorite accomplishments.

Art’s influence upon daily life extends far beyond the canvas and drawing paper. The product rendered from the experience serves us as merely a pictorial image or talisman for the process of person. Each work of art serves as a channel by which we grow, we learn to cope and we develop further confidence, ambition and courage. Through the creative process we establish worth and exercise our power and own right determining and proclaiming that our time is valuable. Art is the tangible proof of influence that enriches and empowers our lives.

 Art is Life Expressed – Sarah West, owner of the Sarah West  Gallery of  Fine Art