Multiple appliances and tools for painting

The impact of visual art on brain health

Can admiring works of art and expressing your creativity keep your brain healthy? Learn about the benefits of engaging your artistic side and unleashing your inner Monet.

 This article is presented by Luci, an innovative application designed to promote brain health through a healthy lifestyle.

Creativity to stimulate the brain

Contemplating visual art: A great way to lift your spirits

Drawing, painting, sculpture; whatever your interests, the art that surrounds you is good for the brain and your well-being.

Humans have a natural appreciation of beauty. If you like a work of art, your brain amplifies its colors, brightness and contrasts, giving you an even richer sensory experience. At a glance, the retina—which is made up of essential vision cells—picks up the light reflected from the artwork and converts it into electrical signals that stimulate the brain. All of this activates its reward system and naturally increases dopamine levels, also called the “feel-good” hormone. A bit like enjoying a piece of chocolate, bringing art into your life is good for both the body and soul.

Just looking at a piece of art that you enjoy releases hormones that make you happy!

Admiring artwork, whether in person or online, engages several cognitive functions while providing pleasure. For example, visiting museums or art galleries can stimulate discovery and imagination, give you the opportunity to interact with other people, allow you to recall happy memories and even enrich your vocabulary! And all of this, science says, promotes brain health.

Creating art: Useful benefits for life

In addition to stimulating your creativity, working on an artistic project can promote your personal growth and improve your confidence. 

And that’s not all! Practicing creative activities on a regular basis provides a wide range of scientifically proven benefits.  

  • Introducing yourself to sculpture, watercolor painting, pottery, and similar activities uses the areas of your brain that are associated with memory, attention, organization and fine motor skills.
  • A great deal of scientific research has even established a link between the regular practice of creative activities and prevention of neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Other studies have shown that art therapy soothes symptoms of anxiety and depression and facilitates communication for seniors.  

The art of welcoming creativity in your daily life  

The key to being motivated (and to staying motivated!) is to have fun. To stimulate your artistic side and pique your curiosity, get involved regularly in a project that you find challenging. If possible, practice this activity in a group, since social interactions also help maintain alertness. And remember: it’s the process that counts. Not the outcome. A simple doodle can be downright liberating! 

The following few ideas will help you kickstart your artistic project and let your creativity run wild:  

  • Choose an activity you like and which is suitable for your level.  
  • Fuel your inspiration, for example by observing the patterns in nature or the architecture around you. Write down your ideas so you can come back to them later. 
  • Check out workshops, courses or tutorials online. For beginners as well as for experienced artists, you can find everything on the internet. You could explore free platforms like the DeSerres Creative Space, or go on YouTube to learn the basic techniques of watercolor painting or drawing sculpture. The possibilities are almost endless! 
  • Participate in online cultural activities. Several organizations such as the FADOQ offer a multitude of creative activities for all tastes (art initiation workshops, museum visits, etc.). 
  • Attend webinars or art therapy sessions. Sometimes a stroke of a pen is all it takes to promote wellness. 

Checking out the website of a museum and visiting your local libraries are easy ways to get inspired and uncover new creative pastimes. 

There is no age limit to take an interest in art or start an artistic hobby. Just like you, your brain is constantly learning. Invite art into your life to create the canvas for a healthier life and brain. 

To learn more

"The healing power of art” : a Harvard Health article.  

Through these short video clips, learn the secrets behind the artworks of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  

Why beautiful things make us happy” : the benefits of beauty and art as seen by In a Nutshell.