Art and the human experience

Illustration of a person painting.For Shanda Stinebaugh, graduate teaching assistant and instructor for Fine Arts 102, 2D Art and Design, art is an anchor.

“It’s a way to process what’s happening right now,” she said. “It is a way of taking chaos in our heads and doing something with it, rather than just feeling depressed or anxious.”

Joe Hedges, assistant professor of painting and intermedia, agrees: “Art is central to the human experience. Setting aside some time to be creative during the day, whether that’s cooking, knitting, doing a sketch or something to kind of release that creative energy can be really healthy.”

Art and other creative practices “can help us through dark times,” said Hedges. “It’s not only a way to destress, but to express your emotions as well. We all have a desire to be heard, seen or affirmed in different ways. It’s valuable to be able to make something and to just take pride in it.”

Getting started

As American artist and The  Joy of Painting host Bob Ross once said, “You can do anything here — the only prerequisite is that it makes you happy.”

Stinebaugh said art you create is not meant for other people, but for yourself, especially right now. While we sit in isolation, making art allows you to get things out of your head and onto paper.

For beginning artists or those just starting to explore mediums, Stinebaugh recommends looking for materials found at home that you can repurpose, like junk mail or sticks found outside, as well as basic materials like crayons and colored pencils. Keeping a sketchbook and drawing every day is another way to get comfortable with creating art.

If drawing doesn’t work, try another art form, like ceramics or sculpting. She said it’s important to try new things until something clicks.

“You have to plug past that phase where what you see in your head doesn’t match what you are doing, and just know that over time, what you see can be something that you create,” Stinebaugh said.

Hedges said some people can be held back by the fear of rejection or judgment toward the final product of something they create, but he believes the key to getting over that comes with “a little bit of tenacity and practice.”

Although Stinebaugh loves to draw, when she first got into the art realm, she felt like she didn’t know what she was doing. Eventually, she overcame both personal and professional struggles to be where she is right now.

“[Art] has really given me purpose,” she said.

Top image: artwork by Dorothy Greenhalge (via Daily Evergreen)

Adapted from the original story by Portia Simmons, Daily Evergreen