We Care Arts

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Art and The Self

Ah Thursday… the week is drawing to a close and our thoughts are beginning to drift to our plans for the weekend.  Are you doing something exciting, a vacation or an outing?  Are you busy with chores and errands, not getting to enjoy your weekend at all?  Or are you, like this writer, planning on doing absolutely nothing?  Regardless of your plans (and especially if you’re like me and don’t have big plans), it’s always good to try to do something positive for your health, right?  That could be taking the time to cook a delicious, healthy dinner, going for a nice long walk, or maybe doing some art.  Yes, you did read that right, ART!  Spending a couple of hours a week engaging in the creative process can have more benefits for your personal health than many of the other “healthy” activities we partake in daily.  This news to you? Here are the facts!

The mental health benefits of art are numerous, and have been supported by study after study.  The creative process is a joyful one for most people, as the freedom that creativity allows promotes mindfulness and a sense of peace and satisfaction.  While many artists and art lovers can attest to the feelings of joy they experience while engaging in their creative hobby, this happiness can be backed up by science.  Not only does creating art relieve stress, focus your mind, and boost self-esteem, it can improve the physical chemistry of your brain!

As modern science tells us, human beings are basically controlled by the chemicals in our brains.  The presence of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and the balance of the three determines how motivated, how alert, how obsessive, how anxious, how happy or sad we are; they dictate the essence of our being.  It has been proven that creating or viewing art increases dopamine in the brain, creating feelings similar to that of romantic love.  Everyone loves a dopamine rush, but in individuals experiencing emotional disabilities, this can be especially effective.  Both depression and anxiety are caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain, so that extra boost of dopamine that art can provide can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone experiencing one of these diseases. 

A study at the University of Erlangen Hospital in Germany explored the effects of visual art production on brain function in which they studied two groups, one of which who was enrolled in a weekly drawing and painting class, the other in an art history class.  After the ten week testing period had concluded, the drawing and painting group showed significantly improved psychological resistance, meaning they experienced increased self-awareness and improved memory and thought processes.  While this all may sound very scientific, the results are simple; art is good for your brain! It helps you to see the world in a different way, to be more aware of what is happening around you and helps you to respond to it in a more thoughtful way.  Art literally helps you clean out the cobwebs in your brain.

Additionally, the improved psychological resistance helps foster healthier brain tissue, which is very important for us as we age.  Consistent exposure to creativity can help us stay sharp into our eighties and nineties, and who wouldn’t want that?

Here at We Care Arts, we believe in harnessing the healing powers of art.  Through a variety of creative outlets, our artists improve their physical and cognitive functions, gain confidence in their creative abilities, and enjoy the positive mental benefits of collaborating on creative projects. 
Our artists are also able to improve their communication skills and express themselves in ways they might not otherwise be able to.  Any kind of art, be it photography, crafting, painting, or simple doodling, stimulates different parts of the brain. 

Helping people increase confidence and independence through art is the root of the mission at We Care, but as research continues to roll in, we are learning that our mission has far more perks than just helping people fall in love with the creative process and having tons of fun.  We are helping people improve their brains, and we love that!  The best part is, anyone can do this!  So if you’re having a bad day, are in a slump, or are just looking to make a change in your life, start a project!  It doesn’t have to be too ambitious, even a simple doodle can do the trick. 
Happy creating! 
If you think this is as interesting as we do, follow some of the links below and feed that healthy brain of yours!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Collaborative Design Project - Bockrath

One of the best parts about We Care Arts is the diverse cross section of projects that our clients are encouraged to try.  It isn’t just colored pencils and paper here, our clients have the opportunity to experiment with a huge variety of mediums.  In the past few months, we’ve had groups use oil pastels on velvet board, bead, weave, create designs using tiles and glass, paint glass, upcycle furniture, make jewelry, paint model airplanes, work with clay, oh how the list goes on!  There is always an exciting new project in the works, and our most recently commissioned project is no exception.

We Care Arts is partnering up with local flooring and rug company Bockrath Flooring to create a one of a kind masterpiece floor tapestry to be sold at our annual auction in March.  The best part?  It will feature a design created by one of our clients.

A few weeks ago, a representative from Bockrath came into We Care to show examples of designs and the available colors, and encouraged our clients to draw from their imaginations to design a uniquely spectacular rug.  The challenge presented; to focus on curvatures and geometric patterns, utilizing bold design and contrast (as the medium doesn’t allow for a lot of detail).  This stipulation will challenge some of our artists to venture outside of their typical comfort zone, an exciting prospect that will undoubtedly yield terrific designs!  As you can see in the picture to the right, the gears were turning right away even as we just starting discussing the project!

Once the designs are completed, one will be selected by Bockrath’s customers online and brought back to the Bockrath studio where 2 veteran rug artisans will transform the drawing into a full sized statement rug, BY HAND!  Our clients will be welcomed to watch this transformation take place, to see their design come to life while also learning a bit about the process of making rugs. 

Our clients are not new to having their designs transformed into different products – just over the summer, 3 clients’ work was featured by the website We Are Lions, and was reproduced as shower curtains, bags, and cell phone cases (still available, if you're interested)!
Make sure to look out for the rug at our annual auction on March 11th!  We’ll be sure to post a picture once the project is complete!  We’re getting very excited to see this process continue, because as we’ve heard, a good rug can really tie a whole room together. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Project of the Month - DIY Wind Chimes

By the time February rolls around, we are all finding ourselves aching for the return of spring.  To bring a little bit of warmth into We Care, Terry’s Tuesday class decided to make some floral wind chimes out of recycled bottles!  This open ended project allows for all sorts of creativity, and a dynamic sensory experience.  Here’s how you can complete this fun (and sustainable) project on your own, in only a couple of short hours!
*NOTE: the preparation for this project requires some skill and tools

Empty glass bottle – any kind! We used wine bottles, but any size or shape will do!
Wine corks
Rubbing alcohol (acetone will work as well)
Acrylic paint – any colors!
Paintbrushes (or your preferred method of paint application)
Beads – any size
Copper coil tape
¾ hooks

Feel free to incorporate any other materials you have lying around the house!  Our teacher Diane was in and out of our craft room throughout the class bringing out strings of beads, pieces of glass, crystals, and many other miscellaneous knick knacks that could be incorporated in the project! Just remember, if you plan to hang your wind chime outside, use materials that can handle the elements!

There is a bit of preparation to be done before the creativity can begin, but don’t let this intimidate you!  We ran out of bottles halfway through class and Diane prepped more in only a few minutes.

First, you are going to need to cut the bottom off the bottle.  There are several different methods of accomplishing this, depending on the resources you have at your disposal, but three simple methods can be found HERE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxKZ8hhcmvg) .
Once the bottle is cut and smoothed (we used wet/dry sandpaper), you are going to need to strip the label off.  If peeling it doesn’t do the trick, a bit of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel or cotton ball will remove any adhesive residue.  Wash the bottle after you are finished with this, to ensure that the paint will stick to the glass.

Now, the fun part!  Pick any and every color paint you want and decorate your bottle with whatever inspires you!  Below are some of our artists’ chimes-in-progress to give you some ideas!

Our artists all took different approaches to decorating the outside of their bottles; a few painted directly on them, one wrapped wire around the bottle, one painted on wax paper and then placed his designs onto the bottle like stickers, and one didn’t paint his bottle at all, emphasizing the original label design and creating elaborate, decorative chimes.

The chimes are made of beading, or wire/string with beads tied to them.  Get creative here too!  Different materials will make different sounds when they come in contact with the bottle, so experiment with anything you have lying around!  We used lots of beads (wooden, glass, and plastic), glass ornaments, wire, and chain, but the sky is the limit here!  Although we didn’t have any handy, one artist mentioned incorporating CD’s, as the light reflecting off of them produces rainbows.
*NOTE: while placing your decorations, or “clangers” as we call them here, make sure they are placed at a length along the wire or chain that it will come in contact with the bottle.  If they are all hanging out of the bottom of the bottle, the chimes won’t chime!

 Assembly and Finishing Up:
Screw the hook into the top of the wine cork, and attach the chimes to the hook using pliers.
Reinsert the cork into the neck of the bottle, with the chimes hanging down into the open bottom of the bottle. 
We wrapped the bottom edge of the bottle with copper coil tape, to help keep the bottle from cracking or shattering while it moves.
Hang on your porch or in your favorite sunlit window and enjoy!!

If you fell in love with one of our artist’s creations, they are available for purchase in our gift shop at 3035 Wilmington in Kettering OH!  Proceeds go to the artist and back into We Care Arts to ensure that our artists have a space and materials to continue their craft.