When I was a child I liked to make pencil drawings of birds. Fifty-plus years later, I no longer have any of those sketches, but I vividly recall that they weren’t all that bad. They probably weren’t drawings I made while observing birds at the bird feeder—birds don’t stay still for long—but, more likely, they were copied from my parents’ bird guide. But they were faithful and careful drawings that anyone would have recognized not only as birds but as cardinals or chickadees or whatever bird species I drew that day.
Drawing Is Great For The Brain
Maybe you liked to draw as a child but, like me, buried your visual creativity as school, jobs, and families became priorities. Even if you have never picked up a pad and pencil, you should consider drawing as a retirement pastime for both its inherent pleasures and its proven cognitive benefits. A study published in 2014 titled “How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity” compared changes in neural connectivity in two groups of post-retirement adults, one that took a ten-week art class, and another that took a ten-week art appreciation class evaluating artwork in a museum. Functional MRI testing after the “interventions” showed improved brain functioning in the art class group, and psychological testing showed gains in resilience in that group, too.
Drawing Classes are Everywhere
So buy that sketchpad and pencil set today, and you’ll soon want to take a class to improve your skills. (In a class you’ll meet other aspiring artists; this will add a valuable dose of socializing to your day.) This will add Fortunately, inexpensive art classes are widely available across the United States. I chose three medium-sized communities at random, and this is what I found:
Boise, Idaho: Take an eight-week “Beginning Drawing 1” class for $120 with Boise artist Kevin McCain.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Take a four-week class in “Figure Drawing” for $85 at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.
Rochester, New York: Take a six-week “Basic Drawing” class for $170 at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery.
There’s sure to be a drawing class somewhere near you, too!
(More Tuesday Tips here.)