Creating Positive Environments, Part 1: Using Art

One of our most active senses is sight. What we see can affect our outlook and attitude by how its counterpart, our brain, perceives visual information that it filters through its memory banks. You can improve the odds and therefore your attitude and outlook by creating environments that are viewed as positive. Here, in part one, the positive effects of using art will be explored.

Art, in two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) forms, can be pleasing to the eye and the mind in a variety of ways. Our minds enjoy problem-solving. From the simple to the complex, figuring things out is one of its favorite past-times. The other is rest. That is why art is attractive. Some art appeals to its thoughtful aspects and some to its restful ones. The, the subconscious and conscious come into the picture. When all aspects are in sync with each other is when you receive the greatest amount of pleasure from it. Although the conscious mind might not like a Picasso your subconscious part might think it is speaking its language.

Art is a language, a symbolic one, literally. Some symbols are put down simply as a straight line, a geometric shape, or a primary color. Others are more complex as symbols are combined to make a flower, a house in a forest, or a sail boat crashing the ways near an island with stilted huts. Just because something appears simple, however, does not mean that it is interpreted that way by the subconscious. For it, a red circle on a black background can say a whole lot of things to some people because of how it is perceived and interpreted. My artwork, therefore, might appeal to one type of person where a Rembrandt would appeal to another. Again, it is not the simplicity or complexity of the work, as my contemporary art can be very complex in design, too. It is the subconscious language that is spoken and how our brain is wired to understand it.

There are several ways to create a positive environment with art. The first is to disregard that notion that all the colors in the artwork need to match your sofa or your overall décor. Choose what feels good to you. Don't deny it, no matter what. In my bedroom, I have a large painting on canvas, four small paintings on canvas hung in a series, and a medium size wall sculpture. The shapes and colors are bold, bright, and primary. None of the subject matters coordinate. My choices were made because when I open my eyes in the morning, I see these cheerful pieces and they make me smile. What a way to start the day, huh?

Second, consider original artwork, that which comes directly from the artist?s creative hands. This includes artist pulled prints. There is an energy that I believe is palpable from such work. There are remnants of handprints, brushstrokes, hammers, and polishers, in other words, elbow grease. Even manufacturers are adding textured glazes to their prints to try to make them look more original. Original art has the spirit of the artist in it. Manufactured art has the spirit of the machine that made it. In a small hall leading to the bedrooms, hung salon-style, floor to ceiling, is a montage of works done in neutrals, blacks, whites, grays, and beiges. They feel restful and relaxing as I view them from my living room. Subject matter ranges from abstract to realistic. They are in pencil, charcoal, pastels, and inks. They are interesting singly and as a grouping.

Most people do not realize how affordable original artwork still is. So, if you like the colors of Matisse or the forms of Moore, there are other artists out there doing similar work today. Artists study other artists. Visit local galleries where they feature local or emerging artists. Check out the internet. Go to local art shows especially the smaller ones. Do an experiment for me. Replace a manufactured print with an original work of art. After a few weeks or a month, although you might notice it immediately, let me know what you think.

Spaces that appeal to our sense of sight can be created simply and affordably with art. They then become positive environments in which you can do your best work and living. Creating a positive environment with art is all about you.

Copyright 2005 Kathy Iwanowski. All Rights Reserved.

Kathy Iwanowski, a former cancer nurse and manager, creates art, speaks, and writes about creative living and work. Her articles, editorials, and reviews on art, business, creativity, and nursing subjects have been published in newsletters, ezines, and books in the United States.

To arrange for Kathy as a speaker for your next event or to find out more about her work, visit her website at">