By: Drennan Hayden/ Ocean Academy Art Teacher
Artwork By: Drennan Hayden
I think the therapeutic value of art was clear to me long before I had even given any thought to mental health. In the process of art making we put forth some of our most personal energies, in a way exposing our thoughts to ourselves and others. For myself, and I feel other artists may agree, that sitting at the desk, or easel is much akin the therapist’s chair. It’s working something out, figuring out problems, and finding solutions. In clearer terms, it just feels good to do and it’s safe.
My mother put me into illustration classes early on because she saw I had some talent. Those classes taught me an incredible amount about illustrating and draftsmanship, and they were run by an exceptional and charismatic artist who was very kind as well. That teacher’s influence has lasted with me through the years. I credit my color theory class at TCNJ:The College of New Jersey for teaching me how to paint.
Since college I have developed as an artist quite a bit, especially developing my painting. It’s also a time where I have found art to be most therapeutic. In developing my skills and continuing to draw and paint regularly, I find discipline and peace. I also find the process of art making to be a reassurance of myself even during crazy times. I have found time and again that stressful issues often serve as fuel to making art. This is something that I try and express to students. Art is the perfect siphon for tension, negativity, and anxiety. Even in my own work I find dark themes rising to the surface at times, and this is no doubt a way I express and manage my own anxieties. Affording students the instruction necessary to develop as artists is a great pleasure.