A Calm Influence
2020 & 2021 have invited an unprecedented level of chaos in most people’s lives. With anxieties focusing on social upheaval, climate change, and of course–the big P–we could all use a little centering in our lives.
Art is one way to bring on tranquility. And with the amount of time we’ve been spending at home, having a few soothing pieces by local artists in your dining room, bedroom, or anywhere else may be exactly what you need.
Even doctors are recognizing the power of calming art. According to a Johns Hopkins Community physician, a recent visit from one of his patients called to the importance of art in the environment. Dr. Joe Riggs had a patient who saw a piece with a blackbird on it and refused to come into the doctor’s office as she thought it was bad luck. A few cursory searches later, Dr. Riggs and the patient soon discovered the blackbird symbolizes wisdom and grace. Assured, the patient felt relaxed enough to continue with her visit.
After this, Dr. Riggs recognized how impactful art can be and partnered with a local college to transform his office into a place of peace through art. Working with college students, he created a space where clients can heal in the best possible environment. But how can we bring this serenity into our own lives? What makes a piece of art soothing?
Color is perhaps one of the most important aspects in communicating calmness. Reds, oranges, and yellows all shout excitement, but even more affecting than those colors are how much contrast a piece has. While some contrast is necessary to keep a work from being boring, too much can make a piece buzz. Calming works tend to have several hues of a color and a muted color palette. Rachel Frey’s work is a perfect example of beautiful muted color palettes. In particular, Sea Level and Depth captures the gentle motions of water.
Pieces that have a lot of movement and asymmetry (or in the art world, are dynamic) tend to evoke feelings of excitement. This includes subject matter with a more triangular composition. The opposite of dynamic is static, which is a work that is completely balanced. When searching for peaceful pieces, you ideally want to strike a balance between static and dynamic, leaning more toward the static side. Lindsey H. Jones is a wonderful example–the way she paints her water is asymmetrical, a composition that conveys the way water moves in marshes.
Taste Plays a Role
Ultimately, you know what calms you! For me personally, I find Sally Sutton‘s turquoise blues and choice of subject matter–which tends to focus on nature, particularly koi fish, incredibly peaceful–not just for the aforementioned characteristics, but also for nostalgia. My grandfather had a beautiful koi pond we would spend time at, which are soothing memories to me.
Art matters–and calming art, in the right setting, can bring on a myriad of benefits. In a constantly stressful world, every little thing we can do for peace of mind is important. So what are you waiting for, buy (calming) art for art’s sake!