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Study: Creating Art Keeps Your Brain Healthy & Young —  8 Easy Projects to Try Today

Even if you haven't picked up a paint brush in decades these fun projects make it easy to dive in!

For many of us, our days of creating art ended in childhood when we took classes in school or stayed busy on rainy days with fun projects. But it’s never too late to start again! And there’s good reason to try: Indulging your creative side unleashes countless benefits for your brain. And with how-to videos on YouTube, art apps, classes for adults and more, it’s easier than ever to unlock your inner artist. Below you’ll find eight easy art projects perfect for adults, plus how-to videos and information on all of the mind/body benefits of painting, drawing, knitting and more.

5 feel-great perks of creating art

1. It melts worries away

No matter what kind of project you choose, becoming focused on the task at hand allows you to banish your other worries — even if briefly! “You could be painting, drawing, welding, knitting or soldering and you are so focused on getting that line just right or weaving that pattern into the cloth so precisely that you literally just forget if you were stressed or bummed out beforehand, and you experience a content feeling,” says Mike Notarfrancesco, an artist and owner of Mike Notar Art.

Related: Studies Show Crafting Boosts Mood + Reduces Dementia Risk: 6 Easy Paper Crafts to Help You Get the Perks

2. It improves brain health

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers tracked 159 older women for 4 years and found that those who created art (by painting, sculpting or drawing) were 79% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment. Study author and Mayo Clinic neurology professor Rosebud Roberts says stimulating brain cells maintains their function.

3. It boosts your self-esteem

“Completing an art project gives a tangible sense of achievement,” shares Cansu Peker, the founder of Digital Arts Blog. “No matter the level of expertise, finishing a piece of art boosts self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment. This is especially empowering for adults who may not often get the chance to create something uniquely theirs in their professional or personal lives.”

4. It helps you process emotions

“When you’re overwhelmed with emotions, and you’re not a fan of journaling, talking to someone about or not sure how to address what you’re feeling, just paint it!” advises Notar. “There’s nobody judging your skill level, and you’re not trying to win any contests here; you can fully express what you’re feeling in your artwork.”

5. It makes you more creative

Even if you’re new to creating your own works of art, you may quickly find that unleashing your inner artist can lead to positive changes elsewhere. “Tapping into your creative energy more often can spill out into other parts of your life — whether that be creative problem-solving at work, dressing more colorfully or starting to nurture other creative hobbies,” says Jen Jones Donatelli, certified creativity coach and founder of Creative Groove.

Related: Rock Painting Ideas to Unlock Your Creativity and Make the World a Happier Place

Easy art projects to try

Watercolor drops

Watercolor drops
Yifei Fang/Getty

Looking to experiment with watercolors? You don’t have to create an elaborate piece of art to do it. Jennifer Bates (YouTube user @SeaLemonDIY) shares how you can make fun watercolor drops.

All you need is watercolor paper, paint, water and a paintbrush. “Make a water drop of any color and dip a second color into it and just watch the colors flow together,” says Bates in the video. “And you can experiment with different colors and different size of drops.”

This can be done with other shapes, as well. Bates prefers circles because they’re very relaxing to watch as the colors blend together. For more art fun, check out her other quick projects in the video below.

Create apples with colored pencils

Creating apples with colored pencils
wenyi liu/Getty

If you prefer a less messy medium, give colored pencils a try! In this 48-minute online class, you’ll learn how to capture the essence of an apple using a variety of colored pencil techniques. All you need are colored pencils, paper and a blending pencil, if desired.

Click through to learn how to draw with colored pencils.

Button art

Button Art
Keep It 100/Getty

Crafting gets an artsy spin with button art! YouTube user @ChristinesCrafts gives a simple tutorial on how you can glue buttons to a canvas to create fun shapes and designs.  “If you take your design from somewhere else, you might want to draw it out on your canvas lightly with a pencil so that you can place your buttons on it,” she suggests in the video. Once you’re happy with your pattern then glue the buttons in place.

 “Another option when you do button art is that you can paint the background, which I have done in the past,” she says. “And then place your buttons on top of your painted background. This can make a really nice effect too.”

Once the buttons are dry, draw in any extra features. She added green stems and leaves to turn her buttons into cute flowers! (Click through for more fun crafting ideas).

Acrylic painting still life

Acrylic paints

It’s easier than you think to turn acrylic paints into beautiful artwork. In the hour-long lesson below, an instructor will walk you through everything you need to know about painting still lives with acrylics, particularly mixing colors to create tins and shade.

Grab acrylic paint, brushes, a palette to mix colors, a palette knife and a prestretched canvas to get started.

Click through to learn how to paint with acrylics.

Collage art

Collage art

Create your own art using pre-existing materials, like pictures you find online or images from magazines. Cynthia Hauk (YouTube user @MindfulCreativeMuse) walks viewers on how she pieces together parts of an already existing photo of a rose to make something new.

“What I’m doing now is I’m playing with shapes,” she shares in the video. “And this is largely what I find to be the fun part about this process, where you can choose to make it a mindful art experience, as well.”

Related: This Vision Board Trick Will Help Ensure 2024 Is Your Best Year Ever — Pro Tips Make It Easy

See her process of creating a collage in the video below:

Pasta art

“Macaroni art,” a popular childhood project, gets an upgrade with this fun DIY from Danielle (YouTube user @DanoDoesThings). Instead of macaroni, she uses fettuccine for her work of art!

Start with a canvas and a box of fettuccine! “All we’re going to do is make some even lengths of pasta and line them up in an abstract pattern on the canvas,” she explains in the video. “We’ll do sections of horizontal and vertical lines until the canvas is all filled up.”

Next, use hot glue on one side of the pasta to attach it to the canvas. Prime the pasta, then cover with the paint of your choice. “Paint each ‘block’ of pasta the same color for a nice color block effect,” she suggests.

See the finished product in the video below:

Moon drawing (stippling)

Turn a blank sheet of paper into a realistic moon with stippling! This technique involves creating dots in a pattern to simulate shading.  Ailysh Cooper (YouTube user @MsCoopersArtClass) explains how you can showcase craters on a moon using just a sheet of paper and some pens.

“We want to leave the light areas fairly light,” she says in the video while stippling. “Let the dark areas be dark so we can have that contrast.”  See how she bring the moon to life (craters and all) in the tutorial below:

Fluid painting with forks

Fluid painting

You don’t even need a brush to paint a canvas; there are plenty of pouring techniques that will still produce spectacular results. In the video below from YouTube user @TiktuscolorArt, forks create a pattern.

To do: Lay eight forks upside down in a star shape around the canvas, with the four in the middle nearly touching. Pour one color of paint in front of the tines of each fork.

Keep pouring one color at a time in the center of the canvas, in the spot where the four forks meet. As the paint begins to spread, it creates a unique design!

See how this works below:

Related: How to Throw a ‘Paint and Sip’ Party at Home — Pro Tips Make It So Easy + Fun

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