Growing up, whenever my older brother would babysit me, our bedtime ritual was to come up with three happy thoughts to send me to sleep. Little did I know that this is actually a proven way to boost your mood, reduce stress and even rewire your brain to notice patterns of positivity that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
In the interest of encouraging our positivity sensors, here are three happy thoughts we are focusing on as we gear up for the busiest season of the year. We love how people in our industry are so passionate about supporting society in different ways. And so, amidst grief and stress, here are some happy thoughts to focus on: kits for a cause, the strengthening of family bonds in times of crisis, and a thoughtful letter honoring the connection between art-making and mental health.
Kits for a Cause at Color Theory
Our first happy thought: customers who are creating kits to help out people in crisis. Shout out to Color Theory in Napa, California: they responded quickly to the wildfires in Sonoma and Napa county with an ingenious idea: creative kits to help folks through the trauma of evacuating (and possibly losing) their homes. For every $30 spent in the store, they donated an art kit to a evacuee.
They also set up a GoFundMe for folks to donate to and raised their goal amount in just 24 hours!
All in The Family at Carter Sexton
Our second happy thought is a story from Carter Sexton in Los Angeles, CA. From Chris, the owner:
“Our high-school senior son Zack, after two weeks being shut out of school, got bored and started working with us, something we were never able to get him to do before! He was never very interested in working here, but when it happened, he found that he enjoyed it much more than he thought he would, he’s a bit of a “geek” and has come to appreciate the depth of the “geekiness” of art supplies, as well as the “interesting” clientele. He quickly evolved into a valuable employee, and stepping in to help mom and dad during curbside pickup was definitely a great benefit to their marriage!”
Zack is starting distance learning at UCLA this month as a music major. We wish him all the best and are so grateful for his contributions to the family business.
Connecting Art and Mental Health with Micador
Ben Dortimer, the president of Micador, recently passed on a letter he wrote about the connection between art and mental health. It’s a connection many of us in the industry get on a gut level. It was heartening to read a statement from one of our vendor partners that speaks so clearly to the need for support and awareness around this connection for everyone in the art supply industry.
“When I first became involved with the Mirabel Foundation in 2001, a charity that I am now Chairman of all these years later, it was to donate art materials that were used in grief therapy. Mirabel is a charity that supports children orphaned or abandoned by parental drug use. Severely traumatised, many of the children couldn’t talk about their experiences, but they could draw them… and then they could talk about what they had drawn. This profoundly affected me and I was able to support Mirabel in having a book published for fundraising, that shared many of these drawings and explanations, titled A Rainbow of Feelings.
Almost twenty years on and I find myself talking to my team and customers about mental health again, but in a much broader context. I see life getting faster and more instant and I see people struggling to cope. People who I’m sure have never been diagnosed with mental illness, but who are finding it harder to stay positive and making poor life choices as a result. The World Health Organisation says that one in four people will be affected by mental health issues at some time in their lives and there are currently 450 million suffering from mental disorders, making it among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
Having now been in our industry for twenty-one years, I see that we have an incredibly important role to play as a collective to help. Formal arts therapy continues to grow, as does evidence of its efficacy, but for young people and adults who aren’t in formal treatment, art has a very important role to play in mental health. I believe this is in two key ways: firstly, by providing people with a sense of Mastery and secondly, through the sense of belonging, that comes in the communities that form through art.
There are many studies showing the link between mastery or self-efficacy and positive impacts on mental health. In short, people who begin to learn and develop in a discipline, such as painting or drawing, soon develop a desire to become better. They seek mastery. On this journey, they discover they are far more capable than they imagined, and this helps greatly in the development of self-belief. Soon their focus is on what they can do, not what they can’t do, and they start to approach life with a sense of possibility.
People who suffer mental health issues often feel isolated and lack a sense of community and belonging. While art can be a solitary pastime, it is often done in groups and at workshops. There are now many opportunities to connect and feel a sense of belonging. It can even be through social media, such as posting artwork and engaging with others in groups focused on specialised areas such as watercolour painting.
As a business, we at Micador have decided we want to take an active part in helping and have been busily creating a wide range of learning materials with a view to helping people on their journey to Mastery. Whether simple ideas and activities for kids and parents, or complex tutorials for artists, we have an ever-growing library that we encourage you to view and to share with your own customers and art communities. You can find them all in our IDEAS & LEARNING page, found at Ideas & Learning.
We are also actively engaged with many communities and art groups, including our own social media pages @micador for kids, teachers and parents, and @micadorforartists for our art customers. Here we engage with our communities and share their artworks and ideas.
We don’t expect to change the whole world, but we believe we have an important role to play and encourage you, our Partners, to do the same. We think we can all play a part in helping people get better. Yours sincerely, Ben Dortimer, January 2020.”
These stories barely scratch the surface of all the silver linings we are seeing within our industry. We’d love to share any stories from our retailers and partners that speak to this theme. Please tag @MacPhersonOfficial on Instagram and we’ll reshare! Header photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash.