“Why Artists Need to Get High”

Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit  www.ArtistSuccess.com.

I found that Lesley’s Artist Success Feature Article  below explains a lot 🙂

I am not a drug-dealer, but I want you to get high. For real! I highly (pun intended) recommend that you turn on to the natural high that comes from making art. In 1972, brain researchers from Johns Hopkins University made a puzzling discovery. They found that the human brain’s neurons had specific receptor sites for opiate drugs: opium, heroin, codeine and morphine. I’m sure they were trying to understand the appeal and addiction of illegal and illicit drugs, but, thankfully, this finding led them to explore further. Why would nature give our brains a receptor for plant opiates?

They soon figured out that the active ingredient in all these opiates – morphine – had a chemical structure very similar to endorphins, a class of chemicals present in the brain. Endorphins are the natural opiates of the body and we have the opportunity to “get high” any time we want. It’s legal and, even better, it’s good for us. Athletes and runners have been aware of this for a while. You’ve heard of the runner’s high. Well, there is also an artist’s high.

I know you have experienced it. Recall how good you feel while taking a class or how the time just flies when you’re painting, choosing fabric for your next quilt or putting the patina on your mixed media altered book page. Perhaps that feeling comes when you’re working in your garden, redecorating a room or, better yet, teaching your granddaughter to sew.

Creating (and creating the flow of endorphins) is not always about making art. You can create a moment, a memory or an experience. The endorphins will flow when you are fully present in whatever you choose to do and when you choose to be aware of the joy you are creating.

Do you ever feel a letdown when you complete the project you were working on? That’s because you are coming down from your high. Are you tense and crabby when you can’t (or won’t) take the time to get in the studio? Lack of endorphins. How about that tightness in your neck, the empty feeling in your heart, the dull headache that just lingers? Lack of endorphins.

Endorphins are also naturally triggered in response to pain or stress but in today’s world, we often need a higher dose than our bodies produce. Many people choose or are advised to use other means of relieving pain and stress. Increasing the production of natural endorphins can help reduce or eliminate the needed level of prescription drugs. We are just now beginning to understand the effects of creativity and happiness on our overall health.

What You Can Do Now

To help me prove my point, I’m going to ask you to get high. It’s easy and, better yet, healthy and FUN. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Set aside a dedicated, uninterrupted time for the experiment. I recommend at least an hour. Set an alarm if you need to finish at a specific time.
  2. Choose a creative activity that you enjoy.
  3. Prepare in advance by locating and assembling everything you will need for this activity.
  4. Put on comfortable clothes & music if you like.
  5. Create. Create with abandon. Create towards a simple goal or for no reason at all. Just create.
  6. Be intentionally present in what you are doing. Don’t watch the clock or worry about time. Your alarm will signal if you have set it.
  7. Bask in the endorphin flow.

Rx – Use daily or as often as needed. There is no danger of overdose.

Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit  www.ArtistSuccess.com.

23 responses to ““Why Artists Need to Get High”

  1. love this, no wonder i get cranky when i havent made anything for a while …..

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  2. I totally agree with Lesley’s advice and also would like to add that the more often you do this, the easier it becomes! Thanks, Patty, for continuing to educate us!
    xox
    Karen

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  3. soooo true!! i have had to rearrange my art time because i missed it so much! i used to have my morning joe and bask in the sun at my art desk….then came spirit….now instead of doing chores (i know) i make art after her walk when she is tired and mellow…i’ve known, just like you, dear patty, that art helps me breathe…xoxoxoxo thanks for sharing this!!

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  4. Great article! I hope you don’t get a lot of spam comments from this title! ha! I would on blogger!!!!!!

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  5. Thanks for sharing Leslie’s site, Patty….
    it’s so true isn’t it when we claimed that a form of art could be “addictive”..:))
    well here’s to an artful weekend dear friend!!!

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  6. My musician friend Joseph and I have had these same conversations. He teaches music to children and loves watching the “high” they get. I can see it when he plays, too. This lesson by Leslie is so right on the money. I only wish it weren’t so hot, so we could actually enjoy getting “high” in the studio.

    Hope your weather breaks soon. Ours shows no relief in sight for the next week.

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  7. andrea gilsdorf

    Omg..now i understand sorry not much time to type but just to say thanks Patty. Sorry gotta go need to get high! Thanks for sharing!
    Andrea.

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  8. Oh; I’m lovin’ this prescription! Thanks you Patty! Have a great weekend and sending cooling thoughts! xxoo

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  9. finally something I can OD on and not feel guilty!!!! That was a good read and good reminder….have a `cool`weekend my dear:)

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  10. Pingback: Getting “high” on art « A Work of Heart

  11. Wonderful. Yes, there are lots of actions that can create a natural high and so glad that art is one of them. Thanks for sharing the mechanics to this great phenomenon!

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  12. Thank you soooo much. I’ve added Lesley’s site to my faves.

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  13. Thanks for this link…I’ve really enjoyed reading this post..it’s so true.

    Have a lovely day,
    Stephanie Suzanne ♥

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  14. Thank you, Patty!
    And I wanted to let you know I’m having a Give-away at my blog site so hope you’ll stop by!

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  15. You know I’m a junkie already…. not a day goes by without ‘needing’ (and often ‘taking’) those endorphins!

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  16. Patty!
    How true. I actually feel a wonderful high when I paint. Standing at my easel, music playing, my paints, water and messy fingers, it’s my favorite thing to do. Never thought about the fact that our brains were made with the capacity of experiencing pure joy, thanks to the Artist that made us.

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  17. Thank you girlfriend. That is exactly what I did this afternoon. A late start but the point is I did it! And that has not always been true the last few months. Feel so much better when I create and when I can challenge myself to start a project and stick to it. Thank you again for sharing this! Hugs

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  18. We are off to Michigan tomorrow but this is a wonderful inspiration…I have pack two bags of art supplies for the beach . YAHOO! Have a great week ! Peace, Mary Helen

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  19. Hi sweetie,

    I´ve been back and must visit your blog.
    patty you was very creative and busy in the last time. I come back day by day and I will see more.
    Your work rock.

    Have a sunny new week my dear.

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  20. You’re speaking my truth and singing my song and reciting my poem! Thanks for the reminder. Your post was recommended by Marlynn at Honeysuckle Breeze — so glad she did. Cheers!

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  21. Fun article! I know for a fact that it’s true!! I have a “stash” of ideas that get me through those days I don’t have time for art. All I have to do is think about projects I have planned for a quieter day and I begin to feel better. Without that “stash” I would quickly go into some serious withdrawals I think 🙂

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  22. yes, dope me up! although getting too high isn’t too funny either i’m learning these days. 😉 lovely reading, great post, thanks for the reminder. took some of lesleys workshops in the early art & soul days. lovely talented lady. need to find a way to get on a healthy artilicious low blood pressure high 🙂

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  23. that explains a lot 🙂

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Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts here...it means a lot to me and I appreciate your visit very much oxo

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