5 Reasons Why Looking at Art Makes Your Brain Happy

As artists, we all know the mental benefits of creating art, but did you know that simply viewing art can be beneficial?  Here are five reasons why your brain likes it when you look at art.

Chill Out

The next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, try taking a step back and looking at a piece of art.  It can be a piece you have in your home, in a book, or even one that you pull up on your phone or computer.  Take five minutes and really look at the piece, considering the colors, the perspective, the setting, the subject, and anything else you notice, and really think about it.  Chances are, at the end of your five minutes, you’ll feel better than you did before.

Love, Love, Love

Do you need a little love?  A University of London study showed that when a person looks at a piece of art that they see as beautiful, there is an instantaneous release of dopamine, a chemical that is linked to feelings of love, into the brain.

Put That Brain to Work

When you look at a new piece of art, your brain starts looking for patterns, shapes, and anything else that is familiar to make you feel more connected to the piece.  Even if you don’t “get” it, your brain is still going to work, trying to find meaning in what you're looking at.

Time to Escape

Art has been made for nearly as long as humans have existed.  By looking at art from a different time, you’re transported to the time and place that the artist has depicted & that helps your brain make you feel as if you’re doing a little bit of escaping.  The next time you step into a museum, think of it as time-traveling instead!


One study found that a single hour in a museum changed the way people thought and felt.  The subjects of the study exhibited improved critical thinking skills, increased empathy for how people lived in the past, and improved tolerance for people different from themselves.  The next time you’ve got a brain-block, looking at art just might help to clear it up!

Ready for Some Art?

Ready to look at some art but can’t get to a museum or gallery right now?  Check out these two websites (also available as smartphone apps) for instant art gratification.

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