7 Tips for Bringing the Pleasure of Art into Everyday Life

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An appreciation for art is one of the transcendent values of life, and a great source of happiness, but like many transcendent values, it can sometimes be hard to wedge into your ordinary day.

Here are some tips for getting some visual art into your daily routine, without spending a lot of time, energy, or money.

1. Check out art books from the library. Art books are very expensive, but at the library, you can enjoy as many as you want, for free.

2. Here’s a brilliant suggestion from a reader: When she’s at a museum, she buys postcards of her favorite works of art. She keeps a big stack of these masterpiece postcards, and from time to time, puts a new bunch in the sun visor of her car. When she’s stuck in traffic, she pulls them out and looks at them.

3. Enjoy picture books. We tend to look at picture books only when we’re around very young children, but picture books can be such a source of joy. I wrote a series of posts for the New York Times Motherlode blog about my love of picture books.

4. Don’t feel like you have to spend hours in a museum.  My family has become members of several museums, so we can visit as often as we like, and for as long or as short a time as we like, without having to pay extra. I find that I like visiting museums much more when I go often, and for a short time.

5. Treat a a store like an art gallery. Visit some outrageously exquisite store, or even a department store or hardware store, without the expectation of purchase–just to enjoy the items there. Added bonus: in a store, you can touch and handle objects. A few months ago, I spent a good five minutes running my hands over a fake-fur throw during a trip to Bloomingdale’s. Extremely satisfying.

6. Make something yourself. There’s a great pleasure in making something by hand–even something as basic as sticking cloves into an orange to make a pomander ball. During high school, I made dozens of pomander balls. Find out something you’d like to make, and set aside time and space to do it.

7. Use sites like Pinterest or Instagram. It’s funny–one way of laying claim to a beautiful object is to take a photograph of it. Taking photos of beautiful sights, or “pinning” them, is a very satisfying way to engage with the world, and then you can look back with great pleasure on all your images. Your own gallery. (You can follow me on Pinterest and Instagram, if you’re curious to see what I’m choosing.)

What other strategies do you use to bring the pleasure of visual art into your everyday life?

From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.



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