I graduated high school in 2013, and though only four years have passed since then I have already forgotten most of what I learned. This is not due to lack of participation or effort, but more likely lack of interest in retaining certain subjects. Something I regret is that my seventeen year old self did not yet realise that art actually overlaps with nearly everything I had learned. One subject, however, that I do remember more clearly is mathematics. I remember bringing in at least five different coloured pens and doodling large scenes throughout my notebook; scattered between these drawings, were the actual equations.
I also remember my teacher constantly catching me doodling and exclaiming that if I put the same enthusiasm into maths as I did art, then I would be achieving an even higher grade than I was. His logic was most likely accurate, however, as I was already achieving in the highest bracket of grading, he often begrudgingly let me continue as I was. I remember that mathematics was my second favourite subject (after art of course), I think that was due partly to an interest in the way maths always works, and the other part was an enjoyment of the actual classes. I had a teacher who I enjoyed learning from and who understood that just because I spent half of a lesson doodling, it did not mean I was not learning or listening.
I went on from high school to spend three years in university during which I found that I prefer to have multiple projects happening and swap and change between them, than I do one single project to solely work on. This way of working came back to me when I recently went through my old high school notebooks and turned through pages of doodles and colour. It also made me think of a recent study and article I read about, that found the process of making art stimulates the area of the brain that is related to rewards.
The study took twenty-six participants, some artists, some not, who's blood flow to the brain was monitored in three doodling scenarios. Colouring a geometric pattern, doodling on a piece of paper marked with a circle, and drawing whatever they desired. The results found that when the participants were creating art, there was an increase of blood flow to the area of the brain related to feelings of reward. In particular, doodling caused the highest increase in blood flow, with the lead study member hypothesising that the increased blood flow is due to an inherent pleasure in making art. The study also found that the participants felt more creative afterwards, believing they had more good ideas and could solve problems more easily.
As someone who is involved in art I can think to many occasions in which this studies results corroborate with my own experiences, my constant high school doodling included. Throughout my university course I was always involved in art and design, having multiple projects occurring at once allowed me to work between different fields and ideas and so I was always encouraging creativity and problem solving. However in the year that has passed since graduating university, I have found myself lacking inspiration, or needing another project to skip between and not having one. I haven't doodled in a long time and after reading this article and thinking back to my younger years, I might just start up again and see if the increased blood flow produces any new creativity or inspiration.