Getting “high” on art

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The republished article below was found through this link

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


One Reply to “Getting “high” on art”

  1. Lesley Riley is a very talented lady. We met her at the CHA show and now carry some of her art transfer products in our shop. Her new venture, Artist Success, is a wonderful source of inspiration.

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