Is drawing a life skill? That's a fair question. Sure, it's needed if you are a cartoonist or a graphics designer. Perhaps a hobbyist or a freelancer might need it. But can the argument be made that it is a life skill? Studies show that it is good for brain health, boosts creative and critical thinking, is wonderful for a number of professions, and helps convey ideas.
Drawing is healthy. According to a study in 2014, “visual art interventions have stabilizing effects on the individual by reducing distress, increasing self-reflection and self-awareness, altering behavior and thinking patterns, and also by normalizing heart rate, blood pressure, or even cortisol levels.” Drawing literally makes people live longer and think better. They make people more productive and less stressed which leads to longer and happier lives. This in turn lifts the spirt of those around them which once again reduces stress. That same study also claims that "visual art production leads to improved interaction, particularly between the frontal and posterior and temporal brain regions, and thus may become an important prevention tool in managing the burden of chronic diseases in older adults.” People have less chances to get mental illness.
Drawing makes people smarter. According to a study on ScienceDirect, the amount of grey matter in the brain is increased meaning that there is more for the brain to work with. More memories are stored and people are able to recall things easier. The brain also functions more efficiently. They also claim that there are "transient functional changes in neural activity in relation to drawing, evidence has been found for structural and functional changes over time as a result of artistic training.” This makes connections more direct and much faster.
Critical thinking and creative thinking are both improved. Artists constantly face logistical problems in bringing the image from their head to the page. From the simple task of drawing meaningful lines to more complex tasks like creating visual imagery through symbolism, artists are constantly practicing their critical and creative thinking skills. An article from Indiana University states that "Using an open structure in visual arts education in the form of nonroutine problem solving can support the development of creative thinking skills through probing and critique while maintaining uncertainty." Art's unique ability to create an open-ended problem so to speak, supports aspects of the brain that grow the ability to think critically and creatively.
Drawing can be especially great in the work force. There are plenty of jobs that require drawing as a skill on the resume. See those jobs here. This means drawing can open the doors to many more careers. However, in a day to day feel, the ability to draw can not be overstated. It is wonderful for just about any job where someone is trying to explain an idea they had or help someone else see their vision. Some of the most prominent men in America past and present have made it a habit to draw. In fact, Harvard Health Publishing states that "26 of 44 American Presidents doodled, from Theodore Roosevelt, who doodled animals and children, to Ronald Reagan, who doodled cowboys and football players, and John F. Kennedy, who doodled dominoes." In this same article we found that Dr. Robert Burns, the former director of the Institute for Human Development at the University of Seattle, uses doodles to study the emotional wellbeing of a person claiming that doodles can reveal what is going on in the unconscious. Art most definitely has a place in the work force and it can have a place on your resume as well.
In summary, there are countless benefits to the art of drawing, many of which are still unknown. However, what we do know is that drawing is definitely a life skill. If you are interested in taking up the pencil, it is never too late to add drawing and its many benefits to your skill set today. Everyone great has a beginning!
Bolwerk, A., Mack-Andrick, J., Lang, F., Dörfler, A., & Maihöfner, C. (2014, July 1). How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0101035
Chamberlain, R., McManus, I., Brunswick, N., Rankin, Q., Riley, H., & Kanai, R. (2014, March 29). Drawing on the right side of the brain: A voxel-based morphometry analysis of observational drawing. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811914002237
Pillay, S., MD. (2020, June 24). The "thinking" benefits of doodling. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-thinking-benefits-of-doodling-2016121510844
Ulger, K. (2018, June 3). The Effect of Pr ect of Problem-Based Learning on the Cr oblem-Based Learning on the Creative Thinking e Thinking and Critical Thinking Disposition of Students in Visual Arts Education. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1649&context=ijpbl