5 Ways Wall Art Affects Your Mood

Humans have been making wall art ever since we started making art and walls to put them on. The oldest art found so far is thought to have been painted over 45,000 years ago, located deep in a limestone cave on Sulawesi, the central island of Indonesia.

A boar is clearly depicted, while a large portion of another two creatures has been lost to time. Some argue it’s two more boars, while others say it’s boars hunting a buffalo. We don’t know what the painter was trying to convey exactly — possibly being a story, a warning, or maybe their talent. While at one time, these were just the earliest historical impressions of human expression, today, we consider it art.

These examples of artistic prowess from early humanity are historically significant and set the pace for things to come. The act of painting on cave walls soon turned to wood and stucco, before giving way to the canvas in the 16th century.

A century later, the French Renaissance gave people a new way of looking at art, including interior design. In the 1800s, art became cheaper and more readily available and was finding its way into the homes of everyday people. Nowadays, art is more accessible than ever.

So, why do we feel the need to put art on our walls?

Through many studies, we know that the visual arts affect mood, and we are discovering more and more just how impactful these aesthetic decisions can be on our everyday lives. As a result, we can now ethically study and understand how we interact with art on more than just the surface level. For this article, we’ll discuss five ways wall art affects your mood.

Physiological Effects of Viewing Art

Every emotion we experience comprises a mix of hormones and neurotransmitters reacting to stimuli. The oft-cited fact is that dopamine is released upon viewing art we like, but that’s not all. Viewing pieces, we love increases blood flow to the brain by 10%, and we even get the same benefit from art we don’t like as much, just less blood flow.

In fact, it’s not just dopamine that gets released. It’s also serotonin, oxytocin, and other various endorphins. Specific to oxytocin and endorphins, these hormones support pain reduction and management. It’s such an effective aid, visual art used in a healing capacity has shown to improve prognoses and quicken recoveries.

When viewing exceptionally beautiful art, your body is flooded with adrenaline and cortisone, while the parts of your brain responsible for learning, perception, and pleasure all start to work together to make sense of this involuntary reaction.

Having wall art in your home or office with a color, subject, or concept you enjoy can improve your overall physical well-being. When people are physically well, they have an easier time being mentally well.

Art Enhances Brain Function and Wellbeing

As mentioned, viewing pleasant art increases the delivery of blood to the brain. This, in turn, increases the health of your brain. Part of this is from our pattern of recognizing abilities as humans.

As your brain scans art, it picks up on anything it recognizes and translates the subject into meaning. An example of our inherent pattern of recognizing nature is the phenomenon of seeing faces in seemingly everything.

Another brain-centric event when viewing art is embodiment cognition. When a piece is closely analyzed, we can see the methods by which the artists created it. This activates our mirror neurons, which respond to the actions we see in others.

Subsequently, in some instances, people can imagine creating the art themselves, such as flinging the paint on a Jackson Pollock. In others, people can imagine themselves in the landscape of the work, such as feeling the coolness of a Monet lily pond, or hearing the bustling dance studio of a Degas.

Taking a more active approach to learning about the piece also improves brain health. You can do this by asking yourself thought-provoking questions such as “what am I seeing?” or “what did the artist mean by this?” Even taking the time to discover more about the history of works you find intriguing promotes a curiosity that allows our brains to thrive.

Color Psychology Can Influence Your Emotions

A major way that art can affect your mood is through the concept of color psychology. Colors on their own and their shades, as well as other colors they might be paired with, all hold meaning. These meanings can be derived from cultural influences and personal associations.

Some examples of how a color’s meaning can change depending on its context are:

  • For example, purple can be a symbol of both royalty and immaturity.
  • A deep emerald green is usually associated with wealth, and a light, pale green can be associated with sickness.
  • Red and yellow have their own meanings separately, but together evoke a sense of hunger (which is why it’s commonly used in fast food!)
  • White in Western cultures symbolizes purity, while white in Eastern cultures symbolizes mourning.

Despite being able to casually observe common reactions, there are very few official studies on individual colors’ effects on the brain. We know bold colors are generally stimulating, while pastel tones tend to be calming. Red is used for sales because it creates a sense of urgency and increases reaction times. Tan is used in hospitals because it is neutral and calming.

However, the best color scheme for your wall art is the one you like the most! Having colors around that you enjoy will bring you joy and peace, regardless of their cultural connotations.

Curating Your Space

Curating your living and work spaces through wall art creates an environment that is pleasant to be in as it aligns with your values and tastes. Having an aesthetically pleasing dwelling is an opportunity to generate those previously mentioned feel-good brain chemicals, health benefits, and brain exercises. With a space that feels comfortable and familiar, you’ll be more productive and even more creative yourself.

Through thoughtful planning of your wall art, you can reduce anxiety and even mimic the bliss of seeing someone you love. This would be a project of self-expression, and even an extension of the art itself. Practicing and creating your own art, in this case, provides a lot of the same benefits as just looking at art. However, it comes with a much more personal investment of time and care.

It is also important to note that this concept also works in reverse. If the art around you is curated to be negative, it can depress your mood. For instance, a study at UC Irvine showed that consistent exposure to images of bombings would cause the viewers the exhibit symptoms of PTSD.

Similarly, exposure to an image with a central conflict can cause distress over time. Therefore, it is important to be thoughtful about the messaging where you spend significant time.

A Sense of Accomplishment

As your wall art collection grows, is framed, and hung, it will begin to produce a sense of accomplishment. This project is an extension of your self-expression. In this sense, your walls are the canvas.

Wall art has long been popular among artists and collectors alike.

Art collections do not come together instantly. First, there is the time involved with deciding what goes into your home or office. Then there is all the time that goes into determining what frames to use and where to place them. But, by the end, each piece of art is a glimpse into who you were and what you liked at the time of acquisition.

It takes time to learn about what you like and don’t like. Therefore, being thoughtful and reflective can lead to a finely put-together space that you can be proud of. That in turn, can make you want to spend more time in your curated area.

The project is ongoing as well! Your tastes will change over time, and you might even move and have to start parts of the process over again. That’s why taking time to savor each stage of art collecting is important to revel in those feelings of accomplishment.

Improve Your Mood by Curating Your Space

Art is meant to evoke an emotion or a new train of thought. Works of art can bring joy or terror, disgust or reverence. Artwork can be healing or damaging. There are vast amounts of philosophical, psychological, and historical concepts surrounding the human relationship with art. The way that people approach art daily shows how we learn more with each step.

At its most basic, art has a role in our health. French Neuroscientist Pierre Lemarquis, in his book L’art Qui Guérit (Translation: Art That Heals), states, “You don’t treat an illness, you treat a person.” He then states, “You need medicine that’s purely scientific to address the illness, and medicine that’s a little artistic, to address the person, their humanity. The two are complementary. People need to dream. They need imagination.” Art can be a form of medicine, therapy, and healing when applied correctly.

A finely curated space brings accomplishment and, when complementing our individual natures, can improve our overall physical and mental wellness. Being deliberate in the art around you is key to aesthetic peace in the home and office. Check out ArtBlok.com for inspiration on something that fits your needs, space, and tastes!