Art as therapy for Software Developers

A painting of my wife, by me, created with acrylics on canvas

Software Development is a “left hemisphere activity”. What I mean by that, is that it exclusively stimulate what is commonly referred to as your “left brain”. Years of coding tends to produce “weird side effects” due to this fact. Hence, for a software developer, it becomes crucial to also stimulate the “right hemisphere”. The way I balance this, is by having lots of art based hobbies, such as painting and music. Sure, I might not be a Mozart or Leonardo DaVinci with my Saxophone and paintbrush, but I don’t do it because I want to project that image either – I do it for the same reasons others exercise; It’s necessary for me to “stay normal”.

The painting in this blog for instance, was created by me. And although a lot of my friends have told me it’s great, I know my limitations well enough to be realistic in these regards. However, it was my 4th painting (ever), and I’m kind of proud of what I could achieve in such a small amount of time, in a subject I had no previous knowledge or experience in. Other hobbies includes creating music, such as playing the Saxophone. Below is a recording of me playing Misty on my vintage Conn.

Once roughly every year, I get inspired, and I teach myself something new related to art. For instance, I’ve been the drummer in a (hobby) band in Santa Rosa during one of these “periods”. I have also been a vocalist, in several hobby bands. My first instrument is guitar, which is an instrument I’ve played as a hobby since I was a teenager.

Is there a point to this? Yes, you see I have also created code since I was 8 years old. An extremely logical task such as creating code, tends to create “weird effects” in the human brain. Not all of these effects are “good” either, something everybody who have ever worked with a software developer colleague can testify towards. Most non-coders though, tends to mention this fact to me, as in “wow, you’re almost normal”. The insinuation being that most other software developers are *not* normal. I contribute this to my arts myself. By making sure I do some sort of “art activity” when I have coded too much, “balances my hemispheres”, and keeps me “neurologically sane”, or at least as neurologically sane as a software developer can be …

If you’re a software developer, chances are you too have some sort of creative hobby. My encouragement to you, is to pick it up. Spend this easter playing an instrument, or creating some piece of art. You might be surprised by the effects it has on you, and how rewarding it actually is, once you first start.


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