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Choose Art to Make You Happy: Top Tips for Picking the Perfect Prints to Boost Your Mood

“I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint”, said Frida Kahlo. For the rest of us, a healthy dose of happiness can come from surrounding ourselves with art we love.

We all yearn to make our homes joyful, peaceful places to be. And studies consistently show the transformative power of the visual arts to lift our surroundings and our mood.

Research by University College London neurobiologist Professor Semir Zeki found that looking at works of art creates a surge of dopamine, the happy chemical, in our brains – mimicking the euphoric experience of being in love.

Other studies have shown that art eases anxiety and stress, creating a positive effect on mental health.

Healthcare think tank The King’s Fund confirms “there is growing evidence that art can influence… wellbeing”. In fact, there is a whole movement providing art for healthcare settings – whether via murals, colour choices or individual artwork hung on walls.

Bridget Watson Payne, author of How Art Can Make You Happy, says spending time looking at art can “take you out of the day-to-day, mundane, hamster-in-a-wheel part of your brain, and into the part of yourself that has the greater capacity for joy and empathy and happiness”.

But what sort of art can make you happy?

The first ‘rule’ to remember is the simplest: pick art that lifts your heart. Adds Payne: “Trust yourself. Trust your taste.”

Other than that, here are our six tips for picking the perfect modern art prints to make you smile.

1. Be Bright

A Danish study found that brightly hued artworks – think oranges, pinks, reds and yellows – create a sense of optimism. Peter Blake’s Pop Art prints and Anna Marrow’s vivid and joyous silkscreens are perfect examples.

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2. Mellow Yellow

One shade consistently associated with cheer is the colour of sunshine: yellow. Colour psychology suggests that it is a source of positive energy and a natural mood enhancer.

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3. Cool Blue

A more serene sense of contentment can be achieved through the colour blue. There’s a reason that Pantone picked ‘Classic Blue’ as its colour for 2020 – it instils “calm, confidence and connection” and a “sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit”.

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4. By the Sea

We all know an escape to the ocean does wonders for lifting the spirits. Environmental psychologist Dr Mathew White says the effects of being in a ‘blue’ space beside water are “exactly the same as with green space”. In the absence of the actual sea outside your living room window, gazing at a beautiful seascape can also be psychologically restorative. A 2010 study by White found that images of scenes containing water had a positive impact on the viewer.

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5. Bring the Outside In

Communing with nature is vital for mental health. And evidence suggests you can even benefit from ‘bathing’ yourself in nature remotely. One experiment installed large screens featuring natural scenes outside an office and found people’s connection to their wider social community and the natural world increased.

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6. Happy Times

Good memories trigger happiness, so find an image that echoes a joyful moment – a much-loved holiday place (think British beach scenes by Colin Moore and Clare Halifax) or a reminder of childhood (Barry Goodman does a wonderful line in nostalgic limited edition prints). Whenever you look at it, it will bring those feelings rushing back.

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Browse our collection to find the perfect piece to boost your mood, shop now.