Making Art That Heals

I’ve made art to make money and I’ve made art to make meaning. I’ve made art to have fun. Most people make art under “normal” circumstances like that. But lately, I’ve run into people who are making art for many different reasons. They are making art:–for pleasure, to express a special event
–to get them through a crisis, either emotional or physical
–to get through another creative block, like a writing block
–in deep grief, seeking relief from mental and physical pain and suffering
–in confusion, to find a path to begin a new path on the Journey

art healsWhen these art-makers are my coaching clients, I try to help them dig deeply and find old memories, put to new use. We find out what makes them want to change, how they will change, where the new path is taking them. Sometimes all they can do is write down memories and leave it at that. Sometimes, in writing, they start to see a new path, and it looks safe to try out for a walk.

The answers lead in many different directions, but the one that interests me the most is the immediate art. The desire is always there to make “something important,” or “something meaningful.” But the healing path is often just a way to make “something.” Anything. Working on a piece of paper, whether it is writing or drawing, origami or writing music is healing.

Pouring emotions on paper lets you both capture the emotion and release it. Grab a strong emotion and wrestle it down on paper. Your feelings will pour out, you will release them and they will allow you to heal.

If you are fearful or worried about those emotions, scared to name them or face them, pick a time to work when you are tired. Exactly the time you normally wouldn’t do creative work. Begin. The rest will take care of itself.

–Image: J. Sandquist, Art Heals

–Quinn McDonald is a life and creativity coach. See her work at (c) 2008 All rights reserved.