Art and Healing

What does painting have to do with health, healing and well-being? Studies show that engaging in the artistic process is healing. Painting can lower your stress and anxiety levels, help you relax by taking your mind off of your health issues, help you feel more positive, and renew energy.

In 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote about the effect of “beautiful objects” on sickness and recovery. “Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect.”

I have an artist friend who is currently battling a serious illness. As a result, she is often fatigued and cannot make it down to her studio as often as she would like. Knowing that artistic expression is helpful to the healing process, I was trying to think of a way she could continue some form of artistic expression.

Knowing how much I enjoy using a little ink and wash in my sketchbooks gave me an idea. I decided to gift my friend with one of my handmade watercolor journals. That way, she could set a few supplies on a table beside her (journal, pen, watercolor, water brush) to pick up whenever she had a little burst of energy and wanted to do so something artistic.

Coptic Stitch Journal
© Annie Glacken

Also, I know that receiving a new “pristine journal” can be intimidating because we don’t want to “mess it up.”  So I decided to paint an ink and wash sketch on the first page and write a Bible verse that might offer my friend some encouragement.

“Carolina Morning”
Ink and Wash Sketch
© Annie Glacken

How might you be able to use your talents to help and encourage a friend going through a difficult time? Even if your friend is not artistic, gifting them with some type of art can help promote the healing process or offer encouragement.

12 Replies to “Art and Healing”

  1. Fabulous ! I agree totally with you about art capacity of giving well being to someone ill, physically or psychically (sorry if those therms doesn’t exist, you see the idea I hope). I’m a psychologist (I stopped my professional activity last april) and always encouraged my patient to learn new artistic skills to fight depression, so affordable today with thousand youtube tutorials everybody can look at. Very generous to you to give your friend your precious sketchbook. Great !

    • Laurence, you probably know much more about the connection between art and healing than I do. Did you recently retire? How nice that you were involved in a profession of helping others! I hope the sketchbook brings my friend many healing hours! Thanks for commenting!

    • Thanks Edwina! Being able to bless others with our art is truly one of the highlights of being an artist–don’t you agree?

  2. Annie,
    What a beautiful blog entry and what a wonderful gesture of compassion and love you have given to your friend.

    How I wish I had known something about watercolors when my husband was ill. In the year or two following his death I would have benefited as well.

    I found a paperback book called “The PaintingTable” by a Roger Hutchinson, subtitled “A Journal of Loss and Joy”. If you email me your snail mail address I would be happy to send you a copy. I purchased several thinking that in future years some of my friends might find it helpful.

    You are an inspirstion!


    • Barbara! I would love to have a copy of this book and have sent you an email. Thank you so much for your kind and generous offer. What a blessing you are!

  3. My first thoughts were upon seeing that first page was what a beautiful gift both from your hands and your heart. To enter yourself onto the first page was a thoughtful as well as a beautiful idea. My your friend find many peaceful hours using her new journal as her body heals.

    • Thank you so much for your sweet and tender comment. I appreciate it! Yes, I do hope she finds many peaceful hours and healing too!

    • Thank you very much for your kind comment. My hope is that this post will spur others to do the same.