Why Art is Good for You!

Here are some articles on how making art and creating improves outcomes. It is powerful and an innate need and right within all human beings to create. Our culture tries to stomp this out by minimizing and belittling it, when in reality it is one of the most potent tools we have for navigating our lives.

  • Stress-related hormone cortisol lowers significantly after just 45 minutes of art creation, regardless if a person had the regular experience of creating art regularly previously.
  • Art helps reduce pain for cancer patients. “The results showed a statistically significant difference improvement in mood, anxiety and pain between pre-treatment and treatment as well as pretreatment and follow up. The benefits were seen immediately after the session and then continued on for at least 48-72 hours across all groups equally. The study revealed a statistically significant difference between pre-treatment and post treatment as well as pre-treatment and follow up across distress, depression, anxiety and pain.”
  • ‘It’s time to recognise the contribution arts can make to health and wellbeing’ “An evaluation revealed a 71% decrease in feelings of anxiety and a 73% fall in depression; 76% of participants said their wellbeing increased and 69% felt more socially included. As one participant says: “I feel so much better having had the time and space to do some art. It makes such a difference.”
  • How using paint, pen on paper or song to revisit trauma helps us put it in the past
  • How Art Changes Consciousness – “Mirror Neurons  are neurons that fire both when a person acts and when the person observes the same action performed by another. This brings us back to a very basic concept in human evolution which involves modeling. When you observe a profound piece of art you are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration. This sense of being drawn into a painting is called “embodied cognition”.
  • “85% oof the men and women who I interviewed remembered an event in school that was so shaming, it changed how they thought about themselves for the REST of their lives. 50% of those people…. those shame wounds were around creativity.” – Brene Brown on Art Scars, season 1, episode 12 of “Big Strong Magic” podcast. (big thanks to Art Therapy Spot for pulling this quote)
  • Two hours of art in a week improves mental well-being
  • Art as Therapy: Alain de Botton on the 7 Psychological Functions of Art “Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness.”
  • Why making art is the new meditation! “Art, like meditation, allows us to create space between our often negative, anxious thoughts and connect with our true selves – as opposed to with the fleeting or false sense of identity we sometimes have when we are caught up in our thoughts and emotions. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher, writes: “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past… This false self is never happy or fulfilled for long. Its normal state is one of unease, fear, insufficiency, and non-fulfillment.” Creating art is about reaching a state of consciousness and breaking free from the constant debilitating chatter of the mind.”
  • Making art activates brain’s reward pathway “‘This shows that there might be inherent pleasure in doing art activities independent of the end results. Sometimes, we tend to be very critical of what we do because we have internalized, societal judgements of what is good or bad art and, therefore, who is skilled and who is not,’ said Kaimal of the study that was published The Arts in Psychotherapy. ‘We might be reducing or neglecting a simple potential source of rewards perceived by the brain. And this biologocial proof could potentially challenge some of our assumptions about ourselves.'”
  • Art therapy for Cancer Doctors experiencing burnout relaxes them!
  • Painting as a tool for depression  “‘It was a revelation,’ she said. ‘Not to be too hyperbolic, but I saw immediate success.’ Through painting, Bakker discovered a newfound energy and lightness within herself. She suddenly felt pride and accomplishment — feelings that were foreign to her and which her career as a registered nurse had never evoked.”
  • Creating art reduces stress, regardless if you are good at it!  “That means even bad artists are likely to see the stress-busting benefits of playing around with paint and clay. And the subjective feelings of the study participants seemed to reflect this truth. “It was very relaxing. After about five minutes, I felt less anxious,” one wrote of the experience.”
  • Intuition is a high form of intelligence! Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
  • Why Med Schools Are Requiring Art Classes, where students take art classes to develop critical reasoning skills, empathy, and communication.
    “He points to incidents of unconscious bias, where preconceived notions about things like how a certain disease presents or where an individual lives can negatively affect a doctor’s decision making. ‘There are a lot of apparent assumptions in Western society that can be extremely problematic and very dangerous when aligned with the power that a physician has in the clinic, operating room, or emergency department,’ he adds.”
  • Why arts should be incorporated into mental health therapy


Had fantastic time bringing my easel and paints to South Side Farmer’s Market on Sunday, September 10, 2017! I invited people to participate by writing in words that represented what they wanted to see in our community and then asked them to help paint it too! This is a variation of Intentional Creativity training I am in, but rather than individual putting intent into the painting, it was everyone who walked by and was selling if they chose to participate! Loved seeing the words people selected and thought they put into it. Looking to put this painting up at the local south side library!


Recommended Art Supplies & Stores in Madison, WI

This list is not exhaustive but an attempt to get you started in #artjournaling. See an Amazon list I put together.

  • Canson Mixed Media Notebook: love this as it can handle some watercolor, so it’s my current ideal art journal.
  • Canson Watercolor Paper: great cheap paper to experiment on; Michael’s stocks it as well as most art shops
  • Water-based Sharpie White Markers: great on acrylic and watercolor, permanent once dry and can be used for some stunning effects
  • Posca Markers: waterbased, acrylic markers that you can use on top or under watercolor and acrylic
  • Noodler Black ink: dark ink for brushwork and dip pen. Solid black is fantastic.

In another post, I’ll touch on watercolors and acrylics, as well as brushes. Short recommendation is to get tube colors (Windsor & Newton student grade at Wisconsin Craft Market), and a foldable, small palette, as well as a refillable water brush — easy to carry around and good colors.

Art Supply Stores, Madison

Madison, WI

  • Lynn’s: awesome, locally-owned fine art & knitting store. Great collection of art supplies from watercolor to acrylic to inking, on Odana on West side
  • Artist and Craftsmen Supply: national chain, maybe broadest available supplies
  • Wisconsin Craft Market: good discount on brushes and paint, limited fine art supply but has all the basics; on near west side off Whitney Way and Beltline
  • Michaels: almost always has 40% off coupon; Canson notebooks, canvases available at good prices, some brushes etc.
  • Hobby Lobby: almost always has 40% off coupon; sometimes great deals on paper and notebooks

Online Shopping

  • Dick Blick has fantastic prices and huge portfolio of stuff
  • Amazon.com for awhile only source for Posca pens (not sure if still true); I put together a list of my favorite supplies here too.
  • Cheap Joes: sometimes has cheaper prices; dick blick normally is better in my experience

What are your favorite supplies? Add your comments below as I’d love to hear from you!

Another Soul Affirmation Class!

Yesterday I offered another Soul Affirmation class. One person was able to attend which enabled us to go deep for the six plus hours! Finding the right words that name the story is so important, so we really focused on the content first taking three-plus hours to ensure the words were right. Specific and genuine is key to making a successful deck help change the story, and she hit these out of the ballpark! This also showed me the value of offering one-on-one sessions or coaching sessions using this approach. All of the approaches have value and offer different benefits. Groups are wonderful in they enable the participants to witness each other and connect in community, often discovering their stories that hold them back are not just theirs. I would like to do a community art project around this too, maybe specifically for women somehow.

BUT going back to yesterday, I LOVE when participants are delighted with what they have created — I have seen it several times, including yesterday, when the person is holding their final deck and case and they start laughing from joy delighted they created something so beautiful! There is an immediate energetic shift. It reminds me of shamanic soul retrievals but more tactile and immediate for the person. When we were able to get the words right too for the deck, the person had a release of energy and joy — naming the right medicine is powerful!

I am so excited to be able to facilitate and hold space for people to do this work that is so healing and powerful! Look for virtual and in-person coaching offerings soon!

Being Human, Power of Intentional Creativity

Being Human, Power of Intentional Creativity

Marketing and color and words that our senses take in on a daily basis primarily feed the fear and judgment of the self and other. Regardless if we are conscious or not, believe in it or not, humans are programmed. The only choice we have is to be mindful and deliberate of what is programmed into us or (mostly) we allow whatever to program us. Culture is not our friend in this regard. We are grown in a petri dish of division and self-hate.

Art and poetry is an antidote to this hence #intentionalcreativity. This morning I was feeling the profound grief of the collective, and just the profound sadness of so many people, so I felt it and wailed away in my basement allowing tears and sounds to flow. It’s a little odd, but it moves through me and I don’t feel sad or grief after it passes.

And today I thought about how my teacher Shiloh talks about including events in her paintings, and I have definitely felt painting as prayer and working with Spirit — so today I am going to go get me a mother effin’ huge canvas that will hold the world in it!

And as feelings come up that are not mine from the collective, I will paint them in and I will paint in prayers for people and events steered by the suffering and stupid, fear mongering crap being pulsed into the collective. Art is medicine, it’s one antidote of consciously changing what our senses bring in.

Super thrilled with Intentional Creativity.