Healing Art/Therapeutic Art


I wasn't sure what forum to post this in, but it was this post by Terri in the Pastels Forum got me thinking about certain art I have done in the past. Her work inspired me to post some work of my own where I've directly addressed similar issues of healing from physical and psychological ills.

This first one is a 40 x 30-inch oil painting on canvas called Swallowing My Pride in the Garden of Good and Evil. I was working through a lot of things during this time in my life. I had received a few troubling diagnoses: systemic, neurological, plus some mental illness diagnoses that I was trying to come to terms with. I nearly couldn't. None of it was easy, and I felt like I was losing control of my body (as if we really have "control" of what happens in the first place). I guess, being young at the time, I thought I was indestructible.

Furthermore, I felt a spiritual restlessness because of this loss of control. The whole thing put me into a kind of existential crisis, and this is what spewed forth onto the canvas.




Going through it all wound up being a positive experience, despite all the physical and psychic pain. It's turned my point of view on many things around. It's humbled me quite a bit.

I have some other works where I've specifically addressed similar issues like this, i.e.: disability, pain, crisis, and trauma, etc. Maybe I'll post more.

Thanks for looking.
Thank you so much for sharing this, Arty, especially in a forum dedicated to creativity. It's a striking and inspiring piece of artwork! Those little horned "flowers" with teeth are really something ... so scary! You mentioned loss of control and that's so hard to accept. We think of ourselves as beings that can chart our own courses - until something beyond our control upends all of our plans. The fact that you are able to continue being an artist in the midst of such difficulties gives me hope. It's who you are and illness can't take all of it away, right?
Wow!!! Everything that Donna said...and more. This is a stunner! The texture, the colors, the movement, those wonderful (to me) Picasso touches.

It's a visual gut punch that anyone who's had similar experiences can identify with. Hats off to you! ❤
Such an expressive, painful painting - it makes the viewer think.
Learning, accepting, that we cannot control our lives as much as we hoped, is very upsetting - certainly was for me.

I'm glad this painting was cathartic for you - it took courage.
Raw and powerful piece, Arty, and the creativity forum feels like a positive place to post it - particularly for anyone else who might be wondering how to live with/get through their own struggles.

I think it's as important as ever for artists to address these issues, as it seems the push elsewhere is too often to prettify, gloss over, or look away from people's difficult experiences. I hope you do post more of the works if you'd like to share them.
Thank you all for your feedback. I truly appreciate it. Thanks to Terri for the inspiration for me to post it.

I will take a look around for the others to post. I know these are not for everyone. This one may be particularly intense. Some are and some not so much.

Thanks again everyone. ♥️ ♥️ ♥️ ♥️ ♥️
Wow Arty...powerful.
I see the good and bad flowers. All the buildings look to be different faiths.
You seem to be pushing away those bad creatures. What does the writing
on the wall represent? I hope you don't mind me digging into this....if
so I apologize.
I don't remember what I wrote on this Perry. I do remember having a spiritual crisis at the time, but it was not exactly one of my own. My family was pulling me every which way. (They are split Jewish and Christian faiths, but I won't go into religion here). However, it was about how faith related to illness (in general). I would guess the writing was probably me "defending" myself in a kind of stream-of-consciousness way, which is usually how I scribble onto canvases: thoughts and/or questions out into the universe.

Thanks for asking. I don't mind at all. It's why I am sharing this. :)
Have you given any thought to sharing more like this, Arty?

You should know I periodically visit this piece here, and just ponder it. I find your work incredibly therapeutic. Would love to see more. Just sayin'. ;)
I have thought a lot about it. I feel better about sharing more stuff. Thank you Terri. I SO appreciate your words and your interest.

I made some color pencil drawings many many years ago I thought about sharing. They are rather "heavy" and depict a lot of hard things I was processing at the time, like childhood sexual abuse and other chaotic things I went through living with my parents. I can get them onto this thread.
Here are some colored pencil drawings that I'd considered "therapy" art. The first one addresses a lot of personal shit--like I stated before: childhood sexual abuse in the house I lived in with my parents, mostly during the ages between 11 to 14.

Some background, without going into a ton of this, this "house" is really the detached garage. My family allowed a homeless guy to live in the attic for some years. You might guess what he did to me. He also worked for my father along side of us (my dad, me, and my brother) cutting clothing patterns (those are the cutting shears above the roof).

Years later, I moved back into the garage space. I thought this was a "bright idea" to save on rent. I put several thousand dollars into making it into a wonderful art studio, only to live there for five months. All the memories flooded back and made me crazy, so I fled to Italy. I was age 21 or something like that. I'd fixed this garage up so nice too, but before I left, I'd outlined a "dead body" onto the cement floor, which I'd painted bright blue! I did that because I had felt I'd died there as a young teen because of all the awful things that had happened in there.

I'd opened up the attic and put in skylights and made a loft with red stairs, and painted the ceiling beams yellow. It was such a cool space, but all a waste of money.


These others, I don't know...they all sort of came at the same time.


I think this one is a play on a hopscotch graphic. Looks like the neighborhood I lived in, or a combination of all the neighborhoods I lived in. I moved into 15 different places before I was nine years old because my parents fought and broke up constantly. Each time they got into big fights, they'd sell the house and move separately from one another, then yo-yo us between them before getting back together again. They were crazy. 🤪


How's that for some TMI?!!!
It's a lot to take in, but these sure are amazing. :oops: I'm here on my phone atm and I want to see them larger.

I hope they were as cathartic for you as they look. A couple look like a giant scream. They're just amazing! You're very brave and generous to share these.

On another note, the description of how you renovated the garage sounds really cool! It's a damn shame it didn't work out, but I certainly don't blame you for thinking it was a good idea at the time. I have no words appropriate for this forum on the other stuff, frankly. Glad it's in the past. ❤
I feel you on this. I've been dealing with an autoimmune disease, neurological motor disorder and a nerve pain condition since I was about 15, disabled by it since I was 29. The 7 years since have been pretty rough but what's gotten me through has been my sense of humor and my art. I rarely put any of these things into my subject matter, because I find the process more cathartic than the expression of any particular emotion (and if I do need to express pain, I write). I like to make pretty, whimsical things when my pain is bad. It helps me create some distance between the pain and depression and me, and that helps me cope. I like to create beauty to counter all the ugliness of chronic pain.

I'm sorry to hear you've experienced similar problems, but I'm glad you've also found a therapeutic outlet in art. It can do so much for people, both as creators and viewers. Art is a powerful thing.