Paint away the Pain #arttherapy #ThrowbackThursday

I’m sitting here recharging – yes literally as the scs running a bit low on juice – watching the Olympics and downing Pimms.  The divers and then the gymnasts, wow they are fit and so many of them have overcome injuries to be at the top of their game.

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Art Therapy

This got me thinking about a lady whose work we admired in an art gallery recently and her story.  She was an ordinary young housewife who had her family and set about bringing up her children and supporting her husband as a stay at home mum.  Life felt pretty dark at times, although it should have been great, and now that wonderful thing hindsight has shown her and her husband that she probably had post natal depression for many years.  During these difficult days she developed a painful nerve condition of the face called trigeminal neuralgia – all the same awful nerve pain that is experienced with sciatica down the leg or nerve pain down the arm, but running through the side of the face.  I know that I have written at length over the last year about nerve pain and just how hard it is to treat, but it really is the hardest thing to control and the trigeminal nerve is probably the hardest to symptom control.  This would have led to a continuous cycle of pain and depression.

She had never painted beforebut with encouragement started to put brush to paper and found a fantastic outlet for her pain and depression.  Ov61f4zqdeCAL._AC_US160_er a period of years she developed her own very distinctive style – the gallery described it as Marmite, as people either love her work or hate it – and her work started to be noticed by art critics.  Today she has exhibited in a top London gallery, her art sells for thousands and she is a leading figure in the Royal Institute of watercolour painters.  Just think, this all started with what was effectively art therapy! – link for the gallery in Holt for more information
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Therapies that complement traditional medicine have long been recognised for their beneficial qualities in mental health, palliative care and cancer care.  The use of art and specifically colouring is now becoming a regular therapy for symptom control.  Adult colouring books are quite the rage!  I have found that when the pain is not settling, sitting quietly with a picture to colour in really changes my mindset and thus my response to the pain.  There is something about the different way in which you have to concentrate that slows down the mind and is calming.  My girl, who does more than just colour, says that she finds painting and drawing relaxing.  With art, it is possible to express thoughts and feelings that can’t be voiced.  In the paintings of the artist described, it really is possible to see her battle with depression and pain in the dark outer edges of every painting – and yet the details of the actual pictures are bright and vibrant, depicting people living life to the full.  Maybe some these actually picture activities that she would have liked to have done or places to have visited – even the slightly more risque elements to some of her work could be expressing a side to life never experienced.  I wonder how many of us bloggers (not just those with an illness) use writing as a similar therapy – whether it is as a distraction from illness, a means to express ourselves in a way that we are unable to voice in everyday life or merely a way to escape from the stresses & strains of modern day life for a few minutes.

So to return to my original thoughts, it is possible to work and strive to overcome physical & emotional difficulties in order to produce a work of art, be that a physical painting, a novel or a perfectly executed high bars programme. images (2) But we mustn’t feel or be made to feel the lesser for failing to overcome our situations or to
produce wonderful artwork.  We can take inspiration from others though and each find our own outlet.



So, I’ve finished charging, my battery is showing full, the Pimms is long gone……nearly forgot, we came away from that art gallery truly inspired, but also with a slightly lighter purse and a girl grinning from ear to ear as she carried oil paints home!  I think I know how she plans to express herself over the remainder of the holidays!


9 thoughts on “Paint away the Pain #arttherapy #ThrowbackThursday

  1. I took a class in college called “The Art of Art Therapy” and it was fascinating. We drew a mandala every morning–it was the highlight of my day, probably. It truly lifted my mood. I know a lot of coloring books have mandalas already in them now, but when you actually draw out your own mandala and create whatever you want in it, you can tell how you’re feeling that day and sometimes, it’s really neat to see what repeats over and over again in your mandalas. That’s just one thing you can focus on. I definitely use writing as a coping mechanism as well, in many forms. Art is cooool.


  2. Great post! I’m finding adult coloring books to be very relaxing! I’ve also been creating printables to make a journal for myself. The creative outlet lets my mind get away from the pain for a bit and focus on something more rewarding!


    1. Thank you, Kim. I find colouring quite addictive and very relaxing – I wish i had the talent to draw the pictures myself, like my daughter, but can’t have everything! Thanks for reading, C x


  3. Hello Claire,
    I really love this post as it resonates with my experience with physical and mental chronic illnesses. I started painting 2 years ago and it is such a source of calming serenity for me that I can’t believe I waited so long to try it out! It took the disability to get me to slow down and realize how much I missed the art I did before kids, husbands and careers took priority.

    Thanks for the connection and I look forward to following your journey!
    Many hearts and spoons friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is truly a gift when we can turn our pain into something beautiful. And I agree art can take many forms. Music, I think, is one of the most powerful. I have seen many a soul transformed, at least for a while, while crafting their music. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. drallisonbrown

    This is such a critical topic! I work in an alternative school (kids with behavior issues). The art teacher and I work closely together. She uses art, unbeknownst to the kids, to help them access their feelings…their higher selves. They think they’re just having fun, but we know that it’s more than that!

    Liked by 1 person

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