Several years ago I was diagnosed with cancer the very week I was retiring from my long time psychotherapy practice. Like Persephone from the Greek myth, I was plunged into the underworld. That summer as I was heading into ‘retirement’ was difficult. I felt as if everything I knew about me was ripped away as I faced with a diagnosis that was quite scary. These past 2 years have been about healing.. instead of healing others, it was about healing me.
That year of the diagnosis, my creative self disappeared- I had no motivation to paint as I was feeling so bereft. As an art therapist, my many years of working with others through pain, suffering and grief were no help for me. But I knew that it had been so beneficial to others. So each day I dragged myself into the studio hoping for some inspiration. I decided to paint how I felt.. which was pretty dark. I took a canvas out and painted it all black, nothing but black.
That felt really good. Each day I would sit out there and wait until I was ready for another color. For weeks, I couldn’t paint on it; I could only stare at it. Somehow that black canvas staring back at me echoed perfectly how I was feeling; being of some comfort for that moment. Then one day, I felt an urge to add some color. I began splattering it with some white. Then some red. Yet that was all I felt like doing. Eventually, I was feeling back to my ‘old’ self and the creative muse began to re- visit me. I finally finished the painting after about 6 months and titled it: ‘Out of Darkness.’ This painting was about my personal healing journey from the dark night of the soul back to lightness and gratitude. I used the Essential Oil, “Joy” in my paint to imbue healing energy in the piece.
Fast forward. Last week, a woman named Lisa called me. She said,”I don’t know why, but I am really attracted to your painting called Out of Darkness. I do Reiki (a type of energetic healing) and wanted to put it in my healing room.” I smiled and said, “Lisa, do you know the background story of this painting?”She did not know about it even though I had posted some of it in the caption on the painting on my website. I told her the story, and she said, “Oh my gosh, I have chills.” Later she emailed me to tell me that everyone that came in loved the painting.
This is an example of healing art and healing with art. Many pieces may have personal meaning to me, but if that gets conveyed some how by the art itself, then that is even better! Art can move you, remind you of something of your past, or places you have visited, it can connect you with the Divine, and it can lift your spirits if you are depressed. And most important, it can be a healing agent for you as an interactive symbol of wholeness. I can’t tell you how delighted I am to know that Out of Darkness is hanging in a place where energy work with the sacred takes place.
Next time I will be blogging about next piece I painted after ‘Out of Darkness’ called ‘Standing at the Threshold.’ Until then, let’s keep in touch. Here is ‘Out of Darkness’: