Category Archives: Healing Hearts

The Power of Art

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My friend Anna asked me to share a personal story about art journaling & what it means to me.  I thought to myself, well, this will be easy! And it was! In fact,  I had a full blog post  written about all that art journaling has done for me: how it got me through some low points, how I’ve learned to express feelings that are difficult to articulate in words, how it soothes my soul & keeps me centered…self-care at its very best.  But as I read what I wrote, I realized that I neglected to share a very meaningful story.

It was teaching inner city, at-risk middle school students where I witnessed the magical power of art.  I will never forget my very first day of teaching…as I welcomed the students into my classroom & they barely looked at me, hidden faces under oversized hoodies, barely grunting “Good Morning”. Most of these kids had no interest in school, let alone art.  I knew I had a gigantic task ahead of me. I tried every trick I knew to get them interested, even just a tiny bit. Most of them kept telling me that “art is for rich people” & ” I can’t draw so don’t make me”.

I persevered  everyday & one day early on in the school year, I told them to take out their journals (I required them to keep a journal for writing assignments, but they rarely wrote in them), think about how they were feeling that day, choose a colored crayon or marker that matched their mood & just scribble. Well, I never thought they would have become so “worried” about messing up their writing journals, but they did! Then something happened & they started to laugh & really got into it. It was as if the act of scribbling in their “good” journal was breaking a rule & they loved that! That’s the crack that let in the light. From there, they began to trust me & they started participating in the projects.

I cannot even begin to describe how incredible their transformation was through their art. They began to have confidence, take pride in their work & actually enjoy themselves through the process. I began to learn so much from my students & I finally started to see their true, wonderful personalities! By the end of my first year, they were excited to come to class & couldn’t wait to find out what we would be creating each day. It was an incredible gift to be able to watch these kids, over the course of a school year, open up through their artwork. Many even kept sketchbooks over the summer & came back in September all excited to show me what they drew over summer break.

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For me, personally, art journaling keeps me centered. It’s just me, my sketchbook & my paints. It’s a conversation I have with the painting…it pulls me, directs me,  nudges me to think about what’s deep in my heart, what’s bothering me. It really has nothing to do with the outcome…it is the PROCESS that matters. It’s where I can get out my feelings, whether they are angry, moody, confused, happy or joyful…it’s where I process “the stuff” during the process of creating. And I can honestly say that after every journaling session, I feel so much better!

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Somedays I paint, other days I make collages from found images & words & paste them into my planner,  other days I write on a page that I previously painted:

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However I journal doesn’t matter…what matters is that I am journaling. For me, art journaling takes me back to my core, my center, it’s just good for my soul. I am more grateful, more intentional, more joyful…who doesn’t want more of that in their life, right?

Art Journaling has been a gift to me, both personally & in witnessing it’s effects on my students. My friend Anna invited me to share my story of art journaling in the hope to create awareness of just how powerful this process can be. Anna has started a wonderful project called Healing He{art}s, which will supply women who are struggling, with starter art journaling kits. The goal is to assemble & distribute 144 art journal kits during this Holiday Season. The cost of each kit is $25 & contains everything a beginner art journaler will need (paints, pens, paper, brushes & a journal).

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If you would like to help this effort, please click here to go directly to the Healing He{art}s site & learn more about ways in which to give to this wonderful cause. Also, keep up to date with the progress of the kits & the organizations that will receive them, here!

And…if you aren’t already art journaling yourself, why not give it a try?