Art Therapy?

Recently I had my students work on Laurel Burch cats. Silly me, I thought this would be doable for first grade.  It didn’t turn out too hot.  I had to change it for the majority of students to just doing a Laurel Burch cat face.  I’m not posting photos of these because they are just so-so.

Anyhoo, the reason I am posting this information is to discuss something that happened to me and how I’m developing as an artist/person.  At the same time that this was happening, I developed an abscess in my armpit.  I didn’t know it at the time, my husband I thought it could be breast cancer so we were both scared.  It’s a little weird to wake up one morning and find a huge lump in the same place your mother and aunt found their breast cancer lumps.

Long story short, the doctor drained it. But then they had to restuff gauze into the hole because stuff would continue to come out of this lump for an entire week.  Every day I had to go to a room at the clinic, get the old gauze removed and then restuffed.  It was painful.  But not nearly as painful as it could have been.  I made it through these appointments by imagining this:


Or more specifically, this: IMG_3190

and this:


This is the sample I made for my students, and I made it right before I went in for my first stuffing.  I turned my head to the wall and saw the bright colors, calm colors, and it made me focus on something other than what was going on in the room.

I started to wonder if people do art therapy when they have chemotherapy or other procedures that are physically and mentally taxing. I am not in any way comparing my experience to that, believe me!  But, I did think about how holding onto an image that relaxes you and centers you changes your pain threshold.  I know that when I create something with lots of beautiful colors, my world is suddenly brighter, suddenly filled with colors.  Would making art right before seeing the doctor be helpful for people? Would it help people focus on something other than what they are going through? Would it help people go to their “happy place?”

I will research further on this, but from now on, when I have something that’s stressful to do, I’m taking my sketchbook and colors with me.  Pretty sure it may help calm me down.  Cheers!

Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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