Tag Archives: healing through painting

Helping is Healing: The Creation of Art & Creativity for Healing

Color is a language that allows people to express the emotional and social burdens of abuse, illness, grief, or stress.

Art & Creativity for Healing is an organization offering participants opportunities for healing through various fine art classes and workshops.

This organization was started by Laurie Zagon in Laguna Niguel, California in 2000. It is a non profit organization funded entirely from generous donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals.

Healing Through Art

Art for Healing Book

Art for Healing Book - Includes Instruction For Starting a Healing Center

Emerging from the idea of artist and author of Art for Healing: Painting Your Heart Out (AuthorHouse) Laurie Zagon, this organization has flourished and assisted countless children, teens, and adults with various healing opportunities. Her Zagon Method for healing with art was first executed in a workshop in 1987. From there, Zagon went on to found Art & Creativity for Healing.

The mission of Art & Creativity for Healing is to “support emotional healing through art and creative expression for those living in pain, grief, fear, or stress.” This non-profit organization was designed to offer everyone from child through to adult an opportunity for creative expression using paint on canvas as a release from the emotional struggles of abuse, illness, grief, or stress.

Benefits of Creative Healing

The art classes and workshops offered through Art & Creativity for Healing give people a platform from which to express their personal experiences—from encountering chronic or terminal illness, child abuse, substance abuse, and more—in a creative and healing manner.

Art allows people:

  • to achieve a great self-awareness;
  • to recognize their strength for the ability to confront many emotions; and
  • an opportunity to communicate their thoughts and feelings when sometimes words cannot be expressed properly.

Art & Creativity for Healing operates from donations by foundations, corporations, and individuals. This non-profit entity has an online store from which people can purchase various items—such as Zagon’s publications, educational DVDs, workshop kits, art supplies, and more—with the profits from the sale of these items going towards the organization’s operation.

Learn more about > Art & Creativity for Healing

Art for Healing: Helping is Healing

The following is the transcription of Laurie and some of her program’s participants talking about the program Laurie designed to help those suffering from various traumas move past them into a more resourceful state of being.

Young Girl: My name is Sarah and I’m 8 years old. And what brought me here was my little sister Elizabeth who died. I was sad and happy at the same time, because she was going to a better place, but I felt sad because she left us here, and I thought about how much fun a baby sister would’ve been.

Woman: We’re all kind of integrated, of some sort. And we’re all a big masterpiece of this giant painting. And each of us have a very important part in life. And how, if you allow it, there will be people and there will be resources and chances available to just kind of let you deal and heal and cope.

Laurie Zagon: There are so many people right here in our community that are hurting. There’s so many people here—children, adults, an entire family—that are hurting because they’ve had something traumatic happen to their lives. This program helps them to process those feelings.

Gannen’s Perspective

Young Boy: Hi, I’m Gannen Eck, and I’m 12 years old, and when I was 8 I was diagnosed with severe aplastic aneamia—that’s bone marrow failure. And so I had to take 30 pills a day—15 at night and 15 in the morning—and get my blood drawn every night and get a shot every morning. So, it wasn’t very fun. I rarely ever got to see my family.

Yeah, I’m completely cured. I can do whatever I want. I’m a normal healthy kid now. I still come to Art & Creativity for Healing because it’s just so much fun! It’s painting . . . it’s my life. I love to paint and draw and I love to do art.

Art & Creativity is a help to children and adults, anybody who’s been emotionally hurt or sick in the hospital, so it’s a great program for all kids and adults and teens. For everybody to just get out their feelings on a canvas with some paints and stuff.

The Language of Color

Laurie Zagon

Laurie Zagon

Laurie: The beauty of the program is that you don’t have to be an artist to do this program. Anyone can do it, young and old.

But the beauty of the program truly is that it’s teaching people a new language. It’s the language of color and painting on canvas. You don’t have to be an artist. You don’t have to know how to draw a straight line. All you have to do is sit down and allow us to take you through a series of questions that you answer with colors and shapes on canvas.

It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a very cathartic experience. It helps people to release a lot of the pressure cooker steam that sometimes has built up from emotional things that happen in our daily lives.

Art Helps in Ways Words Cannot

Woman: I had emotional trauma growing up, but as an adult I had one of my children die of bone cancer. That was really the most traumatic thing that happened in our lives. My son Brandon was diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 14 1/2. He was a really neat, healthy, active kid.

When the diagnosis came, my son Brandon kind of straightened himself up and said, “You mean I could die because my hip hurts?” I said, “Yeah, you could.”

I miss him awful. I have worked for years to try to help myself get past the deep grief, and I’ve spent a lot of money doing that. But until I came to Art & Creativity, I really was stuck. And doing a couple of the courses related to grief has helped me tremendously.

To the community, I would ask that you be generous to this organization which goes out and helps so many people in so may places, in hospitals, in institutionalized settings. They help people of all ages, from young children through the teens, and through mature in life.

Art does it in a way that words never can.

Laurie: It’s normal to have stress. Everybody has stress. So the Art & Creativity program really is designed for every human being that wants to take a class. The language of color and painting on canvas is something universal, and I think that’s why we’re successful. Mostly because it’s easy, and anyone can do it and it’s fun, but it also has a way of tapping into areas that maybe people need to release by putting some colorful strokes of paint on canvas.

Healing Families & Individuals

Family During Trying TimesMother of family: We found Art & Creativity a few years ago when we moved to California from the east. It just kind of sounded like a great organization, and I decided that I kind of wanted to get involved. And then the day before the Pallette of Colors dinner last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So as I was going through chemo and everything, I kind of brought the family here to . . . so Art & Creativity could help them be a family and process everyones’ feelings about my cancer.

When I got the diagnosis of breast cancer . . . your world kind of stops. And it just went really vast. And then you have to come home and have a family meeting and tell the kids, and it was just really hard.

Son: One night we had like a big meeting. We talked about how mom was getting breast cancer, and then everyone started crying. Even me.

Mother: I think donations are needed to Art & Creativity because cancer and other diseases, I’m sure, really don’t just affect the person, they affect the whole family. And by going through this and by seeing other families and by going to support groups and just seeing that there’s such a need, and I think that there’s more work to be done.

Program Funding Needs for Art & Creativity for Healing

Laurie: We need your help. We would like to be able to have more and more programs and more and more places that we can reach people that are hurting. We need your help. We need your dollars. Any dollar amount makes a difference to us.

It is so important that you understand that every little bit helps. But I also want you to know that from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Because we could not have done it without you.

Hit By a Rainbow

Laurie Zagon - Daniel's Integrity

Laurie Zagon - Daniel's Integrity

During the early days, Zagon’s illustrations were published in a well known table top, affirmation book in 1989 by Ballantine Books. It’s Never to Late To Have a Happy Childhood: Inspiration for Inner Healing was authored by Claudia Black, M.S.W., Ph.D. It was one of the early books on the Law of Attraction, and Zagon’s illustrations were chosen to accompany the use of the book’s affirmations. Black is internationally recognized for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders. Along with It’s Never to Late To Have a Happy Childhood, Black has authored a very long list of self-help books, CDs, and DVDs .

Zagon created the Hit by a Rainbow film back in 1990, about the same time as her art was accepted for Black’s book. This 28 minute video is well worth watching. In this short film, viewers gain insight into the unfolding of Zagon’s life path that brought her to where she is today. She shares her insights and passion as an artist, her observations about light, color, and movement. Viewers can clearly sense how her “inner joy” brought her art alive and how taking each inspired step  lead to the creation of the Art & Creativity for Healing Organization.

Many artists don’t act on their creative urges due to some type of perception or creative block. Most show up as self-judgment, anxiety, or stress. But, by allowing that initial step, a person can open a vast door of possibility. As you can see by watching Zagon’s Hit by a Rainbow many lives were touched along the way. How inspiring to witness how the simple first step of following joy opens a door to helping others, and goes on to create much more than first ever imagined.

Watch the Video

Visit Zagon’s website > Laurie Zagon Art & Creativity

Healing Visions: A Film by Annie Gusman Joly

The following film and transcription follows the artistic expression of Annie Gusman Joly.

Annie describes her creative path and how starting in 1986when she attended classes at the Esalen Institutehow her relationship to painting deepened and opened a door to healing.

Perhaps her journey may provide inspiration for others to move beyond fear and channel their energy into a path of healing no matter what chosen medium to fuel a space for healing.

Annie Gusman Joly’s film, Healing Visions, is about how the act of painting has helped her heal emotional wounds.

Annie Gusman Joly’s Healing Visions

Painting of a Face by Annie Gusman JolyI started painting for myself in 1986.

I took a workshop at Esalen Institute, and when I arrived I had no what I was going to paint. I had been an illustrator over 10 years, and I was just feeling the need to paint for myself to do something different. I thought maybe I would paint the scenery. I was painting in a beautiful building on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and I stood there with a giant white piece of paper and my hand just started to move. And I was totally amazed at what came out.

And the more I painted, the more came out. Even though the paintings were very dark as far as imagery, it was a great release to do them. It was discovering a whole new part of myself that I did not know had existed. When I look at the paintings now, it seems that I had some kind of awareness, some kind of precognition, because that year my mother committed suicide.

Using Intuition

People are afraid to paint because they don’t know where to start. Seeing that piece of white paper is very scary, but it is also very exciting at the same time.

I don’t think too much about what I am going to paint, I just try to go on intuition. Sometimes I just put a color down, and that color has a certain feeling which will make me want to put another color next to it.

After my mother’s suicide I felt like I was leading a double life: the internal life and the external life. It made me feel very separate from other people. As you can imagine it was a very, very dark and very difficult time for me. But I knew that I had to do something. I started to paint again, because I remembered how comforting the paintings had been to me when I painted at Esalen.

Healing Through Painting

Painting by Annie Gusman JolyIn one of my favorite paintings called “My Healer,” I realized that my healing was up to me. The paintings became a practice, like meditation . . . like dance . . . like poetry.

It’s very important to suspend judgment at the painting. I still occasionally look at something and say, like, “Oh, I don’t like that color. I think I’ll move this.” But now I think of it more as it’s only a part of painting that I don’t like, and I know that’s going to happen.

And maybe it’s just the tension in the painting that helps me move on, that helps me finish the painting. And I really try not to judge it as though I would if I went to museum.

It’s about those early paintings . . . there is a lot of demons flying around. And the demons are really scary at that point, I am really afraid. They look mean. They look angry, because that’s really how I am feeling inside.

As the months progressed, the demons became my friends. For example, after her death, I had an incredible dream. The dream was very scary at the time, but when I actually started to work on the piece, the whole mood, the whole character, of the painting changed into one of benevolence and compassion, and kindness and healing.

Listen to the Paintings Speak

In the early nineties, I met a man named Shaun McNiff. He taught me that it’s really not a good idea to talk about paintings, and that so many of us judge paintings according to somebody’s criteria. He taught me: don’t judge the painting. Don’t talk about the painting. It’s just as if the painting has a soul and a being of it’s own. So when I look at the paintings, what I do is pretend that they are actually a person.

For example, you wouldn’t talk about a friend who came into the room and said, “Wow, that dress looks really bad with those shoes,” you know, or, “That hat is really the wrong color.”

What I like to do is have the paintings speak to me.

Most of the time, I stand when I paint. I feel like if my whole body is involved rather than my hand and my brain, things seem to flow better.

When you paint with no judgment, things happen that you don’t expect. And it’s a journey. It’s like going on a trip to a foreign country, a place like you had never been before.

It’s almost like a door. It’s really not the grief any more; the grief is turned into a door. Where I know that these images will come . . . I just know that.

Speaking Truth

Annie Gusman JolyI think it’s easier to speak your truth when you are not doing something for money. These paintings were created for me; they came from a flow that was inside. So I feel free . . . I feel free to create what I want to create without worrying about the end result.

When I first started doing these paintings, I was little nervous to show them to people, because I thought they would think I was really strange, kind of crazy. Slowly, but surely, when I started to share them with some people, it was really amazing to hear their reaction. I think everybody relates to them in some manner in their own life. Everybody’s had loss, everybody’s had some problems.

I never feel like I run out of things to paint. I have an endless well of imagery that I feel now can come out at anytime. I never felt like this before I started these paintings.

When I’m in a room full of my paintings, I feel that I am with my best friends. It’s like something else is at work and things are not as they appear, and that there is another force going on within us. And that if we just can connect with . . . I don’t know, just makes me smile.