As an artist I have found that art is a way to express feelings that are otherwise difficult to put into words. I often find myself painting something without thinking about what the end product will be and when I step back to take a look I invariably see an abstract shape of a mother and child or faces that show emotions; something unexpected. Gazing upon my work I sometimes find myself in tears, or laughing, but often in a moment of sudden realization. This willingness to create in this manner has led me to see into a mirror for what I needed to express but didn’t have the words for. I have seen the same process work in so many other people as well.
I spent years in therapy where the counselor would often ask, “What do you feel?” I would answer, “I think…” but I never answered, “I feel…” Art has given me a way to express my feelings and has helped me put my feelings into words with images. This process has led to a profound healing in unexpected ways.
In 2014 as I began an Intuitive Painting teacher training program I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This certainly was a difficult time but my situation allowed a unique perspective in the class that allowed me to find blessings as well. In this program I learned how to teach process painting while going through my own cancer treatment so I was able to use this opportunity for my healing while learning how to teach the techniques to others. In a short time of using the technique I had a major breakthrough. I was afraid anger and fear would consume me so I put on my everything-is-going-to-be-okay face while I clearly didn’t believe that. When I began painting, the anger and fear subtly began to show itself. I found myself feeling the feelings I wasn’t allowing myself to show. All of this felt so good and liberating and it was only then my healing begin on my journey with cancer.
Years later I am still painting and expressing through art. I have taken my own experience and techniques and created classes like the Art and Soul class which is currently being offered at the Cancer Center. I have found that being in community with others going through similar experiences to be the most healing. Gathering together in positive energy, in a serene environment, creating with art is a very effective tool for healing and moving forward in life. I am walking, talking proof of it.
The Art & Soul class that I am co-teaching with Meredity Smith supports those currently going through treatment, survivors and caregivers to come together in a creative environment while using art and mindfulness as a means to express what they are going through with their cancer diagnosis or caregiving experiences. Each class uses creating art as a tool for expressing and connecting. It is amazing to witness the healing, letting go and moving forward of the participants who have taken part in this two session class over the past year. I hope you are able to join us for our next session starting on Friday, March 17 from 10:30am–12:30pm in the Taft Healing Space.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” – Picasso
Kimberly Bailey, Art & Soul instructor, Bachelor in Arts and Science in Art Therapy from Ohio State University, registered social worker with 15 years of experience.