In a previous blog posting, we shared thoughts about a recent health study extolling the benefits of creative endeavors and hobbies, and creativity in general: Why Quilting Improves Your Health in Ways Even Exercise Can’t Manage,
Interviews of quilters found that the hobby “helped their cognitive, creative and emotional well-being…[that] the use of bright colors was ‘uplifting,’ the activity distracted from the stress of work, and … offered challenges such as maths and geometry. It also increased confidence and had an important social side.”
When we posted, one of the comments from from surface design artist and author Julie B. Booth. Julie wrote, “feeling on the same wavelength and hope you saw my post about the piece I started about my Dad [in process photo here]. I find hand stitching very powerful…healing. Once a month a group of my students and I get together for a “Stitch-In”. Lots of sharing and story telling and of course, stitching! I look forward to spending that time together.”
Fiber and mixed media artist Linda Morgan emailed us after reading the study: “When I’m engaged in creating art, solving design and construction issues, I feel challenged for a while, then happy and proud of my accomplishments. This kind of positive energy keeps me engaged and gives me something to look forward to.”
Linda adds, “More is always good. I work on a piece until I just can’t put another thing on it. I’m still adding items to my Under the Sea art quilt! [pictured above] I have made some amazing friends through art and found that we are each others support group and cheerleaders. I love trying new things and taking a variety of classes.
I am a very messy worker — I look at this as a sign of a creative soul —and hate to clean up as I go. (I cook this way too!) Art keeps my spirit Happy and Healthy ….. plus I love to shop for new art supplies, which is extremely healthy.”
In the comments to our original post, collage/mixed media artist Wendy Sittner wrote, “as a mental health therapist, my role is to support people through some of the most difficult times in their lives. I use art as a way to take care of my own mental health outside of work.
“One way I prevent ‘compassion fatigue’ is by balancing the stories I hear at my job with lighter-themed artwork for clients who commission my work. Creating mixed media pieces about festive occasions like weddings [example here] and family vacations gives me the necessary reminder that life gives us a range of experiences rather than all highs or all lows.” Visit Wendy’s website for more of her mixed media art.
“It seems that I have always done some sort of fiber work as a ‘hobby’ and a way of giving part of me to those I care about,” reports textile artist Chris Vinh. “Gifts to family and friends for many years were something handmade in the project du jour — clothes, cross stitch, crewel, needlepoint, and quilting. It was in a class over 20 years ago where I discovered that I had a voice which was best expressed in color and texture. It was then that I realized there were many kindred spirits out there who sang in the same choir. The membership of that choir has grown over the years and my artist friends have been my main stay through good times and bad. With their support and encouragement, I have used fiber, color, texture to express myself in ways I never dreamt possible. [One example of Chris’ felting and stitching work is shown here.]
Chris continues, “When I need to retreat and center myself, I turn to knitting or hand stitching and when I am bursting with ideas, it’s the fabric stash that calls. And when I need inspiration, I turn to my friends. In addition to the personal benefits, both have provided me avenues for touching a wider community through coordination of charitable projects in memory of one of my early quilting buddies. I simply cannot imagine my life without the benefits I have gained through the use of needle and thread.” Visit Chris’ Etsy site for more fiber work like here Modern Log Cabin Quilt Square [here] as well as beautifully knit scarves and shawls.
“The first time I thought about the connection between creativity and health was when the child of a good friend was very ill,” shares Artistic Artifacts customer and JAMs member Judy Grumbacher. “My friend said, ‘I can survive anything as long as I have art.’ I know creativity has contributed to my mental health (such as it is!) Soon after I was divorced, I read Circle of Stones. There was a passage that moved me to create six large mixed-medial panels centered around that passage. And I made a fabric piece, using a section of my surgical bra, [pictured below] as I recovered from breast cancer.
Judy continues, “another health benefit: when I’m sewing or painting, I’m not snacking!” Judy laughs.
Finally, we want to close with the comment that Martha Irish made to the original post. We were shocked to learn recently that Martha passed away unexpectedly last month. Martha was a loyal customer, frequently attended classes and demonstrations, and will be missed! Martha wrote:
“Color is a vibration. We remember that from elementary school when we learned that each color has a different wavelength. These wavelengths are vital to the physical and emotional health of the body. Reiki therapists and other energy workers, for example, channel energy to the patient to activate the patient’s own natural healing processes….
But back to art. We can stimulate our own natural healing processes by surrounding ourselves with color. Some days we might need the wavelengths of bright warm colors. Other days we are drawn to the cool colors. Maybe that’s why quilters and other artists seem to be working on many projects at one time!”