Nurses Creating Wellness in a World That Needs It

Wellness Through Art Expression workshop

Promoting health and relaxation by having fun painting and collaging and writing and sharing heart-felt experience with others.  That was the focus of the workshop  for nurses I co-taught with Shawna Swetech R.N.  yesterday.  Scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated that our bodies have a powerful physiological response to art, expressive writing, meditating that increases immune function, improves memory and mood,  hormonal balance, decreases anxiety, and even pain sensitivity.  Heck, it can even decrease LDL and total cholesterol!  So we don’t have to feel frivolous about spending a few minutes each day in these fun activities.  What a concept.  So what’s all this art fear and avoidance about?  . . .a subject for another time.

Inks, collage on w/c paper, workshop demo

Cold metal, skyscrapers, pointed missiles, a battle raging here.  What is going on?

Chicken:  i’m pecking my way through and it isn’t easy.

Scientist:  There’s a malfunction in the quadlimator and I’m powering up the oscillographer to initiate a rebooting of the system.  We are the biggest of them all and it is imperative that we keep it all together!

Me:  I hope they know what they’re doing.  My dear chicken is taking a direct hit!

I run seeking shelter, but the buildings are tipping and there’s nowhere quite safe enough.  That black dot in the middle that the building points are aiming at – what if it is actually benevolent and about to explode into a million sunbeams?  If we can hold the fatalists at bay, where will we be then – destroyed or reborn?

While I was playing with the collage I recalled those folded up papers that we put our fingers into and used to answer questions like “Does Billy like me?”  Inside written on different folds were words like, “Maybe”, “not really”, “absolutely”.  So I made one and put it on this piece which seems to pose the kind of questions you would read about in the world or national news – nuclear weapons and the arms race, global warming, financial meltdowns.  Which will it be, total annihilation by 2012 or a new world?  Open the folded paper to get your answer.



  1. Susan, I should have been looking at your blog all along, it is fabulous! This picture of the nurses’ workshop, and your description of the healing powers of art have inspired me to share H20-color sketching with a seriously ill friend, OF COURSE!

    You are healing the world.

    (Today 2 friends came over, I showed them my sketch books, and they ended up sketch-book junkies – we sketched all afternoon!)


    1. Oh, I LOVE the workshop demo! The depth and movement take me somewhere deeply wonderful. Or is it the juxtaposition of the hard metal buildings and the soft chicken? NO wait, it’s also the colors, and the writing!! It’s just perfectly marvelous.


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