The Healing Power of Art

What is art? According to the dictionary, art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” However, for many people, art is so much more than simply painting colors on a canvas or shaping clay. For instance, according to Carissa Stewart, a 28-year-old woman from Montana, art is a lifesaver. To her, art is a form of self-expression that conveys her thoughts and emotions in a way that words can not. 

Carissa’s story begins about a year and a half ago when she broke the calcaneus in her right foot. After the fracture, complications started to develop with her left foot as well, and she soon was confined to a wheelchair. That lasted almost an entire year and Carissa’s mental health soon began to suffer due to the fact that she was no longer able to maintain the active lifestyle she was used to. Before she knew it, she found herself confined to her home and her mental health and stability was rapidly declining (Carissa suffers from borderline personality disorder and PTSD which complicated the matter further). Thankfully, she found healing in her artwork that she had recently taken an interest in right before her health issues occurred and without it, she admits that she might not be here today. 

Luckily for her, Carissa had started to dabble in acrylic painting shortly before her calcaneus fracture but did not become completely emerged in the art until she was homebound. While binge-watching Bob Ross videos on YouTube; Carissa started learning how to paint some of the places that she so deeply missed being able to go to. Soon it seemed like the only time she wasn’t in pain was while she was painting. Carissa states that she, “ would become completely lost in it for hours.” Moreover, during the times when she could not paint she would practice her crocheting and even started to learn how to needlepoint lace and Irish crochet to occupy her mind. Taking a tangled thread and producing clothing from it helps her to untangle her thoughts and heal mentally. With that being said, after an entire year in a wheelchair, Carissa began physical therapy, and although she is now closer to having regained her life, she is certain that her art will continue to inspire herself to be a better person both mentally and physically. Furthermore, she hopes art and painting will continue to be a major asset in living with her mental health for the rest of her life. She stands by the ideology that art is necessary for well being and lifesaver. Below are some samples of her work:

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Nicole Sullivan is an artist who works with oil and water-based paint to create her artwork in addition to making digital collages and videos complete with audio online through mixed media. Nicole grew up in an impoverished and abusive environment with mentally and physically disabled parents which ultimately lead to her being taken away from them before she turned 13. Thankfully, she turned to art during her dark times. Self-expression through visual aids was especially important when she was afraid her written words would be discovered and used against her.  She found solace in creating things and was amazed at how delightful smearing color on any surface was.

Today, she states that she “ knew the world was my canvas” in regards to how she saw her art during that time period.

Nowadays she believes that anything is considered art and that everything conveys a message! Her main goal is to not just understand the world around her, but help others to understand what is going on in the world as well as her perspective on things. Below is one of her digital pieces of art as well as two abstract paintings she has done on canvas. 

If you want to learn more about Nicole or her artwork feel free to give her a call at 575-571-3119. Additionally, she can be reached at or Feel free to follow her on Instagram at @thestarsandgod and @notactuallysignificant as well. Furthermore, she is on twitter under the handle @yourdeadfriend.

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Anna Gallagher Brindley is an artist and painter who was born in  North Carolina but has spent the majority of her life in Texas. She uses both acrylics as well as oil to paint and bring her artistic visions to life. Anna loves the challenge of taking something blank and turning it into a masterpiece. It makes her feel so joyful and productive when she works with her hands pushing paint. She said she feels like painting has meditative qualities and when she loves the overall outcome of a painting she gets an extra fire in her belly. Some of her favorite paintings include the quick studies she does in her garden because they are fun and relaxing, where as she is more of a perfectionist when it comes to her pet portraits because that’s family so it’s more important. 

With that being said, Anna began oil painting when she was just eleven years old as a hobby but it has evolved into so much more than that over the past thirty years. For instance, Anna now uses art as a way to cope with various trials that have appeared throughout her life and to express her feelings without having to use words. She knows firsthand how stressful life can get, especially since she is the primary caregiver of a daughter with disabilities.

She states, “When I start living in the future or worrying about my child, I reach a whole other level of stress, as you might imagine. When I get to the point of being overwhelmed, I stop and realize I haven’t made time to paint. Painting is something that I can do for myself that is the ever-popular (and much needed) trend of self-care that allows me to relax and get rid of all of my tension and anxiety.”

In fact, Anna often posts her artwork and tags it as #arttherapy and #selfcare because it makes her feel so much better when she is doing it. She wants to encourage others to take up painting or any other form of artistic expression they might be interested in as a way to cope with the stress and trials of life because she knows just how healing it can be. Furthermore, her work can be found on her facebook page Anna Gallagher Brindley or on her Instagram @annagbrindley. She paints for commision, especially around christmas where she makes pet portrait ornaments. 

All of the proceeds go to some type of charity. At the moment Anna is working with Friendship Circle because that charity directly helps her disabled daughter. For more information about Anna or her paintings feel free to email her at

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Paula Mould is a mentor, author, and artist who works primarily with acrylic paints on stretched canvas or on cradled birch panels.

Paula has had the privilege to paint for a nonprofit organization called IMAlive from 2016 until 2018. The main focus of IMAlive is to prevent suicide as well as spread suicide awareness all across America. In order to raise funds to achieve their goal, IMAlive does outreach through attending conventions for the TV show, Supernatural. With that being said, Paula’s job was to paint between two to four large canvases (from 2’x4′ to 4’x4′) each month that there was a convention taking place. Furthermore, some months had more than one convention so she was painting rather frequently. From there, IMAlive used her paintings and canvases to help raise the funding needed to spread suicide awareness. Basically, representatives of IMAlive would go to the conventions and then have the cast of Supernatural sign Paula’s paintings. Afterward, they auctioned them off to raise funds for IMAlive which is super cool when you think that one piece of art can have such an impact on the lives of so many people.

Paula herself even states that:

“During that time my marriage was falling apart and I had some other things going on in my life. Painting for IMAlive gave me purpose, helped me contribute to my larger community of fellow fans, and kept me busy. The connections and friendships I made are with me to this day.”

So not only was she helping others through her paintings but her art also provided her with a healthy outlet for her emotions. With that in mind, if you are interested in learning more about Paula or her artwork feel free to follow her on Twitter  @PaulaMould or Instagram at PaulaMould. Additionally, you can check out these websites and for more information. Finally, if all else fails you can contact Paula at 226.378.9835, skype her at  Paula.Mould or email her at

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A Journey Through The Mind of An Artist

By: Sierra Dyson

Ellen Sandbeck is a papercut artist originally from San Rafael, California. She went to college at the University of California in Santa Barbara with the intention of studying environmental biology. Sadly, due to her time-consuming schedule, Ellen was not able to work on her art. Within a month or so, she got to the point where she would sit in the back of her Chemistry 101 class, having vivid hallucinations even though she was not on any type of drug due to creative withdraws. Once that began she knew action had to be taken to preserve her mental well being. Therefore, Ellen changed her major to art in order to have a healthy creative outlet in which she could express herself.  Thankfully, after she switched over to an art major she had the time to do what she loved which eliminated the hallucinations she had began to have. Since then she has fully dove into the world of art headfirst and still practices her medium from her home in Duluth, Minnesota where she lives with her husband. Some of her art is showcased below and if you are interested in learning more about Ellen or her artwork follow her on Facebook at her pages called, Ellen Sandbeck and then A Buddha A Day. She can also be reached via email at or Furthermore, her art can be viewed on artwork archives at

Ellen Sandbeck

This is a self-portrait of the artist as Medusa:

Medusa, self-portrait  8″ x 8″ scissors-cut paper 3 layers

 (This scan was done before the piece was trimmed to size. It has now been trimmed)

Tiger (From the series

Tiger, from the series, “Endangered Chinese Zodiac.”

11″ x 8.5″ , scissors-cut paper,  5 layers

What Are the Consequences of the 2016 Election?

“What Are the Consequences of the 2016 Election?” 

17″ x 11″  scissors-cut paper, 11 layers 

This piece was inspired by a trip to China shortly before the 2016 election. After the election, Ellen was convinced that the U.S. was going to rush headlong straight into the type of environmental catastrophe that China is determinedly speeding away from. Unfortunately, in her eyes she was right.

We Were Stardust

 “We Were Stardust”

11″ x 17″  scissors-cut paper, 7 layers

Ellen is an organic landscaper, and has been growing vermicomposting worms, and setting up indoor vermicomposting systems for more than three decades. The “We Were Stardust”  papercut is a visual representation of her spirituality. Once she was invited to do a piece for a “Religion and the Environment” symposium, and this is the best she can do as far as being religious goes.

Goodbye Diamond Match

“Goodbye Diamond Match.”

11″ x 8.5″  scissors-cut paper, 5 layers.

Ellen did it in response to the closing of the last wooden match manufacturing company in the U.S. The company had been a fixture in Cloquet Minnesota, which is near where she lives, for well over a hundred years.

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