The Unleashed Heart

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 9.37.10 PM

In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (from

 What can the heart imagine?  How easy is it to see and hear what the heart imagines?  It may be a matter of being open and letting go.  The heart is always ready and willing.  We may not always be ready to set it free.  The freedom to allow the heart to fly is fraught with obstacles.

What will people think?   The latest creation is…the wrong color, the wrong texture, the wrong size.  It isn’t clear enough.  It’s too clear.  It’s not dark enough.  It’s too dark.  People will hate it.  The critics will hate it. The list can go on and on.  Fill in the blanks.  The negative voices drone away.

Taking the time to shut down the negative voices is worth the effort.  After shutting out the negative, stop and listen to the heart.  The heart never talks over the other voices.  The heart is gentle and quiet.  It takes closing those other voices out before the heart can be heard. Once the heart is able to speak, it must be unleashed.  What the heart can imagine is the direction to go in.  It may be big.  It may be small. One thing is for sure: the heart’s imagination is boundless.  Unleash the heart and let it run free.  Who cares what anyone else thinks!

Art in Healthcare–UF’s Arts in Medicine

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 9.58.45 PM

Art in all its forms, heals.”  Dr. Andre Churchwell

The University of Florida’s Arts in Medicine (AIM) program has now expanded to offer a Master of Arts in Arts in Medicine.  Enrollment begins this year for Fall 2014.  AIM is a well -established program that has been leading the field for over 20 years.  UF’s Shands Hospital has an artist-in-residence program with artists ranging from dancers, musicians, painters, poets, writers and more.

These amazing artists work with patients, families and others on the unit in the hospital.  They put on performances in the lobby of the hospital and other venues.  They work with senior citizens centers.  And the work these artists are doing is truly heart-warming.  People with Parkinson’s disease are able to improve mobility through dance in the Dance for Life program.  Cancer patients express their feelings about the disease through poetry writing, painting and more.  Children create art together in the children’s units under the direction of the artists in residence.  Writers assist patients to tell the stories of the patient’s life. All of the art programs are conducted by working artists.

The AIM program engages in research to reveal the benefits of art in healthcare.  The program works with the community in various programs.  Follow the links to learn more about the program and all the many exciting ways art is being used as a healing tool at the University of Florida’s Arts in Medicine program.

Colorful Fridays–Misunderstood, Mispronounced Exploding Yellow

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 9.36.54 AM

“What a horrible thing yellow is.”  Edgar Degas (from

Few paints are as controversial as the much-maligned yellow known as Aureolin.  Artists either love it or hate it.  Aureolin will turn a greenish brown eventually but not everyone believes this is a bad thing.  This greenish brown can be quite useful in many mixes, especially in recreating the colors of nature.  Aureolin is never a substitute for the more brilliant yellows of Lemon or Cadmium.  Perhaps therein lies the controversy.  Expectations to be something it’s not, lead some to shun this highly transparent yellow.

Aureolin is also known as cobalt yellow and can be very expensive.  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston states Aureolin is “composed of cobaltinitrite.”  The MFA also says Aureolin was “discovered by N.W. Fisher in Germany in 1848.”  It began use as an artist’s pigment in 1852.  Aureolin was first sold in the Untied States in 1861.  For more information see the MFA’s website at the link.  Aureolin is most valuable as a glazing color as it has a high transparency rating.  It can be quite useful in botanical painting.

The fade to brown character of Aureolin has led one artist to post a dire warning stating in no uncertain terms that Aureolin should never be used by any artist, at any time.  The warning also states tubes of Aureolin could “explode.”  Verification of this claim was not available from other sources.  It seems a bit over the top to think any reputable manufacturer would knowingly sell exploding paint.  However, caution is advised.

If unconcerned about explosions in the studio or high expectations of brilliant yellow from a greenish brown yellow, then Aureolin can be highly useful.  The fading to greenish brown of Aureolin is less acute in oil than watercolors.   Before you rush out to buy a new tube of Aureolin, check out the Talking Dictionary’s pronunciation.  That way, you will be understood correctly when you call to report the exploding tubes of paint in your studio. For some reason, the tube I’ve had for years has never exploded.  Oh well, one can always hope.

Check out how these artists make use of Aureolin:

If you would like to name your horse, Aureolin, too late, it has already been done:

I wonder if announcers say the horse’s name correctly?  Aureolin Gulf may be an exploding horse.

Do it for Love

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 9.33.54 PM

“Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.” Marc Chagall (from Skinnyartist)

Are you creating what you love or what you think will sell? It’s a question for artists to consider. Maybe you have become successful creating in a commercially viable way. That’s great but do you love it? Do you have to love what you are creating? Does your success depend on you loving what you are creating?

The questions can only be answered on a personal level and only the artist knows the answers. If being successful is the sole object, perhaps love does not enter into the equation. It’s hard to believe that artists who create strictly for commercial success can maintain the drive for the long haul. Eventually ideas dry up and novelty wears off. If the heart was not in it in the first place there is no inner direction to search. News ideas will have to come from outside sources.

Creating for love has a wellspring that never dries up. It may seem to dry up at times but its just resting. A little stimulation and it pops back up again. Loving creating makes for deep satisfaction. Some may gain a measure of satisfaction in commercial success without the engagement of the heart. However, without love art is meaningless. That is sad and ultimately will show in the work. Art from the heart never leaves. So do it for love. The heart will appreciate it.

No More Applesauce

Screen shot 2014-01-15 at 10.37.34 AM

“If apple is the language of the future then art must be its core.”  Elliot Eisner

Life without art is bland, soulless.  Art lights up even the most mundane of daily tasks.  Imagine a world without the beauty of the musical note, the brush stroke, the written word, the dance movement and more from the arts.  Without art, life is just pale and lifeless.  It’s mush.  It’s applesauce.

Botanical german11An apple without a core has no backbone.  Applesauce is the result of a coreless apple.  With applesauce, there is no examination of the reds, yellows and greens that make up the rich color of peal, the beauty of apple skin.  No study of the form or shape of the apple, its symmetry and texture.  With applesauce, there is no crisp sharp sound of that first bite piercing through the skin to the sweet inside.  No spray of juice as teeth breakthrough peal.  There is no rhythm to eating applesauce like the careful approach of navigating bites separating the edible from the core.

A life without art is a life without a core.  Why be content with applesauce when you can have the whole beautiful intimate encounter with the complete apple? An apple has so much of sight, of sound, of taste, of feel, of scent.  Not so with applesauce.  There is some sweetness to applesauce but very little of the sensuous delight of the complete apple.  Not unpleasant but lacking in the vital experience of engaging all the senses.  Life without art is just applesauce.

*The art education world has lost one of its greatest voices with the passing of Elliot Eisner this week.  For more on Elliot Eisner’s contributions to art education, see the National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) website at the link.


Other posts about Elliot Eisner:

The Appearance of Rescue

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 7.43.45 PM

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” George Bernard Shaw (from Brainyquote)

The Detroit Free Press and other news organizations are reporting that a group of foundations have stepped up to provide funding to save the art and the pensions of the city of Detroit and the Detroit Institute of Arts. As the city spiraled into bankruptcy, the DIA’s art was pitted against the lack of funding for the pensions of the city’s retirees. A battle had ensued suggesting the mean old art people were in favor of starving the pensioners in order to save the art. For the art it was an unwinnable war. A precious collection was in danger of being sold to the highest bidder to fund the pensions of the city’s retirees. No one wanted to see retirees starve and many art lovers had acknowledged that the art was the likely loser.

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 7.44.48 PMThese foundations have stepped up to save both the art and the pensions so that no one is the loser. The Detroit Free Press states that nine foundations have come together to pledge $330 million to relieve some of the weight from the cities creditors. The foundations are the Kresge Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, McGregor Foundation, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

As good as this sounds, it still may not be enough to rescue both the art and the pensions but it is great news. There remains much to be worked out in court. Time will tell. Last week what looked hopeless is now hopeful. It seems the mighty steed of rescue may be riding in after all. No word yet as to whether anybody has discussed what got the city into this mess in the first place. That bit of enlightenment has yet to dawn on anybody.

Photographs shown are from the Detroit Institute of Arts downloadable images page on the website. For more images go (here). Insert photo is the North Wall by Diego Rivera (1932-1933), fresco.

New Feature–Arts in Healthcare Mondays


“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

As I will be teaching a workshop on Arts in Healthcare in February at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film, I felt it would be good to start posting on what Arts in Healthcare is and isn’t and what is happening in the field. The arts have so much to offer to people in hospitals and clinics, inpatient and outpatient. More and more artists are turning to healthcare as a way to make a difference in people’s lives with art. And it makes a huge difference! I found out how much with my own research project. Other artists are finding out too. Whether visual artists, writers, poets, dancers, actors or musicians all can and do touch the lives of people in healthcare situations. Every Monday, I will take a look at what artists are doing in healthcare.

Arts in Healthcare is not and should not be confused with Art Therapy. Art Therapy is a treatment modality used in mental health in some form. Art Therapists are trained practitioners in the fields of counseling, sociology, and/or psychology. Art is used as a means to treat or uncover emotional issues. Art Therapy is a specific educational degree in the area of mental health. Arts in Healthcare consists of practicing artists who bring art into the healthcare setting to improve the lives of patients. Arts in Healthcare practitioners are working artists.

There is an international organization whose sole purpose is to promote the arts in healthcare. That organization was known as The Society for Arts in Healthcare but is now known as The Global Alliance for Arts in Healthcare. You can find out more about the organization (here). Many opportunities exist for artists to bring their work into healthcare settings. The Global Alliance has information on opportunities, grants and more for interested artists.

So stay tuned on Mondays and we will cover what’s happening in the field of Arts in Healthcare. My project was called Art to Heart and had two parts. One part looked at the effects of art on the patients of a cardiac unit of a large hospital. The other part looked at the difference the art made to the nursing staff and to the artists. You can check out part two at: The research with the patients is still out and we hope to see it in print soon. I’ll be talking about the research part of the project at The National Art Education Association (NAEA) annual conference in San Diego, CA in late March. Hope to see you art educators there! In the meantime, stay tuned on Mondays and we’ll talk about what artists are doing in healthcare.

Sunday Slideshow–Ice Castles

Ice Castles

Vivaldi’s Spring seemed appropriate music to go with all the ice formations lining the walls of the roadways surrounding Nashville.  The ice formations were quite spectacular during the polar vortex.  Hopefully, spring is on the way.  I’ve had enough cold for one year!