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Art and Gratitude

by Iris Mack Dayoub in Insights from Iris

Going back to school has added to my understanding and appreciation of gratitude. Taking two classes — Drawing I and Introduction to Photography — may not have been the smartest way to enter retirement. Lots of homework has kept me very busy.

     While learning basic techniques and new perspectives, I am being exposed to art of all forms; and often a step in one direction leads to a whole new aspect of art. This happened recently when a google search led me to discover a wonderful book, The Soul’s Palette, Drawing on Art’s Transformative Powers by Cathy A. Malchiodi.  Making art, according to the author, may be as important to your physical and spiritual health as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, or meditation. Expressing yourself creatively—through drawing, painting, sculpture, photography—allows you to tap into a source of inner wisdom that provides guidance, soothes emotional pain, and revitalizes your being.
     The Soul’s Palette reveals art’s transformative powers. Exercises include working with materials for drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage; simple drawing and journal projects; self-guided meditations and affirmations; ideas for cultivating intuition, inspiration, and spontaneity; exploring personal symbols; and making art a spiritual practice.
     I am grateful for the positive feedback from my instructors and classmates that has given me the courage to share my art with others. You will see some of this in greeting cards from your Alpha Team this coming year.
     Jazz musician Lionel Hampton once said, “Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” Neuroscience might argue about the actual storage, but a growing body of research on positive psychology tells us that gratitude is good for body and mind. Making art is an example of the true purpose of imagination — making day-to-day life special through creativity and in doing so, sharing our thanks. In making art for others, I am also doing a service to myself because it gives me the grace to find forgiveness and understanding and to let go and move forward in gratitude.


Sandra Earley
Sandra here, reviewing your website. So glad to see 3 comments on "Art and Gratitude." How thrilling! As a writer, I wish that you had TWO musings here. One about gratitude and its relation to art and the making of art, the other about studying art in university in retirement, about schooling in retirement in general.
Thanks for your comment on my recent post on the eclipse. The Soul's Palette sounds interesting. I recently read David Whyte's "The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America" and would recommend it as a book that seeks to merge work and art and creativity into a healthy life.
I see my paintings as mathematical precision of gradation, radiation, repetition, and purity of form and color that can become anything. For while I am painting and working there is no time. All time seems to cease. What feels like a few minutes are in fact many hours later. I'm immersed in my work and with my G-d.
Most of my art is painted in acrylics on reclaimed architectural salvage from my neighborhood, a historic district where many of the houses still stand empty and others are just getting rehabbed after the hurricane. I collect roof slate and ridge tile, old windows and siding, cypress doors and thick baseboard with layers of peeling, crackled paint. These reclaimed pieces already have so much character, when a customer buys my art they take home a bit of the history of New Orleans too.

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