The Benefits of Creating Artwork… It’s More than Just a Pretty Picture!

Each month, we honor an artist from our Art Showcase in our Artist of the Month series.  But have you taken a moment to look through the Art Showcase to see what you’ll find? In addition to a wide variety of beautiful pieces of art, you’ll find personal stories written by the artists. These stories add a whole new dimension to the artwork, allowing you to read about the artist and learn what inspires him or her to create.

In looking through these stories, you’ll find one common theme: In addition to creating a piece of art, the act of doing the art is extremely therapeutic – and this is true whether drawing or painting, as well as crafting, knitting, or throwing a clay pot on a pottery wheel. It often changes one’s outlook and gives individuals a new purpose in life.

These positive effects are exciting to hear and are certainly not limited to MSAA’s Art Showcase! The entire field of art therapy is based on the benefits derived from the creative process and the resulting artwork, and these advantages may be experienced by children, adults of any age, healthy individuals, and individuals with physical, emotional, or psychological challenges.

Numerous studies have been conducted with healthy individuals as well as those with various conditions to examine the positive effects of creating artwork. One small study found that the women with MS who participated in a creative art program experienced significant increases in self-esteem, social support, and self-efficacy to function with MS (self-efficacy is the ability we believe we have to meet challenges and achieve goals). The study also saw a strong effect on hope. The authors concluded that creative art has the potential to enhance the lives of those living with MS.

Another small study conducted in Ireland found that the group of adults with MS who participated in creative classes experienced deep immersion in their artwork, offering respite from worry about their illness. The art-making processes and artwork created increased emotional wellbeing and promoted self-worth, while attending the classes provided an opportunity for social camaraderie and learning. Artwork even helped to support their identity and to accommodate functional losses associated with MS. Participants expressed the feeling that art was “opening new doors” for them.

The American Art Therapy Association at arttherapy.org explains that art therapy is a mental health profession in which art therapists use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to help their clients to explore their feelings and reconcile emotional conflicts. Among other benefits, they note that art therapy can help people to foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. Anyone interested in learning about art therapy or locating an art therapist in his or her area may visit this website for more information.

It’s important to note that you do not need to work with an art therapist to enjoy the rewards of creating artwork, nor do you need to be an artist or believe you have any “talent” as an artist. While an art therapist may be very helpful to someone who is experiencing emotional or psychological issues, including depression or anxiety… or to someone recovering from an illness or coping with a medical condition… anyone is free to explore his or her creative side… and discover the positive changes associated with creating his or her own works of art!

Another informative resource on the value of art is the Be Brain Fit website. This site was created by two health professionals and cites many published works relating to the benefits derived through art and the creative process. In this section of their website, they explain that creating art is a very effective way to stimulate the brain and that anyone can do it. To follow are a few points from Be Brain Fit, all supporting the positive effects of artwork.

Art relieves stress by enabling you to become totally immersed and providing a distraction for your mind. As you concentrate on details and pay more attention to your environment, it acts like a form of meditation. Many of the new coloring books being marketed to adults were designed with the idea of reducing stress, and have even helped veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Art uses both sides of your brain, encourages creative thinking, and enhances problem-solving skills. Art is thought to serve as a type of brain exercise and stimulates communication between various parts of the brain, creating new connections between brain cells. It also boosts self-esteem, provides a sense of accomplishment, and can help children to become better students. Art has even been shown to enhance cognitive abilities and memory for people with serious brain disorders, and has been shown to improve memory in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Now that you know some of the exciting benefits that art has to offer, this might be a great time to give art a try! You can start with a pencil and paper, a coloring book and pens, a craft kit from the store, paints and brushes, or a scrapbook and glue… whatever you might find to be interesting and fun. You can even enroll in a local art class. The results will surprise you! And who knows? Maybe the next MSAA Art Showcase will feature one of your works!

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November 2014 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2014 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

November Artist of the Month:
Terry Densford – Jacksonville, FL

 Terry Densford - Blue Blue

About the Artist:

I was diagnosed with MS on July 4th, 2011 – an easy date to remember…my MS affects my right side, from my face down to my toes, making it hard to speak, write, and other things we sometimes take for granted…

MS is something that hovers over my head. Will it get worse? If it does, how will it affect my life? When is the next time I will have another flare up? Where will I be? What will I be doing? Is my hand just asleep, or is it my MS? All normal questions I believe anyone who struggles with MS, unfortunately, asks themselves on a regular basis. All that being said, I consider myself lucky. I feel fortunate that I was diagnosed early; that there are medical advances out there that have helped me keep this disease under control. I push fear aside so I can continue to move forward. I intend to live my life as if there isn’t anything hindering its quality.”

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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Terry Densford and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

Calling All Artists with MS
It’s that time of year – MSAA is now accepting submissions for our 2015 Art Showcase! If you haven’t already done so, submit your best artwork by December 18th 2014 for a chance to be a part of next year’s Art Showcase.  

Submit your artwork for the 2015 MSAA Art Showcase.

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October 2014 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2014 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

October Artist of the Month:
Janice Paige – Bel Air, MD

 Janice Paige - Fall Fun

About the Artist:

“I am the mother of two grown sons and a wife of thirty-five years. I was a Special Educator for twenty-eight years…I obviously enjoy sketching and painting. I find it exciting and relaxing. 

I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in the winter of 1999 after a bout with the flu. The doctor that examined me indicated that my right side was weak and that something was going on with my brain. I was so afraid that I just went numb! I was referred to a neurologist who scheduled me for several MRI tests. I was also scheduled for a couple of spinal taps. However, I was not diagnosed for eight months.”

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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Janice Paige and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

It’s also that time of year – MSAA will soon be accepting submissions for our 2015 Art Showcase! Be on the lookout later this month on mymsaa.org for more information on how to submit your work or sign up to receive MSAA email updates to be the first to know when the Art Showcase is open for submissions!

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June 2014 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2014 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

June Artist of the Month:
Jayne Lemli – Sarasota, FL

 Beginner's Mind by Jayne Lemli - send this artwork

About the Artist:

“I am 57 years old, and at age 24 I had some strange neurological symptoms (mostly sensory and balance) suggestive of MS; but there were no MRIs back then, and I went undiagnosed for the next 29 years, with mild sensory symptoms remaining. In 2009, at age 53, I had another episode and was diagnosed via MRI (complete with black holes). I then experienced some other serious health issues, and in January of 2010 I decided I needed to do something for ME.

I had no prior experience with art at all, and no particular talent, but signed up for a watercolor class. I have been taking watercolor classes since, and LOVE it. I have also added kayaking and yoga to my list of passions. It feels great to have passion!”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Jayne Lemli and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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January Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the MSAA Art Showcase submissions.

January 2014 Artist of the Month:
Michelle Hotchkiss – Palmer, AK

 Midst of Winter by Michelle Hotchkiss - send this Artist Card

“My name is Michelle Hotchkiss. I live on a small farm in a small town in Alaska with my husband, a very large dog and my dog-tolerant cat. I have two wonderful adult children and two of the cutest grandchildren ever born.

I finally had a diagnosis of MS in 1994 after years of odd symptoms. In 1994, I had a serious and scary attack which resulted in diagnosis of MS within days. It took a while, but I fortunately recovered and was able to return to work and lead a very active and outdoorsy lifestyle.”

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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Michelle Hotchkiss and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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MSAA’s Artist of the Month for May 2013

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

May 2013 Artist of the Month:
Alexandr Rapoport – Palo Alto, CA

 Autumn Still Life by Alexandr Rapoport

About the Artist
Alexandr was born in Moscow, Russia in 1972. He loved art from a very young age and took years of private lessons to prepare him for Stroganov University of Art, where he graduated in 1996. Since then, he has worked as an artist and a designer. His works were displayed at several exhibits in Moscow, and later in America. Alexandr was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, but the disease didn’t decrease his interest in art, and he continues to draw as much as he can.

Read more about Alexandr

Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Alexandr Rapoport and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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MSAA’s Artist of the Month for April 2013

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the submissions.

April 2013 Artist of the Month:  Susan C. Russo – Pearland, TX

 

artist april 2013

 

 


 

 

 

“I have been interested in art since I was a child. I love the creative process. I just close my eyes and let my thoughts come to life. I feel that my work is an expression of God’s love and His gift to me. It would be a great injustice not to share the talent He has given me.

Additionally, art is a beautiful expression of not letting my MS gets the best of me. On days when I don’t feel all that well, I just pick up a brush or pastel and express my feelings in my paintings and drawings…”
Read more from Susan…

Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Susan C. Russo and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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March’s MS Artist of the Month

MSAA is very proud to present our 2013 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

March Artist of the Month:
Susan Bloom – Plainwell, MI

painting by Susan Bloom - Lion of the Tribe of Judah“In 1996, I was completing my bachelor’s degree and in a high stress job when I received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. At the time, I felt a great despair thinking life as I knew it was over. After coming to terms with my MS, which included going on disability from my job and discontinuing school, I knew I needed a change in my life…”
Read more about Susan Bloom’s story with MS and art

Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Susan Bloom and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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February’s Artist of the Month

Presenting MSAA’s Artist of the Month for February 2013

artist of the month 2_13

 

MSAA is very proud to present our Art Showcasecelebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

February Artist of the Month:
Mary E. Hetzel-Tingler – Hixson, TN

 “I was diagnosed with RRMS on Valentine’s Day 2006. I have been an artist nearly my entire life and this was quite a blow to be dealt, to not be able to create again. I started spending time daydreaming about the paintings I would do, and something magical happened. I started to visualize concepts, instead of just copying pictures or sitting outside and painting nature, or doing portraits like I did in the past. Even though I couldn’t paint them, I envisioned and captured the feelings and remembered them.

As I got more function back I did the first painting called ”Pitiful Joy” 2006. It was the first painting I did completely from my head, representing my loss of vision and speech, yet a mind alight with music, sculpture and art.”

Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Mary E. Hetzel-Tingler and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

 

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MSAA’s Artist of the Month – September 2012

MSAA Art ShowcasePresenting MSAA’s Artist of the Month for September 2012

MSAA is very proud to present our 2012 Art Showcasecelebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

September Artist of the Month:

Sheanean Chorette – Beggs, OK

Mystery Solved by Sheanean Chorette

 I was diagnosed a year ago with MS by doctor number 26. I knew something was wrong and it wasn’t just ‘in my head.’ I am strong and determined. My favorite word is ‘HOPE.’ I am a 42 year old wife and mother of 3. I have one grandson.

My love for art reaches back into my childhood. I was a doodler, always doodling on my papers at school. I am self-taught and have improved over time with practice and patience with myself. I teach an art class to 4th graders once a week at our local elementary. I have a passion for nature and art and often merge the two.”

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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Sheanean Chorette and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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