Why art from the heart is good for the soul

By: Caren Kreger

I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember. As a child, I’d spend hours at the kitchen table copying the art from my favorite movies (mostly Disney, of course). I would draw every character from The Lion King before even thinking about my homework.

It wasn’t until high school that I discovered the art of lettering. I’d combine letters and colors in ways that made me feel something (usually hunger; snack foods were my favorite subject back then). The creative process was freeing and fun. My colorful creations could cheer up others or distract myself. I knew I was creative, but I didn’t realize the power of creativity until much later.

I never pursued a career as an artist, it just happened. After graduating from high school, I wanted to help others. “Starving artist” was not for me. With a specialization in mental health, I became a recreation therapist. I worked in several psychiatric hospitals with people from all walks of life. Art was still a part of my life, but I mostly used it as a tool to help my patients. We would cut and paste, collage, and color. It was satisfying to build a space where people could explore and create. I saw many patients grow and express their innermost thoughts and feelings in ways that weren’t possible through traditional talk therapy.

Ironically, I taught self-expression and the benefits of creativity to my patients, but it wasn’t until I began dealing with my own struggles that I prioritized my own art.

I was a new mom, living in a new city, and needed my own creative outlet. I wanted to learn calligraphy. I had a few books to learn from (thanks, Calligraphy for Dummies), and I looked forward to drawing every evening. I followed calligraphers and artists on social media, and I was hooked.

I quickly dropped calligraphy and moved on to lettering, filling every spare minute drawing. I tried every medium I could get my hands on and had so much fun creating that I was able to move through my pain.

Making time every day for art was hard, but it helped me let go of the negative thoughts and feelings that were consuming me. I finally understood the power of creativity that I witnessed so many times through my patients.

Once I discovered this “medicine,” I couldn’t keep it myself I began sharing my art on social media with the desire to put positive messages into the world. Three years after starting my daily practice, I’m proud to say I’m now a full-time artist who gets to work with amazing people and create delightful, impactful creations. Life is good.

Caren Kreger is the artist and maker behind Everyday Hooray. You can find her work here and follow her creations on Instagram.

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