Red and purple painting mocked up on a wall, by Hermine Harman

One aspect of being sequestered in our homes during this COVID-19 experience is a lot more staring at our walls. So it seems like a good time to explore this idea of ‘Color as Curative’ and think about how to bring vibrant energy inside. (Featured above: In the Royal Flow, reproduced to custom size.)

How do you feel about your walls? Art, more than most other acquisitions, tends to stay with us for long periods of time. This speaks to the fond emotions of selecting the artworks as well as the power of the artwork to continue to speak back to us over time. Many people are using this time to re-arrange their rooms and their art, as an easy “refresh” to your space.

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
– Pablo Picasso

What comes first: the art or the room?

Interior designers may disagree about whether to select art first, then design the room, or to design the room and add art as one of the final touches. Both methods have their advantages, depending on your available space and your time frame. Here are two tips from Fresh Home:

When choosing a piece of wall art to be a focal point for your space, the most important consideration is size. An artwork that is too small will get dwarfed by the surrounding furniture and a piece that is too big will look as though it is spilling over. Make sure to take measurements of the wall space available, so you know how much room you have at your disposal.

Wall art is that finishing element that can help pull a space together and make it feel complete. It is that little extra touch that can take your space from simply looking functional to appearing as if it should grace the pages of an interior design magazine.

Despite thousands of years of art inspiring us from the sublime to the stupendous, it is still common to see art dismissed as a frivolous purchase, not a necessary element to living a healthy and radiant life. Naturally, we disagree, as does the writer, Stephen King. He shared this recently on Twitter:

Hospital Rooms

Another profound example is a British project called Hospital Rooms. Their intention is to bring original art and murals to the hospital setting, to specifically and intentionally provide this curative creativity to what are typically dull public spaces. They are “an arts and mental health charity that commissions extraordinary artworks for NHS mental health inpatient units across the UK.” One of the side benefits is how the art supports the caregivers as well as the patients. They believe art can “provide joy and dignity and to stimulate and heal.”

photo of a nengi omuku painting with red and white

Here are a few comments on this project at Eileen Skellern 1, a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for women at the Maudsley Hospital in South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust:

‘Come and sit with your pain and watch the artwork unfold.’
– Patient, Eileen Skellern 1

‘It feels like pushing boundaries. Things you thought could never be considered at all are now being considered.’
– Staff member, Eileen Skellern 1

‘You can connect using the art. I would always hope that, as a doctor, I consider the patient in front of me as a whole person with a whole life, not just who I’m seeing at that time. I think the artwork really reminds you of that. It prompts and ensures that you are continuing to think because it evokes conversations and stimulates things that you don’t normally get into during a normal clinical interview.’
– Staff member, Eileen Skellern 1

Using Color Intentionally

I’ve often called myself a ‘color maximalist’ and my original paintings were part of my therapy after the suicide death of my only child. I have a visceral and intense connection to color and throughout my career have used color as a primary means of expression. Much of this takes place deep in my intuition; I discover the title and the meaning of the artworks after they’ve been completed.

When researching this article, I found this quote from Thrive Global, which really captured this for me:

All living creatures when wounded succumb into a space where they can heal. For humans, wounds of the heart and of the mind need special escape routes, sanctuaries and landscapes. Now imagine a world where people fill their life with colorful art specifically tailored to their emotional needs and drives. A world where the pursuit of happiness is tightly interlaced with creativity, color, art.

Art triggers the brain’s ability to grow new connections, which is called neuroplasticity, a vital phenomenon for mental health and the prevention of neurological diseases.

Neuroplasticity: Art Changes the Brain

If you want to go deeper, this a fabulous podcast episode (embedded below) from the University of Sydney discussing in detail how art heals and connects us, even changing how the brain functions:

Studies have also found that frequent engagement with art actually reorganises the frontal cortex, resulting in enhanced creativity and lessening of inhibitions. These inhibitions can be what prevent us from taking part in art in the first place – the fear of not being good enough or worrying what other people think.

Color Meanings

Color can influence our moods and these effects have been studied for ages. If you’re interested, check out this article on 7 Best Colors for Healing. Or follow your own intuition and bring colors inside that wither calm you or enliven you or both!

Color as Curative Commissions

Please contact me if you would like to talk about color or commission a ‘Color as Curative’ original artwork for your home or office or healing space. If you like one of my original paintings but it isn’t the size you want, I can make you a “remarque” – a high quality reproduction that can be sized to your wishes and printed on metal, face-mounted acrylic, or other materials.

Here are two more ‘mockups.’ The original paintings are 12×12, though these placements show the artwork at a larger size. You have so many options for bringing the vibrant color energy inside!

Life’s Lemons

photo of the painting, Life's Lemons, on the wall near a desk.

Give Em the Boot

Give em the Boot, painting on a living room wall, by Hermine Harman

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