July 8, 2011
Yesterday, Donna MacDonald of Calgary, Alberta wrote, "Is there a possibility
that painting might improve your health? I've suffered from chronic migraines
for over 30 years and I've noticed an amazing phenomenon. On the days that I
paint I don't get a migraine! At first I thought it was a coincidence but after
close observation to the timing it's become evident that there's a correlation.
I started painting full time 5 years ago and it has literally changed my life!
Have you heard of this?"
artists. So when you mentioned you don't have them when you're painting, it
was music to my ears. Migraines are still not fully understood by the medical
profession. There are several main types, and adult women are three times more
likely to have them as adult men. "Triggers" like stress, hunger, drink, diet
and bright or moving lights can set them off. Apparently, a neurotransmitter
called serotonin plays a role. Low serotonin levels in the brain may lead to
constriction of blood vessels. Serotonergic agonists like triptins, LSD or
psilocin can activate serotonin receptors to stop a migraine.
Many painters find painting to be a leveling sanctuary in an otherwise frantic
world. Perhaps it's because of the heightened involvement, challenge, and
attention to detail that painting requires. Fact is, many of us attest to
"feeling no pain" while painting. While the act of painting may not perk up
your depleted serotonin, it may release something I'm calling "muselocin." This
is the nice stuff you feel when you're finding your muse.
Yes, others have reported to me that it's important to anticipate a good day
rather than a bad one. The potentially afflicted artist needs to set up,
squeeze out, choose the right background music and, with a tall glass of cold
water, start to work. After a few minutes, mildly hypnotized by the job at
hand, the painter-patient becomes pleasantly "lost."
I can't attest to great gushes of good goo being released into the blood, but
artists tell me they feel like something magic is happening. The élan of
painterly process and ongoing accomplishment certainly eats time. It may just
head off pain as well. Back problems, anxiety and arthritis also respond to this
underutilized and inexpensive drug.
PS: "Making art is good for your health, especially if it is done in fun."
Esoterica: The motivation to work against all odds also arises when you bring
to your art a sense of service. By that I mean doing it for someone, or for
some noble cause. The art of giving neutralizes pain, both mental and physical.
"Artists are just as important as doctors and nurses," says Marni California.
"People need nourishing of their souls as well as their bodies; in Navajo
culture the medicine man and artist are one and the same." We'Publish Post
Interestingly, Donna contributes 10% of her profits from the sale of her
paintings to Kiva, an organization that provides loans to people in third world
countries to start or expand a business. "A wonderful way to feel like I'm
making a difference!" she says.
Current clickback: "Flavour of the month" takes a look at the compulsion of
collecting art, and the business of getting others to tell you what you need.
A panel of Donna MacDonald's work is also included. Your further comments are
Read this letter online and give us your insight into the possible healing
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The Workshop Calendar: A selection of workshops and seminars laid out in
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Donna MacDonald is at firstname.lastname@example.org
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