Touch Drawing at Saint John's Hospital
Stroke Retreat & Refresh Weekend
Facilitated by Janet Nix October 10-12, 2008
Written by Debbie Woodford, RN, BS,
Director of Outcomes Management, Saint John’s Hospital
Touch Drawing is a way for stroke survivors, their care-givers and anyone with or without limited mobility to create, express and feel.
A group of passionate health care professionals at Saint John’s Hospital began planning the first Stroke Retreat in early 2008. (www.st-johns.org) We partnered with Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp to provide a fun filled weekend of retreat with stroke survivors, caregivers and family members. It included education, socialization, relaxation and support for all in the beautiful setting of the Chiara Center, one of the healing ministries of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. It offers hospitality to those seeking peace; provides an environment, experience and resources for contemplative living and promotes the Franciscan values of peace, reconciliation and justice.
As soon as the planning of our retreat began, we knew the Holy Spirit was involved. At the proposal meeting with camp staff, administration and interested staff at Saint John’s Hospital, Janet Nix excitedly approached us with the idea of Touch Drawing as one of the activities of the weekend.
Through this direct drawing process even someone with limited mobility, such as a stroke survivor, becomes a unique creative artist. The hands become extensions of the soul, moving freely in response to the sensations of the moment. Touch drawing unleashes creative, psychological and spiritual healing.
Janet led the group of stroke survivors, caregivers and volunteer staff from Saint John’s Hospital. As she explained the process of Touch Drawing, there was confusion and possibly boredom on the faces in the group. However once the process began, each person regardless of their mobility was drawn into the creative activity doing one drawing after another. Some were laughing and chatting. Others were quiet and introspective as they created from within. Many stayed for the second session. Everyone wanted to be sure they retrieved their creations when they dried. Their drawings were a reminder of this special weekend where they were ‘normal’, loved and cared for by those at the retreat and by the Holy Spirit. Marylee Nunley, Director of Stroke Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp is so impressed with the activity and its effect on stroke survivors that she plans to have Touch Drawing at their 2009 camps. (See www.strokecamp.org) If you would like to engage in discussion on this topic, you can join our online community and then join Touch Drawing & SoulCards in the Hospital Setting.
A Lifetime of Creating
On February 20th
, 2009 Victoria Anderson and the Expressive Arts Gallery of Sarasota had a special opening of art that I've done since being diagnosed with Parkinson's seven years ago. It was based on the premise that the need to create should and can continue throughout ones lifetime, even when one has Parkinson's; thus the title An Art Continuum
. It started on one wall and continued on to the next showing the progression of changes in style,
techniques and mediums including the use of the computer as the disease progressed. It ended with the my Touch Drawings, along with a statement I made concerning my present exposure to the art of Touch Drawing and how it fits into my desire to continue to create.
I find in Touch Drawing an intuitive spontaneous way to release the images that dwell somewhere inside of me. They seem to flow through my finger tips and onto the paper, giving me information and feedback that I need to be alert to and respond to. It’s a visual dance I do between me and the paper that I find extremely pleasurable, tactile and addictive. It's like going to church and singing right out loud. It gives me one more tool in fighting this thing called Parkinson’s.
You can see many more Touch Drawings that Irv has created and other artwork from his exhibition, on his member page in the Online Community. You can also join the TDParkinsonians group.