Friday, August 31, 2012

Body and Soul- Art for health

Reprinted from

Now, onto integrating Creativity in Healthcare…

Effects of Art in Lowering Pain Levels

The power of art to heal emotional, spiritual and psychic wounds is well known, but could looking at art considered beautiful or magnificent have the same effect on physical pain? Researchers at the University of Bari in Italy also wondered this and decided to investigate.mhand-crystallized-testosterone-estrogen-sm

Research was coordinated by the neurological and psychiatric sciences department at the University of Bari, Italy. Principle investigator, Dr Marinade Tommaso, concludes that looking at paintings identified as ‘beautiful’ may lower pain levels in hospital patients, than those looking at bare walls or plain pictures in disrepair. (crystallized testosterone & estrogen, Marti Hand)

Lead researcher and neurologist, Dr Marina de Tommaso and assistants asked 24 healthy adults (12 women & 12 men) to select 20 paintings they considered most ugly, and most beautiful from a selection of 300 starry-night-van-goghworks by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso and Botticelli from an online art website.

They were then asked to contemplate either the beautiful paintings, ugly paintings, or a blank panel while the team administered short laser pulses on their hands causing a pricking sensation. Below are the conclusions made by the researchers of the study:

  • The subjects rated the pain as being 1/3 less intense while viewing the ‘beautiful’ paintings compared with the pain levels experienced while viewing paintings they considered ugly or the blank panel.
  • Brain wave activity showed a reduced response to the pain when birth-of-venus-botticellithe subject looked at positive or beautiful paintings, such as Starry Night by Van Gogh and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli. Artwork considered ugly or plain included art by Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero and Antonio Bueno. Remember, the subjects selected the art they considered beautiful, ugly or uncomely at the beginning of the study.
  • Dr. Tommaso states, “Beauty obviously offers a distraction that picassougly things do not. But at least there is no suggestion that ugly surroundings make the pain worse.” By viewing aesthetically pleasing artwork, pain levels maybe reduced or changed at the cortical level in the brain.
  • *Brain scans showed “a clear inhibition of the P2 wave amplitude, localised in the anterior cingulate cortex”. (The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays a role in regulating blood pressure and heart rate, cognitive functions such as anticipating reward, decision-making, empathy and emotion).

Sources: 1)de Tommaso M, Sardaro M, Livrea P. Aesthetic value of paintings affects pain thresholds. Consciousness and Cognition Dec 2008; 17(4): 1152-1162. 2) University World News, 3) New Scientist


Creative Interventions in Healthcare:

  • Art-making
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Humor
  • Laughter clubs
  • Art exhibits with artwork created by patients, families, professional staff
  • Indoor and outdoor gardens
  • Art at the bedside
  • Creative interventions for healthcare professionals
  • Integrative medicine modalities
  • Limitless possibilities

Below are 2 paintings created by 2 participants in a Creativity Workshop for People with Cancer & Families. What’s more interesting than the fact of it being their first time painting are their stories behind the paintings.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Interview with a Southern Belle

Where are you from?

I spent the first eighteen years of my life growing up in north central Louisiana with my very large extended family and friends.

How long have you been in this area?

We have been in this area for 52 years. Luther, my husband of 51 years, and I came here from El Paso, Texas in 1960. He was an Engineer for Sun Oil Co. for 35 years before his death a year ago. Our house was built in 1929 on a private lane and it's been our home in Media for 44 years. We lived in San Francisco and Alberta, Canada for a few years. This house is a perfect show place for your art work.

Do you/did you work outside of home? What did/do you do?

In 1976, I helped open Claire's Boutique in the Granite Run Mall where I became manager for 10 years.....then was a district supervisor for eleven of their stores for another 2 years. My favorite job though was for Old Marple Vet. Hospital where I worked in the office and got to know and love the animal clients........even adopted a cat from there.

What are your hobbies?

When I was much younger I had lots of hobbies but have slowed down some now. Gardening was always my favorite but now a handyman does all the outside area and I take care of the orchids and many plants inside. I still love to do embroidery, crewel embroidery and cross-stitch. Baking and cooking is still something that I enjoy.......especially for Kat and Nate,my grandchildren.

What brings you joy in life?

Like most grandparents, I have to say that my grandchildren, Kat and Nate, have brought much joy to my life every day for the past 19 years. Their home is always so full of laughter, singing, sports conversation and animals. I feel much joy when my family and friends come to visit. Trips back home to Louisiana bring me joy and fill my heart with love.

You collect several artists including myself. How many of my paintings do you own now?

I have purchased six original paintings of which I've given two as gifts to friends.

Which ones?

The originals I have in my home are:

Up, Up and Away

Beltie Balloons


Autumn Cows 1

I gave the original of " Fairy Cows" to an artist friend, Iris Innes and "Escaping With My Friends" to my son, Marty. I liked those two so much that I bought a print of them for myself.

Do you have a favorite?

It's hard to say that I have a favorite. They all say something different to me. My first two purchases were the hot air balloons because I was going through such a difficult time with Luther's illness that I wanted to float away in one of the balloons. The funny cows with no faces make me smile deep down. As of now I don't have any of your couch people or cats.

What made you want to collect my paintings?

I first saw your paintings in my daughter, Donna Sottung's home. She has quite a few of the cows and she commissioned you to do one for her daughter's graduation.........which by the way was awesome!!! Donna took me to your open house where I fell in love with so many of them. I knew from just looking at them one time that they would make me smile and feel good every time I walked into a room with them in it.

What is your favorite thing about my work?

Color! Color! Color! and what is happening in each painting.

You also commissioned me to do a painting for your son. Why did you think that he would like my art?

I asked you to paint "Escaping With My Friends" for my son Marty. The painting depicts him as the soft adorable Beltie, his hunting buddies as the camouflage cow and his colorful fun friends floating away from or arriving at his farm. I knew he would love the concept, the colors and the memories it held for him. He loves all the KOH paintings he's seen.

Which other artists do you collect?

I have five art boxes hanging on my walls, one table box and two large oil paintings done by Iris Innes and a Shaker style floor clock made by her husband who also makes fine furniture. Her art work and a video can be seen at I also have originals painted by my husband, my sister and a dear friend from Louisiana. Karen, all these and yours mean more to me than the Wyeth and Scarborough that I have.

If you could change the world in one significant way, what would it be? As all hopeful Miss America's say "I would wish for world peace" BUT seriously at my age I would like to see more kindness and love going out to everyone we know.

Thank you Nelva for your support of my art and other artists. Without people like you, we wouldn't be able to do what we do :0)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nature Inspires Art

At the Lascaux caves in France, paintings more than 17,000 years old depict horses, deer, bulls and other animals that once roamed the land.

Two paintings from the Ming Dynasty show the important role nature has played in Chinese art. Mountains in particular were revered as the manifestation of “qi”—nature’s power.

French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau, known for his exotic landscapes, once said: “Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.”

Often described as the “Father of Modern Art,” Paul Cezanne was moved to paint the image of Mont Sainte-Victoire in southern France more than 60 times.

From the beginning of human history, nature has played a vital role in our creative expression. The lands and waters we rely on for daily survival shape how we view and interpret the world around us. And in turn, the art we create from nature’s inspiration becomes part of our personal and cultural identity.

In the United States, many people have rafted down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn or proudly sang of America’s “purple mountain majesties” – a reference to Pike’s Peak in Colorado.

In China, since the earliest dynasties, artists have glorified mountains as being the manifestation of nature’s vital power “qi,” attracting rain clouds that water crops and providing medicinal herbs that cure the sick. And in France, cave paintings have been found of horses, deer and bulls dating back more than 17,000 years.

Nature’s beauty and power is ingrained in our lives, our history and our culture. By conserving nature, we are helping nurture our artistic spirit and ensuring that future generations will continue to find inspiration in the natural world around us.

(-Reprinted from The Nature Conservancy)

Ansel Adams looked to nature as his muse. This photo of Grand Teton National Park, WY, is from a series of photos commissioned in 1941 by the Interior Department.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” in Pennsylvania exemplifies the influence nature played in the architect’s designs. “I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work,” Wright said.

Claude Monet’s famous “water lilies” series was based on his garden at his home in Giverny, France.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hunters Rob Citizens of Paradise

One of the best things about living in Southern Chester County Pa. is the many pristine and beautiful Nature Preserves that make up a good portion of my 12 square mile township. Along with the cow farms, horse farms and wineries, these are the places that recharge me as a person and inspire me as an artist. After a hot, hot summer in which I did not care to go outside much to excercise but opted for the YMCA instead, I have started to really look forward to my favorite time of year- Autumn.

With the temperatures already beginning to cool, I have felt motivated to get up in the morning to head to one of my favorite spots to hike. White Clay Creek State Park straddles Pa. and Delaware with some trails beginning about 1 mile from my house in Pa. It is a spectacular place to walk along the creek as attested to by the many joggers, bikers, and dog walkers that I usually pass along my way. One of my other favorite places is Crossan Park in Franklin Preserve.

Recently I learned that I have to be willing to take my chances on having an arrow shot in my back or getting shot with a gun if I want to enjoy a walk in any of four Nature Preserves.(Goodwin, Banffshire, White Clay Creek Crescent, Franklin) Apparently, our local township supervisors have approved provisions for a private Hunting Club of about 30 members which puts local residents at risk.

Formerly limited to 2 weeks of archery hunting only, the gun club can now hunt for 6 weeks with bow and arrow and GUNS. There is no restriction on the hours and the parks will remain open.
The best part? They are allowing children under 18 to hunt!

Therefore, township residents who pay for these parks are restricted in their usage of them for the recreation of 30 people. The Supervisors who approved this are selling it as deer management even though they voted to dissolve as unnecessary the oversight group previously formed and set in place for that purpose.

I am glad to know about this. I was able to warn my daughter that she and her friends should not enter the woods near our local park. I know that I can't go in there. Uninformed people however, who may decide to go out for a walk at the wrong time could end up shot by by some 12 year old with a gun or an overzealous adult.

There is no other township in our county that allows such insanity in their township owned parks. I just pray that no one ends up hurt or worse before ours figures out that this is a bad idea.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Field trip

On Wednesday, I took a little field trip to Philadelphia with my friend Stacey, a jewelry designer. Since I make pottery and she makes sterling silver and porcelain pieces (Stormflight Designs), we were headed to The Ceramic Shop on Amber Street off of Alleghany Avenue. Located in a factory building in a part of Philly that is a little sketchy, we made our way down at around 9 am to arrive at opening at 10. The one plus to this location is that unlike the rest of Philadelphia, p
arking was easy and free. Walking in the doors is like entering a candy store for artists.
Chock full of walls lined with glazes and underglazes, tools, molds and utensils of every sort, we couldn't wait to start perusing the shelves. Its kind of a haul to get down there and we could have shopped online, but its much more fun, to hold a jar of glaze in your hands and get your questions about it answered by Aaron, the very sweet, personable guy who appears to mostly run the register but is ever so helpful when asked.

I had some goals for new pieces that I wanted to make and he was really helpful in steering me toward a new clay body that I had never used to achieve my goals. (I have since used it and am wondering where it has been all my life :0) Also, not having years of experience with clay he explained a lot to me about glazes and underglazes. Stacy also had a lot of questions which he was more than happy to help with.

They carry several brands of glazes like Coyote, Amaco, Spectrum and their own blend. They also have about every tool imaginable and make plaster molds, kiln stilts, and hydrobats. (Which I love)
They also carry kilns, wheesl and kiln supplies, so there isn't much you could need and not be able to find there. If you are in the market for a modified potters wheel which acts as a functioning turntable, they even have one of those!

All in all, we had a fun and productive trip. We walked out of there with our purchases which we couldn't wait to get home and use, but not before a stop at the Reading Terminal Market for a delicious lunch and dessert. But that's another post...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What are the French Thinking?

I recently had the pleasure of taking my first trip to France. What an experience! We started in Paris. First stop- the Louvre. I went on a tour with a friend of mine, so the way that things worked out on that first day, we had an hour and a half to explore one of the greatest museums in the world. I took off and made a beeline for the items I knew I wanted to see, The Venus of Samothrice, the Mona Lisa (what a rock star), the Wedding at Cana, The Seated Scribe, in addition to the egyptian sculptures and artifacts and the monumental paintings by Delacroix. Day 1. After an all night flight, already thrilling but exhausting.

The morning of Day Two, we headed off to the Palace of Versailles to discover all of its royal opulence. Begun in 1660 it began life as a hunting lodge in the woods. Over the years into the reign of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette, it became the largest palace in Europe and the seat of absolute political power during their reign to the French Revolution. The building and grounds are of obvious historical significance and the care and up keeping serves to give one the sense of what it must have been like to live as a French Monarch in such and incredibly beautiful and palatial palace. As I walked a round, I got lost in my imaginings of royal life among such finery.

But, suddenly, my musings became rudely interrupted when I started noticing among all the gilded frames, fine crystals and tapestries- large over sized, childlike, pop-art sculptures by Portuguese pop artist Joana Vasconcelos. The sculptures were interesting, fun, whimsical, and bright. "But". I kept asking myself, "what were they doing here?"
Our guide Thierry, told us that in 2008, the director of Versailles, thought it would be a great idea to bring in modern art to show that Versaille was still alive and not just a relic of the past. MIss Vasconcelos, follows other famous pop artists like Jeff Coons and Takashi Murakami's in installing their unique brand of art throughout the palace and grounds.
Pop- art refers to the POPular culture. It lifts up items and ideas of the current society and elevates them to being high art. I can see the humor in these pieces on their own I can see the comments being made about opulent life in an opulent place. I can see the comments being made about materialism and sexism as it was played out in 17th century life in this amazing example of power and wealth. I get the art. But did it belong here?

I hated its presence. I was angry. As an artist, you might think that I would appreciate art wherever it showed up, but I couldn't help but feel assaulted by its presence everywhere that I encountered it. I had come to see a beautiful, historical, magnificent piece of history, gleaming and astonishing all on its own, and my ruminations about the things that might have taken place in these rooms, in the beautiful garden, kept being interrupted by what felt like commercials on TV- inescapable annoyances. It was like graffiti.

I don't understand why in a place like France, so rich in beauty and history, home to HUNDREDS of fine museums in which to hold art exhibits, felt it necessary to display these works in this place. It may be what this director wanted, but why would the French put up with it without an outcry? Would the American people welcome Christo wrapping the Statue of Liberty or Jeff coons plopping one of his giant blow up dogs in the chamber of Independence Hall? I don't know.

I like the work, but I feel there is a time and place for it, and Versailles was just not that time or place. In my humble opinion. I invite you to weigh in...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Interview with a Designer

Daphne Bradley, a very talented designer, tells us about herself, her work and how she ended up designing an entire guest room around some of my paintings.

Karen : Where are you from?

Daphne: Born and raised here in Southern Chester County. My children happen to be fourth generation Avon Grove students. I love it here.

Karen: What inspired you to become a designer?

Daphne: I have to say that I have always had a crafty/ creative side. I can remember when I was little I would always move things in my bedroom and around the house, loved to pick flowers and arrange them in glasses. I would make things out of just about anything you could think of. But really what shaped me into becoming a designer was growing up with a father that was always building or painting. He built our family home while I was growing up. He wasn’t shy with letting us help. Hammer, nails, paint brush….I learned to use them all and haven’t put them down since.

Karen: How long have you been a designer?

Daphne: I graduated college in 1991. I’d love to say that I have been designing since then, however family life soon began and I stayed home to raise my children. In 1994 I began a craft business and did that for several years. I just need that creative outlet. In 1999 I shifted gears a little and started working part time in an antique shop. Few years later I found myself managing a furniture store until it closed in 2007. Early 2008 I was encouraged by many of my loved ones to start my own design business. I love design, color, and people and just find it fun. So this started Design By Daphne.

Karen: How long have you had your own business?

Daphne: I have been in business now for just over 4 years.

Karen: What types of rooms do you specialize in?

Daphne: I really do not limit myself to any one room. I love them all. I tend to find inspiration from my clients and my creativity flows.

Karen: Who is your typical client?

Daphne: Most of my clients are middle class. I have designed for all ages. I find most of my clients are stuck with out inspiration or don’t know where to get started, and that is when they call upon me. I am able to dig out their ideas put them all together, along with a few of my own; to create the space they have been dreaming of.

I also have a few Commercial clients; of course their needs are much different and a bit more demanding. All the same I love what I do and design happens.

Karen: Price range?

Daphne: My consultation fees vary, depending on what your over all needs are.

Karen: What geographic area do you serve?

Daphne: Southern Chester county and Northern Delaware (Newark, Wilmington, Bear, Middletown, New Castle, )

Karen: You designed a room around some of my paintings, which ones? How did that idea come about?

Daphne: It all started a few years ago when my sister and I were at the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square. We found you and your art work displayed in the art hall. My sister fell in love with the Raining Broccoli (Eat Your Broccoli) with cows print. Bought it and planned to hang it right away in her kitchen. A few years went by; the print never got framed and just sat upright on the ledge. She wound up moving, and the cows got packed away. I helped her paint her new home, unpack, etc. Well during this time, she and I ventured out to another local craft fair, and we ran into you again, finding two more paintings that she just couldn’t live without. My sister asked me how she could work these into her new home as the new place really didn’t have any wall space in the kitchen. So the designer in me went to work. Coming up with the idea to display them in the Guest room, so that everyone who comes to stay would get to enjoy them and feel happy. Your paintings are so fun and full of life. That’s how the room came about. Fun colors that make you smile, whimsical mix match furnishings and endless imagination. And Yes, for Adults. Why should the kids be the only ones to enjoy fun colors?

Karen: What are the elements in my paintings that you pulled out to base your design on?

Daphne: I designed the room mostly from the fun colors in the paintings. I choose a fun stripe pattern for the walls in vibrant colors. It all happened from inspiration on the whimsical fun of your art.

Karen: Most of my collectors are adults who buy my paintings for themselves, yet very often, when I am at outdoor shows, I hear people remark how great they would be for kids rooms, which they are, but here people can see how they can be incorporated into a sophisticated, yet colorful and fun adult room.

Karen: What other items, colors, framing options etc.. might you incorporate with them in another room (kitchen for example) to create a cohesive display?

Daphne: To answer this, I would like to see them in some old carved frames of all shapes and sizes that were sprayed in a few bright fun colors (or one to keep it simple). Gallery them together on a wall near a writing desk, or behind a living room sofa. How fun?


Karen: What is your best decorating advice?

Daphne: Don’t be afraid ! Buy art that you love, hang it at eye level so you can enjoy it pull colors and inspiration from that art. Your home is your canvas and doesn’t have to look like it came from a magazine. Enjoy it!

For more information about Daphne and her work, here is where you can find her:

Design By Daphne, LLC

302-354-4158 or 484-897-0030