The Painter's Keys

I love to share with you, the letters' from The Painters' Keys, when I find them interesting & inspiring~

The home remedy

March 24, 2006

Dear Izabella,

On Thursday afternoon Joe Blodgett and I were at the bird sanctuary, chasing rainbows, walking Caravaggio and Dorothy. We were talking about Dr. Oliver Sacks--the widely published neurologist who has something to say about everything from Alzheimer's to Zoroastrianism. Readers may remember his observations of the calming and animating effects of art exhibitions on mentally disturbed patients.

Joe knows my interest in the neurology of art. He told me that while Dr. Sacks blurred science and art, he thought that his studies of isolated peoples had shed light on the actions of the creative mind. Current Art Therapy practice has certainly been affected by his writings--and his ideas have implications for active artists. Joe said that there was stuff going on around our studios that could be just what the doctor ordered. We came up with a few:

Focusing the mind on a higher purpose.
Exercising skills for sensitivity and understanding.
Employing idiosyncrasies and weaknesses for enrichment.
Blurring the area between reality and imagination.
Enduring monotony as the keys to freedom and action.
Yielding to and articulating the condition of isolation.
Making a contribution to the greater community.
Satisfying the inborn need for creation itself.
Attaching oneself to the miracles of nature.
Building of self-esteem by consecutive jobs well done.
Exploiting the richness of the childlike dreaming world.
Activating the mind to delay potential dementia.
Exercising the body through thought-gathering travel.
Making and sustaining friendships with interesting people.
Exercising the brain with bicameral interaction.
Building purpose-filled activity for joy of achievement.
Enhancing life through praise and appreciation.
Feeling of well-being derived from taking control.
Pacing work periods to suit individual capacity.
Seeking perfection in an imperfect world.

When we came to the place where the squirrels are, we let the dogs run. It was an imperfect pursuit. We still had more studio Sacksisms--all beginning with "ing" words. You'll notice that I didn't mention the feeling of well-being that one gets from a decent bank balance--the natural outcome of persistent labour. Joe mentioned that. Sacks never did. The squirrels won.

Best regards,


PS: "For the past century, clinical neurology has looked at illnesses, diseases, damages, abnormalities and the lower parts of the nervous system. It is only just now beginning to address itself to questions of sensibility, talent, skill, imagination, dreaming and consciousness." (Dr. Oliver Sacks) Esoterica: When artists enter their studios and begin to work, they intuitively know that there is something deeper going on--perhaps some sort of collective consciousness. We submit to this mystery and the timelessness of our craft. For some of us this understanding is the key to our feelings of well-being. By implication, it may be the well-being of our planet. "Creativity involves the depth of a mind, and many, many depths of unconsciousness." (Dr. Oliver Sacks)