Over the years, creativity and most specifically painting has been a personal passion. During those times when “life” did not allow me to be engaged in the creative process, I felt the impact of it on my whole being; being in pain, short tempered, anxious, and just not being able to fully enjoy “life.”
Five years ago, after a series of life events, I made a conscious decision that enough was enough. It did not matter if my days were too long, too busy or if I was too tired, I had to make time to be creative. I went through all the boxes I had stored and took out my art supplies. Every day, after work, I would go into this room (used mainly as storage) and just start putting paint onto the canvas/paper—it was not about what I would paint, but just the process of being creative. Soon, I noticed the chattering in my mind was getting less and less. I was becoming calmer and could think more clearly. It did not take me long to transform the bedroom into my studio and to fully delve into my artistic endeavors. I am now an exhibiting artist and have my paintings in many private collections, however, that is not the point. The point is that by being engaged in the creative process, I feel a sense of internal calm and satisfaction and am a happier and healthier person.
There is much research done on the impact of being engaged in the creative process and mental and physical health. Art has been used as a tool by therapists to support their clients and by individuals to express themselves creatively and to gain more insight about their life situations. Over the last two decades researchers and clinicians have explored the effectiveness of non-traditional creative/expressive therapies on heart health and reducing PTSD symptoms. “The application of creative and expressive therapies as part of treatment plans has recently shown significant and sustained benefit at leading institutions such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, and various VA institutions across the country” (http://www.artandhealing.org/initiative/ptsd). There are now certificate programs such as the Social Emotional Arts (SEA), to empower artists and educators to develop expressive arts curriculum in order to manage behavior and improve emotional well-being of youth and adults. (Social Emotional Arts from UCLArts and Healing, which is an organizational member of the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine. https://www.uclartsandhealing.net)
As an artist, art educator, and SEA certified practitioner, and one who experiences the benefits of being creative first hand, I am fully incorporating expressive arts into workshops and healing sessions I offer. This gives me an opportunity to support others, both as individuals and groups, through the creative process, to express themselves freely, in a safe and encouraging setting. It is an easy and inexpensive way to integrate negative emotions rather than suffer physical impact of bottled up feelings later.
Aazam Irilian is an artist, art educator, and healer and for over 25 year she’s been sharing her passion with students of all ages. Aazam will be leading an experience in transformation through creativity at the