Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lacy's Relaxation CD - Lavender Dreams - Available for Pre-Order!

After being inspired by my clients at work as an art therapist, seeing how relaxation helps some of them immensely, I set forth to create my own relaxation album so that they could benefit from the relaxation methods I use with them far beyond their treatment, as well as with the world as a whole. When I posited the idea about doing such a project, I was amazed at not only the overwhelming sense of support to do so, but also by the offers of high-caliber professionals around the world to contribute to make it happen. I took that as a sign to move forward, and here we are now!

 It is well-known that people find it hard to relax, and increasing numbers of people find it difficult to sleep well also. Using original guided imagery, I take you through soothing scenarios to help your mind focus on something calming, and the original music that supports these scripts are created by world-class musicians, who bring their gifts of composition and performance to perfectly punctuate each visual detail to help your mind and body relax and become calmer.

Go to my Kickstarter to pre-order the album, and look to see what reward level appeals to you. You might want it for yourself, or for your clients or practice as well.  Pre-order ends on April 13th, so get your order in early!

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Adventures in Art Therapy selected a Top 100 Alternative Health blog

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Maybe humans should still be in charge of naming colors....

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Sweden's PassionistaColorista features Lacy on her podcast!

EPISODE 4: Lacy Mucklow, about Color Me Calm, and her other coloring books 

 "They had no idea that their coloring books would make success around the world, when they released Color Me Calm and Color Me Happy back in 2014. In this episode I talk to Lacy Mucklow, art therapist, and the author of these books. She talks about how it started, which one that is her own favourite, what pencils she uses when she is coloring, why mandalas are so calming, how different colours affect us, and much more!"

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lacy Interviews with The Wellness Design Podcast

How can an adult coloring book create a memorable experience in your waiting room and offer next level service to your peeps? In today’s episode I interview Lacy Mucklow, the author of the wildly popular adult coloring books “Color Me” series. You’ll learn how coloring instantly calms the brain regardless of your age and what’s so unique about these coloring books your patients (and their families) will love! 

Healthcare interior designer Cheryl Janis interviews big-hearted industry professionals, designers, artists, and creatives who share their must have design resources and tools for your patient-centered medical, dental, healthcare practice or beauty business. Stop feeling overwhelmed by all the design choices out there. Learn the best options for you, your staff, patients and clients, and how to use them intelligently in your own wellness space. 


 Subscribe in iTunes

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Karen Pence Advocates for Art Therapy as Her Cause

Beyond Arts and Crafts: 

Karen Pence Preaches Art Therapy

By Published on October 18, 2017 

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Karen Pence found out that an art therapist in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico couldn’t afford the clay her clients needed, she sprang into action.

A trained watercolor artist and advocate of the little-known mental health profession, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife went to the Virginia art supply store she frequented when they lived in the state during his tenure in Congress, bought 120 pounds of self-drying clay and packed it aboard Air Force Two for their flight down to survey the damage.

“She cleaned him out,” the vice president said of the store’s owner.

Mrs. Pence made art therapy her cause ever since she first learned about it more than a decade ago. She has visited numerous art therapy programs, both in the U.S. and abroad, and on Wednesday in Florida, nine months into the administration, she planned to formally announce the goals for her art therapy initiative.

She wants to help people understand the difference between art therapy and arts and crafts, and to grasp that art therapy is a viable option for treating trauma, injury and other life experiences. She also wants to encourage young people to choose art therapy as a career.

“I don’t think that a lot of people understand the difference between therapeutic art and art therapy,” Mrs. Pence, a trained watercolor artist, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview before the announcement at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The school has an art therapy program she described as “tremendous.”

Blabbing to a girlfriend can be therapeutic, she explained, but it is not the same as art therapy, which has three elements: a client, a trained therapist and art.

As passionate as she is about raising art therapy’s profile, other issues help make Karen Pence tick, too.

One of them is helping military families, especially spouses. Her only son, Michael, is in the Marines.
There’s also her interest in honeybees. Mrs. Pence installed a beehive on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, where the vice president’s official residence is located, to help call attention to a decline in managed bee colonies that officials say could negatively affect U.S. agricultural production. She had a beehive at the Indiana governor’s residence for the same reason.

Now 60 and married to the vice president since 1985, Mrs. Pence has long been viewed as one of her husband’s most trusted political advisers. They’re often together on trips, at the White House, or at the observatory, almost always holding hands.

Since returning to Washington in January (the family lived in the area when her husband served in Congress), she has accompanied the vice president on goodwill tours of Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as trips to survey recent hurricane damage in Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She tries to visit art therapy programs wherever she goes. Journalists who travel with Pence often keep an eye out for his wife; she often brings them cookies when he ventures back to the press cabin for small talk.

She’s even done a little campaigning, urging Virginians to vote next month for Ed Gillespie in what’s viewed as a tight gubernatorial race.

“It really makes a difference, I can tell you. Nobody thought that we were going to win,” she said, an apparent reference to the Trump-Pence ticket.

The vice president often refers to his wife as the family’s “prayer captain.” She has led congregations in prayer during their hurricane-damage trips.

“We’re people of faith so we just try and approach everything with prayer,” Mrs. Pence said from her sunny, second-floor office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, where she and her staff enjoy coveted views of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.

Art therapy drawings given as gifts adorn the outer office.

She proudly displayed several of her paintings, including of the Capitol dome, the vice president’s residence, a Ball canning jar-turned-flower vase, a cardinal bird and a pink peony. She turns many of her watercolors into prints and boxed notecards that she gifts to art therapists she meets.

Except for myriad pets, including two cats, a dog and a rabbit named Marlon Bundo, the Pences are empty nesters. Their son and two adult daughters are off on their own.

“I think for us this is a good time in our life for this role because our kids are out of college. They’re living their own lives,” Mrs. Pence said.

She’s also launching a blog in conjunction with Wednesday’s announcement to chronicle her visits to art therapy programs.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Adventures in Art Therapy selection among Feedspot's Top 30 Art Therapy Blogs!

I was contacted to discover that this blog was selected to be among the Top 30 Art Therapy Blogs and Websites by Art Therapists.  I'm in very good company with other esteemed colleagues.  Thanks Feedspot!  Check out the great list!

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Monday, May 08, 2017

Guest Blog: Joan Stanford on Creative Expression

Joan Stanford, author of "The Art of Play," has graciously written a guest blog for Adventures in Art Therapy!  Read ahead for her wisdom and insight about the importance of expression through artmaking.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
—Eden Phillpotts

I recently attended the NORCATA (Northern California Art Therapists Association) conference in Berkeley and just watched A Beautiful Remedy, a documentary on PBS about arts in medicine so am feeling very connected to the healing power of art expression. While I have worked with various populations (and for several years in the local public schools) I now work mostly for and with people without a client/patient designation. I offer play shops and creative retreats. My intent is to invite anyone to explore with playful art making and through that to connect to themselves, to others and to the world around them with more authenticity and compassion. My book, The Art of Play, released this June, relates my story: how I, a busy innkeeper, wife, and mother found my way to expressive arts and how that opened up a whole new world.

Many of the people who play with me have not touched art materials since preschool or elementary school. Some were more actively engaged previously in some “artistic” pursuit but abandoned that as their adult working lives took over and, now, jump at the chance to reactivate those interests. Others are just curious.  Some consider themselves totally “non-creative” but want to see if they can discover something new. Of course, signing up is completely voluntary so that is a huge plus. We have all encountered resistance when clients are mandated to work with us. But my playmates bring their own fear-based resistance. Facing a blank page creates anxiety for most of us. Being asked to trust the process, to let something emerge from within is not easy. That is why I use the word “play.”

We begin with conversation; they may say why they came and what they hope for from the experience. I always stress that play is experimentation—there is no judgment, no mistakes. I offer total permission with the hope that the carefree child part will join in with a sense of curiosity and excitement. We do some warm-ups to stimulate free association, to activate imagination. This allows a shift—visibly sensed—from the outer world to the inner that the safe space provided facilitates. Safety allows risk-taking and the experimentation necessary for discovery. I display a variety of art materials to entice engagement of the senses by attracting the eye and piquing interest.

Self-expression through art making is a birthright of all and evident in the first traces of human existence. I want to help make the process accessible and available so people have a tool for introspection that they will turn to as easily as journaling. When we allow imagery to speak to us we learn something new. Images are our first language and evoke feelings, memories, and associations that our analytical left-brains may not have access to.

My personal practice is creating spontaneous collages in a small six-by-six spiral bound journal. I paste the collage on the right side, and then record the conversation on the left. I might ask, “Who are you?” or “What do you want me to know/remember?” Sometimes I create the collage in response to something happening in my personal life or world events. 

After the Paris shootings I did this:

And, later, after the Orlando shootings:

When strong feelings of grief, sadness, helplessness, or anger overwhelm me, the page is a good container. As I create these, the energy is released and can be transformed.

Another more playful image:

People I work with often cannot commit a lot of time or space to playing with imagery so this is a doable option. Tearing words and images from magazines is easy and can be done anywhere—even on a plane. No fancy materials are needed so there are fewer excuses, less avoidance. The words that come are surprising, often poetic and insightful.

As I just read, “The world speaks to us. We just need to learn how to become better listeners.” —Steven D. Farmer, Ph.D.

Hopefully by stressing the playful nature of this powerful work I can invite the wider population to try expressive art making. I know for me it is the key that unlocks insight, healing, and joy!

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Movie - Nise: The Heart of Madness

This looks like a very interesting movie. It looks like Dr. Silveira was coming on to the idea of art as a form of therapy/treatment at the same time it was burgeoning in America (with Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer) and Britain in the 1940's, as their counterpart in Brazil. Cool! 

The territory couldn’t be more delicate, but “Nise: The Heart of Madness,” a mesmerizing drama from Brazil, navigates it skillfully to create a portrait of a real-life doctor who found an alternative to some of the more cruel trends in psychiatric treatment in the middle of the last century. 

Glória Pires stars as Dr. Nise da Silveira (1905-1999), who as the film opens is taking up a post at a psychiatric hospital near Rio de Janeiro in 1944. She settles into a seat in a lecture hall where the benefits of lobotomies via thin spike are being extolled, then witnesses a cruel demonstration of another favorite technique, electroshock therapy. 

“I don’t believe in healing through violence,” she tells colleagues, but, especially since she is a woman, they are dismissive. They assign her to what they think is busywork. 

She transforms the insult into opportunity, creating a unit in which patients who had been written off are given a chance to express themselves through painting and other art forms. The results are startling. 

The movie, full of characters behaving erratically, could easily have taken on the aura of a freak show, but the director, Roberto Berliner, somehow stays respectful of the subject matter even while depicting extreme psychiatric conditions. It’s a study of courageous innovation against an entrenched medical orthodoxy. 

“Our job is to cure patients, not comfort them,” one colleague chastises. 

“My instrument is a brush,” Dr. Silveira replies curtly. “Yours is an ice pick.”

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner states "Children need much as they need love and food and fresh air and play."

Philip Pullman, who received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for Children's Literature in 2005, had words of wisdom with this that he wrote for the 10th anniversary of the Award in 2012:

Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.

But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.

It’s true that some people grow up never encountering art of any kind, and are perfectly happy and live good and valuable lives, and in whose homes there are no books, and they don’t care much for pictures, and they can’t see the point of music. Well, that’s fine. I know people like that. They are good neighbours and useful citizens.

But other people, at some stage in their childhood or their youth, or maybe even their old age, come across something of a kind they’ve never dreamed of before. It is as alien to them as the dark side of the moon. But one day they hear a voice on the radio reading a poem, or they pass by a house with an open window where someone is playing the piano, or they see a poster of a particular painting on someone’s wall, and it strikes them a blow so hard and yet so gentle that they feel dizzy. Nothing prepared them for this. They suddenly realise that they’re filled with a hunger, though they had no idea of that just a minute ago; a hunger for something so sweet and so delicious that it almost breaks their heart. They almost cry, they feel sad and happy and alone and welcomed by this utterly new and strange experience, and they’re desperate to listen closer to the radio, they linger outside the window, they can’t take their eyes off the poster. They wanted this, they needed this as a starving person needs food, and they never knew. They had no idea.

That is what it’s like for a child who does need music or pictures or poetry to come across it by chance. If it weren’t for that chance, they might never have met it, and might have passed their whole lives in a state of cultural starvation without knowing it.

The effects of cultural starvation are not dramatic and swift. They’re not so easily visible.

And, as I say, some people, good people, kind friends and helpful citizens, just never experience it; they’re perfectly fulfilled without it. If all the books and all the music and all the paintings in the world were to disappear overnight, they wouldn’t feel any the worse; they wouldn’t even notice.
But that hunger exists in many children, and often it is never satisfied because it has never been awakened. Many children in every part of the world are starved for something that feeds and nourishes their soul in a way that nothing else ever could or ever would.

We say, correctly, that every child has a right to food and shelter, to education, to medical treatment, and so on. We must understand that every child has a right to the experience of culture. We must fully understand that without stories and poems and pictures and music, children will starve.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Art Therapy vs. Art Class

Here is a great article by Ruby Garyfalakis that talks about the differences between art education and art therapy.  There really is a difference, and this could help clear up misconceptions between the two.

If you’re interested in art therapy or thinking about checking it out, you may be wondering what the difference is between art therapy and an art class. In fact, this is a question we are asked all the time, so we wanted to share some thoughts about it here on our blog. From our perspective, these are the main differences between art therapy and an art class: 


a. Art therapy involves a therapeutic relationship. This is the most important element of any type of therapy and what makes it unique from other kinds of activities. There are specific boundaries and elements to a therapeutic relationship. The therapists at Art as Therapy follow the ethical guidelines established by the Canadian Art Therapy Association and the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Only those who have received the appropriate graduate training can offer art therapy. Although art therapy usually involves art-making, it is first and foremost a form of therapy, similar to talking to a social worker, psychologist, medical doctor, or psychiatrist who offers psychotherapy.  

b. An art class may involve relationships but it does not involve the intentional therapist – client relationship. A teacher or instructor’s role is different than a therapist’s role, and the student-teacher relationship has very different dynamics than the therapeutic relationship. Art teachers are required to be skilled and competent in the areas that they teach, but they do not receive the same training required to practice as an art therapist. 


a. Art therapy takes place in a confidential contained space. This is very important whether it’s individual or group art therapy. This means that the space has a door that can close, and has frosted windows or curtains to ensure privacy. Confidentiality is essential to creating a safe space where clients can express whatever is on their mind. Clients are free to share with anyone they like about their art therapy sessions and what happens during those sessions, but it is important that they have the option of anonymity and confidentiality if they so choose. 

 b. An art class may take place in a more open space, it doesn’t have to be confidential. Art classes may happen in a classroom, in an art studio, or at a community centre. Parents or friends may watch or participate in the class. The class members may be friends or may change from week to week. 


a. The main goal of art therapy is self expression. The goal is to express or communicate something, and art-making is often one way of doing so. Since the goal is expression, this impacts how art supplies and artwork itself are viewed. Read more about this below. 

b. The main goal of an art class is to learn something or to experiment with a new technique. The goal is usually to make something specific. Students may be replicating an example or following the instructor step by step. This goal of learning and creating something specific impacts how art supplies and artwork are viewed as well. 


a. In art therapy, art materials are viewed as one possible tool for self expression. The therapist is familiar with the art materials based on a continuum from controlled to less controlled. For example, a pencil is easy to control and requires fine motor skills. Watercolor paints or acrylic inks are much harder to control and tend to require larger movements. They work best with bigger paper. Oil and chalk pastels are somewhere in the middle between controlled and less controlled. When viewing art materials in this way, the art therapist may provide or suggest specific art supplies for their expressive potential depending on the client’s therapeutic goals. In art therapy, there’s no right or wrong way to use materials or to make something. If the directive is to draw a tree, whatever the client does in response is accepted and explored within the therapeutic relationship. 

b. In an art class, art materials are viewed as tools to be used in a specific way to accomplish the task. They are manipulated to achieve certain effects. There are sometimes “right” and “wrong” ways to do things or to use art supplies. There may be rules. Often there is a focus on the principles and elements of design. Students are taught different ways to draw a tree, and there is a specific expected outcome. 


 a. In art therapy, the artwork is viewed as an extension or reflection of some part of the client. It can act as a mirror, reflecting the client’s thoughts or feelings about something. The emphasis is on what the artwork communicates for or about its creator, not necessarily on how it looks or whether it turns out as expected. The therapist and the client focus on the process and experience of making the artwork. The process can be just as important as the finished artwork. The client decides what the artwork means to them. 

b. In an art class, the focus is usually on the product. The goal is to make a specific piece of artwork. Every part of the class builds towards creating that finished product. Often the goal is to make something visually appealing, beautiful, or interesting. Students may wish to display their creations or frame them. This is not to say that artwork created in art therapy cannot be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, or pride-worthy. It just means that this is not the goal or the expectation during an art therapy session, while it often is the goal during an art class. The main point is that art therapy is a form of therapy, and an art class is not. This doesn’t mean that an art class can’t be helpful or even therapeutic. However, a specially trained therapist must be present and there must be some kind of formal agreement to engage in a therapeutic relationship in order for something to be considered therapy. Art therapy and art classes can both be beneficial. Here are some ideas about the potential benefits of taking an art class, versus the potential benefits of attending an art therapy session. 


1. You can learn new skills, building a sense of mastery and competency. This can boost self esteem. 

2. You can build and develop technical abilities that can be used for visual self expression.

3. You may have the opportunity for social interaction, and may be able to build peer relationships with other students in the class. 

4. You may learn about yourself indirectly through the process. 


1. You will have a safe place to express whatever is on your mind. 

2. You may experience catharsis through self expression. You will be encouraged to express your feelings, and you may use art materials for this process. Art-making can be an excellent way to unload or release emotions. 

3. You will be part of the therapeutic relationship which is a unique relationship. The therapist will function as a witness to your art making process. The therapist can validate your experiences and emotions, reflect your emotions back to you, and observe the whole process with curiosity and compassion. 

4. The art therapy session provides an opportunity for intentional self reflection and discovery. You may feel empowered as you get to know yourself better and discover how your inner strengths can help you to face challenges and overcome obstacles.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Discovering the Creative Arts Therapies: Presentation at Haymarket Gainesville Community Library

I will be presenting on art therapy along with two music therapists to help bring awareness of expressive arts therapies to the public. 

When/Where: Sunday, March 26, 1:00 p.m. Haymarket Gainesville Library Community Room 

Learn from creative therapy experts about the benefits of art and music therapy in bringing about positive changes at the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical levels. For adults; no registration required. 

 Art therapy is one of several modalities under the umbrella of Expressive Therapies that can bring tremendous help to people in many ways. Licensed art therapist Lacy Mucklow will present an overview about the field of art therapy and cover many topics, such as what is art therapy (and what is it not?), who it benefits, and how it is used. NeuroSound Music Therapy will discuss what music therapy is, how the brain perceives music, and how music therapists use specific interventions and techniques to bring about positive changes at cognitive, emotional, social, physiological, and physical levels. Music therapists Kelsi Yingling and Kate Potrykus will discuss and demonstrate specific interventions they use in a variety of populations, including special education, mental health, geriatrics, and healthcare.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Publisher's Weekly Star Watch 2016 Honoree Jeannine Dillon

I just found this out, but I have to brag on my editor, Jeannine Dillon, who I found out made the Publisher's Weekly Star Watch 2016 Honorees! She has been great to work with and always has a sixth sense about what the publishing world needs next before they know it! :) Congrats! 

Jeannine Dillon (pictured far left) Editorial Director, 
Race Point Publishing Quarto Publishing Group, New York 

“In 30 years of bookselling, I’ve only worked with a few people who have had the instincts, imagination, and creativity of Jeannine Dillon.” —colleague 

Few can pinpoint their best day on the job, but Dillon can. It was the day she received her first thank-you letter from a cancer treatment center in Louisiana. The staff told her that patients and their families were more relaxed during chemo sessions when they were coloring in Color Me Calm, the first book in the press’s Color Me series. “That was by far my best day in publishing,” she says. 

For Color Me Calm, published at the early stage of the adult coloring book craze, Dillon insisted on authenticity. She consulted art therapists to determine if there were shapes and colors that could actually make a person feel calm. Each image in the book was crafted both by the artist, Angela Porter, and art therapist Lacy Mucklow. The tens of thousands of copies sold in the series support Dillon’s belief that “the selling point for many is about finding tranquility.”

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Every Working Woman Should Make Art - According to Art Therapists


Entity explores why women should make art. You’ve finally escaped work after a hectic Monday full of meetings and projects — and, of course, you hit traffic right away. By the time you finally walk into your apartment, you know exactly what you want to do: nothing. So, like usual, you end the day with a pizza dinner and watching hours of “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix … and, like usual, when you go to bed, you feel like you’ve wasted part of your day. What’s a girl to do when she wants to relax but also feel productive?

You might want to get in touch with your inner Andy Warhol, whether with the help of a college course, a private business or even a licensed art therapist. To find out exactly how many benefits can come with making art, ENTITY recently talked with Justin Davis, an art therapist working with drawchange (an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides art therapy programs to children in homeless shelters), and Jenna Hartom, a creative arts therapist who works with psychiatric patients at the Montefiore Medical Center (one of the top ranked medical centers in the US).

Whether you’re interested in painting or pottery, here are five expert-backed reasons every working woman should get artsy ASAP!


Whether you’re chasing a promotion or just starting your first job, working can be stressful. Sometimes we’re so busy at work that we don’t even notice how stressed we feel. How can you keep your sanity while keeping a paycheck? Let your mind wander from work by picking up a paintbrush! According to Justin Davis, “When we make art and express whatever it is that’s inside us, it is cathartic. The kinesthetic and oftentimes repetitive motions involved in painting, drawing, sculpting, even zentangling and doodling, can be a self soothing act that calms the mind.”

Recent research supports Davis’s claim: one 2014 study on college students found that participants given pre-drawn patterns to color experienced a significant reduction in depression, tension and anxiety. But more than just adult coloring books can reduce stress. A study published just last year found that, no matter your level of artistic skill or what kind of visual art you do, making art for 45 minutes drastically lessens your body’s stress levels. All of this goes to say that a coloring pencil might be the secret weapon you’ve been looking for to go from feeling stressed to blessed. And you thought you doodled in calculus class just because you were bored!


As many of you have probably realized, the work at most 9-to-5 jobs isn’t actually restricted to those hours. Instead, you often bring problems from work – for example, uncertainty about a slogan on a new ad campaign or worries about conflicts with a co-worker – home with you. As ironic as it sounds, taking time off thinking by enjoying an art project may actually help you solve the problem. While more research needs to be done, one 2010 study observed students from six schools for two years and found that those who made art excelled in three areas of problem-solving skills when given 15 minutes to design their own chair. Art has also been shown to make your brain work in ways that it typically doesn’t. When you make art, your brain also works in ways that it typically doesn’t. After all, unless you work at a paint store, you probably aren’t usually wondering if teal complements or clashes with magenta!

Besides giving you different perspectives on your work problems, art can also help you with personal issues. For example, Jenna Hartom has seen how making art can help adults with illnesses like severe depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. “Although everyone is different, most of the time I see that art making becomes a common lens through which people discover and share what they are going through,” she says. “Through art making, [people] work through feelings and learn ways to cope.” Whether you’re struggling to find unique solutions to work problems, cope with mental health issues or heal emotional wounds, art can open up your mind to new possibilities and perspectives.


Have you ever looked at a piece of art and been hit by a wave of emotion? Maybe, like with the Mona Lisa, curiosity overwhelmed you. Or maybe the sight of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” immediately made your stomach start doing backflips. Either way, art has the power to emotionally affect its viewers – and, by the same token, artists can reveal their own emotions on canvas. Whether you’re feeling ecstatic over a promotion, anxious about an upcoming presentation or frustrated at the co-worker who keeps stealing your packed lunch, you can explore those feelings through artwork.

Sometimes art may even be the only way you can get in touch with your feelings. “People who have been through difficult experiences may not always be able to verbally express what has happened to them or they may just have trouble identifying how they are feeling about it,” says Davis. “Art acts as a vehicle to communicate those feelings even when we don’t have the words; especially when we don’t have the words.”

Art can also help you understand yourself better, according to Hartom. “Anyone who is open to the experience of creating can learn more about themselves through this process,” she says. “Our emotional selves are complicated, so accessing emotions through art making can shed light on areas that we may not be aware of.” You’ve probably heard the saying, “Wear your heart on your sleeve.” Well, these benefits seem to suggest that you should wear your heart on your artwork instead.


 Once you’ve created your own art, you end up with two amazing things. On a physical level, you have a new “masterpiece.” You can frame it, sell it or give it to someone. At the same time, though, you also receive the artist experience. What that involves can vary from person to person, but Davis shares that art benefits can range from people with depression finding “relief and mood improvement” to previously lonely people finding “increased self esteem and making connections with other people in a group setting.” Art can even be a healthy way for you to express anger.

In fact, studies have found that taking part in artistic activities can put people in a “flow” that lets them regulate strong emotions or tamper irrational thoughts. Basically, art is one free (and much more fun) form of anti-anxiety medicine. Doing crafts like knitting has also been shown increase the amount of dopamine released by the brain, which boosts happiness. In one study, 81 percent of participants with depression reported feeling happier after knitting. You don’t have to toil over your work for hours to enjoy some of these benefits, either. A study performed last year found that, after just 45 minutes, 73 percent of participants showed an increase in feelings of self-efficacy. The best part? Feeling more positive and confident in yourself and your skills will only help you kick butt in all areas of life – at home or in the office. 


 Maybe you’re reading this article and nodding your head, but you know you’ll never try making your own artwork because you’re “not an artist.” However, Hartom says, “We all have innate creativity and sometimes it is just a matter of suspending judgment in order to open that door.” Davis agrees, comparing starting to make art to starting yoga. “The first time you went, you probably felt mixed emotions: ‘This felt good. This felt uncomfortable. I can’t do all the poses. I’m not any good at this. I feel ridiculous.’ But as you stick with it, you get better at the poses, your body begins to feel better, and you probably feel a lot more relaxed. You have to stick with [art] to really get the most out of it.”

And, truthfully, you have two possible end results if you try adding art to your routine: falling in love with art and embracing it as your new favorite hobby…or leaving it for another creative outlet. Finding new interests and ways to spend your time helps keep life interesting. And, even if art isn’t your thang, you’ll probably learn a few new facts about yourself along the way. And the better you know yourself, the better you know how to chase your dreams and meet your goals. Entity reports on why every working woman should make art and the benefits of art therapy. The power to lower your stress, increase your creativity and boost your self esteem is (literally) in your hands. You just need to make the choice to explore your artistic side, whether you’re a natural artist or an accomplished business women.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Happy National Coloring Book Day!

I hope everyone has gotten to celebrate today by coloring for a little while!  I got to celebrate by presenting on the benefits of coloring with a coloring time and signing session afterwards.  


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

AATA Conference 2016

I enjoyed my time at this year's annual American Art Therapy Association Conference, this year held in Baltimore, MD!  I had a great time meeting with colleagues, former classmates, former interns, and hearing some enlightening presentations.  I also enjoyed some great food in the Inner Harbor!

The last time the AATA conference was in Baltimore was 40 years ago, in 1976!

A bright view of Baltimore's Inner Harbor with restaurants, shopping, museums, and more!

A beautiful view of the Inner Harbor from my room

The "Color Me..." Series was well-represented in the AATA Bookstore!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A new pigment of blue as stunning as Lapis Lazuli but much less expensive (and less toxic) is discovered...

A scientist discovered this stunning new shade of blue 
 Artnet Sarah Cascone, Artnet Jun. 21, 2016, 5:04 PM

OSU Chemist Mas Subramanian. 
Courtesy of Oregon State University. 

The world's newest shade of blue, a brilliantly bright, durable pigment called YInMn blue, has been licensed for commercial use and is already in the hands of some artists. 

The pigment was discovered in 2009 by chemist Mas Subramanian and his team at Oregon State University while they were conducting experiments connected to electronics. For one series of tests, the scientists mixed black manganese oxide with a variety of chemicals and heated them to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. (The name comes from the pigment's elemental makeup, which includes Yttrium, Indium and Manganese.) 

In a serendipitous accident, one of the resulting samples turned a vivid shade of blue. Further testing found that the unique crystal structure of the resulting compound kept the color from fading, even when exposed to oil or water.

The newly-discovered YInMn blue is now commercially available from the Shepherd Color Company. Courtesy of Oregon State University. 

"Ever since the early Egyptians developed some of the first blue pigments, the pigment industry has been struggling to address problems with safety, toxicity and durability," said Subramanian in statement released by OSU. Existing blue pigments include ultramarine, made from ground lapis lazuli, and toxic alternatives such as cobalt blue and Prussian blue, making OSU's discovery a major breakthrough. YInMn, Subramanian added, is "more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce … it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency," as it reflects a large amount of infrared light. A roof painted in YInMn blue could potentially help keep the building cooler. "This new blue pigment is a sign that there are new pigments to be discovered in the inorganic pigments family," added Geoffrey T. Peake, the research and development manager of the Shepherd Color Company, which has licensed the patent is already selling samples of YInMn blue. The pigment is still undergoing testing before it is made more widely available. 

Carol Chapel, CaMas001, 
made with YInMn blue using DryPoint printing. 
Courtesy Carol Chapel. 

Speaking to artnet News by phone, Subramanian said that the future of this new blue looked promising. "Several companies have been working with [Shepherd Color Company]," he revealed, citing Pittsburgh Paints and Glass as one example. The chemist has also been fielding plenty of inquiries about his discovery from people on the more creative end. "I have sent samples to artists who have used the pigment in their artwork," he said. So far, those artists have been mainly local, including OSU applied visual arts major Madelaine Corbin, who has been making her first foray into chemistry as intern in Subramanian's lab, while using YInMn blue in her artwork. 

Madelaine Corbin, OSU Memorial Union Façade. 
Courtesy Oregon State University. 

Subramanian has also fielded interest from art restorers. "Our pigment is useful for art restoration, because it is similar to ultramarine but really more durable," he explained. He's perhaps most proud of YInMn's inclusion in the Forbes Pigment Collection at the Harvard Art Museums, which serves as world history of color, with some pigments dating back to the Middle Ages. 

Follow artnet News on Facebook. Read the original article on Artnet. Copyright 2016. 
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Monday, June 06, 2016

Real Simple Magazine highlights that making art reduces stress

Real Simple Magazine featured an article that highlights research from Drexel University showing that there was a significant reduction in stress levels after making art. They also list their Top 6 favorite coloring books, and "Color Me Happy" made the list!

The stress-relieving benefits are real. 

By Samantha Zabell 

You may think you’re “not creative” or “bad at art,” but a new study from Drexel University says you should head to the craft store anyway. According to new research, making art can significantly reduce stress levels, whether you’re gluing macaroni noodles or painting museum-worthy landscapes. 

The results of the study, published in the journal Art Therapy, were not entirely surprising to lead researcher Girija Kaimal, EdD, who said in a statement: “That’s the core idea in art therapy: Everyone is creative and can be expressive in the visual arts when working in a supportive setting.” Even people who rarely picked up a crayon experienced the same stress-relieving benefits as those who were practiced in making art. 

 The researchers studied 39 adults between the ages of 18 and 59, and measured their cortisol (stress hormone) levels before and after a 45-minute art session. Participants were free to experiment with everything from markers to clay, without instruction or direction. Following the session, 75 percent of participants experienced a drop in cortisol levels. The other 25 percent experienced heightened cortisol levels, but Kaimal explained that those individuals were not necessarily more stressed—heightened cortisol levels can also suggest engagement or enjoyment. 

 There was no significant correlation between skill or materials used and cortisol levels, meaning modeling clay was just as soothing as coloring. But because younger participants consistently exhibited lower cortisol levels after making art, Kaimal believes creative arts would especially benefit stressed students. 

 If you don't have a robust craft closet at your disposal, there is a simple way to reap the same benefits without much mess—adult coloring books. You’ve likely read about the craze, which proves these intricately designed books are no longer just for kids. In 2015, 12 million copies of coloring books were sold in the U.S., compared to just 1 million in 2014. Here, our favorite books to help you unwind:

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Friday, June 03, 2016

The Huffington Post includes "Color Me Calm" and "Color Me Stress-Free" on Top 15 Coloring Book List

Both "Color Me Calm" and "Color Me Stress-Free" made Dr. Martinez's favorite 15 coloring books for the Huffington Post!

My Top 15 Favorite Adult Coloring Books, and Why...
06/03/2016 11:28 am 11:28:13 | Updated Jun 03, 2016

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC
Tele-health counselor for, Adjunct Professor, Consultant, and Writer

1. Mandalas to Color, Volume I, by Who does not love a Mandala? There is something about these intricate patterns that allows us to get lost in the beauty of them, and these are some of the best quality I have come across.

2. Outside the Lines, curated by Souris Hong-Porretta. If you are someone who is obsessed with the likes of Gary Baseman, Shepard Fairy, AIKO, Keith Haring, and more than 100 other artists, this is the book for you. Edgy and creative, the fun and complexity is attracting.

3. Dia De Los Muertos, Volume 1. 50 pages of Sugar Skulls. I am not sure about you, but I am in love with sugar skulls, the detail, the beauty, and the ability to make something dark, but beautiful. If you love them too, this is the book for you!

4. Color Me Calm, by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter. These two ladies truly came together to form a series of images that would calm even the most anxious person. They are lovely, original, and enjoyable for anyone who chooses to start with this.

5. Coloring for Grown-Ups, by Ryan Hunter and Taige Jensen are just plain fun. They are edgy, silly, and undeniably fun. A great gift for yourself or anyone with a great sense of humor. You will not only get lost in the coloring, you are bound to giggle as you do it.

6. Colorama Color Me Happy, Coloring Book, by Telebrands Press is a great book for anyone. They are clean, clear, and cheerful. A terrific book to get you started, and a gift that will be appreciated by anyone who receives them.

7. Colorful Flowers, Volume I, by is a personal favorite. I will admit, I have a bias for varied and beautiful flowers, something I like to think I share with many. These books are not only beautiful, they are sturdy, high quality, and real remembrance that will hold up over time. While some books may be a few dollars cheaper, I think the quality more than makes up for it with these.

8. Breathe, Volume 3, by Angie Grace, These books are small, portable, and well done. The images are inventive engaging. A great book, at a wonderful price. A nice way to calm yourself for a small investment if you are starting out with adult coloring as a hobby.

9. The Tattoo Coloring Book, by Megamunden. If you are like me, and you love tattoos just as much as you love flowers, because aren’t we all eclectic? You will really enjoy this book. It has wonderful traditional tattoo designs for you to color the way you always want the professionals too when you watch them.

10. Outside the Lines, Too, Curated by Souris Hong. In the second installment of this series, you will not be let down with images created by the minds of another 100 imaginative minds. If you love the likes of Tim Biskup, Caroline Hwang, Jack Black, and many more, you will love every second you spend lost coloring this book.

11. Color Me Stress-Free, by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter. In another installment of this collaboration, the two come up with works that are bound to reduce stress, create relaxation, and foster creativity. I find the series to all be very well done.

12. Colorama, Flowers, Paisleys, Stained Glass and More, Coloring Book, by Bulbhead. Another simple, clean, and pretty book for the person who is looking to dip their toe in adult coloring. It also makes a wonderful stocking stuffer for any creative friend.

13. Calming Doodles, Volume I, by As mentioned before, a few of these, and a pack of colored pencils, make a really sharp gift. Not only are the pictures and books high quality, but they look like you have spent invested in this hobby for them. Fun, function, and flare, at its best!

14. Balance, Volume I, by Angie Grace. This is another book in her series, and carries the same portability, reduction of size, mixed with lovely images and centering coloring activities for the novice to the expert.

15. Calming Therapy, an Anti-Stress Coloring Book, by Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt, and Cindy Wilde. I saved one of my absolute favorites for last. This book helped me fill more hours than I can name during recovery from surgery. The book is sturdy and attractive, and the pictures are very engaging. You find yourself not wanting to walk away until you have finished a piece.

So there is my list of my 15 favorite books that I have come across, and that really help meet any interest, need, and function that they are intended for. Check them out online and see if any might be a good fit for you. Perhaps another book by one of these artists will be the right fit for you, or maybe a complete other book will be the one that touches a note with you. No matter what you choose, enjoy, relax, and regroup in a wonderful way.

Follow Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC on Twitter:

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

OU Art Therapy Students create therapeutic murals at Bethesda

Bethesda unveils therapeutic murals

Bethesda recently celebrated new therapeutic murals for children healing from the trauma of sexual abuse. 

 Over the last five months, local artists and students from the University of Oklahoma worked to create therapeutic art murals at Bethesda, a nonprofit agency in Norman. The art murals were created in therapeutic group rooms that facilitate the growth and healing of children who have suffered the trauma of sexual abuse. 

On May 17, the Board of Directors of Bethesda and community supporters, like Von Allen of United Way of Norman, gathered to unveil the new therapeutic art murals. 

 “It only takes a second to see that the art has a therapeutic purpose,” said Travis Humphrey, executive director of Bethesda. “The murals become a resource to help our clients regain self esteem, learn healthy coping skills and process the abuse they have suffered.” 

 The murals were made possible through a grant provided by the Norman Arts Council. Bethesda provides essential therapeutic services to children who suffer from trauma caused by sexual abuse. “The demand for services continues to rise,” Humphrey said. “It is our goal to make sure all children can heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. The murals create an environment that facilitates healing for children.” 

 To learn more about Bethesda, visit

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

"Color Me Fearless" Makes Aspire Magazine's Top 10 Inspirational Books for May 2016!

I'm very honored that my and Angela's book "Color Me Fearless" made the Top 10 Inspiring Books for May 2016 in Aspire Magazine! Thank you Linda Joy, Publisher for including our book in ‪#‎AspireMag‬'s list with other women authors who are empowering others!

Top 10 Inspirational Books – May 2016

Welcome to this month’s Aspire Magazine Top 10 Inspirational Books list! You’ll discover inspirational and empowering books, written by women and for women, each dedicated to sharing a universal message of love, hope and self-empowerment. Through their wisdom-filled books, these visionary female authors are illuminating the path for women on the journey of healing and self-discovery. Add these transformational books to your inspired living resource library.

Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage (A Zen Coloring Book)

by Lacy Mucklow

The perfect book for stressed-out adults who want to reconnect, simply and easily, with their inner creativity. Color Me Fearless is a guided coloring book for adults coping with their own daily fears. Art therapist Lacy Mucklow and artist Angela Porter offer up 100 coloring templates, all designed to boost strength, courage, and confidence. Organized into seven therapeutically themed chapters, readers can explore the benefits of putting pencil (or crayon!) to paper and channel their day-to-day stresses into a satisfying, creative environment. Color Me Fearless is the perfect way step back from the fears of everyday life, color, and relax!


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Monday, May 02, 2016

Why adults coloring books are the latest trend

Why adult coloring books are the latest trend

Dee Ledger can remember exactly when she found solace, if not salvation, after the death of her 10-week-old son. It is where she found it, and how, that surprised her: in a coloring book.  Ledger, a former English teacher and hospice chaplain, had always been able to use words and prayer to find peace in difficult times and to help others do the same. But after her son died in April 2011, she needed something more, something different, to calm her nerves and help soothe her grief. “I was looking for something quiet that could get rid of this restlessness,” she says, to help quell the churning thoughts that made it hard for her to focus or sleep.  Back then, coloring books weren’t the phenomenon they are today. Ledger found hers in a spiritual catalogue.

Now, of course, adult coloring books are ubiquitous, crowding bookstores and bestseller lists. Coloring-book groups have sprouted up everywhere — in libraries and cafes, on Facebook and Instagram.

In 2015, an estimated 12 million adult coloring books were sold in the United States, according to Nielsen Bookscan. There are adult coloring books for hipsters, “Dr. Who” fans, cat lovers, Taylor Swift devotees, and admirers of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — pretty much anyone with a niche interest and a need to relax. In other words, everyone.

“It’s easy to pooh-pooh coloring books as just another fad,” Ledger says. But maybe, she says, we shouldn’t be so dismissive: “Anything can be a fad, even prayer.”  For Ledger and others, coloring books offer a real elixir, a way of getting past hurdles — mental, physical or both — that can’t be replicated by more-traditional approaches.

Joanne Schwandes, a 67-year-old Silver Spring resident, says that coloring books have boosted her confidence in fine motor skills weakened by a tremor in her arm. A Virginia mother says that coloring has helped her stay calm in the face of her son’s violent behavior. On one Facebook coloring group, members share their creations along with their stories of healing — using coloring as a tool against self-harming or as a way to manage the effects of physical illness or fend off depression and other difficulties.

Coloring books work like other mindfulness techniques such as yoga and meditation, says Craig Sawchuk, a clinical psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Such approaches work “almost like a volume knob to turn down the sympathetic nervous system, the stress response.” Coloring can help slow down heart rate and respiration, loosen muscles and stimulate the brain, he says. Coloring has a “grounding effect” he says, a benefit that can be amplified with deliberate focus on the process — “the gentle pressing of the crayon or pencil on the page, the texture of the paper across your hand, and the soft sounds of the coloring instrument moving back and forth in a rhythmic fashion,” he says.

Using coloring books to help relieve stress “is like learning a new habit,” says Sawchuk. “New habits are best learned when you set aside routine time each day to focus,” he says.

Although there have been no large clinical studies of coloring books, the benefits of coloring are comparable to those of mindfulness practices, he says, which have been studied. And coloring can help with more-severe problems beyond stress; Sawchuk spoke about one patient who used coloring books to stop an obsessive habit of pickiSawchukng at her skin.

Indeed, art therapists have been using coloring books for years. “There’s a self-soothing meditative benefit because you are doing the same motion over and over, especially with symmetrical drawings,” says Lina Assad Cates, a psychotherapist and board-certified art therapist in the District who uses coloring books as part of her practice. “The books help create boundaries — the literal boundaries of the lines and the metaphorical boundaries for drawing healthy boundaries in relationships. There’s also the potential benefit of just mastering something you’ve created.”

This reflects Ledger’s experience. “As a pastor, I am fascinated by how easily coloring becomes meditative,” she says. “By selecting colors and working with the design, I find that I can lose myself in ways that are healing and creative.”

Ledger, who lost her husband to cancer in 2013, less than a year after giving birth to twins, spends about three hours a week coloring, mostly at night, when her children are asleep and she can sit quietly in the kitchen of her Rockville home and gather her thoughts. (Her sons, Griffin and Eli, have their own coloring books.)

Now pastor at Bethesda United Church of Christ, Ledger approaches her hobby with a mix of pride and self-deprecating humor. “I’m not an artist,” she says as she spreads out her works on her bed. Some she keeps in a hardback binder, others in a small journal that fits in her purse. In a small office carved out of a second bedroom, her pencils and markers are neatly organized in plastic containers that once held Cascade detergent.

Ledger, 46, has colored her way not only through grief but also through physical pain. When she had back surgery a few years ago, she asked the doctors to make sure that the intravenous lines were in her right arm so that she could use her left, her coloring arm, as soon as she was awake. “I literally colored in the recovery room at the hospital,” she says.

Still, she understands that coloring is neither a panacea nor for everyone. “If someone was grieving, I wouldn’t just pay a visit on them and say, ‘You should color, and that would take your grief away,’ ” she explains. “I don’t believe that.” But coloring has given her a sense of power in a life that has spun wildly off plan.

“Being able to sit there and actually control that little world” inside a coloring book has been “really instrumental in my starting a new chapter of my life,” she says. “I don’t know if you ever fully heal from loss and trauma. But coloring has definitely helped me start a new life again.”