Art, Positivity and Healing

by Carolyn Edlund

Art has long been recognized as a source of healing energy. Three artists share how the creative force has been transformational in their own lives, as well as uplifting to their audience.


Artist Matt Jackson overcame depression through art. Works shown (l) "Memorium", (r) The Shroud. See his interview at

Artist Matt Jackson overcame depression through art. Works shown (l) “Memorium”, (r) The Shroud


Art can be healing and inspiring to anyone who views it, but the making of art has it’s own benefits. Three artists discovered the profound difference art made in their lives. Their stories document the power that it has to help overcome enormous odds.

Matt Jackson

Artist Matt Jackson openly shares his story of spiraling down into depression while working a stressful corporate job. As a result, he ended up taking a two-month absence. After his return to work, he began creating digital art, which he calls “a talent I never dreamed of possessing.” He explains, “By day, I dealt with the pressure of dubious business arrangements. But at night, all that pressure melted away as my mind recognized new possibilities of self-expression. It made me whole as I touched a spiritual side of my soul that had been empty. Art has set me free.”

That spiritual side reaches out through his work to his audience. With over 1,100 art sales since 2012, his results speak volumes about that reaction. He says, “My story about rising from the ashes of depression and finding myself through art is an inspiration to others who have fought or are currently struggling with this disease daily.”

In a world where depression is common and mental health is often an open topic, it can be particularly uplifting to find an artist who celebrates this healing touch. He adds, “Art transcends the boundaries and divisions between people. It reaches a common ground of understanding where we can share something of beauty and self-discovery.”


Abstract painter Jasmine Farrow finds that creating art "is all-consuming and a time where I feel most alive." Read her interview at

Abstract painter Jasmine Farrow finds that creating art “is all-consuming, and a time when I feel most alive.”


Jasmine Farrow

Physical illness didn’t hold UK-based painter Jasmine Farrow back from pursuing her artistic practice. Suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, she found it difficult to go about daily life. At first, even sitting up in bed or allowing light into the room was impossible.

She eventually improved, and says, “When I was finally well enough to make art in bed, it changed everything. The simple act of making art gave me a way to express myself and communicate feelings when I was unable to talk. It took my mind away from negative thoughts and gave me a focus and something to be passionate about.”

She recognized how isolating illness can be. She feared losing touch with friends and family, but turned that around by sharing her art with the world. “I have had a very positive response online, with many people emailing me and telling me their own personal stories with the disease,” she explains. “I’ve gotten supportive messages on Instagram and Facebook. And I’ve made some great friends and clients internationally through being honest about where my art comes from. I try not to let the illness define me or my work, but it is my experience that makes up a big part of where the art comes from.”


Photographer Michael Van Huffel is a "non-jaded believer in the power of art." See his interview at

Photographer Michael Van Huffel calls himself a “non-jaded believer in the power of art.”


Michael Van Huffel

Photographer Michael Van Huffel also lives with ME, but has used the restrictions it placed on his life to create a body of work within that space. “The whole point of what I’m doing is to try to find things, interesting, cool, strange, beautiful—in the constrained life I have right now. I recently got gallery representation, and that helps validate that what I’m doing rises to a level I used to have professionally in other mediums,” he explains.

A small flower, drops of water, debris or beams of light become his art. They are often minimalistic, yet sometimes look like a view of the whole universe. Capturing these often unnoticed details of the world with his camera is his specialty. In this way, he is able to transform his limited world through the spirit of imagination to create photographs that reach his audience emotionally.

The response to his work? “Some really extraordinary artists I knew from my prior life were really encouraging. That helped push and guide me,” he says. “When people know that I take all of the photos in my apartment, basically from things I find just (and I mean just) outside, that I use an iPhone, toy lenses and makeshift lighting—it adds context and some extra meaning. And that’s good, though ultimately I want the photos to be cool with or without the origin story.”

Despite the difficulties that ME has placed on his life, he’s gotten press, and very positive feedback from collectors. One thing he is very proud of is that his art can stand alone and be critically accepted. He adds, “The art is good, and one thing that’s almost certain when people get ill—money is often a very big struggle. So, I think collectors can find this high-quality work, and also really genuinely help artists who are working though illness a way to feel productive and maybe keep their heads above water. Everyone wins then.”


Has art been a transformative factor in your life as well? What is your story?



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  1. Thank you very much for featuring my work in this article Carolyn. This angle is often ignored although there are so many people who come to art through illness. I think what you do is fantastic. Keep up the good work!

    • Jasmine, I’ve gotten a number of emails and social media comments from artists who absolutely identified with the experiences that you and the other artists have had, mentioning how much this meant to them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Art saved my life” and I know that to be true for them.

  2. Carolyn, thank you for this article about artists who have used art as a catalyst for healing. It’s a very important subject. I’ll be sharing a link to this article in an upcoming post on The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS blog. For more than 20 years one of my missions has been to share the healing power of art through artists’ stories and healing power of art exhibitions.

  3. I totally agree with Art therapy and Healing Arts, it helped me recover from CRPS in my leg! As a medical scientist, I studied the effects of pain from a neuroscience point of view and discovered there are many benefits of art both mindfully and physically to nerves, chemicals, and blood flow pathways. I am a full-time artist now and loving it! It is good to share this knowledge so others in pain can be helped too.

  4. Art saved my life too! When an assailant entered by studio, raped, and cut my throat ~ my paintings screamed out what I could not. 35 years later, thanks to art, I finally found my voice again.

    • Dorothy, that is a compelling (and frightening) story. Your story is a testament to the incredible healing and transformative power that art has to make our world and better place and our lives more fulfilling.

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