Healing Patients, One Brush Stroke at a Time

Written by on December 5, 2011 in Art - No comments

By Leigh Ann Simpson

Throughout the centuries, nature has served as one of the greatest sources of artistic inspiration on earth. Mankind’s adoration of art that depicts the beauty of nature is universal, but could there be benefits, outside of the obvious aesthetic pleasure, that explain our inherent attraction? Surmounting evidence suggests the presence of naturally inspired art in medical facilities can provide a number of health benefits that can increase the rate of patient recovery. Several clinical studies indicate that such an environment can reduce stress and anxiety during treatment, lower blood pressure and even increase a patient’s tolerance of pain.

Silk paintings not only epitomize the type of art that can be used to produce health benefits, they also provide a unique way of increasing patient and family satisfaction. The use of vivid color in the floral designs of these paintings is abstract, yet soothing; warming the uninviting, bare walls often found in a medical facility. Over the past few years, this ancient art form has made its way into hospital hallways and waiting rooms across Europe, and is now increasing in popularity among U.S. medical facilities.

Julie Jennings is a master of the craft, and has been creating beautiful silk paintings for nearly 30 years. Her extraordinary work with orchids on silk has captivated thousands of art and orchid enthusiasts, and is frequently showcased in exhibitions across the country. Julie also teaches her techniques and says that she witnesses the healing power of this art form in her classes all the time.

Julie is not a licensed therapist and has no formal medical training; however, the majority of her students suffer from a variety of medical issues. Individuals who are battling cancer, enduring painful physical therapy, dealing with the loss of a child and countless others all sign up to take Julie’s class hoping to receive additional comfort during their recovery.

“I don’t advertise my classes as therapy, but the response rate I get suggests otherwise,” Jennings says. “It is incredible the number of individuals that are drawn to the art who are recovering in either a physical way or emotional.”

Each new class of students begins like any normal art class, however, over the course of several weeks; their issues emerge and the students begin to create an unexpected fellowship that ultimately helps them all through their healing processes, Jennings says.

“It is most rewarding to know that my artwork and classes are providing comfort to those who need it most,” she says. “I enjoy sharing my art, but more importantly I enjoy touching the soul, wounded as so many of them are.”

Julie’s work is currently being displayed in the Smithsonian Gardens and the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Charlotte, N.C.

To find out more about Julie Jennings and her silk paintings visit:



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