Art as Therapy

Written by on November 3, 2011 in Art, Features - No comments
Pink Tulips

By Deborah Brenner

Art and illness have been an inseparable part of my life.  I was married to an amazing artist who died of cancer when I was 38-years-old.  I am also a self-taught artist.  I have been painting full-time for over 20 years. As part of my therapy during this period of time, I started to paint flowers -joyous, colorful, musical flowers in honor of my late husband Howard. He always had an amazing sense of wonder and poetry in his work, and being creative for me is life giving and what I was born to do.

Gardenia by Deborah Brenner

Several years later I remarried. My husband, Paul, is a gynecological oncologist and psychologist, who works at a cancer center in San Diego. I have never forgotten how much art and art therapy helped me recover and heal the torn fabric of my life and I believed my art might help others too. I asked the center if I could paint a few pieces for their walls. The feedback from the staff and patients was very heartfelt and rewarding. It was as if my past connected to the patient’s present experience.

I tried to paint the interconnectedness of all life through my musical gardens, as well as incorporate the energy that surrounds them. I also included art that would move patients into infinity through dreamlike water landscapes. In these paintings, I would blend acrylic and oil paints with the subtlety of ink. The effect is to take the viewer into a meditative, peaceful state in the tradition honed by Japanese masters.

My abstract compositions, comprised of shapes, drips, veils and colors, are a signature style of mine and featured in medical offices, hotels, lobbies and corporate offices. Each structure represents the relationship between form, color, balance and space. These large-scale paintings have often been referred to as “fine art that is currently the most representative of contemporary living in the twenty first century.” These paintings are big, yet unassuming. In essence, I try to take the complex and make it simple.

Deborah Brenner
is a self-taught artist who has been painting full-time since 1990. Before becoming an artist she owned a small advertising agency in Washington D.C. She currently lives in San Diego, Cali. and her art is displayed in galleries throughout the world. She paints every day and hope that her art meets others in the same place. Her artwork can be viewed at

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