Rule #1- Find a place you trust…

A wonderful professor in college gave us a handout at the beginning of the term that I still, and probably always will keep close- it is a copy of the list of “rules” by John Cage. I believed she wished us to hold these in our minds as we created our art?

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.

Each and every one is an invaluable piece of advice, but I am starting with rule one as I start out on my own life as an “adult”

I am posting this here because I think I owe to the few, but quite loyal, followers of this blog an explanation of my personal love of, relationship with, and need for sketchbooks and journals.

They are the place I have found to trust. There are always things I want to say, but rarely are they “safe” or “appropriate” or “won’t ruin my reputation.” In fact, I probably say too much out loud as it is, yet I still need that safe place. To me, the place that I trust is often not a specific location, but a book that I can keep hidden from the world- at least until I am ready to share that trust.

So I try to trust this place as often as possible. I scream what I can’t scream in the real world, I cry about pain when I don’t want the anyone to know about the tears, I write about the rare and valuable cheesy happiness-es when I feel no one would take me seriously- or even care.

I write when I know I DO have something to say, something that is, in fact, quite important and valuable, and yet remains something I cannot force my own mouth to voice. 

Sometimes I cannot get things into words, even in a journal. So I draw- usually to music, my own overwhelming emotions, and in spite of my fears. Scribbles, angry sketches, random blocks of happy, beautiful colors. Often the doodles lead to more doodles and sometimes to more writing.

So I suppose I do have a more personal tie to this than I had originally admitted to myself previously. It has occurred to me that without these countless sketchbooks and journals I may very well have lost my mind- and, equally important, I may have forgotten all of the thoughts that become more and more important to remember as we age.

Just because you cannot share your thoughts with the world now does not make them useless or unimportant. Rather, these thoughts may be the most valuable to the world for longer than you can imagine. I don’t think Anne Frank truly understood the long reaches her honest words would have over the world. Picasso created great art- but he also changed the way we define art itself. Don’t ever think it’s not worth it, it’s not good enough, or it doesn’t matter.* If it’s in you, get it out.

*Please refer to Rule Number 6.

That is all for tonight.

Best wishes,


Feel free to contact me:


AWARD= REALLY Pleasantly Surprised!

I am extremely excited to announce a wonderful gift from CharcoalBlue – Sketch4Health’s very first blog award! Some thing called the Liebster Award. I have NO clue as to the origins of this award, as too much time spent googling it led to pretty much nothing in the way of an official start, but the general consensus is that I have to answer a few things to accept the nomination. I have no complaints!

So I have a bit of work to do in order to accept! YAY!

11 things about Me…

1. I am a caffeine addict, but mostly because I love the taste of coffee AND tea

2. I am trying to compost using worms (I’m trying to make this as interesting as possible! hehehe)

3. I have a weird habit of looking at the clock when it is eleven after… I think it started by accident and now I just notice it more often?

4. I am addicted to learning. Anything.

5. I speak a bit of Mandarin

6. I am a morning person to the core! And I am most definitely early to bed, too.

7. I have a blog, but not my own laptop ;-D

8. I give a mean foot massage.

9. I HATE hairdryers. Not for any reason related to the health of my hair or for appearance, it’s just too noisy!

10. I listen to more top-40 pop music than I would ever like to admit

11. A year ago, I thought blogs were the dumbest things on the internet. But now I love them- they are the electronic version of the sketchbooks I want to give away.

11 questions about Me…

1. What is a fond childhood memory?

I first told my parents I wanted to become an artist when I was only three years old. I don’t think I even knew what “being an artist” meant then (and I often still wonder if I know now). My parents responded with wonderful words of encouragement, and my dad taught me something I will never forget: “You can make a living doing anything as long as you really love it and work hard.” Of course, as we get older, all of us become a bit skeptical of such optimism, but I try to remember the sincerity with which he told me that. I do believe he is right- I’m just still figuring out what I love to do the most- there is so much out there to do!

2. Your favourite movie?

This changes depending on the day, lol. But I will never loose respect for Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. It is a documentary about Ai Weiwei‘s struggles, and more importantly his perseverance as both an artist and activist. I would tell you more about him, his work, and the movie- but then you wouldn’t go googling it and finding him inspiring for yourselves!

3. If you could do/be anything – what would it be?

I wish I knew. I suppose if I could DO anything, it would have to everything! I get sidetracked rather easily, but this tends to lead me down some interesting paths and I find myself learning things I never ever would have thought I would even enjoy.

4. Most common item you buy that is under $10.00

I’m an artist- which sometimes translates into borderline hoarder- so take a wild guess. That’s right- random art supplies! I am a sucker for craft clearances, anything I can use in any project I can imagine. It results in quite a mess of random crap sometimes (most of the time…) but cheap crafty stuff is addictive. (Second most common is COFFEE!)

5. Something that annoys you

Assumptions. They do not merely annoy me, they anger me and I believe that they are nothing if not dangerous.

6. Something that gives you pleasure

Well, I suppose art is an obvious answer… I love to run, especially on new trails. I’m not very fast and am out of shape, but I am addicted!

7. Find your self daydreaming about ….

This blog. Literally. Sketch4Health has gotten into my head and I think about it all the time- problems that need to be addressed, logo ideas, wondering about future legal issues, and how to make it actually work. 

8. Where do you get your ideas for your posts?

I am a “fixer” by nature, and I want to solve a problem whenever I see one in the “system,” so to speak. So I ask myself what my strengths are- and how I can best fill these gaps people are getting caught in. I can’t fill them all, and Sketch4Health only addresses a specific, small part of the healthcare industry that needs a bit of help, and even so, I need help. I can’t go at this alone- it has to be colaborative; we all have unique ideas as to how to approach certain problems, and the combination of those ideas is typically going to be the best solution. So my posts address concerns, thoughts, and ideas that I need some input on. I say this all of the time: “I NEED comments!”

9. Which do you enjoy most, pondering the possibilities or narrowing down the options?

PONDERING THE POSSIBILITIES! I HATE narrowing down the options- it makes me feel like I’m eliminating things that could be potentially amazing.

10. Favourite novel

Not a big fiction reader, but I love biographies, so I’m going to cheat and go with that! American By Choice by Craig FergusonHe is a comedian  and a wonderful one at that, but his writing is honest to the core. And not only that, the book is very well written, unlike too many other autobiographies that are written for the sole purpose of money. I have a great respect for him and LOVED reading that book.

11. Advice for a mum who will one day have 3 teenage sons – at the same time?

LOL! I don’t have kids yet, but I will say one thing: LISTEN. And don’t judge. It’s very hard to turn to someone and place your trust in them if you expect to be judged for what you say. I’m not saying don’t discipline them and never get angry, just be aware that what they have to say is still valid- even if they may be ridiculously immature at times 😉

11 blogs I am nominating…

HarsH ReaLiTy– I love this honest sense of humor, I love that I can laugh and still see the insightfulness through Opinionated Man’s anecdotes  poems, and complete randomness. There is something to be said about brutal honesty and the willingness to offend.

WAGblog- Oh my goodness is this woman amazing! She writes, creates art, and works towards improving the lives of those with schizophrenia and mental illness. She is quite accomplished and her posts are wonderfully meaningful, not to mention the pictures of her artwork which is exquisitely expressive ❤ LOVE

Hollis Plample-  Sketches on a blog? How could I not love this! Her comics always bring a smile to my face, but don’t forget to appreciate her style! I love the honesty in her drawings. No obsession is given over to being perfectly polished, and this adds a true beauty to an already enjoyable anecdote.

Love. Life.- If you ever need to be inspired, want to think deeply, read something truly beautiful, go to this blog. Never disappoints!

A Diamond in the Stuff- Lovely, lovely craftinesses! ❤

Get Busy Gardening- Well, I’m on a gardening kick, and I’m always looking for tips and ideas! Great site, smart woman, and I love a wonderful blog that encourages people to get out there and garden too!

Creativity in Therapy– How could I not include this one? A real art therapist, Carolyn shares wonderful insights into how to effectively help people through art and creativity. Intelligent, meaningful, and inspiring!

Home Heart Craft- Love the name alone, but I pop over to this blog for awesome craftiness ideas! Very creative to the core, and easy to follow and understand (i.e. ideal for me ;-D )

It’s Not Work It’s Gardening- One of those blogs I should go back and re-read every post every month or so so I don’t forget all these good tips!

Craft and Repeat- Crafty, DIY goodness! Need I say more?

Mbfitzmahan- A very new WP blog with only a few posts, but the photographs are gorgeous! Worth checking out even if you’re not usually into photography!

11 questions for the nominees:

1. What food do you eat that people around you find extremely weird and/or disgusting?

2. Why do you choose to blog?

3. Where do you get your inspiration for your posts?

4. What was your favorite subject in school? (yes- lunch and recess are acceptable answers if you hated school ;-P )

5. If you had a million dollars, and could NOT use it for charity, what would you buy?

6. Biggest pet peeve?

7. Are you one of those people who keeps focused and organized, or are you one of those that keeps open and a bit messy?

8. One word to describe your blog. (I almost wrote “yourself” instead of “blog” but remembered that is the most cliche question EVER and that I absolutely HATE it!)

9. First book you ever read (or remember reading)?

10. Do you blog only when you want to, or are there times when you feel you need to post something to keep a routine?

11. What is your real job? (Yes, the answer can be blogging, Mom or Dad, nothing, etc. No judgement, just curious)

WHEW! OK- I think I did it! Such an honor to be given an award (if you read this and you are thinking it’s “no big deal” smack yourself upside the head for me, because a tiny blog like this needs some ego-boosting once in a while!)

Best wishes!

❤ Amy

Next Question… Defining “tools”

Pencil art

Pencil art (Photo credit: Nalini Prasanna)

To provide easy access to basic creative tools for local patients, residents of long-term care facilities, foster children, and other members of the community who may not have access to such tools.

It’s a start, but some things still need to be addressed.

A comment left on the last post got me thinking not only about adaptive devices (designed for those with difficulties holding and writing with pens/pencils/etc.), but also that there are probably many special considerations to be made when making these “kits.”

What tools should be included in the “standard” kit, and what other specially designed tools might be needed?

I’m thinking the sketchbook/journal is a given! Also- a pencil with eraser and sharpener, and a decent ink pen should automatically be included. Since the scope of recipients has widened, feasibility should be considered as we think more about materials (i.e. maybe not the ridiculously expensive specialty colored pastels one of my art teachers made me buy once… Ouch!)

Something that allows for the inclusion of color- crayons, colored pencils, markers, or even watercolors.

Unless something changes my mind, I’m adverse to markers (they dry out too fast, and even I have a hard time being perfect about getting the cap on completely every time) and crayons (they melt and get messy). Even though they wash out and are wonderfully expressive, I’m concerned with mess with watercolors as well.

I don’t know what the costs would be, but I do know that they make relatively inexpensive watercolor pencils. These are a favorite of mine, since you can use them as both regular colored pencils (if you don’t add water) or, as the name implies, get a pretty cool effect by adding water with a “pen” designed to only add water. This “water pen” however, might cost a bit more and be a bit to complicated for people with certain disabilities- I’m not sure.

Perhaps this leaves me with a regular pack of colored pencils. Just your standard rainbow colors. Easy, cheap, and the sharpener for the regular pencil would work on these too (preferably a sharpener with one of those plastic tops to catch the mess?)

Pen, regular pencil and eraser, pencil sharpener, and colored pencils. 

So far all I can think of are adaptive devices to go along with these for certain groups- since the supplies are all about the same diameter, probably only one, interchangeable device would be needed per kit.

Anything else? Anyone in the healthcare field (HCP or even a previous or current patient or former or current foster child?????) have any specific concerns that might arise with the above materials? And does anyone have a suggestion about the size of the books? 

Comments are so greatly appreciated you don’t even know!!! PLEASE comment!

Best wishes,

❤ Amy


Found this awesome blog post- definitely helpful and food for thought.

More Research! So many studies…

OK. I think I’m in neck deep with medical based studies investigating the efficacy of art therapy.

If you just want a list of TONS of examples (from ADD to grief to traumatic brain injuries)- here is a good PDF list from the American Art Therapy Association. For each study listed there is a section summarizing findings, and additional information on the validity of the study (and the limitations of that study, in some cases). Basically: an overwhelming amount of support for the role art therapy can have in health care.

One thought before I move on and forget it: I found one study particularly interesting in its investigation into the methods used. (#14, summary on page 34). The study is limited, and focuses on young sexual abuse victims specifically and does not address the healthcare community in a greater sense, but the findings could be potentially useful in how the sketchbooks/kits are put together.

“It was found that children produced more formed expressions and creative/design elements and less chaotic discharge and stereotypic art through the art project that involved few instructions and few materials… versus involved, ‘multiple instructions and materials'”

This is something I hadn’t thought about from the standpoint of providing a creative outlet. I assumed that the main need for access to art supplies was driven partly by lack of money and partly by lack of artistic exposure. Basically, according to this preliminary study, less is more. I had originally planned only to provide basic materials anyway- as organizing instruction on such a wide scale is probably much too much of a task for me- but did not realize that this could actually be more beneficial to the receivers. A less structured environment has always helped foster my creativity, and the less instruction I received, the more creative I was (and almost had to be). It does make sense that minimal to no instruction would leave the possibilities as endless as the creator’s imagination.

Then too is the inevitable discussion of costs and donations. Though not necessarily monetary donations, at some point some sort of drawing/writing supplies will be needed to go along with the sketchbooks themselves. This begs the following inevitable questions of “How much can be given?” and “How much is needed?

According to this study, perhaps only the basics. A pencil, a pen, and something with some color (pencils, crayons, or markers). In terms of what you need to express emotions, a writing utensil and access to colors (emotions and colors are strongly tied- just ask anyone who designs ads…) are really all you need. Whether the person receiving the supplies writes, draws, sketches, scribbles, whether what they create is deep and meaningful or simply an exploration of aesthetics, whether the end product is useful or useless- it doesn’t matter. Each person will need something different from their sketchbook.  Just as no two illnesses are identical, and no two sets of treatments are prescribed in the same manner, no two people will use a sketchbook in the same way.

So here’s my question for you- the part where the reader has the chance to help ME out a little ;-D

What would YOU do with a sketchbook, a pencil, a pen, and some crayons? How would you fill the book? 

(In case you haven’t caught the hint yet- I am asking for some comments!!!! THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION PEOPLE!)

Supporting Research?

It has come to my attention that, though I have an intuitive sense of the importance of art in the healing process, maybe some more solid research would flesh out my ideas a bit.

So here’s my findings from today (I will keep posting as often as I find good sources and I have the time)

(Click on the title to see the original source)

From: The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature

-“Engagement with creative activities has the potential to contribute toward reducing stress and depression and can serve as a vehicle for alleviating the burden of chronic disease.”

This comes from a brief paragraph that points out that two of the leading chronic conditions in the US, heart disease and diabetes, are associated with “psychosocial stress.” This is kind of key- I think that many of us, myself included, tend to think only of the direct psychological benefits of creativity, not of the indirect physical benefits that are probably greater than we have yet discovered. A person with diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), but not with any obvious psychological disorders, would still benefit greatly from a reduction in stress. I began thinking about the demographic of people for Sketch4Health in a more limited sense- those with conditions that created great stress, rather than those with conditions worsened or partially caused by stress.

I will be honest: this article examines a few different types of arts used for theraputic purposes, but I mainly focused on the “Visual Arts” section- since that is what I am trying to help with.

“Art helps people express experiences that
are too difficult to put into words, such as
a diagnosis of cancer”

Under the visual arts heading is a chart summarizing the findings of several studies on the effects of creating art. ALL of the studies found positive results. Benefits included distraction, increased positive emotions and reduced depression, and increased focus on self-worth and social identity.


If you haven’t already, check out the video I came across the other day, it is very inspiring! Comment below!!! And follow the board on Pinterest if you want to help gather visual ideas!

About Art Therapy

Please watch the video if you have the time. My favorite quote: “make a scream… Nobody knows what a scream looks like…”

You can’t express everything to a doctor, at least not right away. It talks about the science behind art as therapy a bit, too, if that helps you get the picture of what I am getting at.

“getting something in you out”

Why a Creative Outlet is Important for those with Chronic Conditions

So this site is just starting up. It’s starting from an idea I originally called the Sketchbook Project, but I like the name Sketch 4 Health better. My ideas have less to do with helping developing artists (not that that isn’t important- in fact, I find the lack of funding for the arts rather despicable, but that is another story…), and more to do with helping people that may need some art in their lives, but do not have the means (economical, situational, etc.) to access a more formal service such as those provided by art therapists.

Ideally, I would wish that all people with chronic or otherwise traumatic health issues would have free and easy access to professionals trained in encouraging creative expression. I believe in the accessibility of art– both in its creation and in its display. If Art is not freely available to all, how can we claim that Free Speech is free? Not everyone can express themselves as easily in words as they can in other ways, ways such as dance, music, and visual arts that can transcend language barriers and cultural restrictions. I am not a dancer or a musician (THAT is a fact! 😉 but I am an artist. I consider myself neither good or bad at what I do, and often I do not like to label what I create as Art. That being said, I can do only what I can do, and that is to help provide a means of visual expression to those who lack a creative outlet. It will not be life changing for everyone, maybe not anyone, but it may help some, and even helping one is reason enough to try.

I need your help. I am NOT asking for money! I have to make that absolutely clear, because, right now, I don’t really have a firm grasp on what I am actually going to do. When I say help, I mean ideas, insights, thoughts, words of encouragement even.

So please comment.

You don’t have to follow (though I would LOVE it if you did), leave your name, or even ever come back to this site. But if you have any thoughts on this project, no matter if it is only a few words, PLEASE, please, please take the time to comment! All comments are moderated, but I will try to make sure that you only have to provide the information you want to.

Thank you so much!

Much love and best wishes,

❤ Amy

Spring It!