by Nancy Shemaya Blauer accompanied her family through Auschwitz and offers her story: As a Jew one of my struggles has been how to experience and express the immense emotions that engulf me as I continue to learn about the Holocaust. In 1997 when I visited Auschwitz with my family similar fears arose as to whether I had the emotional vocabulary to walk through a concentration camp. Wandering through Auschwitz, I didn't know how to feel or how to make sense of it all. I wanted to be as open as possible to the experience yet didn't know how to do tha
by Tosha Tobias with Photographs by Kenny
Tosha Tobias has been opening the way for Touch Drawing in Chile for a number years. Along with her working partner, Ximena, she has recently introduced Touch Drawing to teachers, children in a nursery school and mentally disabled adults in an institutional setting. She has exhibited her own Touch Drawings in Santiago, and has plans for an exhibition of Touch Drawings by children with cancer in the future. We were invited to teach in Umpade, an institution where they receive people of low income, of differe
A Hospice Worker Processes her Experience Through Touch Drawing by Shemaya Nancy Blauer As a hospice volunteer I often sat bedside and entered into an intimacy and being that words could not begin to describe. Each person’s journey was unique, and my task was to enter their world and be a companion, allowing each moment to unfold into the next. This particular evening I was asked to go to a patient’s room, as she was requesting to be held. Although I had connected with her on previous visits, I knew that I needed to walk into her
Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FLby Kathleen Horne Artvisioninc@aol.com
In 2004, Victoria Domenichello-Anderson and myself approached Ringling School of Art and Design, with the idea of creating an Art and Healing Certificate Program. Nancee Clark, Director of Continuing Studies and Special Programs, quickly embraced the idea, and we offered our first course, Introduction to Art and Healing in the fall of 2004. The class filled, and was a huge success. We introduced Touch Drawing to our students, and the magic of this pr
by Jewell Jnana Scanlon
I began Touch Drawing in 1999. It was an amazing opening for me. My sense of a small self stepped aside or rested back. I began to just experience the power of the force of creation moving through me while images emerged upon the page. It may have been the first time in my adult life that I could really just play with paint without any concern about results.
Touch Drawing became a moving meditation for me. I began to play with the rhythms of my hands moving on the page. It seemed like magic as different marks would appear on the
By Susan Jackewicz in collaboration with Victoria Domenichello-Anderson VICTORIA_ANDERSON6@msn.com Along with Kathleen Horne, Victoria started the Art and Healing Certificate program at the Ringling School of Art This pilot program evolved from a group of Parkinsonians called The Hodgepodge Painters, founded by caregiver Susan Jackewicz for her mother who has lived with the disease for 12 years. The members gathered weekly for painting sessions on canvas board using tempera paints, brushes, sponges, and sometimes, fingers.
Aleah Chapin with Deborah Koff-Chapin This summer, my daughter Aleah took a journey to the Dominican Republic to volunteer for Sister Island Project. An artist in her own right, it was requested that she bring art materials to share with the children in the village. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pack up some Touch Drawing materials along with the usual crayons and craypas. When Aleah returned and told me about her experience, I sensed that she felt the magic of introducing Touch Drawing - the joy that lights up in people as they draw - givi
by Ruth Vanden Bosch, M.A., R.N., L.P.C.
I have worked with Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECaP), a group founded by Bernie Siegel, MD, for several years. It is a specialized form of individual and group therapy based on “carefrontation,” a loving, safe, therapeutic confrontation that facilitates personal change and healing. Dr. Siegel taught me that what people say is often a cover-up, because we are all trained in language and use it, consciously or not, to conceal things that disturb us. When we communicate in visual images, we tell the truth, because we can'
by Katrina Plato
In July I taught a one week, half days Touch Drawing class for children ages 7 to 12 at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Nine children attended the class. None of the children knew one another, but by the end of the week strong bonds had formed. This was one of the most enjoyable and exciting classes I have taught.
The outline of the day consisted of gathering to draw for an hour and a half, breaking for a half hour to play and eat snacks, returning to title drawings and choosing favorites to share with the group. The last h
This is not an easy image. We are not in easy times. I created this drawing during the Indigenous Day of Action as a part of Break Free Pacific Northwest. I carried my Touch Drawing materials on the three-mile “Procession for Future Generations”. People from around the region marched along the shores of Fidalgo Bay in front of the Shell and Tesoro refineries to demand that we accelerate the move to 100% renewables – without leaving workers or communities behind, and being sure to address the needs of the people most impacted by climate c
by Irv Knowlen
On February 20th, 2009 Victoria Anderson and the Expressive Arts Gallery of Sarasota had a special opening of art that I've done since being diagnosed with Parkinson's seven years ago. It was based on the premise that the need to create should and can continue throughout ones lifetime, even when one has Parkinson's; thus the title An Art Continuum. It started on one wall and continued on to the next showing the progression of changes in style, techniques and mediums including the use of the computer as the disease progressed. It ended with the my Touch
Group Exhibition at Portland Library, Portland, Maine
From March 1st through April 12th, Maine artists and Touch Drawing practitioners Helen Warren, Debra Windy-Horse Holloway and Jennifer Wadsworth along with seven others shared the ways in which Touch Drawing has inspired, nourished and deepened the creative process for each of them. The exhibit included pure Touch Drawings as well as those that had been embellished with pastel, oil, watercolor and collage. It also included etchings and larger paintings that were inspired by or are extensions of the
by Deborah Koff-Chapin
A beloved friend had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She used it as a catalyst for her awakening. After three years, she slipped into a coma. Remaining in her home, she was cared for by beloved friends through the process of dieing. One afternoon, I set up my materials and drew in the sacred presence of her being. I cannot know if this communion with her spirit was helpful to her soul as she prepared to die, but I hope it was.
Her husband shared that “The resonant and sensitive presence bubbling through the drawings added a
Reclaiming Creative Spirit by Helen Warren Helen Warren worked through clinical depression to arrive at a place where she reclaimed her Creative Spirit and her connection to Mother Earth. She gives her own account of the story. Helen Warren (NY) used Touch Drawing to move through a dark night of the soul:After attending the first annual TD Gathering, I was very much aware of the shift that had occurred both in my creative process and in my being. A professional artist, art educator/facilitator for over thirty years, I had not until now discovered how
Saint John's Hospital Stroke Retreat & Refresh Weekend
Facilitated by Janet Nix October 10-12, 2008 Written by Debbie Woodford, RN, BS, Director of Outcomes Management, Saint John’s Hospital
Touch Drawing is a way for stroke survivors, their care-givers and anyone with or without limited mobility to create, express and feel.
A group of passionate health care professionals at Saint John’s Hospital began planning the first Stroke Retreat in early 2008. (www.st-johns.org) We partnered with Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp to provide a fun filled
by Mohammad Mukhamair
Last fall Mukti Khanna invited me to introduce Touch Drawing to two Palestinian therapists from Gaza who were in Olympia, WA for a trauma treatment training program. It was very moving to connect with them, and we sent them home with a suitcase full of Touch Drawing supplies. One of the therapists, Mohammad, and I have maintained an active correspondence since then, as much as can be expected from someone in a war zone. Sometimes he hears a blast out the window while he is writing. Sometimes roads are blocked off and he can't get
by Kathleen Horne Artvisioninc@aol.com I arrived at the Touch Drawing Gathering, not really thinking that one of the themes I would be encountering would be grief over my mother's passing, eight months earlier. However, as always, when we make space for a deepening and open into the threads that are active in our psyches, what needs to come forth, will.I could feel, as my TD process deepened, the hovering around of grief. Suddenly, as I put my hands on the paper and began to draw, it was as though I were stroking her face, as she lay in the hospital b
Attendants Commentaries:"Only God or the Higher power knows how much I needed to reaffirm many things that I'm coping and working with, physically, spiritually and collectively. Thank you.""Very good, we need more practice and technique management.""A wonderful experience ! A journey inward in a new medium for me! I loved the workshop – hope you will give many more. I plan to continue drawing regularly and will use it in my work . Thank you for all your giving.""The workshop was tremendous, I really feel like an 'awakening'.""I have to pay attention to myself and w
I want to share some images and writing from one of my Touch Drawing workshops at the Open Center in NY. These workshops were offered free of charge to anyone who wanted to come. Several of the attendees had been eyewitnesses to the Trade Center collapse. When we gathered for the closing circle, I had the sense that we had done a collective Touch Drawing session. See below some of their images and words.
Find out more about the Heart of America Bus Tour, the context in which these workshops were held. See Deborah's Touch Drawings of New York City Firemen, cr
Seven Tibetan monks on tour from the DalaiLama's Drepung Loseling Monastery in Karnataka, India, visited Whidbey Island to offer chant and sand painting on behalf of world peace. Staying on the beautiful Chinook Land (site of the Annual Gathering), they spent the day following their Whidbey performance strolling through the old growth forests and wandered, somewhat lost, through Jerry Wennstrom's property. Jerry is an old high school friend of Deborah Koff-Chapin, the creator of Touch Drawing. A highly creative person, Jerry had built an elaborate sacred space out of a
The Sarasota Herald Tribune recently published an article featuring Charles Jursa, a participant in the Touch Drawing classes for Parkinsonians at Health South Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota, Florida. The article was written on the occasion of an exhibition of Charles Jursa’s Touch Drawings at the Expressive Arts Florida gallery. It is this moving story of how one man has found hope and inspiration through Touch Drawing. Read the article here.
Charles Jursa of Sarasota, who suffers from Parkinson's, says touch drawing, a form of expressive arts therapy, makes h
Touch Drawing as a communication tool when few means of communication are leftby Madelyn Pitts
A dear friend of mine has been dealing with encephalosis; an organic disease of the brain. The doctors think that a virus attacked her cerebral tissues and is destroying it. The process is irreversible and untreatable. Being able to share Touch Drawing with PJ was a way for me to communicate how much I love her. Touch Drawing gave PJ a way to communicate to the outer world through connecting with a part of herself that is be
Touch Drawing and Pain Management: A Beautiful Meeting of Ideas
Rebecca A. Leonard, MA, MFT
As an Expressive Arts Therapist and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have been using different forms of expressive art therapy in my job at a hospital in San Francisco for nearly five years now. It is only recently, after my attendance at the Touch Drawing Gathering last summer, that I have had the tools and the training to bring Touch Drawing into the hospital as a form of therapy for those recovering from illness, as well as introduce this process i
by Linda Howe Linda is an artist, educator, writer, poet, storyteller and Touch Drawing Facilitator, She recently had an exhibition of her Touch Drawings, paintings, poetry and stories at the Gallery of the Library of Chatham, Chatham, NJ. You can see her drawings in the Touch Drawing Gallery to the left.
Touch Drawing is a beautiful process. It invites me to draw closer to our Creator; to become an active, receptive, responsive, intuitive partner. Here is where I can directly explore the mystery underneath creativity and the energy of the
by Kris Steinnes, Founder, Women of Wisdom Foundation
Every February since 1995, I have done Interpretive Touch Drawing at the Women of Wisdom Conference in Seattle. A large number of these drawings have been incorporated into this powerful book. It is an inspiring collection of keynote presentations from Women of Wisdom between 1995 and 2006, filled with stories, art, poetry and songs by Women of Wisdom participants.
“This anthology of wisdom from some of the greatest women thinkers and writers of our time is a rare treasure. It
By Akiko Mukunashi (Body Worker/Psychotherapist), Oita JapanJapanese Version click here(Translated by Junko Kurata email@example.com)I had heard about Touch Drawing from my friend, Junko Kurata, who puts on workshops on this method of drawing with one’s fingers, and I had become interested in Touch Drawing. I was never good at drawing pictures. For example, my memories of elementary school art class evoke a sense of pain.However, for some reason, I started having an intense desire to draw again when I was in college. "Y
British BBC Film by Sue Mason Touch Drawing was featured on the British BBC television program "Inside Out" last autumn (2003), a regional magazine style programme. It formed part of a trio of alternative-style classes and workshops on offer in the south west of the country, and showed Sue Mason and her friends Val, Shan and Suzanne demonstrating the creative and fun side of TD. "Interestingly the presenter was very cynical" explains Sue. "and it took me ages to get her to actually get her hands on the board. She just couldn't see the point at all."H
The Power of Touch Drawing to Healby Julie Rathbun and Sean Mcgee Note from Deborah: Julie has been using Touch Drawing in her process of healing from Leukemia. She has gone on to share the Touch Drawing one-on-one with others. In this offering, Sean shares his experience of being introduced to touch Drawing by Julie. He is now planning to bring Touch Drawing to an Aids art group he is part of, as well as to an Assisted Living Facility for people who are elderly or mentally/physically disabled. This heartful sharing from person to person is a beautifu
Interfaith Minister Uses Touch Drawing in Grief-WorkAuthor: Rev. Donna Belt
It’s been five weeks now since I sat with my mother as she died, and in many small ways, I have become a stranger to myself. Sometimes I hear the foot-stamping anger of a petulant little girl crying through my mouth and I’m as startled as my family. This is strange and unfamiliar territory as feelings bubble to the surface, often asserting themselves from years past.
Elizabeth Lesser (co-founder of the Omega Institute) speaks of the “… ‘ego death
by Deborah Koff-Chapin
When a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, my way to support her during surgery was to draw. During her recovery the walls of her room were covered with the images.
“The drawings were an inner mirror that helped me stay in touch with my interior process when I had no energy or strength to do so on my own. In our medical system, there is such an overwhelmingly huge emphasis on outer process - test results, statistics, treatment options – it was exhausting. I felt traumatized with no resources for the inner work t
by David Baum, Ph.D.
Done during a five day Touch Drawing Class as part of the Doctor of Ministry program at Mathew Fox's University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, California.
David's words: Of all the painful images of 9-11, I was most profoundly affected by seeing people jumping to their deaths. I inwardly shuddered afterwards for weeks, imagining the unimaginable, the choosing of death by burning or jumping. For weeks afterwards this thought evoked deep sobbing. It was pain I could not move beyond.
Four months later in Touch Drawing, I found t
SoulCards & Touch Drawing & A Family in Transition By Stacy RobinsonMy daughter purchased SoulCards for me as a gift a couple of years ago because she knew that Deborah's images were very much the feelings that I wanted to evoke from my own art, IF I could ever start painting again. The cards sat on a shelf for a long time, untouched. Upon receiving word that my mother's breast cancer had spread to the brain and bones, I ran to the closet and instinctively grabbed the cards as I raced to the airport.I was raised in a conservative Southern Bapt
by Barbara Hulin
I have been attracted to Deborah’s art since, as a graduate student, it was introduced to me through the SoulCards. I went on to get my Master’s Degree in Sacred Cinema from Naropa University-Oakland. My thesis film, Rebirth of the Authentic Voice, had been completed and I was looking for my next project when a very authentic voice started to burn in my chest. It was this passion about Deborah’s art that seemed to be calling heatedly. I began to nurse this little flame and was encouraged to ask her if I could do a documentary.
by Ivy Shawl-Song
I am a Certified Childbirth Educator and Rehabilitation Practitioner. I am currently completing my requirements for Midwifery registration in Alberta, Canada through the Midwives College of Utah's BScM program. I have been facilitating childbirth classes for 3 years, and incorporate Touch Drawing within the class to help pregnant women deal with any fears, anxieties or apprehensions surrounding the upcoming labor and birth. I start with a Talking Circle, and the pregnant women talk about any fears or apprehensions they may have sur