Art, Creativity & Healing in Hawaii’s Inspiration Magazine by Donia Lilly

I recently had an article published in the Spring 2015 issue of Hawaii’s Inspiration Magazine entitled Art, Creativity & Healing. I will post a copy of the article below for those of you who don’t live in a Hawaii and can’t get a copy of the magazine. I hope it ignites something in you…

Art Creativity Healing article by Donia Lilly in Hawaii's Inspiration Magazine spring 2015Art, Creativity, & Healing

The American diet is sadly deficient in art. Art has been proven to relieve the effects of stress, raise students’ test scores in ALL academic areas, and a myriad of other life and spirit enhancing benefits, yet it is consistently relegated to the “only if there is time or money for it” pile.

This goes most notably for schools, but also for private individuals who don’t budget time for creative expression or money for the purchase of affordable original works of art to enrich their living environment. (There is a profound difference between looking at a poster, and standing in front of an original piece in which you can see the artist’s hand at work – true food for the soul). Yet these same individuals have money to purchase electronic gadget after gadget, and time to sit mesmerized in front of them for hours on end.

As a professional artist and former art teacher, I have seen the therapeutic and healing effects of art and know personally how art helps me to release and relax – to utilize different parts of my body, mind, and spirit, which otherwise would lay dormant in the daily grind of busy-ness.

However, many people talk themselves into believing “I’m not an artist – I can’t do that,” and thus, never try to create anything. Something I constantly told my students – especially the adults, as they needed to hear it the most – is that creativity comes out in many ways. Just because you think you can’t paint or draw doesn’t mean you’re not creative. Quilting, cooking, rebuilding cars, these can all be taken to the level of creative expression.

By the same token, painting and drawing can be brought down to the level of mundane tasks. It all depends on your approach – are you tapping into your inner source of love and wisdom? Are you doing something that you find relaxing and enjoyable? Are you allowing yourself to focus completely, rather than reserving part of your brain to remind you minute by minute of all the other things you “need to get done?” Is some part of you whispering: “you are wasting time?” Are you able to turn off your inner-critic?

I’ve observed that when someone is so tied to the outcome – the product – of a project, they become paralyzed by fear. An 8 year-old “emotionally disturbed” student could draw beautifully, but he was the most frightened child in class when it came to art. I was heart-broken when I heard him say with despair, “but I can’t draw a Christmas tree!!!! My mom told me last week mine didn’t look anything like the real thing!”

The goals that are ingrained in us are usually so achievement and product oriented, that the “process” is often an inconvenient means to an end. How often do the words “productive” and “productivity” come up in daily conversations and thought?

The creative process, the healing process, should never be evaluated solely on the basis of “product” – especially if this mindset is taken from the outset. It will undoubtedly cloud our appreciation of what is really going on inside and around us, and we will never be able to see the beautiful and ever-changing nature of our bodies, our minds, and our hearts. We will miss seeing the creativity in our life and the healing in our creativity.

Donia paints intuitively & from memory. She taught art to special needs populations on the mainland and the Cook Islands, and classes here at Kauai Academy of Creative Arts. She is coordinating the 1st annual Kauai Art Tour – an artists’ & artisans’ Open Studios event in April. Visit for info & maps. View her art at:


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