Healing Arts to Help Victims of School Shootings

To aid victims of school violence, Joy’s Garden healing art project encourages painting to promote processing trauma.

The Painting Lesson Virtual Studio is FREE, as well as the CreativSOUP Facebook Group. Healing art posters will be donated by artist Dorothy Fagan to victims. joysgarden.org for information

My heart is breaking for these kids at the school in Florida. Watching the violent attack on the news, rattled me to the core. I can’t get it off my mind. How many young people, 3,000 at that one school alone, were traumatized. We have a whole generation of young people growing up in a war zone.

Watching them, I felt my own traumas flooding back all over again. And it makes me keenly aware of just how much healing this generation of young people will need. How to even begin?

I received an email from a fellow artist this morning, Brainard Carey writes, “We face the reality of another school shooting in the US, the 18th, by expert accounts, in the calendar year. That’s a rate of over 2.5 per week so far in 2018. Atrocities against children. As we all struggle to deal with this latest disruption of our already fragile sense of security, art can offer a path to healing for so many.

“Art is a language through which that which cannot be spoken is portrayed. Art heals, it exposes, it decries and demands. Art disturbs and disrupts our comfort zones and requires that we re-calibrate how we encounter the world.

“As an artist, you are the voice box, so to speak, of a world that is full of indescribable cruelty. You bring beauty and truth, you offer an unedited look inside the mess that is humanity.

“The responsibility you carry is great. The burden is heavy. Do not leave the details that may be an obstacle to getting your message out to the world to chance. Find the path to optimum exposure and pursue it relentlessly.

“Absorb your community and let it absorb you, dive deep in the waters of those who share your spark and passion. Let them hold you up as you, in turn, hold them up. No one with a message so powerful that it compels them to follow a career path as precarious as this can possibly exist without a village. Find yours and hold tight.

“Make art that speaks loudly to your journey, your beliefs, your convictions, and to the way you want to see the world changed forever. Do not for one moment let anyone tell you that this is an impossible endeavor. Find a way. Insist.

“As we reel in the losses that will become more clear over the coming days, it is impossible to ignore how fleeting life itself really is. What are you waiting for? Do it today. Take charge and make your future one that you want to live. Make it count. Fall and fail but do not give up.

“Remember the words of George Bernard Shaw:

“A life spend making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

“Do something. Your moment is now.”

Something clicked into place as I read his last words. Immediately I knew what to do with the paintings on my easel. Unlike anything I’ve painted before, this new series is colorful, whimsical, and joyful.

inspirational art as prayer poster
Falling Stars Wash Dreams Ashore

The titles are longer than ever before. Titles like, “Prayers Go Up, Stars Light the Sky”, and “Falling Stars Wash Dreams Ashore,” and “My Heart Rising Radiates Passion & Dreams.” And the posters and wall decals with those prayers and artwork that have been floating in my mind ~ suddenly have a destination and purpose.

inspirational wall decal poster
Wall Decal or Poster, Prayers Go Up, Stars Light the Sky

I am donating Free Virtual Studio here on The Painting Lesson to anyone who wishes to use it. The CreativSOUP Facebook Group is Free to participate as well.

In addition, I have set up Joy’s Garden on my art website and will donate a poster for every three sold to anyone you name. Learn more and participate in the Joy’s Garden Healing Arts Project.

If you prefer, you can donate to the project by sponsoring. 

Art & Healing Go Hand in Hand

Healing Art Mini Retreats

1-Day Overnight Healing Art Retreat

Custom Dates Winter, Spring 2018

Over the past five years, requests from individuals for assistance with using art to address grief, serious illnesses, injury and trauma have found me. It is through working with each of these individuals that I realize my calling. Hearing my mother’s life-long quest for wellness, I have designed healing art programs including; stress management, anxiety, wellness, trauma and PTSD, surgery recovery, cancer, and other illnesses.

Your Personalized Mini Retreat

Whether you are recovering from surgery, trauma, living with a long-term illness, or simply managing the stress of everyday living ~ art can make an extraordinary difference incorporated into your wellness program. With it, you can facilitate the progress you and your health care professionals are making.

Being a creative participant is invigorating. Each person’s healing process is unique. I work with people dealing with anxiety, stress, grief, trauma, PTSD, cancer, ms, bone marrow transplant, heart issues, low energy and stamina, recovering from surgery or injury, and those supporting loved ones who are ill. My job is to facilitate your process through art, and help you hear the Creator within you.

With art your healing process becomes tangible. You can interact with it, coax it along, even get mad with it! Yes! That’s part of it too! True self expression has two sides. Expressing both is important. Art is a safe way to do this! 

Your mind body spirit was designed to energize you. Here’s what you need, and what you don’t, to get it flowing.

What You Will Need

You will need your calendar and a willingness to explore. Being open is the first step. If you are closed, bookmark this page and come back later. If you are open, then use your calendar to select a date.

What You Don’t Need

  1. You don’t need to know what media or direction you are going. We will sort this out in your session. Many people change media and directions. Listening to the Creator within, you will know which media and direction to use step by step.
  2. You don’t need to have ANY previous art experience. At all! None. Period. This is the most asked question. You will not be expected to compete, or show your art to anyone. In many ways being a novice is easier than being an expert. We won’t spend any time UNteaching you old ways of approaching art. And you won’t waste any time worrying about looking good.
  3. You don’t need art supplies to start. A simple pen and paper will suffice for your first session. Though if you wish you may bring art materials. Easels and palettes are available in my studio. If you wish to use one of my studio watercolor setups for $15, let me know so I can have it ready for you when you arrive.

Your session will be at my Art Cottage Studio in Cobbs Creek, Virginia. You can see photos of it here.  Arrive  1:00 pm Depart 11:00 am.

  • DAY 1
  • Check In Noon – 1:00 pm
  • Afternoon session 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • 3:00 – 5:00 Tea & Free Time
  • 6:00  Dinner with Dorothy at a local restaurant
  • 8:00 pm Free Time
  • DAY 2
  • Continental Breakfast 8:00 am
  • Morning Art Session 9:00 – 11:00 am
  • Check Out 11:00

You may include additional questions or information in the message box. If you wish, you may include your interest in painting, journaling, dreamwork, specific media, or specific issues or illness. However, this is not required.


When I receive your booking application, I will consider your interests, answer any questions you may have, and let you know if the date you have chosen is available. (Personalized Healing Art Retreats are designed for one person only. If it is appropriate for you to bring someone who is helping you ~ spouse or partner ~ let me know.)


You will receive a payment link to pay for your retreat on PayPal with any major credit card. If you prefer to send a check, you may do so with instructions in your payment email.

Healing Art Mini Retreat

  1. Start by selecting a date you are available.

  2. Fill in your information and Apply Now.

Apply Here
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Please select art media. Oil Painting Watercolor Acrylic Painting Mixed Media Journaling Drawing Fiber Arts Stories Books 

Please choose your interest topic for your session. Expressionist Dreams Signature Style Mentorship Wellness Stress Relief Anxiety Relief Trauma PTSD Other Illness Stroke or Heart Cancer Surgery Hospice 


Change the World? Who Me? Yes, You!

Why is it that THE thing you think you aren’t EVER going to do ~ is the ONE thing that will transform EVERYTHING???

I had given this painting up for lost. I’d abandoned her completely!!!

I found her the other day rolled up in a dark corner of my studio. The face of her was black. You heard me right, the center of the painting was painted in such dark colors, you couldn’t see the fields and farms at all.

Joys Garden Dorothy Fagan
Joy’s Garden, oil on canvas, 36″x 48″

No, sorry I don’t have a “before picture.” She was too ugly to photograph.

So why does it make a difference anyway?

When I finished painting her (and that’s another story of it’s own), I couldn’t think of a title. NOPE! Nada.

I tried again the next day. Still Nothing. I was totally blank.

On a whim, I went to the easel and flipped back the corner of the canvas to see if there was a title written there.

I couldn’t believe what was written, in my own handwriting, there it was plain as day staring me in the face ~ Joy’s Garden.”

I had to stop and catch my breath. It took me a couple days to get my bearings. I tried to recall when I had first started the painting. I drew a blank there too. No wonder I’ve had vertigo.

I really only remembered the day I rolled her up and put her away. I had messed up what I thought was a pretty good painting, then blown her off by painting the dark colors. I didn’t think it mattered. You know, who cares?

True Confession

Well, I could say the same about myself. But I won’t! I’m done throwing dark colors around willy nilly. Dark colors are just like that one pencil dot on a clean white piece of paper. We focus on that one spot and waste all the Light in the world trying to erase one small dot.

My mom used to call me “Dot.” “Dotsie,” actually. No one else EVER called me that so don’t get any ideas. I am NOT that spot. Spot’s a dog.

So what got me working on a painting (and a dream) I had thrown away?

A friend came to the studio to pick out some paintings for his house. Looking for perfect paintings for him, this one showed her face. I felt embarrassed to see her and quickly flipped passed her in the pile.


After he left I put her up on the easel, turned up the music and squeezed out the paint.

The easel is a pedestal where I can see her in the Light. I can listen with an open mind to what the Creator has to say about her.

There’s a clue in this story about what inspires an artist. Do you see it? Leave your thoughts, guesses, comments. Then subscribe to read the other story and see if you found the clue.