The Power of Touch Drawing to Heal
by 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 beautiful example of my vision of how we can spread the seeds of Touch Drawing in the world.
Julie: Touch Drawing has helped me heal the emotional wounds created by internal feelings of fragmentation and separation during a health crisis. Even medical science has revealed that when we heal our emotional wounds, we also heal the wounds of the body. For me, Touch Drawing was a tool to successfully reduce physiological stress that caused my immune system to dysfunction by enabling me to connect with negative, painful and fearful emotions know to trigger stress. Once I was able to access these emotions through the imagistic form of Touch Drawing, it became a natural and healthy form of expression and release. The mere act of releasing these emotions through images helped my immune system to return to a healthy state of full function.
Touch Drawing has helped me find balance – one of the top goals of my recovery process. I can sit down to a drawing session and use only my don-dominant hand to tap into a hidden space of inner wisdom and insight. It is a place where I can safely express emotion, release the terrified inner child and reap the pure gold that s the true reward and strength of being honest. (See also, Julie’s offering on combining Touch Drawing and Journaling, and How to Compile a Series of Drawings to Tell a Story Without Words)
The more I work with Touch Drawing, the more I realize what a powerful healing tool it can be. A tool that can be used by anyone, even those with bout the slightest trace of artistic ability, to create profound changes in their lives and activate healing at the deepest levels.
When I encourage people to try Touch Drawing, they have that look of terror…like the board may swallow them whole right there on the spot if they touch it. I always have to explain that even if they have never picked up a crayon and colored, they can use this form of art to heal and express themselves. “What if I am terrible at it?” they might ask. My response is always – There is no such thing as terrible. Even scratches, swirls and stick figures will give you all the information you will need to understand what your body/mind is saying through its imagery. Even if you believe that you have no talent at all, just remember that this is your inner critic talking. There is no person alive who wouldn’t be better off NOT listening to their inner censor!
Sean: Working with Julie was a small miracle in my life! This new medium called Touch Drawing has proved so “awakening” in many ways. It brings a whole new “hands-on/mind-off” aspect to my artwork. I love looking at the pictures I’ve come up with, even the ones that I personally found disturbing or primitive. There’s a hidden message in every one. Why? I wondered. Then I realized. It’s because you truly “draw out your soul.”
My experience with Julie came right after a bout in the hospital with pneumonia and just before I found myself in a wheelchair. We worked for two hours and completed the black and white drawings that you now see colorized. I cried some, we laughed a lot, shared story after story, and really had a beautiful meeting of the minds.
Upon returning to Denver, I fell very sick (once again) and ended up unable to walk. The night I came back from the hospital, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep. I pulled out my drawings and pastels and began to color them. It was the first time in my life I’ve ever done anything that resembled a Picasso (but I always knew there was one in there)! I always thought of myself as a copyist, but Touch Drawing has set the artist in me free. The colors added another whole new scope of vision to the work, revealing many additional hidden secrets.
Returning to South Dakota from Denver, Julie and I worked again for four hours. The second session with Julie was more frustrating as I couldn’t erase the thoughts in my head. My work was all too contrived. But Julie came back several days later and I was still at it! It quickly becomes an obsession. This time there were masterpieces all over the table. My mother and father were kind enough to allow me the space on the dining room table to work for several days. I did several pieces which are now gifts for friends, several self portraits, which reveal a great deal about how I see myself, and a fabulous male nude holding his newborn son.