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Art is My Elixir • by Gayle Bodine

Gayle BodineI have used art as an elixir for depression since I was a teen. I wrote poetry and did drawings throughout high school. My creative life seemed more real than the challenges I faced as a sensitive teen with the biological and family system stimulated predisposition to depression.

Art as Healer
I was a painting and drawing major in college. My belief in “art as healer” lead me to complete a masters degree in Art Therapy. I then spent many years as an art therapist in private practice helping others to heal through their creative activities and their conversations about their art and life.

I was very busy as a therapist and also with my young son. With my intense focus outside myself I neglected my own meaning making and art making.

Shifting My Focus
I was always waiting for the time and space to return to painting canvases. Eventually I experienced “compassion fatique” — also called “burnout”. I gradually shifted my professional focus to college teaching. I enjoy teaching and have been able to use my creativity in my teaching, but found myself becoming more and more depressed.

I don't remember what got me started with artist trading cards (ATCs). Once introduced to them I realized that I could manage playing card-sized works of art because the size eliminated my scarcity of time and space argument. I have been making artist trading cards, often daily, certainly weekly, and this activity has kept me connected with community (artist trading card groups online and in Denver) and my own creative process. I've been blogging about making cards for more than a year. I have also had the opportunity to teach classes in making artist trading cards through my local free university. In the coming year I intend to reopen my private practice with a focus on creativity coaching and art therapy.

Life remains an opportunity for growth and art making remains the power that keeps me going.

One of the resources I recommend to creatives is Eric Maisel's book The Van Gogh Blues. His ideas about creatives needing to create a meaningful life in order to stave off depression has confirmed my experience and strengthened my belief in art as an essential nutrient. To learn more, visit

Gayle Bodine is an artist, teacher, and counselor who lives in Denver, Colorado. To see more of her work visit and She may be reached by e-mail at

Gayle Bodine

Gayle Bodine

Gayle Bodine

Gayle Bodine

Gayle Bodine


I don't know how I was so lucky to stumble upon Gayle Bodine's art, but I must have been "guided" there. Just looking upon the 5 paintings she has on Facebook has inspired me to get out my brushes and paints and do something today. "Art is my salvation," I used to say. But somehow I forgot. Thank God, Gayle's work has "saved" me today...true inspiration.

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