During Lisa Brown’s five-year struggle with Lyme disease, creating art was the only thing that made her feel better. “I was very sick,” she said. “When people are concentrating on creating art, they’re not concentrating on pain.”
That principle is central to her life and her business, Art as Therapy, which she opened in 1998 in Watchung, NJ. Art as Therapy aims to help those struggling with adversity. With a master’s degree in Creative Arts Education, Brown has given hundreds of classes and facilitated workshops throughout the U.S. and internationally, including Ireland, England, and Mexico.
Brown’s clients have included children struggling to process traumatic events, those suffering with confidence issues, mothers of autistic children, bereavement groups, support groups, and the general public. When one client told Brown she was experiencing too much pain to paint, Brown asked her to simply try. “She started painting, and she put down the ice pack that she had and forgot about her pain for an hour,” Brown recalls. “It’s a reprieve because you’re using a different part of the brain to create.”
Brown’s mentor, Dr. Lucia Capacchione, popularized the concept of writing and drawing with one’s non-dominant hand in order to unlock new insight or emotions. Brown carries on that method to this day. She says, “I might ask them to draw with their non-dominant hand what the problem feels like. ‘Does it feel like rocks on your shoulder or like you’re in a hole?’ And then I have them dialogue by asking questions with their dominant hand and answering with non-dominant. That gives them insight into what is really going on in their life.”
As Brown explains, “We are not making art to sell, we are making art to explain how we feel. Usually we start with collage, because everybody can do a collage,” she says. “If someone is sketching, they’re free to draw stick people.” The goal for her clients is to better understand what’s going on in their lives.
Brown had her home built to include some special equipment, “I wanted a kiln, because clay is a great medium to use,” she says. “You can make it, break it, put it back together, cut it, pound it, form and reform until you feel it says what you want to express.”
Clover has helped her business take payments online, and her Clover Flex offers easy credit card processing. Clients can pay for her annual retreats, buy her original art, or buy her book, “Hold the Moments: Creative Experiences in Parenting,” which provides projects for children that help create a memoir for that child.
Brown discovered Clover through her networking group, B.I.G.: “Believe, Inspire, Grow.” Those words and their meaning are woven into the fabric of Brown’s Art as Therapy, as her work to alleviate the suffering of so many demonstrates every day.
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