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HeART Cart


The HeART Cart is an open invitation to enjoy the process of creating according to your own heART. The Cart is dedicated to the memory of Nel Clark whose loving spirit inspired friends and family. Thus begins the essay HeART Cart at Hospice House by Karen Close, now a chapbook from the Okanagan Institute. Karen Close is a painter and author of two books. Her heART FIT classes at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna, lead participants to “honour the urge to create ... for ourselves and for others.”

Published by the Okanagan Institute ArtsCare Program in association with the Central Okanagan Hospice Association


HeART Cart at Hospice House 1



Published by the Okanagan Institute ArtsCare Program in association with the Central Okanagan Hospice Association


HeART Cart at Hospice House

Copyright © 2011 Karen Close. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Produced and published by the Okanagan Institute ArtsCare Program in association with the Central Okanagan Hospice Association March 2011 C O L O P H O N

Publisher and designer: Robert MacDonald EMGDC Printed at the Aspire Media Works, Kelowna BC. The paper was made from flattened bleached trees and is 100% post-consumer waste. The type used in this publication is Vendôme, a quirky typeface designed in 1952 by François Ganeau while working at Fonderie Olive in France. Possibly named for Place Vendôme, a square in the 1st arrondissement in Paris, the face itself is inspired by 16th and 17th century type by Claude Garamond and Jean Jannon, although its tone is distinctly “Jannonesque”. The type is characterized by its fantastically violent beaks and its unabashedly classic design. .

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The HeART Cart is an open invitation to all patients and visitors. Please paint from your own uniqueness. Enjoy the process of creating according to your own heART. Discover Listening With HeART


HeART Cart at Hospice House

The HeART Cart is dedicated to the memory of Nel Clark whose loving spirit inspired friends and family. It has been made possible by their generosity and admiration for her passion. The Celebration of Life service held for Nel, October 2, 2010 was animated by a collection of her paintings, photographs of her creating them and wonderful anecdotes from younger family members about how her creativity and artful love of play had enriched their lives. Without passion there is no art. HENRI MATISSE

A painting by Nel Clark is shown on the cover of this chapbook.

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Henri Matisse, one of the great painters and idealists of the twentieth century, understood any passionate expression of life is art. Like Nel, he buoyed his spirit creating art from his bed until he died in 1954. In what is perhaps his most famous image, The Dance, with its circle of stamping, twisting figures, Matisse celebrates his love for creative expression. He reminds us of the energy it takes to live life to its fullest. I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me. It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else. An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm ... express himself in his own language ... the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer. I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it. HENRI MATISSE

During her stay at Hospice, as her speaking voice began to fail, Nel continued to fill her days joyously expressing her feelings in paint and sharing her “creative outpourings� with friends and family. When friends came to visit she invited them to join her in the painting experience. Shortly after its inception on February 14th, 2008, Nel joined


HeART Cart at Hospice House

the heART Fit painting group at the Rotary Centre for the Arts. She and her daughter Sierra often came together. Their styles were very different, but taking time to be together while exploring their own thoughts provided rich meaningful connection. heART Fit is a painting co-operative whose members explore ‘Spontaneous Process Painting’. This process is not about learning how to paint, but rather it is an invitation to relax into art, and accept that the urge to create is within each of us. Creativity is innate to humanity. It is our special gift for release. When one sits down to paint burdened, either consciously or unconsciously, by concerns or stresses, these thoughts impact your hand’s natural gestures and thus the act of painting. By allowing one’s inner state to guide the direction of the painting process into unconscious directions, negative energy is released, healing our spirits. When we paint with others new opportunities for understanding open.

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When you are Painting: Paint with your eyes open. Paint with your eyes closed. Paint with your dominant hand. Paint with your non-dominant hand. Be an explorer. Imagine what things might become. Your hand’s gestures offer authentic expression. Let the brush talk. Let it dance. Be in love with change. Find the elegance in every line, shape and colour. Each little stroke counts, but “See the big picture”. See your work as a pattern with flow and repetition. Identify the extraordinary and nurture it. Keep your work organic and fresh. Take your time. Let the work build layer upon layer (imitate nature’s process). These are a few ideas, but only you can make your checklist and begin the search for your own honest expression. Making art is a personal search for the truth within one’s own consciousness. Getting there is


HeART Cart at Hospice House

half the fun. If there were a recipe, everyone’s truth might be the same. Relax. Let go of judgment. Connect.

Have fun. Enjoy your Self. Listening With HeArt encourages expressive work that is about telling stories gleaned from personal experience. Sharing stories has been the most primal, meaningful and universal of human connections. Sharing stories and perceptions allows fuller communication.

Listening With HeArt surpasses language and allows communion even between participants of different languages. When Hospice patients (alone or with their families) and volunteers come together with this purpose in mind participants open to conversation that moves away from the patient’s situation and often opens memories that need to be recalled.

Listening With HeArt allows participants to move inward, away from anxieties in the

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outer world and provides an opening to inner resources that allow relaxation and peace.

Listening With HeArt gives patients a sense of purpose and usefulness. To create is to share, to feel the pleasure of giving and sharing one’s being. Small gifts can be created to leave with loved ones or the community – a sense of legacy.

Listening With HeArt is not about displaying talent, rather it is about generating compassion and nurturing a kind of open, heartfelt communication that relaxes the mind.

An Artist’s Way We become artists when we see with our hearts instead of our eyes. Vision held in gratitude Embracing quietude. Breaths of Joy: Enthusiasm, patience, grace. Sighs of Faith … Acceptance. Light, Dark ... Duality. Eternity waiting … Evolution. Inspiration expands. Vision exhales.


HeART Cart at Hospice House

I will Seek, Create, Erode Estimate Alternate Originate

Find what is Legitimate Infinite. KAREN CLOSE

As you paint, consider: How willing are you to receive?

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. E.E.CUMMINGS Leonardo da Vinci thought in the future he would be remembered for his inventions: the many machines he created, the aqueduct he built when he was in Milan, the researches he did in the anatomic field by studying and drawing so precisely the many different parts of the human body, the attempts to fly, and so

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on. But instead, he owes most of his glory to the very few pictures he painted and he remained famous because of the great ‘beauty’ condensed in them ... VANDA SCARAVELLI

As you paint: Feel your spirit. Feel your mind relaxing. Feel the peace

Observe Your Process: The essence of ‘Spontaneous Process Painting’ is finding your passion, tapping into your joy and expressing what this moves you to create.

“An artist cannot will a work, he must wait for it – not as a man who sleeps and distracts himself – but as one who waits for a person one loves. The artist must watch and wait. Then he must attend. He must, if he attends, believe in the existence of his images – and respect them ... If there is a miracle – it is the recognition of existence – not the shaping of it to one’s will.“ VERNON ARTIST/WRITER, JUDE CLARKE: THE LANGUAGE OF WATER

In preparing to paint, a careful reading of the following meditation is helpful. This meditation was written by heART Fit member Cheryl Hann RN, HN-BC. It is an adaptation of “A Hand Meditation” (author unknown nurse).


HeART Cart at Hospice House

Meditation for heART Fit: Hand/Heart Imagery Before beginning to paint, I invite you to take a deep breath or two, releasing any tension or busyness of the day. Gently draw your focus to your breath and allow yourself to come to a quieter, calmer place inside. Gently start to stroke your thumbs along your fingertips and notice how your fingertips feel. Slowly open your fingers and gently place your hands palm upward on your lap. Become aware of the air at your fingertips, the air between your fingers and on the palm of your hand. Experience the fullness, strength, and maturity of your hands. Bring to mind some hands that you have known and cared about; remember the oldest hands, the hands of a newborn child perhaps a niece, nephew or your own child. Once upon a time your hands were that small. Remember all that your hands have done since then. How much you have learned through your hands ... crawl-

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ing, tying your shoes, writing your name. Remember how much of your world that you have explored through your hands; the feel of fine sand running though your fingers, the cool splash of raindrops on your open palm, the crunchiness of autumn leaves, the silkiness of a kitten’s fur. Remember how often your hands have reached out to help another ... all the kinds of work your hands have done, the tiredness they have felt, the cuts and bruises they have experienced and the healing they have done. Remember how often your hands have expressed your inner world; the warm welcome of a handshake, the high five of excitement, the clenched fist of anger, the applause of appreciation, the caress of love. From the simplicity of a wave farewell to the complexity of sign language, we have the gift of expression through our hands. Now slowly raise your right hand and gently place it over your heart. Press


HeART Cart at Hospice House

more firmly until your hand picks up the beat of your heart. This rhythm, the most mysterious of all human sounds, has passed through generations and has been with you through all of life’s experiences ... the learning, the exploring, the expressing. Press more firmly for a moment and then release your hand and hold it just a fraction from your clothing. Experience the warmth between your hand and your heart. Now lower your hand to your lap very carefully as if it were carrying your heart, for it does. When you extend your hand to another, when you express, when you create consider your hand not just skin and bone, it’s your heart and a way to bring even your quietest heart messages onto the world. Brenda Valnicek and Tara Davies are two of Nel’s friends from heART Fit who visited her in hospice and painted with her. Reading about their experiences encourages others to discover the possibilities for deeper communion and the power of art to heal one’s spirit.

Brenda explains: “This cart is a painting gift for Nel, from Nel, for us, from us.”

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Having watercolour supplies in Nel’s room reminded us of the world of life away from illness – of passions, of connections and memories of painting together. Family members brought paintings into her room. Some signed overtop of paintings with wishes of love – the gift of words they could give when there were so many things they couldn’t help with or suggest out loud. On one of my visits, Nel was sleeping while a craft show was playing loudly on her TV. My friend and I borrowed some paper and paint, went into the common room and painted a free style note of love full of colours and playfulness. We left it on her bed for her to see when she woke up. Nel painted abstract cards for friends and caregivers. Sharing, giving she was – connecting.

Tara adds:“The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart.” I had the privilege of meeting Nel through HeArt fit in early 2009. The sessions were and are a creative source of spiritual healing and release for many participants. I met Nel’s family and later the huge droves of


HeART Cart at Hospice House

friends who visited in packs at the hospital and later at Hospice House. Visits with Nel were always full of joking, fun and positive energy. She painted from within. Her love of the garden flowed through her from her paintings of her home backyard gazebo, a ‘studio’ oasis, to the groomed gardens of Hospice. From vases of flowers to the patterned prints in clothing, Nel revealed growth: lively greens, blooms, their shapes and background spaces and textures. Everything excited her. Nel kept herself busy with a full life of friends, neighbours, family and in her last months she treated us all to cards, photos, with stickers and notes of positive love and colourful works in watercolour. As quiet as her voice became she was still able to muster the request for more colours to continue to paint. As often as I could I would visit her in hospital or hospice, always to find her surrounded by family, friends or painting in the garden. I know this cart of supplies which will allow others to express inner peace, joy, love, any emotions at all, would be welcomed by Nel.

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Listening With HeArt contributes to feelings of integrity and encourages the sense of satisfaction needed to leave this world peacefully and to say good-bye to those we love. We suggest this sense of peace results because ‘spontaneous process painting’ requires that one simultaneously embrace the hope for a new expression that a creative act might produce, with the fear that this process may not work out. To paint authentically, one allows creative chaos. A steadily growing ease with hope and fear is the gift which allowing chaos offers the agitated mind. When one relinquishes the need to control, opens to acceptance, and allows happenstance, there is space for peace and joy. All of life has a purpose of enriching the lives of others. Making art together uniquely positions us to do this. Listening With HeArt has been created by Karen Close, BA BEd, artist, writer and retired English and Art teacher, and by Brenda Valnicek BSc, painter and retired Registered Nurse. It has been reviewed by Cori Devlin BA, Registered Art Therapist DKATI. The approach to painting is influenced by theories on creating developed by Salt Spring Island artist Lisa Lipsett, PhD Transformational Learning.


HeART Cart at Hospice House

Listening With HeArt is evolved from the very successful ArtCare program at Crossroads Inlet Centre Hospice, Port Moody BC. Their program has been running since January, 2004. The Crossroad’s program was developed by Linda Thiessen, the founder of the BC Artists In Healthcare Society and Linda Kozina manager of the Crossroads Inlet Centre Hospice. Both are excessive in their praise for the role ArtCare has at Crossroads. Linda Kozina explained that the benefits were so great that they now offer ArtCare three days per week. It is an “art at the bedside” program for patients in the last stages. She said they would run it every day if they had sufficient volunteers because it brings such benefits to patients and their families. Although initially the program ran in their lounge area, they now find the bedside program operated out of an art cart most successful.

The HeART Cart is run with volunteers. Some volunteers might be artists, but most probably not. Those running the Crossroads Hospice program made the point that volunteers need only have open hearts and a willingness to participate in the making of art. With patient’s permission volunteers bring the HeART Cart containing a number of possible projects to the patient’s bedside. Volunteers work on a selected project appropriate to the circum-

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stances and offer the patient or other guests in the room the opportunity to directly participate. If a patient prefers, he or she may choose to offer suggestions to direct the work of the volunteer. Patients can offer as little or as much input as they wish with lots of opportunity to let the conversation move as patient desires. Length of time volunteers spend with each patient will vary according to patient’s needs.

Here’s an exercise to get you started: Place a clean piece of paper on a hard surface that two or more can access. Each participant chooses a drawing implement. Try to allow at least 5 minutes for creating together. One person makes a mark or quick drawing(whatever your hand chooses), another responds and the ‘conversation’ continues rotating with each participant adding marks/drawings. There are no rules. Be guided by your imagination and playfulness. Have fun! Afterward you can share your thoughts. Let the ‘art talk’ open you to new ways of connecting and sharing.


HeART Cart at Hospice House

We invite submissions of stories and exercises, which may be included in future editions of this chapbook or subsequent chapbooks. T H E


Karen Close BA, BEd (visual arts specialist), is a painter and author of two books, Unfinished Women: Seeds From My Friendship With Reva Brooks and Spirit of Kelowna: A Celebration of Art and Community. In 2005, Karen presented at the international conference of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, Edmonton, AB, and in 2006 at the Canadian Society for Education through Art, Winnipeg, MA. Her heART FIT classes at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna, lead participants to “honour the urge to create ... for ourselves and for others.”



HeART Cart


The HeART Cart is an open invitation to enjoy the process of creating according to your own heART. The Cart is dedicated to the memory of Nel Clark whose loving spirit inspired friends and family. Thus begins the essay HeART Cart at Hospice House by Karen Close, now a chapbook from the Okanagan Institute. Karen Close is a painter and author of two books. Her heART FIT classes at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, Kelowna, lead participants to “honour the urge to create ... for ourselves and for others.”

Published by the Okanagan Institute ArtsCare Program in association with the Central Okanagan Hospice Association


HeART Cart at Hospice House  

The HeART Cart is an open invitation to enjoythe process of creating according to your ownheART. The Cart is dedicated to the memory ofNel C...

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