Art therapy can be Poetic by Nita Andrews

Updated: Mar 14, 2019

Strawberry red

Light magenta

Neon pink


Indigo purple

Rose clair

Deep indigo

Iris blue

Florescent pink


Dioxazine Purple

Brilliant purple

Recently on a Saturday morning I gathered twenty tubes of paint, five markers, and ten watercolor pencils in every shade of purple or deep pink that I could find. I copied the names they had engraved or printed on their sides and I made the list above in hopes that the names would inspire a friend that was coming over to my studio to paint something to commemorate an infant daughter she lost through miscarriage. The art therapy appointment landed during mud season in Tennessee. The sky was its own shade of grey with hints of dark blue floating behind thick clouds.

When we scheduled the art appointment my friend mentioned that throughout the dreaming days before the miscarriage, her vision was filled with the color purple. She wanted the nursery to have regal shades of brilliant purple, with a few hints of pink.

When she arrived she found the desk in the office covered in a drop cloth and set up with a mug of water, a canvas and a couple dozen things bearing some shade of the color purple.

What I am trying to say is this: That day in February I practiced poetry as much as I practiced being an art guide.

If you look closely there is poetry in the names on the list. For example, who knew there was a color named rose clair? A poet is one who scoops out from obscurity the fact that a heraldic tincture of purpure (yes, that's a word- you might find it useful in a Scrabble game) is blended in a chemistry lab to make Dioxazine Purple,

And there it sits in a metal tube--there for the joy you may feel when you embellish drab things… IF that is the majesty and mystery you seek. This acrylic gel of predictable purple can remind you of the ways life on the planet coughs up its best blessings when you are stricken with grief.

But, if wearing a white lab coat is not your style –you can think through the color violet—because it is a spectral color with its own wavelength. I like the snobbery of that --myself! Dame Violet has never stepped foot in a chemistry lab! She prefers sunshine blazing through sky after rain for her big reveal.

For twelve years, through poetry therapy and art therapy, I have been changed as a person. I never tire of chasing ways to help people bring color back from the abyss – the abyss may be boredom or a weighty depression.


During the art lesson in my husband’s office spills happened. We shed tears of laughter as colors went down on the canvas. Grief adopted a purple shade for an hour. At the end, when the markers, brushes, and pencils were set aside to rest, it was deemed very good. It was a signed piece of art but to a greater degree, the process was poetic.

Poetry is not hiding inside a book at the library. It is simply the art of paying attention to detail. It can be neon pink that we know right away or it can be unpredictable and transparent violet.

Poetry is attention poured into a specific shape to tell the world about the broad spectrum of colors that show up in our lives. Poetry is a great friend when we dare to sit still and examine our lives


In addition to rose clair, poets often reach for charcoal black. Sometimes their best gift to us is to guide us into the darkness we have a hard time naming. But, in addition to carbon black poets write yellow, metallic silver and viridian green. They also stand in the pouring rain on our behalf to send back a news flash that there is a double rainbow in the sky to the east.

:: This is your writing prompt.

Pick a color and find as many names for it as you can in a google search—or items around the house like make up or landscaping plants.

Think through the story the color is telling you. Write that story in short lines. Edit down any things that duplicate or water down your main thoughts. Share it with a living being—(pets count).

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