When Carole Clayton started drawing Zentangle art, a method of drawing using structured patterns like circles and lines, she did it as a way to keep her busy during retirement and to make some money on the side.
Little did she know that her new hobby would be helping patients and families find a much-needed distraction at the Healing Arts Gallery in MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland. Clayton has 48 of her pieces of art on display at the hospital, which will be on display until June 13.
“I thought what the heck? Let’s just go up there and see what they say. They said they were great and asked if I had any more? I replied how many more the wanted,” Clayton said. “I presented a couple of my pictures to the (Healing Arts Gallery) and they accepted them. And now I have close to 50 pictures down there.”
Clayton, of Gladwin, started her experience making and selling her Zentangle art after learning about its history – the art form is of Chinese origin dating back more than 2,000 years. The art method is executed by taking symbols drawing their picture and putting the symbols inside the drawing to complete the process.
“A lot of people were calling it doodling, and it’s more than that,” she said. “The reason I like them so well is because you can have children and older people doing this. For me, I never was what you would call an artist. This woman came in one day and showed us Zentangles, and I have not stopped since. I don’t have any rules with Zentangles, and it works for me.”
Clayton’s process is a little different. She will use a few symbols, but will mostly make a dot on the paper and let her pen travel all over it until she completes a drawing of a bird or a house.
“I went from, ‘this isn’t any good” to, “if I liked it that well, keep doing it.’ It makes me happy,” Clayton said.
The artwork Clayton has on display at Healing Arts Gallery can be purchased by interested patrons. Through the hospitals resale process, Clayton will receive the majority of the payment and the hospital will receive 10 percent.
Millie Jezior, MidMichigan Health’s public relations manager, said the Zentangle method for their artwork is new to the hospital gallery.
Jezior also believes the artwork helps create a relaxing environment for patients, which is the gallery’s purpose.
“What those galleries do is showcase the different work of Michigan artists throughout the year,” she said. “It includes some whose work has been a form of therapy at some point, or to help others cope with illness.”
For many receiving residential care, the gallery is an aesthetic blessing.
“What it does is establishes a mechanism that helps people reduce stress and anxiety in a health care setting,” Jezior said.”It gives a destination for people to go relax in a quiet area that has less traffic. As we know, that relaxation helps in the healing process.”
No matter where her paintings end up, Clayton always gets some sort of compliment for them. Clayton said she values the expressions of joy caused by her work, especially when they come from her son, daughter and four grandchildren.
“They were like ‘Oh Grandma. I have to have one of these. Could you make me one?’” she said. “Everybody says, “You’re better than what you think you are.”