May
12
2010

Art is a Universal Language by Deb Bartos

In addition to being an artist (a painter of oils and watercolors) I am a nursing instructor.
I love teaching. I love learning. I love caring and teaching others new skills in caring.

I also believe that every profession (and every life) has 2 sides. There is an art and a science to everything. The science is doing things right (left-brain.) The art is doing things well (right brain.) Every painting, every snowflake, every person, is a unique individual. Every situation is unique, and deserves our unbiased attention in the moment. Just because you know someone with a similar disease or problem doesn't mean you can turn off your right brain and treat them the same as the situation you already know. Just because you have painted a landscape before doesn't mean you can put your brain on automatic pilot. This is not just too easy; it's not honest to yourself or anyone else.

I had a wonderful mentor years ago in a nursing preceptor program at a community hospital. He was an internal medicine physician who had practiced for many years. In spite of all of the new diagnostic tests, computer-age information, etc., his urgent message was "90% of the information you need, you will get from listening to the patient and their history." Listen and learn. In this age of computerized diagnostic testing and infinite knowledge on the internet, it is too easy to think we, the (medical) professionals, know everything. How awful that would be if it were true. Labels do not convey understanding or knowledge; they are just categories and boxes. Sometimes useful, sometimes they are not.

The world needs creative solutions now as always. Artists learn to be creative, it is a skill that can be developed like any other. Creative thinking and critical decision-making skills are important in any profession. Self-discipline and self-expression are important skills for anyone who wants to accomplish anything good or new in life. Practicing an art form gives you this experience.

Robert Henri in "The Art Spirit" says, "Art when really understood is the province of every human being. It is simply a question of doing things, anything well." His book is timeless and his words from 1923 are inspiring. I recommend it to anyone who wants to live an artful life.

I tell my students that their education is self-directed. They need to ask the right questions at the time they need the answers. It is an on-going, life-long process. As Robert de Niro, as a patient (and a mentor) says to Robin Williams (who is playing Dr. Saks in the movie "Awakenings") says, "Learn, learn, learn, learn. Learn!"

My response to comments that I think "outside the box" has always been "what box?"
There is life outside the box when you learn to color outside the lines. Like Nike says, "Just do it!" and then you will be one of us. You will be an artist in the best sense. You will be living your own best life. Whatever you do!

www.yessy.com/debbiebartos


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