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Neurographic Art Example-ft
Neurographic Art Example-pv

Transform Stress Into Neurographic Art

This simple form of art can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Cheri Hunt, an art instructor at LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, part of Northwestern Medicine, started teaching neurographic art at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developed by Pavel Piskarev, an architect, in 2014, this meditative art technique transforms stress into works of art using only a piece of paper and a marker. Hunt teaches the technique to help people relieve the stress, fear and anxiety that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Once learned, it’s an easy technique that can be practiced at home, in the office, in a waiting room — wherever.

“This technique links our conscious with our subconscious and serves as a source of energy for our brain,” says Hunt.

At the start of each session, Hunt encourages her students to set the mood by lighting a candle and pouring a cup of tea. She then instructs students to write something on the back of the paper that they would like to manifest, work on or release. 

“This is a great exercise to let go of the things you can’t control or to help you work through change and fear, but also to call upon what you would like in your life,” she says.

She then asks students to take 30 seconds, without overthinking, to make organic, flowing lines using a marker, and to round out the intersections of the lines, so that any hard edges are softened. Additional spaces can be filled in with shapes. ​​​​​​​

“This exercise becomes really meditative. People are able to turn off their inner chatter and inner critic,” Hunt explains.

Artists can then fill in the outline with other markers, watercolors or colored pencils. The final piece is often a beautiful surprise to the creator of the artwork. Much of the artwork from Hunt’s classes is displayed on the walls at LivingWell Cancer Resource Center locations in Geneva and Warrenville, Illinois.

Ghadeer Y., a student in Hunt’s art classes, was treated for stage 1 breast cancer. She says neurographic art was a game changer in her cancer journey.

“Once I finished my treatment, emotions started coming up that I didn’t understand,” says Ghadeer. “Everyone kept saying I should move on and be happy because I was cancer-free. I didn’t feel that way. I was still feeling anxious and not sleeping. Once I found neurographic art, I fell in love with it. It calms me down and changed my life.”

Ghadeer, who also went through counseling at LivingWell, says a notebook and permanent black marker are now always ready in her purse. If she’s feeling anxious, she brings out her simple tools and starts to draw, wherever and whenever.

“I have my inner peace back again,” she says. “I am planning a Friendsgiving this year with neurographic art as an activity. Everyone will be doing it with me!”

Hunt has been sharing neurographic art with patients as well as staff members across Northwestern Medicine. An operations administrator at Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center Delnor invited Hunt to lead a session for her team before one of their staff meetings to help relieve stress and anxiety.

“It’s incredible to see how the staff arrive during the middle of a busy day and shift to settling in for one hour,” says Hunt.

Hunt, who previously co-owned an art school in St. Charles, has been teaching art classes at LivingWell for more than 18 years, in addition to leading chairside art for patients in the infusion rooms at Northwestern Medicine cancer centers in the west and south suburbs of Chicago.

She has also been creating her own neurographic art once a day or every other day since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We can’t help anyone else unless we’re helping ourselves,” says Hunt. “We tend to give, give, give. Creating art is a wonderful way to take a break to focus on and give back to ourselves.”

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