ABC Action News Features Painting Your Soul

Painting, writing and meditation all wrapped into one therapeutic experience in St. Pete

By Robert Boyd, ABC Action News
Posted at 8:54 PM, Sep 26, 2023

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A non-traditional art therapy gaining popularity in St. Pete combines writing, meditation, and painting. It’s called Painting Your Soul.

As you open up the self-expression kit, you’ll find a notebook, art supplies, and essential oils, but creator Karen Hanlon says it’s not what’s inside the kit that is life-changing; it’s what’s inside your soul.

“Art is what the person who made it overcame,” said Hanlon. “Probably about ten years ago, I had a life situation that happened that pretty much altered how I looked at everything.”

Karen was struggling following a long, challenging divorce.

“I had to go deep to find out how I ended up here, where am I going, and who am I,” said Hanlon.

“And when I taught elementary school, I had art as a calming tool, and writing, both as calming tools for my students,” said Hanlon.

So Hanlon used that same philosophy as an adult: write, paint, meditate.

“All of these tools together combined helped me get through a very difficult time in my life but also helped me find myself,” said Hanlon. “Then I realized I could do this and help other people.”

Hanlon began traveling the country holding workshops.

“I did this for Grandma’s House of Hope, I’ve done it for abuse shelters, I’ve done it for almost every single age and every single demographic, and I’m like, ‘I’m on to something here,’” said Hanlon.

Then, a woman with a terminal illness reached out from a hospital bed.

“I said listen, ‘I’m going to send you a kit with my workshop in it,’” said Hanlon. “She since has passed away, but it was the one thing that lightened up her life, and I realized, ‘you know what,’ I can create these kites for everybody, hospitals, rehab centers, schools,” said Hanlon.

Karen said the best part is the reaction among those who are willing to give it a try.

“So unique, I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Susan Jones.

“Just the fact that you make your mind go, it kind of releases something,” said Donna Jassmann.

“This is just another medium that hasn’t been tapped into to express myself,” said Suzanne Gundersen.