Aug 5th, 2021

Healing Art & Zen

A year ago, Liz Hambrick was reeling. It was July 2020, 4 months since the shutdown, and COVID-19 was raging across the country. LIz Hamrick flower art in watercolor

“I was bored to tears and I was scared and anxious. I had nowhere to go, and I thought if I don’t direct my energy somewhere I’m going to go crazy,” she explains.

Like many of us, Hambrick was doing her best to cope in a new world that has changed so much since the start of the pandemic. She was searching for something to offer her hope and healing.

“And then I took this online class from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Meditative Botanical Drawing, and I’m so thankful. I really am.”

Hambrick,  a member of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden since 2016, says it was the drawing and doodling that set her free from that negative spiral caused by the pandemic and it really helped her release stress. “It was like somebody shoved me over a threshold without me even knowing it,” she says.  The threshold was a gateway to another world where she could find peace and to just be, spending time with herself and a pen and paper.

healing art eggs Zentangle by Liz Hambrick

Detail of  a meditative drawing of eggs by Liz Hambrick


Chrysanthamums in black and white Zentangle Healing art. Art by Liz Hambrick

Meditative drawing of dahlias by Liz Hambrick. This is one of her earlier pieces.

“It got me through the worst of times,” she explains and because it felt so healing she has not stopped. Since last July, Hambrick has continued to practice her healing art of drawing, nearly daily. “It’s something I find myself needing to do,” she says. “If I don’t do it for a few days I get twitchy.”

Zentangle mediateive Art by Liz Hambrick

A mandala-like meditative drawing, inspired by class.

Hambrick says the process is the key to the healing art is that she’s not focused on the end product and she doesn’t have any lofty goals of how a piece should look when she finishes. Although she received a 2-year degree in visual communication from Northern Virginia Community College many years ago, she wasn’t an artist when she started the class, and it had been many years since she had made any art at all.

Liz Hambrick standing in the Healing Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Image by Jonah Holland

Garden member and artist Liz Hambrick in the Healing Garden. Image by Jonah Holland

Her suggestion to others who want to try art or drawing to help find peace and relaxation is, “Just allow it to happen and enjoy the experience. For me, it’s surprising what that little bit of relaxation and letting go of goals can do.” She describes how it creates a  Zen-like state for her.  “To be in the moment, essentially.”

River Scene in doodle and watercolor by Liz Hambrick

River Scene in doodle and watercolor by Liz Hambrick

“I had no clue it was going to be so healing for me.”

Hambrick seems to know a thing or two about finding her way to happiness. I learned about her because she wanted to show gratitude for the online class and the lasting healing it provided. She reached out to express how important it was to her to find this connection with nature and healing art at a very dark time. She never expected anyone to write about her or showcase her art. Hambrick has learned that gratitude is important for mental health and happiness, and studies back that up.

“I just wanted to say thank you to the Garden and to the instructor — Dana DuMont — because it’s given me so much,” Hambrick continues.  “Hip surgery prevented me from going on long walks or hikes, which is how I would have found peace in the past,” she says.  Meditative doodling is a healing art that is accessible to anyone, you don’t have to be able to walk long distances. “It got me through the worst of times.”

Hambrick posted this photo of a just-completed work to the Members of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Facebook Group:

Back in the thick of the pandemic I took an online meditative doodling class with Ginter. Since then I haven’t stopped. It got me through the worst of times. Thank you so very much. This I painted today. Still learning. 💜

If you’d like to see more of Hambrick’s work you can follow her on Instagram at @2.4.JoyTangle.

purple clover-like flowers in watercolor by Liz Hambrick

Liz Hambrick posted this drawing with the following comment on Facebook: “Back in the thick of the pandemic I took an online meditative doodling class with Ginter. Since then I haven’t stopped. It got me through the worst of times. Thank you so very much. This I painted today. Still learning. “

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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