Painting your way to a happy and healthy life
JEUNE Swoon (the artist pseudonym of June Killington) at 61 discovered recently just how good art makes her feel, and wants to share it with others.
With a set of cheap watercolour paints from the $2 store, the Woy Woy grandmother, who suffers from Lyme Disease, started experimenting.
Having moved on to better paints and gifted and sold the results to family and friends, she now has her own page on Etsy, selling greeting cards of the paintings she does.
"I just had this spate of creativity," June said.
"Every year I reinvent myself... it's not something I think about but I've just always got to have something new to stimulate me, and colour in my life."
And colourful her life has been, with June selling vintage gear in English markets during the 1970s and becoming involved in the punk scene with Billy Idol and Adam Ant, before going on to a stint of theatre acting and stand-up with the likes of Steady Eddy in Australia, as well as being involved in animal rights activism.
Having been bitten by a tick in a park on the Gold Coast six years ago, June found it difficult to accept the debilitating effects of Lyme Disease, including pain, memory loss and exhaustion.
But she says painting has made a real difference.
"I am now limited in what I can do after a very active lifestyle but I'll never stop and nor should anybody else my age," June said.
"Painting for me has been a great joy - I love colour and whimsy - and I think it could help other people who are stuck at home and unwell because it's something I can do even lying on my bed," she said.
June said focusing on the colours and designs took her mind off her health and gave her a feeling of accomplishment.
"I love giving people the cards I've created myself... it's something personal... as well as selling a few and making a bit of money," she said.
She recently donated a box of her greeting cards to Bupa Bateau Bay for their June fete, happy to feel she could make a difference for others.
June's anecdotal experience is backed by research, with Harvard Medical School reporting that expressing yourself through art can help people cope with depression, anxiety, cancer, dementia and other health problems.
It has also been "linked to improved memory, reasoning, and resilience in healthy older people".
And the beauty of it is, it's not skill or talent-dependent, with art therapists stating it is the process, not the product which counts.
You can find Jeune Swoon on Facebook and Etsy, and there are a host of art and craft classes and groups accessible through 50+ Leisure and Learning Centres, Seniors and community clubs... or just pick up a paint kit and begin.