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The Healing Power of Art through Sketchbooking

 Last Month, Renee Phillips, contacted me about writing an article about the Healing Effects of Art Journaling and Sketchbooking. She writes a blog called The Healing Power of  The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS website publicizes art, artists and art organizations that enhance the well-being of individuals and society through art. Renee had read about my Sketchbooking classes at the NY Open Center in February and March 2015 and was intrigued.  So many people have discovered this activity and habit of recording their life on paper in a book with words and images. They literally sketch and watch their ideas, thoughts, observations and “life” take shape and form on paper!…. She interviewed me and here are a few excerpts from the May 21, 2015 article on her blog:

"Healing Power of Art" article by Renee Phillips about Lois Bender and Sketchbooking

RP: I’ve heard both terms used —  Art Journaling and Sketchbooking. Are they the same kind of activity?

LB: Both terms describe writing and image-making in a journal, sketchbook or notebook. The terms are interchangeable. Although Art Journaling emphasizes the image aspect, words and images are usually combined in both Art Journaling and Sketchbooking. They both convey the notion of the personal and subjective recording of your experiences. This activity keeps you “in practice,” just as perhaps “Piano scales” do for a pianist.



RP: Lois, what are the benefits you derive from Art Journaling?

LB: Creativity, self-reflection and emotional expression come together in Art Journaling. It’s an act of “personal integration,” connecting your thoughts, emotions and subjects you enjoy. I always incorporate color in my sketchbooks. My medium of choice is watercolor because the flow of water is so healing.  Art Journaling  serves as an “alternative selfie” record of one’s experiences.  Anyone can make Art Journaling a fun activity and life practice to promote self-awareness and personal development.



RP: Lois, when did you start doing Art Journaling?

LB: As an art student I was encouraged by my art teachers to keep an Art Journal and developed the habit. Art Journaling improves one’s art style and voice because you make frequent drawings and see a sequential development. I have kept one going especially while drawing and painting onsite from nature. When traveling, especially in Paris, I always keep one!  To read the interview in full, please go to

Manhattan Arts Intl Media founded by Renee Phillips


 Renee Phillips,  founder of Manhattan Arts International, has benefited so many artists with her personal in-depth focus and blogging on all the exciting and diverse work being created today. She advocates for the healing role art plays in our lives. Additionally, her Manhattan Arts International programming promotes artistic excellence through curated online art programs, theme exhibitions, and social media communities. As the Director, arts advocate and author, Renee launched this website after publishing Manhattan Arts International magazine for 17 years. She also offers a wealth of experience and expertise through her consulting services for artists which can be found on her website

About Renee Phillips
Renée Phillips is an author, arts writer, and curator who lives in New York, NY. She is founder and director of Manhattan Arts International,, and executive editor of The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS. She has curated more than 60 art exhibitions including the annual “The Healing Power of Art” exhibitions. As an arts’ advocate she has served on the advisory boards of several non-profit arts organizations. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. She runs an artists’ career consultant website at Renée operated Manhattan Arts International magazine 1983 – 2000.


Watercolor and Sketchbooking classes with Lois Bender


November’s Notebook of Flowers and Farewell to Fall!

Notebook-Flowers-Cahiers-Nov2014November’s here Today and Gone Tomorrow! And Gone all the Beauty of Fall whizzing by… My November “Notebook of Flowers” shows a Falling Leaf and bouquets of Ilex berries, Autumn Roses, Hydrangeas, Red Anemones and Tulips in Autumnal Rustic Reds, Browns and Oranges….


a Fall Bouquet in the studio….


a quick but large sketch of 22″ X 30″… showing a light touch…. inspired by all my Fall Travels!


Fall’s cornucopias of gourds and pumpkins, and squashes and corn…..


Bushels of Thanksgiving Bounty….


Abound in landscaping everywhere as a last hurrah before winter!!!


And especially the Chrysanthemums brought my eyes a feast of colors…


Chrysanthemums caught my fancy this fall…. they were everywhere in beautiful big mounds!!


and mounds!….




and  mounds!



and mounds!!!



and mounds! … Inspiration for my Notebook of Flowers pages!…..


Grapes, pumpkins, chrysanthemums!


Oranges and Purrples


Purples and Oranges….


Pots and pots and…..


Pots of Chrysanthemums in the Plaza by the 5th Avenue Apple Store….


An explosion of Mums wherever you go!


overflowing in pots or …..


in front of the Hampton LIbrary, Bridgehampton


and in flower beds decorating NYC apartment buildings’ properties.


They say that Chrysanthemums are the last flower of Autumn… They are right!


My October Notebook of Flowers! Looking for Chrysanthemums everywhere, I found them also at


The Rockefeller Estate, Kykuit, in Sleepy Hollow, a place I finally visited, featuring extraordinary views and


a modern art collection including decorative glass sculpture by Tiffany,  gorgeous “Mum” landscaping,


A Rockefeller Garden in late Autumn, a Fall Finale to gardens everywhere until Spring!


but not a goodbye to Fall Chrysanthemums!as they are my featured flower in


 my October Notebook of Flowers/ Cahiers de Fleurs……I decided to paint flower and nature studies and share them with you in a notebook journal style for purchase on Etsy…..Each month I will paint a few pages of art in journal style and create reproduction prints on watercolor paper (8.5″ x 11″) and send them to you…. Available by Single Months or as  a 12-month Subscription. Choose a vertical single image or a double page spread format. Available now on Etsy. Original Art Watercolors will be available for sale soon on Etsy too.


November features Autumn Bouquets! “Notebooks of Flowers” Watercolor Prints can make great gifts….thinking ahead to December!   Savor the beauty of monthly watercolors of gardens, flowers and nature in “Notebooks of Flowers”  from GardenSpiritsNY!  Farewell to Fall and  Greetings to “Notebooks of Flowers”!

Seduced! By Monet’s Gardens and Giverny, a “Stage-Set” Village for Painting Floral Scenes Everywhere!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

Join me at Giverny!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

“THE” Bridge of Giverny….. I painted this iconic image after hours with an evening “Artist’s Pass” at Giverny with only 20 artists working in the gardens….. How luxurious to have a clear “non-peopled” view of this bridge….

Monet's Giverny Bridge

With plantings of bamboo (great texture!) next to the bridge, extending the Japanese influence that Monet loved.

Monet's Giverny Bridge

I am painting here about 7 pm on a lovely June evening!

Monet's Giverny Boats

and here are the boats that show up in Monet’s paintings!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

My sketch trying for the panorama and the great evening light on the scene!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

Back in the studio, I enlarged the scene as a diptych using 2 Arches  30″ w x 22″ h sheets for a panorama. But where do I begin to tell you how I got to paint in the evening here? ….Well…..

Carol Gillot's "Paris Breakfasts" Bog

HERE!…….. This is yesterday’s blogpost,, by Carol Gillot (who I met this trip!) who blogs (8 years) and paints “watercolor dreams” about “la vie en Paris,”  her view of Parisian & French life, art, style and lifestyle with tips, observations, humor, etc. in such a captivating and well-loved blog that virtually all Francophiles and Paris Lovers eventually learn about it by word of mouth, etc. As a fellow watercolorist, Paris Lover, and New Yorker, I’ve followed her for years…. She started blogging, inspired by her love of Paris, her “artist’s eye” and her watercolors of Paris café fare….

Carol Gillot French Pastry Photo

and “FOOD,” especially gorgeous French pastries, photographed or painted. She finally moved to Paris in 2013….

Carol's Gillot;s Josephine

She posts on Culture, Retail Stores, Outdoor Markets and Art Shows, such as this blogpost on the current art show at the Palais du Luxembourg on Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s wife, the taste maker of her day… And today’s media such as The Huffington Post and The New York Times have written about and lauded Carol’s postings. Subscribing to her Paris Breakfasts blog is like getting a daily taste and vision of Paris in your mailbox…. (She now offers subscriptions to a monthly “Letter from Paris!”)  Soooo…..

Carp;ine Homes Nuckolls teaching at the ARt Colony Giverny

 Carol G posted in 2013 about her visit ito Caroline Homes Nuckolls’ yearly “Art Colony Giverny” Painting Workshops, one  of which Caroline had invited her to for a week. Carol had blogged enthusiastically about it, and so Carol asked me to meet Caroline this year….for an evening of painting with her in Monet’s Gardens. Thank you Caroline! Her Workshops have been running successfully for 13 years.

Art Colony Giverny

The workshops look exciting…. Imagine setting up your easel on Monet’s Bridge!

Art Colony Giverny.Caroline’s website explains the special quality of her workshops in Giverny….She offers a complete Painting and French country experience, painting at different locations in Giverny in addition to Monet’s Gardens…..Painting with Caroline was a memorable evening…. Workshops in Giverny are perfect for a garden and art lover….

Geraniums at Monet's House

My view at 6 pm of Monet’s Geranium Beds!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

Quick sketch!


Painters around Monet’s Waterlily Pond!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois Bender

I’m painting the pond too! but with imagined wisteria blooms!  Again!

Goodbye View of Monet;'s Garden

The end of the evening and a lovely last view of Monet’s Flower Bed Gardens…. and Giverny, the village ?

Giverny Map

The town brochure has a fun clear map of which this is a part!






scenes and images


everywhere you turn


to paint

Giverny Nympheas Restaurant

and shop and eat…. Here’s Nymphéas, a Restaurant and Boutique just opposite Monet’s Home.

Mme Baudy's Restaurant

And here’s the famous site of the hotel owned then by a Mme. Baudy, (now a popular restaurant), where Monet’s artist friends stayed on their visit to Giverny, many of them Americans.

Mme Baudy's Restaurant

and the charmingly shaded outdoor cafe/restaurant! Reservations, Please! And there’s a beautiful garden as well….


And the Impressionist Museum is a delight! Founded by Americans and managed by the Louvre…


This exhibition pays tribute to all the American Artists who supported and appreciated Monet so early on….

Musee Impressionism Garden

This garden design is part of the fabulous Musée Impressionism’s Garden of which these 2 plants humorously portray a “haystack!” cut in half horizontally.

Capucine Cafe

Earlier in the day, before meeting Caroline, I relaxed and took “un café” at “La Capucine,” a popular cafe next to the Tourism office, Tea Salon, Gift Shop and Botanical Flower Shop where I watched “Giverny Life” go by.

Capucine Cafe

What a charming cafe?

Capucine Cafe

and outdoor seating!

Capucine Cafe

looking out towards the plants for sale!

Capucine Cafe

and thinking that would make a great painting!

Giverny Watercolor by Lois BenderEverywhere is a painting waiting to be painted…. The Gardens, The B&Bs, the Streets!   The Seduction is complete….. When am I going back ???   A Bientot!  Soon!  Soon!

Giverny Brochure

Thank you Monet!!!!, Carol Gillot !!!!,

Caroline Homes Nuckolls ! and Giverny!!!!

Wouldn’t you like to paint in Giverny next year !?!?!?

Follies “Monceau,” La Vie Romantique and Monet’s Giverny, Ville de Fleurs


Who isn’t enchanted by the wonderful cursive organic Art Nouveau Metro Designs by French architect Hector Guimard? What would Paris be without “His Metro?”  Monceau is a Park with a storied history….


A French Duke of Orleans bought the land of Parc Monceau in 1769 and asked Louis Carrogis, called Carmontelle, creator of “fetes” and spectacles, to create garden picturesque “scenes” of illusions of different eras and countries. This “picturesque” style became the vogue style in the era of French Rococo and Parc Monceau had “Collections” of a Dutch windmill, classical Roman ruins, Eqyptian oblilesks and pyramids, English garden styles, etc. A Round Greek Temple with a colonnade as seen above was added by French architect Nicolas Ledoux as an official “office” for the garden… Nice Office.


This is a circular Roman Colonnade was part of a Naumachia, referring back to to ancient Greek and Roman world where the emperors (Julius Caesar, being the first one) had festivals called Naumachias (greek for Naval Combat). It was part of the “stage set” surrounding a basin for “Naval Battles” as mass entertainment ….They  were like Hollywood productions using 6000 prisoners of war and digging basins or using the Tiber, with real combat and death, all to create an entertainment spectacle.(Wikipedia fills in some facts!)  Unbelievable.


One would never guess the historic meaning of this lovely colonnade….
A “Folly” bien sur!


A “Miniature Folly” is in this Petit Pont and River inviting a petite promenade….
My watercolor of it is buried in a suitcase…. The royal property was taken by the French government after the French Revolution, and finally refashioned by Alphand (public works creator) under grand designs of Haussmann and Napolean III  to recreate Paris’ urban plan with a plentiful park system. The Bridge and river, Grotto and cascade, the Naumachia colonnade, Roman Arch, and pyramid are some elements that have been preserved.


……giving us a trace of the Egyptian World.


The Monceau quarter is a very upscale neighborhood with wealthy families of that day, Pereire, Rothschild, Cernuschi, Ménier, Camondo members using the park and creating its reputation and allure. Monet painted the rich bourgeoisie promenading here! A park that is very popular today was a “garden cabinet of curiosities” in its original day. Marcel Proust played here as a child…. Did he have a premonition of  “Remembrance of Things Past” here ?!  Just imagining…..!
But more of Monet a little later…. when he’s not busy painting at Parc Monceau…


The contemporary “Folly” of Merry-Go-Rounds is everywhere in Paris’ Parks
as is an adult essential: Wifi!


I couldn’t resist a “Go” at a Merry-go-Round! And the Chestnut Trees!

Parc-Monceau-Chestnut Trees

 The Chestnuts are beautiful trees to paint and their blooms are fantastic in late April/early May.

La Vie Romantique-Jatdin-Musée

And now leaving the Follies for the Romance of the 19th century world of Ary Sheffer’s Montmartre home and garden and the legendary visitors of the Romantic Period and Style in Literature, Music and Art, Chopin, George Sand, Delcacroix and friends….

vie romantique-1s

A long tree canopied path leads to  to home and garden, now a museum, and hidden in the heart of Montmartre.


the courtyard…. Horse and Carriages imagined here in the 1840s with Chopin and George Sand arriving…


The entrance to the museum with tourists taking a break….


The entrance to the garden….


with it’s lovely leisurely ambience…


and light and congeniality…. Too inviting not to paint….


In fact I had time to paint 2 sketches…..The warm light was joyous….


The garden is waiting for you to have a seat!


And the romance and spirit of the Romantics—of people enjoying themselves
continues to today!  The garden is delight!


An now for Giverny! Monet’s Paradise and  Garden Lover Mecca!
Did you know that the artists going to Giverny can get an Artist Pass to paint in the gardens from 5:30 pm to 8 pm on weekday evenings!? More to come as I am lingering at the Musée and Jardin de la Vie Romantigue too long and need to go the Giverny another day!  With all this Garden “Galloping,” one needs to take a break at beautiful garden cafes!  Un café élongé, si vous plait! ….Perfect! …L’Aprés-midi Parfait!!  ….. Giverny, La prochaine!




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