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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


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 !?!?!?

“Picturing Central Park”: Amazing Debut Show of Artist Janet Ruttenberg at the Museum of the City of NY

Detail of Janet Ruttenberg's Painting

Janet Ruttenberg has a special vision of New York’s Central Park that is on view at the Museum of the City of New York at Fifth Ave and 101rd St. Does anyone see “L’Dejeuner sur L’herbe” by Manet here!? or “”Le Grande Jatte” by Seurat ? But it is pure contemporary Janet Ruttenberg….giving us her gift of these amazing creations of New York’s Central Park…. This is a must-see show for garden and art lovers… in fact, for everyone who loves parks and public spaces, and I hope that means everyone!

Janet Ruttenberg's Picturing Central Park

Her Fans, among them, George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company, helped this show become a reality…. Janet Ruttenberg, being dedicated to her work and process, did not seek to show her work throughout her lifetime. The art lovers of NYC made this happen. Her work is monumental in scale. Did I mention that she is 82 years old? Truly a tribute to her lifelong devotion to her creative pursuits. Hinting at Art History’s great iconic images of people in parks and gardens, her gatherings of humans and nature give art references that are submerged and re-emerge to the viewer’s delight….. “Gatherings” is a monograph book about her work and the exhibit by Pointed Leaf Press. Her rich color sensibility and draftsmanship and grand conceptualizations let you “Walk” into her reality of our Central Park’s great expanse of Sheep’s Meadow…..

Janet Ruttenberg's Sheep's Meadow I

This is where I met Janet Ruttenberg a year ago working on a large watercolor she rolled out by a large tree… She, being at one with her subject,
gazed out and observed the glowing light on Sheep Meadow!

Janet Ruttenberg's Sheep's Meadow

And when you see her work, you will see this green expanse filled to the rim with masses of the people of NYC planted into this  great lawn in a vision of humanity in harmony …. her unique vision of NY’s humanity in its paradise of Central Park…. and the paradise of art!

Fond Goodbye to Winter

Peter Wirth's Garden

Peter Wirtz's Slumbering Garden

We are coming to the edge of winter and the cusp of spring!….Eagerly wishing that this rough winter will soon depart!!!!!…….So I thought it very fitting to start a blog to celebrate the Turning of the Seasons and the turning of my pen (aka keyboard!) to all things Art…..Design ….. and  Garden…..Spirits!!! …… GardenSpirits, many of you know, has, since 1996, been my stationery and design collection [Teaquotes and GardenSpirits, at the start]  featuring my art, design and photography. It aspires to its name: to capture nature’s ephemeral moments using an artful blend of materials and tools in my artist’s bag of tricks!  GardenSpritsNY will chronicle much of the synergy that weaves between art, design, all things garden and much of the earth’s greens….With St. Patrick’s Day so near, …..that eternal day that harkens and heralds all fine spirits and things that are green … there is so much to be tickled green with….. This may be a genealogical inheritance since my lovely mom Flora (nee Flora Bloom… very own Goddess of Flowers and and a super wordsmith) was born on St. Patrick’s Day!!! Essentially giving me the “Spirit of Green” biologically to be sure…..!  Happy to celebrate all the coming greenery and the smiles that tomorrow’s Leprauchans will inspire…………

But first let us give Winter a Fond GoodBye…. because no matter how rough, it gave us (me at least) slumber and the indoor time to hibernate, incubate, refresh, store, think, mull, plan, work and give time to internal needs…….to crystallize my dreams, goals and priorities……Personal mediation needs more than a “Winter Tune-up” and I definitely didn’t have enough time in these few months to complete my winter to-do list!!! It’s now the spring list!

But in my travels one day just after New Year’s Day, I found a “tome” at Potterton Books in the D&D Building in New York, called  “The Wirtz Private Garden by Marco Valdivia,” a chronicle in photography of a private garden as a collaboration between the photographer Marco Valdivia and the landscape architect Peter Wirtz, a world-renown garden designer based in Belgium.  The garden photographs are spectacular as they capture a slumbering winter garden that awakens and cycles though the year of seasons.  Wirtz’s eye magically sculpts side by side both the floating Zen and Formal Geometric topiary structures. In winter, the ghostly other-worldiness of the topiary shapes dappled with a light snowfall evoke the clouds…. Seeing the winter settings  transformed by spring and summer is a revelation…. Photos alternate from startling Black and White to Color and just invite sheer meditation. Wirtz’s Garden as interpreted by Valdivia’s beautiful tableaux of winter wonderlands gives me reassurance that winter is worth it!  Magical, White and Wonderful! There are more Wonderlands than just Alice’s!!!  What a Book!  Yet look forward to all that is coming…..banish white and bring on green…. green ….. green!

Wirth's Winter Wonderland

Floating Cloud Topiary

Structured Geometric Forms meet Zen organic clouds

Light Snowfall on Geometric Forms....

Light Snow on Geometric Forms.... White is leaving.... Green is coming!

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