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I was interviewed recently by Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti about art and healing. Here is the interview:

Courtney Putnam is a Seattle body worker who creates multi-layered healing experiences for her clients like combining massage with aromatherapy, reiki, affirmations and chocolate. She is also a mixed media painter and poet. We sat down at the Sunlight Café recently for this interview.

What is the process of art making like for you? How is it similar to your work as a massage therapist and how is it different?

Courtney: “Creating art is a lot like doing body work. Both require care and focus and flow. Creating art is a healing process. I don’t know where I’m going to go so I allow myself to be open.”

Your art often seems to have a theme or intention around healing.

“My art represents something I’m struggling with and want to inhabit more. For me art is a healing expression or a source of inspiration. I use art as a map of my future self.”

What would you say to those people who say “I’m not an artist”?

“Broaden your scope of what “art” is. We are all artistic. Play if you have a playful side. What in life do you find colorful and artful? Images come before words. Images are primal, and we can tap into our innate connection to color, shape and symbol. Playing with color, cutting up images, making delicious food, that’s all art. Art is curiosity and play; NOT making things look a certain way. It’s surprise, not knowing where you’re going. The unknown is scary so we have to get rid of keeping the end result in mind.”

I pay close attention to how people talk to and about themselves in my work and I notice folks are often terribly critical, even abusive in their self talk. What can people do with their inner critic if they want to make art but are too critical or frightened to start?

“I send mine on vacation. Or I work quickly because then my mind doesn’t have time to catch up with my critic’s negative messages. I really make messes and encourage other people to do that too. I involve whimsy. You can also create an art piece of your inner critic because that makes the critic less scary. I use mediums like wax paintings where I don’t have a lot of control which allows me to make mistakes. If I don’t like what I created, I just smear something on top of it.”

How do you honor and take yourself seriously as an artist?

“The key to honoring is finding safe people to talk to and share your work with. I started an art blog ( to make my commitment to art making more public. And I started hosting art shows in my space.”

Thank you Courtney!

Courtney’s next art show is August 14th at the Phinney/Greenwood Art Walk. The painting at the top of this page is one of her recent pieces from her art blog.

You can also find her massage business online at and her healing blog at

To view the interview on Tanya's Trauma Blog, please visit here:

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