During a recent nine-month stay at Hennick Bridgepoint Hospital, Charmaine James experienced the therapeutic power of art, creating more than 100 paintings.

Charmaine hadn’t taken an interest in painting before her time at the hospital, but attending an art session at Hennick Bridgepoint “sparked a passion” that helped her get through her hospital stay.

“I remember when I first got here, I was counting down the days to leave the hospital. Once I started painting, I stopped counting,” says Charmaine.  “I have a complicated illness and art helps me keep my mind off my illness. I don’t have to focus on what’s going on with me. I just focus on painting.”

Art is one of the many programs offered by the Therapeutic Recreation team at Hennick Bridgepoint. “We work with patients to help them participate in recreation and leisure activities that are meaningful to them and that they enjoy,” says Melissa Byers, the Recreation Therapist who co-facilitates the art program that Charmaine participated in, along with Amy Plewe-Haley, the Recreation Therapy Assistant. “Art is a powerful therapy that provides patients with the opportunity to be creative and express themselves. It can also help to improve their physical, emotional and psychological well-being. It was a privilege to work with Charmaine as she discovered this incredible talent that she never knew she had. Her paintings are absolutely beautiful!”

While she was at Bridgepoint, Charmaine created a new piece of art every day, except on Sundays. When she’s working on her art she says she feels “Relaxed, calm, all the good feelings. I’m at peace because I’m not thinking about anything else. You’re just with the piece that you have and you focus.”

Now that she’s home, Charmaine is continuing to paint and hopes to sell her art. She’s grateful that she discovered this talent through Therapeutic Recreation. “I didn’t know I had this passion and I love it. Now it’s all I think about.”