Art’s true function is to inspire us, mirror our thoughts and embody our emotions – Cathy Malchiodi

Cathy Malchiodi is a “household name” in the modern art therapy world. For many people who work in art therapy and expressive arts therapy, she is considered a pioneer, a woman who has made it her mission to inform, educate and articulate the work of creative arts therapists. She has written over 20 books, countless articles and is a highly respected keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. While much of her early work focussed on art therapy, she now champions multi-modal expressive arts as a more effective approach, especially for people affected by trauma.

Possibly, her least well-known book and one of her earliest is my absolute favourite, The Soul’s Palette (2002). This book speaks to my soul and I sense it was written from Cathy’s heart. This book closely follows the path of the Transpersonal that is the basis of my study and ongoing approach to art therapy. “Imagination is both medicine for the soul and a wellness practice that helps us create new ways of seeing and being in the world.”  

This book is an excellent addendum to the Transpersonal Art Therapy training provided at the College of Complementary Medicine. The underlying philosophy expressed in this book, is that art has the capacity to heal and restore humans and that we all have a creative wellspring waiting to be tapped. She says “art expression offers us a source of inner wisdom that can provide guidance, soothe emotional pain and revitalise your being.”

Art expression externalises the internal, enabling the unconscious to be expressed through image or creativity. She encourages us to simply be present to our art work. Rather than look for meaning or interpretation, simply sitting with your art is a way of connecting with yourself. Sometimes, the act of making art is enough.

Her writing is supported throughout with research, stories, case studies, art processes, guided visualisations, plus information about different materials and media to use. She also encourages us to make art a sacred and spiritual practice as a way of awakening our inner wisdom and initiating a deep connection to self-compassion and inner peace.  

I wholeheartedly agree when Cathy says art expression is the ‘soul’s palette’, a source within that heals, makes whole and helps us deeply understand who we are in a way that nothing else can.

Malchiodi, C. A. (2002). The Soul’s Palette: Drawing on Art’s Transformative Powers (1st ed.). Shambhala.

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