Leanne Venier is an international award-winning artist who first started painting 8 years ago. Within the first few months of learning to paint, she discovered how to use color to consistently tap into Flow state during her painting process, and her vibrant and colorful healing abstracts began appearing on the canvas.
By the end of her first year of painting, she had gained recognition around the globe for her work, been featured in multiple US and international magazines, been invited to participate in several international and US exhibitions and won her first international art award.
Leanne used to be a mechanical engineer designing submarines for Lockheed, but left that career to live in Italy for 7 years, then became an acupuncturist and Shiatsu practitioner working with cancer patients, all prior to her current work as a professional artist and Creativity & Productivity Trainer & Coach. These practices paved the way for the fascinating work she does today in the scientific field of color and light therapy and her Color and Creative Flow Online Workshops & Training programs.
In this three-part interview series, we explore the cutting-edge field of color and light therapy (aka phototherapy), art therapy and how color, light and certain types of art have been scientifically proven to have profound healing effects. We’ll also learn how color, light and art can influence and trigger Creative Flow State (aka The Zone).
We’ll discuss just how much color and light can impact and help us on an everyday basis and we’ll learn about the scientific research that supports this.
In parts 1 and 2, we talked about how you went from engineer to artist to expert in color & light therapy and flow state. And we discussed what it means when we’re attracted to certain colors at different times. Can you tell us WHY we’re so influenced by Color & Light?
Sure… let me explain it this way – have you ever gone on vacation and left all of your windows and curtains closed … and when you came back from your trip, many of your house plants were either sick or dead? That’s because all living things, including humans, need sunlight to survive and thrive.
When plants don’t get sunlight, they shrivel up and die. When humans don’t get sunlight, they also get very sick. For example, almost every type of cancer has been linked with low levels of sunlight exposure. And hundreds of research studies have now shown that when you don’t get enough sunshine, your likelihood of dying from ANY disease dramatically increases. I explain this in detail and how to get safe, healing sun exposure on the Healing Sunlight page of my website.
It all has to do with how we evolved to live and thrive under sunlight which contains all of the COLORS of the spectrum – including RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO and VIOLET. You can see these individual colors any time there’s a rainbow.
But what we usually see when we go out under sunlight is WHITE light.
White light is formed when all of these colors combine together. An example of this that we see everyday on all of our electronic devices, is the RGB model where RED, GREEN and BLUE are used to create all of the colors we see on our LED screens (computers, televisions, tablets, smartphones, etc.).
And by the way, many people don’t realize this, but color and light are the same thing. Meaning, you can’t have color without light — think how in a dark or dim room you don’t see any color in the walls or furniture when there’s no light.
And you can’t have light without color being included in it. ALL white light – whether it’s artificial light bulbs or natural light from sunlight – contains colors that combine to form white light. Think of the difference between warm light bulbs vs cool light bulbs – the first have more WARM-colored wavelengths like ORANGE and YELLOW (the colors of sunrise and sunset), while COOL white light bulbs, have more BLUE light in them (the color of midday).
Besides all the COLORED wavelengths found in sunlight which make up VISIBLE light, we also get INVISIBLE rays from sunlight including Ultraviolet (UVA and UVB), Near Infrared (NIR) and Far Infrared (IR).
Just like the Healing VISIBLE COLORED rays, ALL of these INVISIBLE rays have healing properties, too. We’ve probably all heard by now how important it is to get UVB for Vitamin D production? Well, UVB does a LOT more than just make Vitamin D in the body (Vitamin D is a VERY important hormone)… And it’s not just UVB that has powerful healing effects on our bodies and minds.
So you’re saying that all of the Colored rays also have healing properties like UV and Infrared do?
Yes, every ray found in sunshine has different healing properties, including all of the different COLORS of VISIBLE LIGHT found within sunlight.
For example, in 2001, NASA discovered that RED light heals wounds more quickly. That discovery started a wave of scientific and medical research about red light all around the globe. We now know that RED light does a LOT more than just heal wounds quickly.
What else does RED light heal and why?
RED is a very STIMULATING & ENERGIZING color – whether you’re looking at a red painting or shining red light on your skin.
Red is one of the most eye-catching colors. In fact, simply LOOKING AT RED has been scientifically shown to speed up heart rate and increase blood flow and blood pressure. It stimulates the sympathetic nervous system – the fight or flight response – getting you ready to RUN.
RED generates POWER & ENERGY.
Caffeine, amphetamines and other stimulants also stimulate the fight or flight response (that’s why when you have too much of any of them, you can get very jittery).
It’s also why all STOP signs, warning and DANGER signs are RED. They catch your eye and make you pay attention.
And this is the same reason that FAST FOOD LOGOS are always RED. The savvy marketers know that not only does seeing red from all the way down the road catch your eye and make you stop and pay attention, it also makes you do everything more quickly. So when you go inside, you make decisions more quickly, you order more quickly and you eat more quickly… and get out of there quickly!
Looking at RED also stimulates the libido and research has shown that it’s considered the sexiest color.
A psychologist at the University of Rochester did two very extensive research studies that proved that both men AND women find the opposite sex more attractive and sexy when they’re wearing RED – more than any other color. I wrote a whole blog post about it for Valentine’s Day.
And just like LOOKING AT RED is stimulating and energizing…
when you take a strong red light and SHINE IT ON YOUR SKIN, it stimulates, energizes and ‘wakes up’ the powerhouses found in the cells within our bodies. These powerhouses are called mitochondria and red light makes them kick into gear – very quickly.
Shining strong RED light on your face or body provides a wide range of scientifically-proven benefits including:
- Relieves muscular pain & back pain
- Wounds heal more quickly
- Accelerates bone healing
- Reverses the signs of aging by
- stimulating collagen growth to get rid of wrinkles
- reducing hyperpigmentation (age spots, liver spots)
- tightening & smoothing the skin & shrinking pores
- reducing cellulite
- Treats and prevents cold sores by stimulating the immune function of the cells
- Heals eczema and psoriasis
- Boosts muscle performance and recovery (for athletes)
- Treats arthritis
- Heals allergic rhinitis (allergies)
- And many more
And all of these conditions can be treated safely at home using light therapy. I explain in detail how to find the most powerful and least expensive light therapy devices on my Light Therapy Tools page of my website.
So is the same thing true for ALL the Colors? Do you have any other examples you can share with us?
Yes. RED light is only one example.
ALL wavelengths of light have different healing properties and many of them have already been heavily researched for various healing applications.
Another example of how color is commonly used to influence us can be seen in many corporate logos and President Obama’s outfit choices.
BLUE is a calming, soothing color, and it elicits a feeling of trust, confidence and steadfastness.
Seeing Blue conveys a sense that the person or company is trustworthy, reliable and dependable.
That’s why so many corporate logos are Blue and why police and pilot uniforms are usually blue.
And that’s also why if you Google images of President Obama, you’ll see that he always wears a blue suit and almost always a blue tie.
Can you tell us how you think science supports all this?
There’s a rapidly growing body of research from around the globe about the healing effects of various colors of light (and I’ve personally read thousands of these scientific research studies!).
And it’s all rooted in the cutting-edge, physics-based field of medicine called Biophotonics. This whole sector of global Biophysics research was started in the early 70’s in Germany by Dr. Fritz Albert Popp.
Dr. Popp was the first to prove that our bodies and our DNA actually TAKE IN and EMIT light. These light emissions are called “Biophotons” (bio = living, photons = light) and in 2009 at Kyoto University, they finally created a very sensitive CCD camera which can now photograph these living light emissions.
This biophoton image of a person’s hand (above) shows how some of their fingers have suffered cellular and tissue damage (on the left) – damage that’s not visible to the naked eye (see normal B&W photo on right).
As a fun game, I often like to poll my audience when I’m giving lectures about this to see if they can guess what happened to this person’s finger.
(Can you guess how this person’s finger got damaged? You can find out HERE.)
Biophotonic imagery can also be used for diagnosing cancer as you can see in these images of a mouse with cancer. The image on the left shows the biophoton image that clearly shows the cancer tumor growth, and the one on the right, a normal black and white image (you can see the lump from the tumor)
What are other ways you believe that we can use color and light to help healing?
There are many!
I discovered when I first started painting, that when you use specific healing colors in a certain way, it will reliably catapult you into a heightened, healing state of consciousness that many refer to as ‘Flow State’.
What’s Flow State?
‘Flow State’ is just one name for that optimal state of consciousness where you feel and perform your best. Many people refer to it as ‘the Zone, Deep Mindfulness, the Groove, Runner’s high, tapping into the ‘collective unconscious’, etc.
Whatever name you use, it all describes that same blissful state of brain function and awareness where you are super calm, laser-focused, and able to power through whatever you’re doing. You lose all sense of time and feel amazing, happy and blissed-out. You get clarity and insights and great ideas just pop into your head, seemingly from nowhere. Your Creativity and Productivity skyrocket and your body heals while you’re in this state (and afterwards).
There’s loads of research that now proves all of the brain benefits and healing benefits of tapping into Flow state.
How do you use color to tap into Flow State whenever you want?
As we’ve already seen, color can catalyze profound healing effects in our bodies, and it can also act as a catalyst for triggering Flow states!
When I first started painting, I was totally perplexed about why my paintings were getting so much international recognition in my very first year as a painter. I seemed to be putting out some kind of energy that was attracting all sorts of inexplicable opportunities into my life – things were happening around my art that were beyond all statistical probability.
My engineering brain kicked in and I wanted to understand what the heck was going on. I finally realized it was because during every painting session, starting with my very first abstracts, I was tapping into Flow by using the color energies that I needed that day.
When you’re in Flow, you tap into that limitless source of creative and healing energy. While I was in Flow, I was able to channel that energy and create paintings that were far beyond my few months of experience as a painter.
I also realized, because of my many years of alternative healing studies around color, that it was through using specific healing colors that I could easily and reliably tap into this Flow State whenever I wanted.
So you think that’s why your artwork has been widely recognized for having such strong healing effects?
Exactly. It’s the combination of Healing Colors AND Flow State.
For my first 3 years of painting, I had a very hard time believing all the positive feedback I was getting about my work. People would go on and on about how the paintings would make them feel so much better, and some people would even cry while looking at them. It just didn’t make sense to me – I was a total beginner!
A lot of people assumed that, since I had done healing work for so many years (in my acupuncture and Zen Shiatsu practice and while living in Italy for 7 years), and since I had studied all about the healing effects of color for 20 years before I ever started painting, I had somehow PLANNED to make my artwork have these healing benefits (laughing).
No, I was as perplexed as they were about how I was creating these powerful works of art as a total beginner painter. And the weird thing was, I literally never felt like I was creating them myself. I had a very hard time even taking credit for the paintings.
I always felt like I was just showing up in my painting studio and some greater energy was channeling through me onto the canvas.It was very much like when I was training as a classical pianist as a child and I got to the point where I felt like the music was playing THROUGH me as opposed to me playing the piano.
But finally, after 3 years, a piece of the puzzle came to me and I got some answers. A friend gave me a copy of the philosopher, Christopher Alexander’s essay book titled, ‘The Luminous Ground’. When I read his chapter on color, things finally started to make sense to me.
Alexander had done an in-depth analysis of many great works of art around the world. These works tend to elicit a very profound response in viewers.
He says these great works contain an ‘Inner Light’ and whenever we look at them, they reconnect us to our soul, our core self (what he refers to as the ‘I’) – simply by gazing at them.
In that color chapter, he outlines the 20 characteristics that all of these artworks share and they ALL tie in with COLOR and Light.
He says the artists who manage to create these works, all do so from within the expanded state of consciousness (Flow) where you connect with that limitless source of creative energy. And the resulting artwork is simply channeled onto the canvas via the artist’s hands.
I named this painting, ‘The Chrysalids’. Chrysalid is an ancient greek word meaning ‘gold’ and is commonly used to refer to the stage right before a caterpillar completes its metamorphosis & emerges from its cocoon as a beautiful butterfly.
For me, it signifies how we all have an an INNER LIGHT and pure GOLD within ourselves, just waiting to emerge from the casing that’s covering it, to shine again. When you allow your inner light to emerge, it shines so BRIGHTLY that others notice it from afar and are magnetically drawn to it.
When I read through Alexander’s entire list, I realized that my paintings had all 20 of the characteristics he lists.
So finally, after 3 years of trying to understand how a beginner painter like myself could be creating things that were eliciting these strong responses, I had part of the answer.
His in-depth analysis gave my engineering brain the logical left-brain explanation I needed to finally believe the responses people were having to my artwork.
So the healing effects in your art all have to do with Color, Light and Flow State … Are you teaching others how to do the same thing?
Yes! That’s what was most exciting to me about finding that chapter – I finally had the missing pieces to be able to reverse-engineer my own Creative Flow Process .. AND share it with others!
That same year, when the UT Health Sciences Center Cancer Research Center reached out to me to ask if I could teach their cancer caregivers a workshop about color, I had a flash of insight.
And I instantly and intuitively knew exactly how I could share my healing Flow techniques and teach about Healing Colors all at the same time – without my students needing to have ANY prior art experience. The feedback I got from the students in that first course was amazing! For many of them, it was like a lightbulb had turned back on inside them.
And then other people started asking me to teach my process. I’ve now shared this method with hundreds of others in my Color and Creative Flow Workshops & Virtual Online Training programs..
I teach my students how to tap into Flow state for themselves – using a combination of healing colors and the kinesthetic practice of creating their own personal art. And then they train their brains to tap into Flow whenever they want… All without needing any prior art experience.
What have you found the Research says about how Flow State can help & heal people?
To give you an example of how Flow State has helped the world — all great masterpieces – whether music, art or writing – and many of the greatest inventions were created in Flow State. You can read biographical accounts from famous artists, musicians, authors and inventors and you’ll see this common thread. They often report feeling as though the art or ideas came from somewhere beyond themselves and they simply channeled that creative energy into whatever they were producing. And the results are well beyond their expectations.
When you’re in Flow your creativity and innovative thinking soars, and so does your productivity. And there’s now lots of research to explain why.
McKinsey did a 10 year study on top executives and found that when they’re operating in Flow, they’re 500% more productive. That means you could work on Monday and take the rest of the week off and still get a full week’s work done!
A recent Newsweek article titled, “The Creativity Crisis” about the rapid decline of creative thinking in the US, reported, “A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 ‘leadership competency’ of the future.”
The article went on to explain, “The good news is that creativity training that aligns with the new (brain) science works surprisingly well… Scholars concluded that creativity training can have a strong effect — ‘Creativity can be taught.’”
Have you found that to be the case in your Workshops? Do your students experience these same benefits?
Yes, always. It’s pretty incredible.
After I’d already taught several groups and I realized how universally effective the Color and Creative Flow Process was for ALL my students, it prompted me to figure out why.
And I’ve since found loads of brain research that explains what’s going on in our brains from practicing these techniques. The research explains why the Creative Flow training program has been so effective – for boosting creativity and productivity, providing clarity, reducing stress, anxiety and pain, and healing the body, mind and soul.
Based on all the positive feedback I’ve gotten from my graduates, they’ve all experienced these clarity and healing benefits from the very first time doing the Creative Flow exercises in my workshop.
Can you share some of that research you have discovered?
Sure. Here’s one example of the brain research that explains the changes that may be happening in their brains to create these dramatic life changes:.
Harvard recently did a study on people who had never practiced mindfulness or Flow in their lives. They found that within just 8 weeks of Flow/mindfulness practice, the participants’ brain structures changed dramatically.
Areas of the brain associated with STRESS and ANXIETY got SMALLER – and they felt less stressed and anxious even when NOT doing the Flow/mindfulness exercise.
Areas of the brain associated with MEMORY, LEARNING, SELF-AWARENESS, INTROSPECTION and EMPATHY all got BIGGER. This means that not only did their cognitive brain function improve, they were also less reactive and better able to relate to others. This kind of response results in better relationships with others because you’re less likely to react to a situation and more likely to be able to relate to what the other person is feeling.
So how does your Art tie in with all this?
Well, in the Creative Flow Workshop, I teach my students the same techniques I use to tap into Flow State and create my own art. My students learn to use their own personal healing colors to create their OWN personal healing Art – and they don’t need any art experience whatsoever to learn how to do it.
While they’re in the creative process using their personal colors to create their art, those same colors act as a powerful catalyst to whisk them into a blissful state of Flow/deep mindfulness. During the exercises, they typically get clear answers to whatever problems, challenges or relationship or health issues they’ve been struggling or dealing with.
Many of them haven’t experienced Flow in years or even decades prior to the workshop. The stress- and anxiety-reducing benefits alone are huge.
Creating personal art has also been scientifically proven to have deep healing effects on the body and brain.
In 2014, a study done in Germany with a group of retired men and women aged 60-67, showed dramatic healing in their brains after just 10 weeks of being guided to create their own personal art.
The effects of aging in these retirees’ brains were literally reversed and the network connections in their brains were repaired.
When these brain connections start to break down – from aging or other reasons – many problems can result like:
- Chronic pain
- Poor cognitive function
- Inability to relate to others
- High stress and anxiety levels … and others
When you create personal art, your brain literally repairs itself and can reverse and heal ALL these conditions.
So you’ve combined the healing benefits of Color, Creating Art and Flow State… and you practice all 3 in your Creative Flow Process?
Yes and there seems to be a synergistic effect by doing all 3 together – it’s like the sum of the parts is powerfully greater than the whole.
By harnessing the healing power of Color and combining it with creating personal art, it catapults you into a deep, healing Flow State. As a result,my students get clarity about wherever they’ve been feeling stuck, as well as all the other benefits of creativity, productivity and optimal health and healing.
After the Creative Flow exercises, we take those colors and do a full Personal Color analysis, so my students get even deeper insights along with the clarity, answers and energy they need to get unstuck … and to start making rapid, life-changing shifts.
The Process works whether you want to heal from a long-standing illness, become more creative and successful in your life and/or business, or figure out what your life’s true purpose and path is.
It’s something you have to experience to fully understand how powerful it is.
I’ve had graduates, including professional psychotherapists and others, who have taken the program multiple times because they get so much additional benefit from the guided analysis portion. It helps them personally, and also enables them to work better with their business clients or patients.
In the workshop, I also teach my combined color system – what I’ve learned about Color and Light from my decades of research combining ancient healing traditions with modern science.
I teach how EACH of the colors can be used to your advantage by harnessing their power and applying it in your daily life. Whether you simply want to bring more color into your home or wardrobe or use it to optimize your business, you’ll learn which colors are best for you.
I also share how each of the colors of light can be used for healing and light therapy.
Through all of it, you get a much deeper understanding of just how powerful Color and Light can be for your body, mind, soul and business.
Where can our readers learn more about your Color and Creative Flow programs?
I teach my Online Color and Creative Flow fully guided and interactive Program twice a year. All you need to participate from anywhere in the world is a computer or tablet and wifi (or even a smartphone).
The Spring 2016 Virtual Creative Flow Online Interactive WORKSHOP is happening on Saturday, May 7th.
For those interested in the Advanced Creative Flow ACCELERATOR Training program, that starts a week earlier, on Saturday April 30th.
I absolutely LOVE sharing this work and all the healing knowledge about Color, Light and Flow state with others.
And I love seeing how my graduates flourish once they learn how to harness the power of Color, Light and Flow and apply it in all areas of their lives and businesses.
The Creative Flow Process not only helps heal the body and mind and reduce stress, anxiety and chronic pain, it helps heal relationships and boosts creativity and productivity…
It enables you to fully awaken to your true potential so that your Inner Light can shine again. As soon as you tap into this source of limitless Creative Energy, you begin to attract everything you need to be truly happy and fulfilled.
And I think that’s something we can all benefit from.
About the Author
Leanne Venier is an international award-winning artist, engineer, and expert in the science of color and light for optimizing physical & mental health, boosting creativity & productivity and easily triggering Flow State (the Zone). She regularly lectures about the healing effects of color, light, art and Flow at major medical centers, conferences like SXSW Interactive & MENSA, on NBC-TV, Gaiam TV, national radio, international health magazines, global podcasts, and elsewhere.
To view her artwork & learn more about color and light therapy as well as her Creative Flow Workshop and Training programs, visit Leanne’s Healing Color, Light, Art & Flow State Website: CatalyticColor.com.
- Part 1: The Science of Color & Light Therapy & Flow State: An Interview with Leanne Venier
- Part 2: What Can Your Favorite Color Tell You About Yourself: An Interview with Leanne Venier Part 2