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How painting helped him cope with OCD

“It was an escape,” explains Jeff Sparr ’85, “so I just kept doing it.” The former tennis player now runs a nonprofit to share how creativity can help anyone find more peace of mind.

Wearing a paint-splattered smock, a man slightly smiles slightly while painting in his colorful studio.

Jeff Sparr co-founded PeaceLove Foundation to promote how expressive arts can help well-being and change conversations around mental illness. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Sparr)

Get creative, reap benefits

Jeff Sparr and Katie Paulson Silcott show how creating art can lift spirits, a concept studies have proved time and time again. If you’re looking to activate the stress-relieving effects of the arts, consider these creative prompts, put together by the Ohio State Alumni Magazine team. Just remember: The point is to engage — revel even — in the process, not to create a perfect piece of finished art.

  • Collage a postcard and send it to a friend or family member.
  • Perform an over-the-top, Shakespearean-style reading of your favorite children’s book or poem.
  • Sketch what Buckeyes will be wearing in 3022.
  • Dance all of the letters of the alphabet. Spell out your favorite words.
  • Photograph things of every color of the rainbow.
  • Bake and decorate off-season sugar cookies — think Santa or Jack-o’-lanterns.
  • Pick flowers and leaves and press them in your thickest book.
  • Make a birdhouse out of popsicle sticks and hot glue.
  • Put paper on the floor and paint with your toes.
  • Create chalk art on your sidewalk or driveway.
  • Find interesting textures around your home to make rubbings of, using a pencil or crayon.
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