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Artist Doc Banning Discusses Introspection and Healing Through Art

Banning exudes through his work the importance of art as a source of healing and inspiration.

Artist Doc Banning Discusses Introspection and Healing Through Art

Painter, writer and filmmaker Doc Banning exudes through his work the importance of art as a source of healing and inspiration. His big, bold and beautiful canvases are like battlefields where the struggle ends only when an inner aesthetic is satisfied.

"As an angry young man I found painting to be a positive way to wrestle with myself when I was trying to make sense of the world," Banning confides from his Lexington, Kentucky studio. "A big blank canvas is a wonderful therapist you can pour your heart and soul onto which can help one to heal." Banning continued, "As for me I can see reflections of myself in the composition and colors. I find healing in the process."

Banning originally called his style Cathartic Aestheticism but found the phrase too abstract. He simplified it as Catharcism, a term he created to explain the style he derived from the "Action Painters of the Abstract Expressionist movement. "These are not representational paintings," he says, gesturing to a mixed media painting titled 'Psychoanalysis' on stretched canvas. "They represent a coalescence of feelings sourced from deep within my psyche."

While making educational documentaries used in colleges and universities, according to Banning, he traveled the country interviewing noted professors and experts in the social sciences. After an interview with a psychologist who specializes in personality disorders, the discussion fell to art and Banning invited a man named Carl to his studio to see his work. "Carl was fascinated by how the inner self could be revealed through painting. I supplied him with some basic knowledge and materials, and he plunged into painting to the extent it almost curtailed his practice."

Later that year Banning was in Berkeley interviewing Paul Ekman, a world expert in nonverbal aspects of psychology, and in New York interviewing Jerome Bruner, who is a founder of cognitive psychology for a series of videos on the history of psychology. "I saw psychology to be another lens through which to view myself and the world and Dr. Ekman encouraged me to go back to school and get a PhD," Banning says, remembering the implications of the life crossroads. "It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. When I saw Carl years later we discussed how he was a psychologist who became an artist, and I was an artist who became a psychologist. The two life paths intertwine and create a fuller and richer human experience."

Banning's knowledge of psychology was further enhanced with his certification in Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, "a revolutionary type of practice," states Banning, based on helping people heal themselves through re-establishing internal control. Continuing, "Until a person accepts full responsibility for his or her life choices, they will always be at the mercy of forces that are exterior to themselves and their well-being. Paintings, music, dance, writing are all forms of self-expression by which the artist shares his inner being with the world in the attempt to express truths about the human condition. An artistic creation is a mirror. If the artist doesn't like what he or she sees, the artist has an opportunity to change it and thereby become more authentic."

Banning's art may be found on his website where he describes the inherent learning process of creation where healing and evolution occur - both as an artist and a human being. His rare paintings are prized by collectors who include Oscar winners, doctors, lawyers, executives, businessmen, other artists and other art lovers including the late actor Richard Burton. His paintings are also available from the Saachi Gallery:

Concluding the article, Doc Banning states, "Creation is a reward all unto itself, such as how the journey can be more important than the arrival, the act of creating art liberates, refreshes, and reintroduces a person to one's authentic self. It is a process of self-discovery."

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