Open Windows Studio: Therapy in Living Colour

As we celebrate what many call ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ we know that in the midst of the happy celebrations, the holiday season can also be the busiest time of the year – and sometimes the most stressful, as we rush to get everything done in time for the big day!

So if you find your nerves are bit frazzled these days – and need a bit of calming – you might be interested in a book created by the students of the Open Windows Studio art program at the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s.


And not just any book.  A colouring book entitled To Calm Me Nerves.

To Calm Me Nerves is a Newfoundlandbased colouring book, developed by the students of Eastern Health’s Open Windows Studio art program, located at the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s.

The illustrations were created by the students themselves – both to demonstrate their talents – and to provide a form of recreational therapy for fellow clients and patients to enjoy. The book’s title was suggested by Gwendolyn, one of our students here at Open Windows Studio, and met with great enthusiasm by others involved in the project.

We’re offering the book to others as an affirmation of life through art.

Open Windows Studio

Open Windows Studio is a fine arts instruction program that was started more than 50 years ago within the Occupational Therapy services, of the Mental Health and Addictions Program at Eastern Health. While it has changed and grown over time, its goal is to offer an opportunity to individuals with an interest in art to engage in an occupation that has meaning and purpose for them.

It enables individuals with a severe and persistent mental health illness to explore their artistic interests, to develop their fine art skills, and to provide opportunities for creative expression.

Not just for themselves, but as is the case with the colouring book – to provide creative and therapeutic outlets for others, as well.

“Just when you thought you had nothing to do, pick up a crayon and play,” says Rob, an Open Windows student. “It keeps you young.”

Others, like J.H. have seen the value of the colouring book, both as an art student – and a patient. “It helped pass away the time when I was in hospital.”

A peek inside To Calm Me Nerves colouring book by the Open Windows Studio art program

A peek inside To Calm Me Nerves colouring book by the Open Windows Studio art program

Community Partnership

Many thanks to the instructors, students and administrators at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) who helped make this book a reality, especially the Enactus St. John’s group of CNA.


Front row: (l-r): Tracey Carberry, Enactus CNA; Melanie Pumphrey, Enactus CNA; Annette Rodgers, Open Windows student; Angela Hennebury, Open Windows student. Back row: (l-r): Gregory Hart, Open Windows student; Gerard McNiven, Open Windows student; Dwight Hutchens, Business Instructor, College of the North Atlantic.

‘To Calm Me Nerves” was produced in the spring of 2016, in collaboration with the Enactus CNA team, led by Dwight Hutchens.

All artwork in the book is by the students in the art program; however, the scanning of images, production and printing of the book was done by the College of the North Atlantic, Prince Phillip Drive Campus printing staff. Layout and design was done by Eric Walsh.

The college took on all costs of our first printing – more than 400 copies. Up to now, all colouring books were given to any inpatient or inpatient ward within the Waterford Hospital who requested a copy.

We’re now into the second printing of our coloring book – and while we’re still committed to offering them to inpatients – for the first time, we’ve put it up for sale. We showcased the book at our annual 2016 art show and sale at the Waterford site on November 21, 2016.cropped












The book costs $10 and profits go directly to the Healthcare Foundation, which supports mental health and addiction initiatives, such as the recovery-based external events within the Open Windows Studio program.

The colouring book will also be available for sale at the Open Windows Studio kiosk at the Anna Templeton Centre’s Christmas Tea and Sale from December 9th to the 11th.  Please drop by for a look – and to support the students’ other fine art and craft work.

You’ll be supporting their hopes and dreams and lots of hard work on their way to wellness!

If you have any questions about the colouring book or the Open Windows Studio art program, please call Valerie Hodder, Art Instructor, at (709) 777-3544. ■

This story was written by Valerie Hodder-Walsh, Fine Arts Instructor at the Open Windows Studio art program at the Waterford Hospital, St. John’s

2 responses to “Open Windows Studio: Therapy in Living Colour

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