On Feb. 20, Art Group met at its regular time, but this week there was an exciting twist: art aromatherapy facilitated by Heather Petersen, a certified aromatherapist and the Kenyon College Bookstore’s sales floor supervisor and apparel buyer.
Art aromatherapy’s purpose is to clear the mind and create a sense of calm. Before the activity began, Sarah Gabric, a counselor at Cox Health and Counseling Center, invited the participants to compare the smells to memories or draw designs in colors reflecting the emotions they provoked. She reminded everyone that the session was about the process, not the final product.
The atmosphere was quiet and non-judgmental. The table was set with large pieces of paper and bins of markers and crayons, giving the room an aura which inspired creativity. Petersen is sincerely passionate about aromatherapy, as well as the wellness benefits of essential oils. She gets her own oils from a supplier in California, and they all have a particular purpose. Occasionally, Petersen combines the essential oils to create a specific effect, but this time she used unadulterated orange, cedar and lavender.
The orange essential oil comes from organic fruit grown in the United States. It is an indispensable part of Petersen’s oil collection: She claims she cannot do without it and uses it in many of the essential oils she makes. The bright, citrus notes of the oil inspired both loud drawings with lots of warm colors like orange, red and yellow, and softer, more muted pieces with gray, violet and peach. Petersen said this was appropriate because orange can inspire a sense of happiness or calm; many participants were reminded of breakfast and the hopeful feeling of starting a new day.
The next oil Petersen used, cedar, produced many cool colors as opposed to the warmth of the orange: mostly blues, greens and purples. The smell inspired thoughts of fresh air, trees and mountains, according to some of the participants. Reminiscent of the smell of cold medicine, cedar essential oil is Peterson’s go-to when a client requests an essential oil to help get over a cold, because it helps clear the airways.
Lavender was the only oil Petersen used undiluted; it is believed to have antiseptic properties. Petersen once used it to treat her boyfriend’s injuries from a motorcycle race. When she took him to the hospital, the doctors told her that whoever treated his wounds did an excellent job, and she attributes his fast recovery to the essential oil. Lavender was also very calming, wiyh a familiar scent that brought to mind soft shapes and the colors violet, blue and pink. Many people were reminded of lotions and perfumes, because lavender has become abundant in cosmetic products. Peterson attributed this popularity to lavender’s calming scent, and the use of lavender to close the session was fitting to end the activity on an uplifting note.
Art aromatherapy was a calming experience in the midst of a gray February afternoon. Petersen’s positive energy and the comfortable space made for an escape from the busy day.
The activity was artistic and soothing, and it gave participants the unique experience of creating a piece of art inspired by relaxing scents.