Art of Medicine
Apr 2019


Madeleine Schachter, JD
AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(4):E370-371. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2019.370.


This abstract painting represents how patients’ experiences of darkness and doubt can be replaced by a sense of buoyancy and lightness. Color and movement convey a patient’s sense of striving, aspiration, and optimism.


Figure. Journeys

Figure 1 Journeys artm1-1904


Acrylic on canvas.


Abstract arboreal images at the sides of the painting suggest patients’ and their carers’ seeming independence and separateness, each reaching and striving on their own. Both share common aspirations of healing, each traversing alone yet needing one another. The top of the image emerges from a murkier, darker chaos below; the possibility of hope is evinced in lighter, brighter colors. The curvature of earth tones at the lower right depicts a swarm of lurking doubt, the weight of decision making, and uncertainty about what might lie ahead along patients’ and carers’ journeys. Colors and paint layers become more ephemeral, in parallel, perhaps, with how a caregiving collaboration progresses. Density and depth of color and texture shift; metaphorically, that which was initially cumbersome lightens. Contrasts of light and dark convey movement, tilt, wisp, and froth, further signaling release from doubt, the evolution of certainty, a decision made, and the conviction in a path now taken.



AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(4):E370-371.



Conflict of Interest Disclosure

The author(s) had no conflicts of interest to disclose. 

The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.