by Jan Cox

EXCERPT:  As a cancer survivor,  she knows personally the power of the arts in healing.

Although she has been excited about art as long as she can remember, Marilee Ford began water color painting in earnest in 1999, taking her first class in order to postpone her loan repayment from her master’s program. She comes from a family of creative artists, musicians and crafts people and is excited that her own daughter is also using her talents in the arts.

Ford first got hooked by watercolor because of the element of surprise. She says, “Watercolor is, in some ways, one of the hardest mediums to paint with.  It takes planning ahead and having a good idea where you want to end up.  Unlike oil, you can’t layer over your mistakes.”  She loves getting lost in the process of mixing the water and pigments and allowing them to flow; a magical feeling–especially when the picture turns out beautifully.

Other mediums enjoyed by Marilee include liquid acrylics, oils — along with collage with paper and pastels.  She is drawn to the natural world for her subjects and likes to incorporate living creatures into her painting for added variety.  But she remarks that some of her most successful paintings have come from just letting the colors mix and flow on paper.

Marilee Ford is another artist who divides her time between the city and the mountains.  Residing part of the time in the Quincy area, she has exhibited in the Plumas Arts Gallery and has had her art in their calendar. She exclaims that she and her husband Rob Hendrickson live for their time in the mountains — a place away from the ambient noise of the city. Here she does most of her painting.  In Petaluma, she exhibits in various venues and has a permanent exhibition in the Petaluma Valley Hospital, working with them to design donor tiles for a healing garden to raise money for a digital mammogram machine.

Ford works 32 hours weekly as a nurse-educator in Kaiser, Santa Rosa and also teaches classes on the art process for personal and cultural healing.  As a cancer survivor,  she knows personally the power of the arts in healing.  During her graduate schooling at JFK University in the Transformative Arts program, she was encouraged to claim her Artist Self.  Here, Marilee used her assignments to create the space for  healing energies to emerge that were needed to promote her own healing and to bless the work of her surgeon.  She says from experience, “Art Heals!”

You can find her art most easily on her web site at