I create nature art for hospitals. In 2003 I started my company, Henry Domke Fine Art, when I saw a need for better and more appropriate art for hospitals and medical facilities. At the time, research was beginning to tell a compelling story about how patients exposed to nature, or even images of nature, healed more quickly, had less stress, and required less pain medication.
It happened that I was decades into my “first career” as a family practice physician. I was also studying then at the University of Missouri-Columbia’s graduate program in Fine Art.
You could say it was the perfect storm, with art, healthcare, and myself coming together at just the right time – but without the nor’easter.
Another defining factor in my development as an artist in this field is the 600-acre property in central Missouri that I have lived on with my wife, Lorna, since 1981. We’re developing it as the Prairie Garden Trust, a public nature garden.
Much of my art is based on the native plants and animals that I find in “my backyard.” I’ve also found inspiration farther afield in coastal landscapes, mountainous terrains, desert scenes, and seashells. So now Henry Domke Fine Art offers thousands of nature images from all over the country.
I continue to grow as an artist with sensitivity to this very real need for healthcare art. I read the literature and attend conferences to keep as up-to-date as I can on design and research trends. I’ve made valuable friendships with leaders and researchers at The Center for Health Design. And I talk to people. I talk to interior designers and art specifiers about what they want to see for hospital rooms. I talk to my clients to find out how I can better meet their art needs.
I had a very active healthcare art blog for many years, and with some effort, turned it into a book, The Picture of Health, which can be purchased as an ebook from Amazon.
And I’ve evolved to meet design demands. I now offer art on paper, canvas, glass, backlit panels and wall coverings as large as a billboard, if need be.
But the very best part of my job, besides the many wonderful people I’ve met and worked with over the years, is hearing stories from patients who’ve seen one of my pictures in a hospital or doctor’s office and has been moved by it.
There was the gentleman who was sure I photographed his grandparents’ farm, where he used to spend his childhood summers. And the woman who would come to the hospital early for radiation treatment, just so she could meditate on one of my pictures before her procedure. And the nurse who told me she moved some of the pictures around so she could see her favorite one from her desk.
That’s why, after a fulfilling career as a doctor, I continue to work, to create, and I hope, to heal.
MFA Program in Painting & Photography, University of Missouri-Columbia
Independent Study with William Hawk, Assistant Professor of Art, Painting and Drawing University of Missouri-Columbia
Independent Study with Annette Weintraub, Professor of Art, The City University of New York