Lately I’ve been pondering just how much art making, painting, and active creative pursuits have impacted my life. I began to realize that it’s influenced so much…perhaps everything. For this, I am endlessly thankful, in fact I often tag my Insta photos with #thankfulartistgirl. It just fits. So I thought I’d write a simple post on just how art can change a life, or mold it from a slab of clay into a beautiful vase that holds life-giving water and fragrant blossoms.
Art teaches you to let go.
“Last night I lost the world and gained the universe.” – C. Joybell C.
We are human beings, creatures… not machines. We are organic in our shape, not angular. So when we create we can seek to achieve our own ideas of perfectionism, balance, harmony, unity, and so forth…. yet we must also learn to let go. What a valuable lesson this is. We must begin to trust and allow what naturally wants to come though, come through. Surprises are the biggest gift in art making. This is how I teach others to create, anyway. I have found something magical happens when we let go further, we begin to gain more. When we are freer from our personal attachments to outcomes and expectations we have set for ourselves, we create from a place of more grace and ease. When we are in that state of grace, we become delighted by what we discover, the inner clicking rings more clearly. We create from a place of authenticity and what feels true, rather than from a concept or idea on what is beautiful or ‘good art’. I happen to believe there is no good or bad art – that it is beyond that state of right or wrong. I just want my students to feel they have honored where they are and who they are in that moment of creating.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
Art subsequently quenches and expresses your soul-longing at the same time.
During my quiet-hour(s) of painting, I find that my soul gets to sometimes rest, explore, or express its deep longing. That time when I sit down and create with my heart is sacred. It’s simply your time with you, no one else’s. Something within gets satisfied, something within gets fulfilled. It is a practice and meditation. Something within also got to express something that it needs to get out, let go of, or made seen. It is a dance between these sacred intrinsic needs.
Art brings you community.
And what an unexpected gift this has been. I’ve been saying for many years now that the friendships born in creative spirit are like no other. It’s a tribal sisterhood for me. Not only does art begin to transform and fulfill the soul within, it brings you more like-minded beings into your life. Sharing your work, forming exhibitions together, taking part in collaborations or business projects with other artists, is incredibly satisfying and innately human. Doing creative work with a family member or beloved creates bonding in the purest way. It is a shared experience, a gift that allows each person to express and take part in the greater whole of something.
Art allows you to express what is beyond words.
Through art forms like painting, drawing, photography, dance, and such we get to express that which is beyond words but still contains feeling, emotion, nuance, story, and subtlety. This is a wondrous reprieve. When I paint, I strive to express the mystery, although oftentimes words can fall short when I begin to reflect on just what that mystery is. This is where the language of color, line, shape, form, rhythm, balance, chaos, and more come in. An infinite language that is my own language: it does not always need explanation it just needs to be made real.
Art impacts others.
Make no doubt about it; taking a great piece of art in can stir the soul like no other and at times have more impact then flat out sharing it by a more direct means. It can stir the unconsciousness and bring feelings and thoughts into the forefront, or our own awareness. Art can be political through a unique lens that can move the senses and thus change perspective or inspire change within, and thus change the actions we take in our own lives.
Art is a practice that you can have until the end of your days.
Cultivating your creative self is an endless exploration or thirst that never runs dry, but that which only deepens with time. Matisse was said to have painted on his hospital bed with a long extended paintbrush, making brush strokes on the ceiling overhead. Dedicating a life to one or more practices of expression is a gift that will serve your golden years well, something you can keep intimate company with though out your years. Embracing your own evolution through a visual or other documented means is leaving traces of each phase of your life behind for generations to come.
Art can support you through monetary means.
And what a gift this is. To do what you love, that which comes most naturally to you, and be supported financially through this process and offering. I have found that passion is a contagious energy, when it is true, not forced, and done repeatedly, or an act of disciplined love. Attention is love, so give your art your undivided focus. Be open and take the steps to receive from it. This is also a learning and a process, but in infinitely ways possible: to make a good living as an artist.