Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paint Away Your Pain

"Creativity is the life raft that can save us when we don’t think we can survive riding any more waves of emotion."
~Marcella Nordbeck-Richardson

What do you do when you’re experiencing low vibration emotions such as sadness, anger, or fear? Do you turn to your favorite distractions like television or Facebook? Or do you run to a familiar vice like food, cigarettes, or alcohol?  

Although comforting, our distractions and vices only temporarily mask our pain. But art has the power to heal. Creativity is the life raft that can save us when we don’t think we can survive riding any more waves of emotion. So the next time you’re moving through a less-than-ideal situation, and suffering the emotional consequences, I invite you to turn to the canvas, the page, or another creative outlet. 
"Together Through What Separates" - Acrylic - 36x36" - $1647
I first learned of the healing power of art in 2002 during the 4-weeks I received art therapy as part of my recovery from life threatening depression. Every day for a month I got to play with paint, clay, and whatever else caught my creative fancy. And then one day I had a light bulb moment. I realized that creating – just for the simple joy of it – was what was missing from my life.  

I was reminded of art’s healing power 10 years later. I went searching for my estranged father, only to learn he was no longer living. A few months later I was still weighed down by heavy emotions of grief for the father I never really knew and the 3 brothers who didn’t want to talk about it him. 

Thankfully during this time I was studying A Course in Miracles with author and life-coach Tama Kieves. One night in Tama's living room I shared with her that I was so overcome by my emotional grief around my father, his absence, and his death, that I was no longer able to paint. My creativity felt completely blocked by my tormented emotions. Tama's advice? To paint away my pain.

I resisted, saying something like, “But I’m a spiritual painter! I want my paintings to be uplifting and inspiring.” But Tama responded by encouraging me to paint anyway. She reminded me of all the sad loves songs that express the universal feeling of heartbreak, but are soothing to others who are feeling similar pain and discomfort.  

I took Tama’s advice. In the days, and weeks, that followed I sat at my canvas, painting, while tears literally ran down my cheeks. But I kept painting. Eventually I stopped crying. And a couple of months later I  put the finishing touches on, “Together Through What Separates.” It remains one of my personal favorites.  

The 4 spirals are symbolic of me and my 3 brothers who I will always love and for whom I feel a deep emotional connection do despite the years, and miles, between us. And although I was feeling intense emotional pain when I created it, when I look at the painting today I feel forgiveness for what was and acceptance for what was not. And I feel even more certain of art’s power to heal.

"Together Through What Separates" is 1 of 3 paintings currently available for sale in the Art at the Armory art show in Brighton, Colorado. Show runs through Friday, April 18, 2014. Visit Events page for details.
Left to Right: "Together Through What Separates," "Imaginative," and "Rise"
Each: Acrylic, 36x36", $1647

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