Is it possible to transmute your sorrow into creativity? The tortured artist has gained a reputation for producing the most beautiful bodies of work by using his suffering as the hand that guides his paintbrush and creativity. The dichotomy that exists within this art-making process suggests that pain can serve as the material from which beauty and creativity can be made. While we may be perplexed at the thought of watering a seed with poison to support its blossoming into a flower, there is some (creative) method to the madness.
Hidden between the brushstrokes of the art piece (influenced by a measure of suffering) is, in fact, a channel through which emotions have been explored. The end product is something that emulates these emotions and the way in which the creator felt their way through it. In essence, the creative practice simultaneously becomes one of self-assessment. Should you find yourself on the receiving end of misfortune or simply unpleasantry, harness it as an opportunity to convert your emotions into a pursuit of creativity.
1. How notable artists translated their pain into art
Many great artists we know today would be beckoned by a bare canvas with its whisper, “Paint me like one of your painful experiences”. Vincent van Gogh (an artistic genius who drowned in anguish and mental illness) would exercise introspection and translate his emotional state through sweeps of resplendent and intense colours in his art. Sylvia Plath (a remarkable poet who fell victim to depression for most of her life) would scribe charming words about sorrowful themes surrounding feminism, her profound sense of isolation, and her frayed relationship with herself (problems to which most can relate).
The insight these great artists can impart is to leverage the energy we conjure when experiencing an unfortunate situation in our lives for something expressive and even creative. Emotions are powerful frequencies of energy; it’s not intended to be bottled up inside us. It needs space to move, breathe, and stretch. In the case of the previously mentioned artists, the affliction they felt was so charged that it demanded to be leaked out into a conduit of some kind. Another point worth noting is that being engrossed in these adverse emotions allowed them to better assimilate the happenings of their internal world and their perceptions of their outer one. While they may have channelled this through the classic creative outlets of painting and poetry, it is crucial to recognise that creativity is boundless in how it can be conveyed.
2. Creativity is not only exclusive to making art
When people hear the word ‘creativity’, painting, drawing, poetry (or maybe an elaborately embellished cake with delicately piped colourful frosting) generally come to mind. People limit the essence of creativity to this rudimentary idea that if your creations do not “look” like what we typically consider art to be, then you have no (artistic) leg to stand on and should abandon the thought of making it altogether. Creativity is not some unattainable capability reserved for a select few people, otherwise known as the “talented” ones. It is as accessible as the air we breathe and as fluid as a river. It can look like and be anything and does not have to be written, painted, recorded, or framed to be worthy of the title of “art”. Creativity is ultimately the translator of our souls and, therefore, our prerogative to engage in.
3. Sourcing your creative material from your internal world
There is a long-standing misconception that one can only depend almost entirely on their external environment to supply material for their creations. A thought or emotion can be equally as potent and saturated in colour as the landscape a setting sun creates or the eyes belonging to a face subjected to the mercilessness of time. Your internal rhythms deserve to be deciphered out in the open. Your internal bruising deserves soothing. Should you find yourself rattled by a bad situation or anything akin to sorrow, consider transmuting it into something creative.
The blueprint to transmute your sorrow into creativity:
Pay attention to the emotion you feel and where in your body it is being felt; tap into your senses.
Contemplate why the cause behind your suffering is affecting you the way it is.
Challenge the thoughts that arise when leaning into the emotion.
Explore your contrasting wishes/needs/emotions and ponder how to reach them.
Take action through an outlet that appeals to you.
Remind yourself that others do not need to form part of the end product’s audience.
We all know that misery loves company, but perhaps its company requires restructuring and a creative edge. In the process of better understanding your inner workings, you may be left with a healing outcome (and maybe a half-decent piece of art should your soul feel drawing-inclined). It can be incredibly cathartic to convert your unpleasant experience or debilitating emotion into something meaningful and even beautiful. May creativity be a liberating metric of your self-assessment and a mirror into the nuances of how you present yourself to the world and how it presents itself to you.
Have you tried to transmute your sorrow into creativity? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
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