Healing Your Soul Through Art

I’ve made art to make money and I’ve made art to make meaning. I’ve made art to have fun. Most people make art under  those “normal” circumstances. But lately, I’ve run into people who are making art for many different reasons. They are making art:

–for pleasure, to express a special event
–to get them through a crisis, either emotional or physical
–to get through another creative block, like a writing block
–in deep grief, seeking relief from mental and physical pain and suffering
–in confusion, to find a path to begin a new path on the Journey

Australian Aboriginal art from MsPaintArt.com

When these art-makers are my coaching clients, I try to help them dig deeply to find reasons for their art-making.  We find out what makes them want to change, how they will change, where the new path is taking them. Sometimes all they can do is write down memories and leave it at that. Sometimes, in writing, they start to see a new path, and it looks safe to try that new path, see what lies in that new area.

The answers lead in many different directions, but the one that interests me the most is the immediate art. The desire is always there to make “something important,” or “something meaningful.” But the healing path is often just a way to make “something.” Anything. Working on a piece of paper or cloth, whether it is writing or drawing, stitching, quilting, origami or writing music is healing.

Dawn or sunset? Creative light is yours to name.

Pouring emotions on paper lets you both capture the emotion and release it. Grab a strong emotion and wrestle it down on paper. Your feelings will pour out, you will release them and they will allow you to heal.

If you are fearful or worried about those emotions, scared to name them or face them, pick a time to work when you are tired. Exactly the time you normally wouldn’t do creative work. Your guard is done, you are vulnerable. There is no better time to begin. The rest will take care of itself.

Quinn McDonald is a life- and creativity coach who helps people through difficult change in their life.

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10 responses to “Healing Your Soul Through Art

  1. …just an aside on your idea of “sunset or sunrise”. Here in west Michigan,film makers come quite often to film movies on Lake Michigan. Then, when the movie comes out, they create a “sunrise” scene from the actual sunset…and set the story in Chicago…or somewhere in Wisconsin:)

    • That’s REALLY funny! I’m sure people don’t notice, either. When I lived in D.C. they kept showing someone else’s Metro trains, and once had a name on a stop that didn’t exist. Ahhh, filmmaking!

  2. Amazing how things come together, Quinn. Yesterday, I saw a TED lecture on vulnerability and read your post. Today I came home from gum surgery, turned on the classical music, drew a bunch of mandalas that progressed from pain to comfort, and wrote a long-overdue photo essay about one of my creative high points. Very healing indeed! Thanks so much, Quinn, you’re a blessing in my life.

    • That vulnerability piece is really amazing, isn’t it? I’ve watched it several times, and learned something new each time. I’m SO proud of you and the pieces for the Smithsonian, Creative Crocheter! I love the creativity, the color, and the thought you put into shaping them. We seem to be a blessing in each others life, and that’s the best!

  3. I can totally relate to your thoughts on writing when you are tired, Quinn. The words may not make sense at the time you write them though, it’s the next day, after a good nights sleep, that the meanings become clear.

    A glass of red wine can have the same effect! Not that I’m a drinker, one glass is my limit! But it relaxes you…

  4. Oh, yes. Art heals. Just letting go and creating, and then letting go of some of the emotions that holds you captured, trapped. I highly recommend a few basic art supplies next to the bed–I use them when I can’t get to sleep. Works better than a sedative.

  5. Art helped me work my way out of great physical pain. It was something I could do when I couldn’t do much of anything else. I was just looking through the collages and drawings and sketches I did during that time. I can see the healing as time goes on.

    • I swear that art heals souls, hearts, bones, and kishkas (innards). I checked with the National Institutes of Health, and they agree. There is considerable evidence that journaling (and art journaling) is a great healer of bodies and minds.

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