What can creative expression do for us spiritually and emotionally? How can it be healing?
Creative expression as a refuge, even a force for healing, is an experience of many people.
One of my favorite quotes on that topic is by author Kurt Vonnegut:
“The practice of any art isn’t to make a living, it’s to make your soul grow.”
Quoted in several articles, including Missing or Abandoning Our Creative Fulfillment (Part 2).
Others talk about art as healing:
“Art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing.” – Julia Cameron
“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.” – Rachel Naomi Remen, MD
From Art & Healing Quotes page on the Arts & Healing Network site.
Kristin Bauer portrayed the deliciously imperious and sarcastic vampire Pam on the HBO series “True Blood.”
In addition to acting, she has been drawing and painting since around age twelve.
Examples of her representational still life, landscape and portrait paintings are displayed on her site www.kristinbauer.com and have been presented in galleries.
She notes on her site:
“I have kept it up out of pleasure and also a needed sanctuary from the harder parts of life.”
Bauer says one of the inspirations for her art is a “need to unwind and sort of recuperate and do something because acting is this huge group production.
“And you try to, you know, get as much of yourself into the role as much as you can and bring that character to life.
“But then again, somebody wrote it, someone dressed you, someone built the set and someone did your hair and make-up and it’s just this enormous collaboration.
“But painting is just ME. It’s just the polar opposite and somehow it balances the craziness of acting.”
[From “True Blood’s Kristin Bauer actress and artist” on www.trueblood-online.com]
In another interview, Bauer describes more about how painting helps her.
“So you’re literally being touched and talked to for 16 hours.
“When I’m painting, every single part of it is the opposite.
“I only create what I want to create, every single decision is mine, and nobody gets any input whatsoever.
“It’s silence, no one talks to you, nobody sees you.”
She explains further:
“After every take they say ‘would you like a chair, would you like some water?’
“Painting, no, I’ve got to get up and go get my food, the chair is only there if I put it there.
“Which is why I didn’t become a professional artist first, because it’s kind of lonely.
“But when I’ve been working a lot, I really need that quiet down time where I create something on my own to recuperate.”
[From TheCelebrityCafe.com interview.]
Creating can be rejuvenating because it can be a means to explore and release deeper parts of ourselves.
Judith Orloff M.D. thinks “Creativity is the mother of all energies, nurturer of your most alive self. It charges up every part of you.”
From her book Positive Energy.
Also hear our audio interview: Judith Orloff, MD on Emotional Freedom.
Talking about her work in expressive arts therapy, Natalie Rogers, Ph.D., (founder of the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute, and daughter of Carl Rogers) says:
“The creative process is a life force energy. If offered in a safe, empathic, non-judgmental environment, it is a transformative process for constructive change.”
From her article Giving Life to Carl Rogers Theory of Creativity.
Creating can give voice to powerful and challenging emotions, but feelings can also get in the way of our creative work.
Psychotherapist Mihaela Ivan Holtz helps creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts.
She writes about the emotional and creative pleasures of artists’ inner lives and challenges on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is part of an article of hers on this topic:
When you allow yourself to notice all the many ways you connect with your creativity, your art can capture the complexity and richness of human experiences:
love and lust, fear and despair, transformation and overcoming, asserting and advocating, healing and letting go…
It is that love affair with your creativity that moves you to express all the nuances of life experiences.
At other times, you can get disconnected from your creativity.
The fog of anxiety, worries, and insecurities can take over.
The murky waters of depression can keep you and your creativity apart, lost in emptiness.
The intense fire of anger can get in between you and your creativity…
You aren’t chasing each other, playing, or dancing. You’re not connected with your creativity any more.
And this is not the usual creative block that can be a normal part of the artist’s cycles of creation and rest.
This is something else. This is not the anxiety, the sadness, or the anger that you can use to create.
It’s the kind of anxiety that paralyzes your creativity. It’s the sadness that takes away your creative energy.
It’s the anger that keeps a wall between you and all the rich emotions you could use to make your art.
Read more in her article on her site:
You and Your Creativity: A Love Affair.