We artists have a way of playing off emotion. We get inspired by things that make us feel good or bad, or that make us think, and depending on our creative voice or creative expression, we deliver visual, audible, tactual and hopefully visceral works of art. It is what we do.

A form or piece of art has many parts to it, but emotion for me is the key to it actually becoming art.  There must be more to it than simply placing paint perfectly, or a song sung in key, or just reading a script.  The creation of art must come from within and extend through your hands, or your voice, or through your movement.  It is the connection of your mind and soul that gives art it’s power.

Some artists create from pure pain, trying to find answers to questions about the darkness in their life.  Others create from a joy of life and enthusiasm.  While still others create from a deep emotional passion such as love, even a love of texture, color or contrasts.

On a personal level, I think to myself that I have painted through amazing happiness and yet, that happiness is but a layer in the many layers of the day to day, month to month, year to year bombardment of things hitting me.  Some bouncing off, some penetrating. I’m a fairly positive person, but my father passed away when I was just 24.  Has it ever shown in my art?  I honestly I don’t know.  Heck, my mother, a creative spirit in her own right, has been gone for more than 15 years and I also think back that I have painted through multiple recessions, wars and natural disasters, along with the loss of good friends and wonderful pets. Does it show? Again, I don’t have an answer.

On the other hand, my life has been filled with blessings and frankly even writing this column each month is one of them, but there are so many more. The fact that choices throughout my life have allowed me a life of expressing myself is an amazing gift and it is my hope that every artist, and even those who support the arts, feel this way.

Art too, can be a very powerful therapeutic tool.  But I think one must be careful of how this tool is used.  Self therapy is very different than that which is done by a trained therapist and I’m by no means saying self therapy if a bad thing, you just have to be mindful if you’re making progress, healing and bringing yourself out of darkness.  Art is often filled with solitude and if you are trying to create your way out of a deep loss or sense of darkness and despair, a spiraling effect could trap you. It’s likely best to collaborate with a fellow artist, a group or a guiding light.

Art is emotion though. It is story telling. If you are invigorated by your art, yell “Charge!” and have a great time!  If though you are pondering, second guessing, or just not feeling good about it, take time to look within by looking directly at your art. Have you become monochromatic, are you starving yourself by limiting the amount of paint you use?  Are you painting small instead of big or visa versa? Are your compositions repetitive. Is your contrast harsh echoing a similar reality? Are you feeling or seeing stagnation? Is your art saying what you want it to?  I use painting as an example, but all art forms apply here. All can show your soul.

It’s a new year though. More than a time of resolution, it’s a time of evolution. This is a good time to look at how you express yourself creatively, act on your plan for 2016 and even setting goals for 2017.  Look inward, but reach outward!

Live An Artful Life, Tom