Have you heard of this quote? I can’t seem to find out whom to credit for this saying, but it’s often quoted. It’s speaking to the concept of turning your pain into something productive or positive. For me, obviously it would be channeling my emotions and thoughts through my artwork. Over the last few months, I’ve had conversations with several different people in my life that were randomly sprinkled with this particular topic. It eventually got to the point where I thought it was worth paying attention to and writing about. The idea certainly resonates with me because my own work is so personal and is pulled from a deeply emotional place within. Plus I have trended towards expressing darker emotions in my artwork within the last year.
So is this concept true? Is what’s bad for your heart, actually good for your art? It’s a topic that makes its way to the forefront of my mind more and more these days. It’s probably not a coincidence that the first four letters in “painting” spell “pain.” Speaking from my own experience, I would say that there is at least some truth to the quote. I didn’t become comfortable with my artistic Self or as confident with my paintings until I started digging deep and getting more in touch with the emotions and experiences that were significant to me. Lately I just happen to connect more deeply with the bad. In doing so, I also started getting stronger reactions about my work. If you think about it, a lot of famous artists in history are famous for the strife in their personal lives or expressed in their work. I don’t think that’s to say that “safer” art or expressing positive emotions does nothing for anyone or is unimportant. We all need that in the world. Shit, even I need a break every once in a while to make art that is just for aesthetic value and of a lighter fare. But it’s my opinion that the darker stuff is more interesting, more real. I like that it’s the kind of stuff that people usually don’t expose about themselves, but all have dealt with in one way or another. Being open about hard times somehow allows us to connect with each other and heal together. That’s a very important point to me.
So yes, I think it can be argued that what’s bad for your heart is good for your art. It can be good for everyone. It’s therapeutic, it’s honest and it can touch others’ lives. I would say to just make sure that we’re also indulging in positive experiences, whether we choose to include it in our work or not, to have balance. We can’t allow everything to be ALL bad. Unless you can handle it, I guess.