For the more grounded amongst us, grief or any form of negative emotion is just that – an emotion of sorrow that stays with us until we are distracted by our lives. Then one day we wake up, and that sorrow isn’t so impactful anymore.
But for an artist, grief is a great stimulant for art.
How Grief Affected the Greats
Van Gogh is one such example. He considered one of his most famous paintings— Starry Night—to be a failure. Having painted it during his time in the asylum after the self-mutilation episode, Van Gogh’s only view of the world was from his second-story bedroom and the ground floor.
In his letters to his brother Theo, he would mention the different times of day, the paintings he would make and his views on what the arrangements (the word he would refer for color) in his paintings represented.
Art historians who have assessed Starry Night all agree that it was during this time that Van Gogh created some of the greatest paintings of his life. His work was more real, it showed vulnerability, and it showed how – by giving in to his imagination – he was able to reach a certain heightened sense of reality.
Van Gogh was suffering through a stage of mental illness at this point in his life. He experienced his second breakdown as well in seven months. For many historians, this was the time when Van Gogh knew that he was going through a sort of mental epilepsy, which affected his behavior and thinking patterns. However, rather than delving into his mental state, Van Gogh poured all his emotions into his work and gave us some of his greatest works.
The Connection of Emotions with Art
We’ve all heard the term tortured artist. How certain creators use their grief as their guide to create art. However, the term tortured artist is one that touches one just a small section of painters who grace us with their talent.
Being an artist myself, I use my emotions of happiness and acceptance to create art. Art is what makes us happy. It is what helps us cope and understand the world around us, and helps us find inspiration so we can move ahead in our lives.
Artists use all sorts of emotions to inspire them, happiness chief among them. I used my expression of emotions and harnessed the power of art to make myself feel at peace with the world. I used expressive arts to work with my mind, body and emotions and created abstract angel paintings that were able to give me the peace of mind that I so cherish.
That is what art is supposed to be. For an artist, art is an instrument. It’s up to us how we are supposed to use it!