Art as healing: creating art for art’s sake

Art, and life, is a process, not a product.

Art like a child

I love to make art with my preschoolers. We turn dot stickers into colorful bugs, collage paper and foil into swimming fish and mermaids, paint and toilet paper tubes into binoculars. We create with imagination, with abandon, with fun, with love.

There is healing in creating art like a child. Children delight in the process of art: feeling the paint squish between their fingers, smelling the scented markers that leave bold lines and shapes on rainbow paper.

Most importantly, children create without judgment of self or others. As an adult, I have been taught to make things perfect, to judge whether my creations are good enough. There is healing in creating without judgment, loving myself by loving the works of my hands.

Art, and life, is a process, not a product.

Understanding through creating

I majored in music in college. I flowed in beautiful sounds with my clarinet, collaborated with others to create fantastical symphonic worlds.

Sadly, that world is full of judgment and competition, a striving for technical perfection that can destroy the creative process. I had a wise professor who saw this and challenged me to defend the meaning of the music. “Why do you play and how will that change the world?” he asked me in my master’s thesis.

The answer is two-fold. The act of creation, without judgment, is an act of self-reflection, self-understanding. Little children know this when they delight in their work. Adults experience this when they flow in art, so totally absorbed in music, writing, painting that they lose track of time and the outside world and learn new things deep in the imagination.

The act of creation is also connection in the outer world with others. When I give a recital or create a picture or a poem that brings joy to another person, I have changed the world in a small way.

Art for art’s sake.

A world full of pain that I can’t fix

Watching the news can be exhausting. So can interacting on Facebook and surfing the web. We have so much evil in the world, and our modern technological entertainment tends to dwell on this, if not glorify it. It is good that we have intelligence in the war against injustice, but it can get overwhelming.

My empathy heart bleeds at every story of violent death or innocent wrongful conviction, every report on the endless wars overseas or the war against the poor back here at home, every statistic of a great shopping season or another percentage of families fallen into unemployment and hunger.

It’s all too much to bear and causes me pain. One powerful way to help with this pain is to create art. Unplug the stream of violence and chaos and create beauty.

I write. I write a lot. I blog, I have a fantasy novel in the works, a social justice spiritual novel, numerous short stories, poetry, and children’s books. I don’t know if anyone will ever read all this, or whether I write for myself, as a way to understand the world. I write from my imagination, like a child. I write to heal my world, inside and out.

Friend, won’t you join me on this journey of process and understanding? Dust off your pen, paintbrush, or piano and revel in the process like a child.

Heal through art. Together we can change the world.

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