Is Pain Part of Creativity?

Despair, 16 x 16 cm, pigment pen and colour pencils on paper

Is pain part of creativity? It seems to be for me. Often, I begin creating a piece of art because I’m in psychological pain and it can transform that pain into healing. The drawing above began on the anniversary of my father’s suicide. Despair was what I was feeling and, somehow, I was able to tap into that feeling and watch it take shape on paper. By externalising it and writing in my journal about it, I could understand it more. I wrote a blog post about the beginning of this process.

Some Feelings Are Inherited

This despair did not feel like mine. It felt like something was trying to take me over. In therapy I gave it a voice and a gesture. “You’re going down,” it said as I created a downward spiral with my hand. My therapist asked me how I’d like to respond and I remembered a wasp invading my van. I’d grabbed my tea towel and flicked it toward the wasp, saying, “get out, go on, out!” That was my response to my dad’s despair.

Connecting With Human Warmth

Someone once said to me, “shit doesn’t stick unless it’s got something to stick to.” There are things that my dad did to me that I can’t explore – it’s like they’re locked away, hidden from consciousness to keep me safe. If I even try to go near them I space out. My dad’s despair sticks to the brutal version of him buried in my psyche, and tries to take me down. But I flick it away like the nuisance it is. I shine a light on my needs and I connect with the human warmth inside me, my friends, and strangers.

Drawing Feelings Can Be Insightful

Most people are kind and, when they’re not, it’s usually because they’ve got stuff causing them pain; avoiding that pain can cause disconnection. I love my despair drawing. It taught me a lot about despair and connection. If you’re interested in owning this drawing, feel free to email me for a (no obligation) chat about it.

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