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Art as the By-Product of Emotion

Updated on February 5, 2016

For me, art is the method by which I remove unbearable emotions like pain, sadness, joy and wonder from inside me. The visible product, the artwork, is the footprint left behind when I carry a heavy burden of emotion out of my mind on the lead of a pencil, the tip of a paintbrush, the edge of a knife, or the surface of a keyboard.

For me, those visible evidences, those footprints, are monuments of victory or memorials to loss. They are warnings, epiphanies, and visions of joy. They are things you can look at to see what's inside of me if you are curious, if you wonder if what's inside other people is like what's inside you.

Art as a By-Product of Grief

Sugar Maple Siren
Sugar Maple Siren | Source

Turning Grief Into an Image

Some of the art that comes to exist from the outpouring of my emotions finds its source in grief. As I grieve onto the piece of paper or the glowing screen it often transforms into joy and wonder.

The image above this bit of text bears the essence of the face of someone I loved and lost far too soon. She stands in the darkness but most of the light is coming from her. I miss her voice and her gaze. Those are gone. But now she is part of the earth and the Japanese maple that grows near her ashes and her breath is part of the sky. She is nude because she never hid her most intimate self from me except when it mattered the most. For me, the image reminds me of the wonder she was that I was privileged to share. I find it bittersweet and beautiful and it's less painful for me to realize she no longer exists in the universe when parts of her come out in the art my emotions leave behind. Her echoes live on.

The piece of writing linked below bears the echo of another lost and beloved and somehow reminds me I still have a few faint shadows made of light left by her inside me.

Joy Expressed

Rich Sleeping, a drawing of my partner as he looks to me sleeping.
Rich Sleeping, a drawing of my partner as he looks to me sleeping. | Source

You may wonder how joy could be an emotion so unbearable that it has to come out through artistic means. Sometimes joy can be so large it seems to press at the capacity of my mind to contain it.

I was drawing my joy onto the piece of paper before I even realized his face was rising from nothing onto the whiteness from dark lines pulled from my pencil.

The shapes and lines and shadows are derived from the way light bounces off his face while he’s sleeping but the distortion, the blurring comes from the tears prickling in my eyes with the strength of my emotion as well as my morning blurriness before I put glasses on my face.

Healing Hearts and Minds

Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul
Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul

Art therapy is widely recognized as a powerful healing tool.


The Residue of Healing Wounds

Most of the art I leave behind while healing myself through self-expression is writing. Some of it can be thought of as if it were the bullet removed from a gunshot wound and kept as a souvenir or good luck piece. Some of it can be thought of as medical research which may hold clues to healing someone else or hold warnings to prevent the spread of the particular ill that inspired it.

As I press my pain into clay or cut it into wood or stone and as I brush it onto canvas or stroke it onto paper sometimes it transforms into beauty although sometimes it just stays pain. But even when it just stays pain, it becomes pain that other people can see even if they can’t understand it.

I consider the writing linked below to be art accidentally made as a by-product of healing through self-expression.

Art as an Expression of Stories inside Me

Your Personal Best created by Kylyssa Shay
Your Personal Best created by Kylyssa Shay

The image above and the image below came from fiction stories I've written. They were drawn during the editing process in both cases. They express my feelings of what I hope those stories awake in those who read them.

Gift of the Gruldak
Gift of the Gruldak | Source

Emotions Generated by Music

Created with love at request from the singer, songwriter, and musician I love.
Created with love at request from the singer, songwriter, and musician I love. | Source

My partner asked me to create a cover for his album. So I listened to the album straight through and I drew the emotions it created in me.

This page is a work in progress. I could never finish a page with such a topic because most of my self-expression takes the form of some kind of artwork or another. I write at least a thousand times as much as I speak. I create more physical artwork (draw, paint, sculpt, design, make) than I have conversations.

© 2013 Kylyssa Shay

How Do You Feel About Art as the Footprint of Emotions?

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    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 3 years ago

      I find a lot of release of piled up emotions when I draw. Well done!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      I can understand why you create more physical artwork. I guess that's because conversation uses a lot of words, that most times have to be guarded or which can't properly express the depth of what is being felt. Whereas when expressed through something, like artwork, there's no need to hold back and one doesn't have to fight to say it correctly, it gets expressed fully and appropriately in what is being created.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 4 years ago from Louisville, KY

      It think a lot of the best art is derived from emotion. Otherwise it is just a picture.

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      Your writing and art work certainly has a feel about it that tells me it is a footprint of your emotions. Both certainly elicited emotion from me as I processed them. :)

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      I`ll be book-marking this one... great...

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I appreciate the second painting in the section "Expression of Stories" as vivid mix of the abstraction of feeling and image.

    • profile image

      Colin323 4 years ago

      The British artist, Beryl Cook, was a rather shy person - too shy to go to Buckingham Palace to collect her OBE when it was eventually awarded to her. Yet she delighted in painting extroverts having a good time. She would go to flamboyant pubs in her hometown of Plymouth where she would quietly sit, sketching on a pad concealed in her bag. She once told a journalist that she sketched larger than life characters as she wished she could be as brave publicly as them. I guess this type of catalyst art is not uncommon and a way of wish or self-fulfilment. I write about her on one of my lenses.