“I paint to let my soul know I am listening.” That’s a comment a friend posted on one of my social media pages in response to one of my blog posts. I’ve seen her work, and its beautiful and unique. It brings me joy just looking at it, probably because my soul can feel the joy she felt when she was creating it.
We’ve all had the experience of going to a concert by one of our favorite singers and feeling surprisingly unmoved. When our friends ask about the concert, we express our disappointment by saying, “You could tell their heart wasn’t in it.”
You might have had the experience, too, of visiting an art gallery when your heart wasn’t in it, rushing through so you could get to the café, and being stopped in your tracks by a piece of art that reached out and grabbed you by the soul. Conversely, you might have gone to an exhibit by a famous artist with high expectations and left feeling unaffected. No meeting of the souls there, at least not for you. But what about the person standing next to you?
The fact is, every living artist has created a work half-heartedly. Maybe they were struggling to meet a deadline, maybe they took the job just for the money, maybe they’ve grown tired of a certain style but their audience or promoters won’t let them move on. And most of the time, we, their fans, can tell.
Putting your soul into your work doesn’t always mean your art should elicit joy. If your soul is hurting, your colors may be dark, your lines harsh. Your soul tells us your pain is real, and we feel it. We recognize it, because we’ve felt it too.
There are so many reasons we don’t produce art from our souls; we’re afraid of hurting someone, of being judged, of being labeled, of “getting lost” in our own emotions, or of deluding ourselves. We’re afraid we won’t be understood, or that our soul’s art will never make us money or bring us fame.
But you can only say no to your soul for so long without compromising your art. All art is about growth. A love song, a play about abuse, a humorous memoir about parenting, a photograph of mourners at a funeral, they’re all about growth.
The desire to create art is our soul’s call to stop and notice what’s causing us to grow; a person, an experience, a triumph, a heartache, a lesson, a love. The pursuit of art is our answer to that call. The question today is, are you listening?
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