Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Creating Art with your Whole Heart

Yesterday I read a wonderful blog post from Karen Walrond, author of The Beauty of Different. In it, she talks about heartbreak, and a philosophy that comes from another author, Brené Brown. Brené, she says, tells her she can't be selectively numb. We have to feel both the good and the bad. We need to lead wholehearted lives.

Whole hearted.
Whole heart.

I've written before about following my heart. The only way I know how to truly create, is from my heart. My best work, whether it's writing or photography, starts in the heart. It's a feeling I've learned to recognize and follow. Like this morning, with this post. It came from that place of heart.

I didn't always recognize this feeling or know how to follow it. That has come over time, as I've unmuffled the feelings of my heart along my creative journey. You see, in order to avoid facing any pain or darkness in my life, I had numbed myself to the good as well as the bad. It makes so much sense looking back now, that when I was willing to accept both the light and the dark in me, I was also finding and owning my voice as an artist.

We can't have wholeness without dimension. In art, that means light and shadows on a surface, which create a three dimensional form out of two dimensional shapes. In our lives, that means light and shadows in our soul, which create the depth and dimensions of a person. For our best work, we have to come to our art with a whole heart. In order to do that, we have to come at our lives with a whole heart first. We have to unmuffle the tiny voice inside ourselves, so that we can hear both the good and the bad messages. We have to be willing to accept what we hear, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, so that we can learn from it and bring it to our art.

As I think through this, I'm realizing that living with a whole heart is an important key to claiming your artist. When you claim yourself an artist, you put yourself out in a public way, saying, "Here I am world, look what I create!" You open yourself up to the possibility of criticism or rejection. You open yourself to the bad stuff, the stuff you might want to avoid. In this way, not claiming your artist is a form of self-protection. A way to shield your heart from any pain. But in doing so, your heart is muffled and numbed. You won't be able to hear the good messages either. Your art and your ability to create your best work will be affected.

Today, take a quick look at the status of your heart. Are you living with a whole heart? Do you allow the dimension that comes from light and shadow? Are you protecting yourself from potential hurt and pain and in the process numbing yourself to your heart's good messages? If you're having trouble claiming your artist, maybe this is a good place to start. It's certainly been an important point for me to ponder, to reaffirm the desire and acceptance of living with a whole heart, because I want to hear that little voice inside that leads me to create from my heart.


  1. What a wonderful post and very timely for me too. I have my ups and downs in creativity. Lately, I feel so uninspired or I thought I just can't find anything artistic enough. I realize that I have numbed my feelings and as you very much aptly put it into lead "wholehearted lives". I am hiding in my cocoon and shielding my heart from pain. I should embrace it and let it go...something that is a work in progress. Thank you for this inspiring post.

  2. Beautiful post Kat! Love your cracked heart photo too, the perfect image.

    Reading Brene Brown's books have had a major impact on me. Although I'm just starting to understand shame and perfectionism in her terms, it's making a huge difference in how I try interact with other creatives. Imagine how amazing it could be if we would all practice compassion with one another!

    Maybe I should take a second to say how grateful I am for you and your blog as well. I don't always have time to comment but I have loved your generous posts full of expertise. I think my photography is improving thanks to you!

    Hugs from germany,

  3. Excellent post, Kat -- you totally fleshed out what Brené talks about. Thanks so much for the shout-out!


  4. A beautiful, inspiring post which is so obviously coming from your heart. Thank you so much.

    How did you find the perfect image for this?

  5. Reading your blog made me think about some of the things I've been reading about Buddhism lately. I think it's to do with stopping wishing life/the world/other people/you were other than they are when it's not possible to do so. Not accepting things as they are is a way of avoiding life as it is and missing all the wonderfulness.

  6. Love this post Kat. Lovely and needed food for thought. It's funny, I didn't really see the image until after I read the words....a perfect match.

  7. Thanks Kat, I needed that today.

  8. What a beautiful and inspiring post, Kat! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  9. I've been thinking a lot about these kinds of things this year. This was a beautiful post from your heart. Thanks for sharing. :)

  10. I love this post! My mom and I had a conversation over the weekend on a similar subject - she hates listening to songs that bring her sad feelings, while I love listening to sad songs. For me, those sad songs (books, show) give me moments to feel those bluer emotions - and I do believe to be the best people we can be we have to feel our world and our lives with our whole heart.

  11. Thank you! Beautiful post, beautiful photo!

  12. And of course...your insight and your honesty touches me so deeply. I have just recently discovered how much of my heart I have guarded from loved ones. My love for the Lord and what he means to me is such a huge part of who I am and when I don't share that love with my husband or my close family members I hold back from them. I worry about judgment or not being accepted and therefore don't allow feelings for them to be fully what they could be. Both light and dark need to be felt and experienced to make us whole. I am opening myself in a whole new way and thus my creativity is also opening up in new ways. I love your blog and this post. You are an amazing woman with an amazing view and eye. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us!

  13. Surely a lot here to think about Kat!
    Wonderful post!

  14. Ah, two of my favourite women, highlighted by another of my favourites. :)

    I love the term wholehearted - it struck such a chord with me when I first read Brené's book - such a simple yet completely definitive term for how to live life.


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