Art & Design Magazine

Creativity: Turn Suffering into Creative Inspiration

By Simonbrushfield @SimonBrushfield

Pain is unavoidable in life.

Human beings encounter suffering everyday on a variety of levels.

This article shows how to deal with pain and suffering in the creative life.

One of the most famous original paintings that express human suffering in modern art, is the painting below titled ‘The Scream’.

the scream edvard munch Creativity: Turn suffering into creative inspiration

‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch (1893) Oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard. 91 cm × 73.5 cm National Gallery, Oslo, Norway

Munch was a true leader of the avante-garde art scene. He approached life differently.

But as the artist grew older, Edvard Munch felt insanity slowly encroaching and infecting his mind.

His personal suffering came in a propensity towards madness.

Edvard Munch experienced painfully terrifying nightmares and evil visions of the macabre, which significantly influenced his original paintings.

He suffered a mental breakdown when the anxiety and hallucinations became overwhelmingly intense.

Point 1. The creative process of producing art has the potential power to heal mental and emotion problems.

Creativity can turn dark painful nights, into bright beautiful days, full of creative inspiration.

Moonlight over The Opera House 1024x763 Creativity: Turn suffering into creative inspiration

‘Moonlight over The Opera House’ by Simon Brushfield (2005) Oil & Acrylic on Canvas 1m x 1m (Sold: Private Acquisition)

But it takes time, creativity, perseverance and courage to face the pain, confront the core issues and then move forward with greater understanding.

When someone faces suffering and deals successfully with personal pain, their confidence and creativity flourishes.

Like Edvard Munch, after psychiatric therapy, his mental suffering began to dissipate and his original paintings returned to a positive direction.

This post shows how to turn personal pain into creative inspiration just like the giants of modern art, such as Edvard Munch, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaughin.

Point 2. Suffering helps creative people develop wisdom, strength and perseverance.

Confucius, the famous Chinese philosopher, once said there are 3 main methods by which people learn wisdom.

1. By reflection – which is the noblest
2. By imitation – which is the easiest
3. By experience – which is the most bitter

All the major religions have much to say about human suffering.

Most draw the conclusion that suffering is an inescapable fact of life.

However, if handled correctly, the rewards are great.

In fact, the Bible states that human beings are destined to suffer.

But here’s the up side…

Point 3. Sadness has a refining influence upon us.

Beautiful Day painting by Simon Brushfield 841x1024 Creativity: Turn suffering into creative inspiration

‘Bright Beautiful Day’ by Simon Brushfield (2002) Acrylic on board. 100cm x 80cm (Sold: Private acquisition)

Point 4. After a time of incubation, personal suffering can result in liberty and a passionate outburst of creative self-expression.

But we need to suffer wisely – then it becomes an empowering experience. Helping us to move forward, rather than wallowing in grief and self-pity forever.

Many great artists experience bouts of debilitating depression and melancholia like Vincent Van Gogh.

Also, the influential French artist, Paul Gaugin (1848–1903) at one point attempted suicide, due to suffering from severe bouts of hopelessness and despair.

Point 5. A wonderful truth about the creative spirit – it can flourish despite adversity.

Creativity born from personal pain can be a powerful, emotionally rich form of self-expression.

The process of working through issues to express suffering succinctly is an invaluable healing experience for artists and creative people.

Many great masterpieces in the history of art, come from the artist’s experience of suffering.

An audience can easily relate to suffering too.

Deep Confusion by Simon Brushfield Creativity: Turn suffering into creative inspiration

“Deep Confusion” by Simon Brushfield (2001) Acrylic on Canvas 50cm x 40cm Unframed $850

Michelangelo (1475–1564) also struggled with depression and serious mental illness. In fact the effects of his mental disturbance is evidenced in many of his original paintings.

Here’s what psychologists have discovered about finding relief from non-physical pain…

Point 6. Helping other people, who might be suffering more, brings miraculous healing and rejuvenation to the spirit.

Sensitive creative people need a successful strategy for dealing with suffering in their lives. Otherwise, the pain can become overwhelming.

The great modern artist Paul Cezanne once said, “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art”.

The famous Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, taught about humanities collective unconscious. He proclaimed that tapping into the unconscious adds to the richness and character of a person’s creative output.

Therefore, people understand an archetypal storyline more easily because it’s common to all of humanity. Many successful movies are developed upon this premise, because it enhances the power of a creative message.

Most people understand and have experienced before the painful feelings associated with human suffering.

Final Point: Thankfully creative people are not alone, we’re working through the difficulties of life together.

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Creativity: Turn suffering into creative inspiration
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