• Carolyn Land

Keeping Soulfulness

The merit of a painting is undefinable…in a word, it is what the spirit adds to color and line that appeals to the soul.”                                                                                                 Eugene Delacroix

Last week I addressed people who thought they were not “creative” or were having difficulty getting into their creative side. I listed exercises one could do to develop that side of their brain or get back into being creative after years of pursuing other things, or just for the purpose of enhancing their lives. I stressed the importance of being creative and how it can enrich us, improve our brain health, and reduce stress.

I was reading an article online this week. The author used a term he heard from Liz Haywood-Sullivan, which I remember hearing her use when I took a course from her years ago… “my soul work”. If we are really lucky in life, we have a job that brings us joy and satisfaction.  It is our “soul work”.  However, many of us do not have that kind of job. We have not spent our lives following our passion, but worked to make a living, raise a family, and save for a comfortable retirement. We let our creative side deteriorate and now need to re-develop it.

Pastel painting by FL artist Carolyn land

“Sun’s Up”                      Pastel over Watercolor


Artists, for the the most part, start out doing their “soul work” and get great satisfaction out of what they do. We sometimes get blocked and need a few exercises to get us back on the creative path, but for the most part, we who have chosen to follow a creative path and have kept our creative side alive, have incorporated it into every aspect of our lives. It is a need we have…a passion.

But, even for those us who are able to make a living doing what we love and are passionate about it, reality gets in the way.  It is called the “business of art”, or for that matter the business side of any “soul work”. That process of “getting ourselves out there”: selling, marketing, finding galleries, venues to show off our work, keeping up with social media, acknowledging collectors and patrons, and keeping our name and face alive in the “art business world”.  Chances are good that when we get really bogged down with this aspect of this “soulful business”, something gets lost and it starts to suck the joy from our bones and our creativity suffers.

How do we keep that from happening?  One way is to take a break and assess the reasons you are doing what you are doing. Set priorities.  Ask yourself what is most important to you, and where is it you want to go…your goal?  Make a list.  Seeing things in writing helps us put it all together.   Another way is that nonnegotiable time you set aside for yourself to be creative, which I wrote about last week. We can’t  allow anything to take that time away.  If we feel frazzled by the business side and pressure mounts, its time to reassess. We don’t want to lose our soulfulness and have our work suffer.

“Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.”      Pablo Picasso

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