Image for post
Image for post

Image by Audrey Remnev

When I comprehended my darkness, a truly magnificent night came over me and my dream plunged me into the depths of the millennia, and from it my phoenix ascended.” Jung, The red Book

Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.” Alice Walker

Jung wrote a lot about confronting your “shadow, your darkness, and how doing so confers another dimension to you. I am familiar with the struggle to create beauty and how impossible it was for me until I admitted into my consciousness certain anti social feelings I had, like stored up anger, for instance. There were fears, there were judgements against myself and others, there was envy and there were feelings of incapacity, there was even a feeling of superiority. Letting go of all that brought the war in myself to an end. I became a conduit for a certain kind of work, using my talents in service to the beauty I can serve.

A modest but important hand to the wheel of a better world.

Maybe that’s what is meant by the term “suffering artist.” Not suffering in the sense of starving and rejected by society, but suffering the confrontation with the deeper self, the atavistic self that is hidden from the world.

In my case, there were pent up energies that were joyous physical forces that could pour into my paintings once I learned they were there and how to tap into them. In the beginning, I didn’t know how to control and direct them. They were too rough and they got out of control easily, making for chaotic, unbeautiful paintings.

Gradually, I learned to develop a dialogue with these eruptive, irrational forces so that they didn’t take over and dominate the creative process. They stayed a little wild, but I mostly managed to tame them without turning them into mannerisms.

So, Jung’s idea of the transformative act of facing one’s forbidden self entails conscious contact with a range of suppressed parts of yourself, some of which may have been suppressed simply because of growing up in a straightlaced environment.

Image for post
Image for post

Painting by me

Creativity requires the whole self, something I didn’t know when I was young. I didn’t even know a part of me was lost to my consciousness. I had to find those lost parts before I could create, because until then I was only a half self. I had talent but I lacked passion.

I imagine it’s the same for any kind of creator, including writers. Your first task is to know yourself. It’s to maintain a connection to that deeper self, to appreciate and nurture it. That’s where your truest voice will come from.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store