How to create art with your heart: a 5-step daily ritual
Wondering how to be more creative as an artist?
There are so many ways to make art, and there’s no right or wrong one. It’s all a matter of personal choice and perspective. For instance, you can make art with your subconscious, sensuality, or sense of order. But you can also create with your heart, with that sense of wonder and genuine passion for art. Like Marc Chagall, who declared:
"Picasso painted with his belly and me, I paint with my heart."
If you don’t know what to do when you’re stuck for ideas, or if you want to refresh your creative vision and expression and be more creative as an artist, then this approach might help you. Try it for yourself, observe how it impacts you, and let me know, so I can share your experience with it on my blog.
Making art with the mind
For many years I painted with my mind, with everything I learned in art school, and with a sense of outness in my head. I created from without. Therefore, my artworks were an expression of my outer self. One day I hit a huge creative block. I struggled so much with myself while I was constantly searching for a way out of the creative rut, which felt pretty much like a prison to me. Until I stopped searching and started finding. Until I dared and tried my heart’s way.
From that moment on, my artistic creativity and inspiration took literally off. I saw myself creating paintings I loved. Believe me, I was over the moon! My creative process ran so easily and smoothly: it occurred each time without the usual effort. Painting and drawing came surprisingly natural to me. I became spontaneous and uninhibited in action. I started to paint abstractly, and my palette filled itself with a range of rich, vivid colours. Yes, my artistic creativity flew and my inspiration thrived.
You can experience this state of creative abundance, too. You only need to open the door of your heart and let your mind in. Ready?
“Let’s go, no fooling around.” (Marc Chagall)
Create art with your heart
Here’s how I paint with my heart on my sleeve. This is my daily ritual. It’s a powerful practice rooted in Eastern monachism. And it doesn’t only work for Orthodox monks, but it can also work for everybody else, including you. Provided you’re willing to descend the mind into the chest where your infinite heart dwells.
The heart knows no obstruction, no artist block. The heart knows. Everything.
Step 1: Create a physical space for yourself
I start with creating a physical space for myself, where I retire for about 20 minutes of peace, and I use a no-disturbance-low-noise policy (child, husband, house pet, postman not allowed). I generally declutter a corner of my art studio, and I make myself comfortable in there.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own atelier: you can find some space in your living room or home office. Sit quietly, breathe, and secure your access to natural light, for light is life. Let yourself be nourished by it. As Margrethe Odgaard, an amazing Danish textile and colour designer says:
“Light is the energy that can lift us up and carry us forward. As humans, we’re nourished by our surroundings”.
Step 2: Make space in yourself
As I sit quietly in a corner of my art studio, I begin to feel the physical space that I inhabit. I feel it with all my senses. Then I close my eyes and gently turn inwards. I watch my mind calm down. I visualise my thoughts flowing out of my head. I move my attention from my head onto my chest. I feel my rib cage and the invisible space within it. I listen to the beating of my heart. And I witness how the space within my rib cage expands.
The natural light penetrating through my closed eyelids straight into my eyes guides me to the centre of my heart. I enter my inner space of infinite Love and artistic creativity. I come back home. And when the thoughts flow out, artistic creativity flows in. Without a shadow of a doubt.
While you sit silently in your corner, you can put on some soothing, meditative music. I often feel like listening to the Tibetan singing bowls. They affect my body and spirit in a very profound way. I'm currently looking to buy one and treat myself with the daily practice of using it.
Step 3: Invite Love in
If your chest feels empty, then kindly invite Love in. Be patient and allow it to warm your heart little by little. It won’t be long before you’ll know it’s there. As soon as you’ll start feeling its presence, you’ll notice that your mood has changed and your spirit has woken up.
When I receive and witness Love, I align with my creative Self and realise my true essence. I feel the space within me, which Love infuses with its presence. I sit with that feeling for a while. I enjoy it, and I know my mind has reached its destination: it has descended in the heart.
Step 4: Embrace Love
I go to my canvas, panel, or paper. I marvel at the beauty of my materials, tools, and colours. There’s something magic about them. I feel and express gratitude.
Like Margrethe Odgaard, I think of my colours as “energies and moods”. By their sheer presence, they have the power to create a magic atmosphere. I love to feel that atmosphere enfolding me before I put down my first paint stroke (pretty much like a pianist who listens and imagines music before it plays it on the keyboard).
Pay importance to that particular moment before you start your actual work. Be aware of that silence from which creative action emerges. Observe your breath: it stands still for a second before your brush dips in colour and it then meets the canvas or paper.
Don't hurry. There's no haste. Embrace the gift of Love, and continue to expand your heart until you'll know that time has come to put your artistic creativity in action.
Step 5: Bring Love to your art
Bring the Love you felt in your chest to your canvas. Create art from that place of Love.
Let Love guide your creative actions. And let your artistic medium work its way. Set it free.
Do not force your tools and materials into a specific direction, but work with them. Engage fully with your creative process, for the process knows its way forward. And create consistently towards greater creativity.
“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” (Marc Chagall)
I often like to begin my day with a creative exercise and that is generally doodling. This practice keeps the channel of Love open. If you'd like to know how I doodle, and how your creativity can benefit from the daily doodle practice, read my next blog post entitled "The art of doodling: a highly effective way to be more creative as an artist."
Turn inward. Live from your heart, not from your mind. Wonder, find, transform, enjoy. Then offer in return. And remember that it's not the technique, but the passion you put into your art that truly matters. This is the biggest lesson that the renowned pianist and conductor Leon Fleischer learned from his teacher, Arthur Schnabel. A priceless lesson, don't you think so?
Thank you for reading till the end.
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Recognise your pointlessness, and keep creating!
From Germany with love,
What to read next
Wondering how to paint and draw more abstractly? Read my blog post entitled "How to doodle paint: a daily practice in 3 steps to unlock your artistic creativity."