HOW MONET TAUGHT US IT'S OKAY TO FEEL.
Oscar-Claude Monet. I think I’m right in saying, that we often think of beautiful oil scenes, waterlilies, sailboats, ponds, flowers. Monet was the father of Impressionist painting. He documented countryside and landscapes by painting the same scenes over and over again as he sought to capture color and the passing of the seasons.
Like many artists before and after him, he met rejection. Critics often didn’t like his use of color or light. But what you might not know of him is the simple fact that Monet dealt with depression.
We’ll get to that later.
Monet painted exactly what he saw. However the light was landing on the subject, he painted it. However it moved or passed through time, he painted it. Many artists of his time copied the work of painters before them, but Monet was original. He learned not by painting other’s work, but by creating his own.
He sought after the truth of what he saw around him. By trying to understand and feel the effects of lighting and the color of his subjects, he was constantly in search of new and improved ways of expression.
He was constantly aware of his surroundings and his feelings towards his surroundings. He felt so much because he was so in touch with the world around him.
Criticism hurt him deeply, the loss of his first wife struck him to his core and he struggled with feelings of not being good enough and in a sense, being a waste.
But he pushed through. He knew these feelings were okay. It was okay to feel hurt, because on the flip side, his deep feelings helped him see the world in vibrant, beautiful lights and colors.
This doesn’t mean you need to be depressed in order to make and create to your fullest, heck no. But it does mean, that sadness is okay.
Capture the passing of seasons.
This doesn’t mean you have to paint a tree losing it’s leaves, or write a poem about the whiteness of the snow on the ground, though you totally can!
What I mean by this is, whatever season of life you’re in; loss, grief, celebration, change, new beginnings, capture it. Make it a part of your work.
The life we live is so important to who we are and what our art is, so capture it. Even if it’s anxiety or sadness, let it bleed into your making.
“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” -Monet
I know. You’ve heard that about a million times. But it is so, so important. We must be ourselves when it comes to making. We must stay true to the soul of who we are.
Trying to be something that we aren’t only kills our creativity. Maker, YOU have so much value. YOUR work is beautiful. Why? Because YOU made it. Not anyone else. YOU.
“I didn't become an impressionist. As long as I can remember I always have been one.”
Be aware of everything around you. Don’t let a moment pass before you without finding it’s meaning. A tip, bring a small journal with you everywhere you go and jot down the interesting things you see or hear
Heard an amusing piece of dialogue? Write it down. Do the barren trees covered in snow remind you of ribcages? Write it down.
Make the world your pallet and pull things from it to put into your art.
“No one is an artist unless he carries his picture in his head before painting it, and is sure of his method and composition.” -Monet
It’s okay to hurt.
I think I can speak for a lot of creatives when I say that because of my creativity, I also struggle with self-doubt, anxiety and even sometimes, well no, most times, depression. Real, solid, tangible depression. It’s because we feel so much.
As creatives, we are constantly feeling, constantly taking in the things around us, which we should. But sometimes we take in too much. Sometimes we see things or feel things that we don’t want to. Or that hurt us.
Other people's words or actions tend to hurt us deeply, more than usual, because we love too much. We cherish too much. We feel too much. And while it’s totally a good thing, it also can be something we battle with.
And it is OKAY. It is okay to hurt. It is okay to feel.
Because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be who we are. We wouldn’t be us.
One night, while crying and apologizing for my depression, anxiety and lack of trust, my husband wrapped me up in his arms and told me it was all okay. That he wouldn’t change a thing about me. Because if I didn’t feel all the things, my creativity wouldn’t be the same.
Guys, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel. Don’t ever let anyone else shame you into thinking differently.
“I'm continuing to work hard, not without periods of discouragement, but my strength comes back again.”
Teagan Olivia Sturmer is a maker and published author currently living in Nashville, TN. She believes that more people should enjoy the simple pleasures of matching pajama sets, hot tea and a good book. She makes and writes because it grounds her and gives her a sense of belonging. If she could have her way, it would always be Autumn and Winter, and always Christmas. You can find her work on Etsy at Muted Rose Mercantile, and on Instagram @teaganolivia