How Art Can Heal a Broken Heart or Ground You in Uncertain Times
By Thea Fiore-Bloom, Ph.D.
The first time I saw the young woman with the harlequin-patterned rain boots my heart jumped out to her.
She seemed overwhelmed, pale, burdened, stressed.
I was on my way out for a run and she was walking 2 short dogs in the tall grass near my house.
We ended up talking. She told me she was in the seventh month of a rough marital separation that was set off by a betrayal she found out about.
I could relate. I had gone through the same face down gravel drag myself years ago.
But after that day we talked I never saw her out there again for weeks. At least a month went by before she resurfaced.
And then there she was again on the same grassy knoll except now she looked more like Botticelli’s Venus. She was pink, not pale. Tall not burdened, and smiling, not stressed.
Was it the same woman?
‘Okay, I told myself before I waved back to her, ‘It has to be her; those are the same short dogs and the same tall boots.
But what miraculous thing could have happened in just four weeks to transform her into this radiant being?’
What Happened To Ms. Harlequin Boots?
Was it because she fought for and won a killer settlement?
Or maybe a new love had flown down into her life?
Well, what did happen?
Turns out Harlequin Boots was an artist; an artist who understandably stopped making art when things hit the fan.
But four weeks ago, right after the time I happened to talk with her, she chose to slam the brakes on her downward spiral by following her intuition.
She told me she opted not to do the traditional therapy thing.
Instead, she decided to make some kind of art again, every day. Even if it was a simple swoosh of watercolor on paper. Even if it killed her.
She was hoping it would help her come back home to herself and be more present for her two young boys.
So Ms. Harlequin Boots started getting out of bed at 5:00 in the morning instead of 6:00 so she could produce at least one painting before her kids got up.
But it had been so long, what should she paint?
The Harlequin Boots Method To Heal a Broken Heart
“The first morning, the first watercolor… I just let go and made an eye. It was a HUGE eye. Very basic. And REALLY, REALLY angry,” she laughed.
And that angry eye made her feel better than she had in months.
“But it was still so hard to start each day, said Harlequin Boots. “I tried to do anything but the art at first. I would even tackle vacuuming to put off painting them.”
Yet she pushed herself each morning to make another eye and another.
It got easier.
And the eyes evolved in their depth and intricacy.
Harlequin Boots painted different eyes depending on her emotional weather.
There were thinking eyes, sad eyes, radiant eyes, and dead eyes.
But when a happy-ish eye slipped in she knew something was shifting.
It was right about then the irises in her painted eyes started to sprout life; tiny figures began to dance across their once placid surfaces.
The eyes got taped on a wall of their very own.
“My sons love the eye project now but they did kinda got freaked out about at first – mostly by the angry eyes. I don’t blame them, there’s a lot of angry eyes up there.”
How Art Can Heal Your Broken Heart
I share Harlequin Boot’s story with you for three reasons.
1. Because I think she’s awesome and I learned a lot from her.
2. Because she said I could.
3. And three, because it reminded me of something I bet you knew already that I just figured out. And that is this: art can heal a broken heart.
Well, Harlequin Boots says it best: “The daily painting heals me because it gives me forty-five minutes a day of God connection.”
Art that connects us to spirit can not only help heal a broken heart it can also be a balm for many different kinds of devastating losses that break our hearts.
For example, Charmed Studio subscriber Donna Wocher chose to use art to support herself emotionally after the sudden death of her beloved dog Ketchup.
“I had stopped making art by then,” said Wocher. “And the one buddha a day project allowed me to return something valuable to myself that I had lost — my creative sense of self.”
(Wocher’s post 30 Buddhas in 30 Days explains how she used the 30-day model to help deal with her shock, loss, and grief and how you can as well.)
It occurred to me today that art, (daily painting, in particular) is healing when we are trying to live through any hailstorm of fear and loss.
Like, say, a quarantine.
I think focusing on painting one eye a day, or one buddha a day, or one milagro a day or one space alien a day, for thirty days might be one of the best ways to come home to oneself during an unsettling time like we’re living through right now.
Of course, you need not confine yourself to one painting a day to help you stay grounded and open-hearted this month. Many forms of art can heal a broken heart.
You could do one meaningful journaling prompt a day or even one dance a day.
In as little as 15 minutes a day, you can create some peace within. Which you can then lovingly give out to help folks who depend on you in your family, in your community, and in your world.
I can spare fifteen minutes, right?
I figure I can always get back to spending the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the rest of each day panicking, making hand sanitizer from scratch (oh yes, I have) and generally freaking out instead of helping people in real need.
How To Heal A Broken Heart or Stay Grounded in Uncertain Times with Daily Painting
Are you familiar with daily painting?
If not, listen to the story of Carol Marine founder of The Daily Paint Works on this episode of the Savvy Painter Podcast.
Or peek inside Marine’s book Daily Painting. Find out where this down-to-earth artist finds inspiration for her daily paintings, the techniques involved, and the best ways for you to sell your own daily paintings online.
Do you have a daily painting practice?
If so how has it helped you?
If you gave yourself the gift of doing one quick painting a day to help anchor yourself for the next four weeks what might the subject be?
I would love to hear if you relate to How Art Can Heal A Broken Heart or let me know your thoughts on daily painting, heartbreak, or the impacts of the Coronavirus on you as an artist in the COMMENTS below.