Hello February! It’s officially the “month of love” but I will be honest: I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. I have always found it a bit contrived. This year, though, I decided to use the spirit of love that comes with this season and apply it in a way that feels more authentic and I am really excited to share that with you.
When you think of love, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A significant other? Cheesy rom-com movies we all love to hate? Maybe someone you’ve been interested in for a while? Of course, romantic love is important and a huge part of our lives, something we should celebrate all year if we find ourselves in a romantic relationship. But whether you have a significant other or not, I want to shift your attention this month to another type of love. A kind of love that’s arguably more important than romance. A kind of love that, if lacking, will manifest its absence in all aspects of our lives. If you haven’t guessed where I’m going with this, I will tell you: self-love.
If you really think about it, self-love is a form of self-care. I have talked before about how important it is that we take care of ourselves as people, how self-care protects our process, enables our productivity, and keeps us focused on what we love about what we do. As artists, we can’t create interesting art without loving our unique selves. Our uniqueness is what brings life to our art! Our authenticity is what draws people to it.
Think about art you find yourself gravitating toward. A poem, a song, a painting. Why does it appeal to you? What makes you feel connected to it? On the surface, it could be something as simple as a rhythm, a catchy beat or a pretty color. But look deeper and you’ll see that the truly interesting art always highlights the human experience. By drawing upon wants, needs, pains or struggles, artists create work that is an embodiment of themselves. It often requires them to be vulnerable. They have to dig deep in order to draw out that experience and allow it to manifest into whatever art form they choose. Vulnerability is always appealing in art because it is truth and truth has a way of pulling people in.
Here’s are some examples:
“Movimento 5” (2017) – By Isabella Nazzarri
“Sunset” (1972) – By Andy Warhol
“The Last Party” (2020) – By Inka Essenhigh
This artwork is obviously visually stunning (I find myself really drawn to the color choices in all 3), but as is often the case with true beauty, it’s much deeper than what first meets the eye. The first painting by Isabella Nazzari really evokes a sense of chaos and confusion. I connect to it because many times, my internal being feels this way. I’m sure some of you can relate. The second painting by Andy Warhol reminds me of sunsets in Turkey growing up. It’s very nostalgic and almost transports me back to that time and place. I can remember exactly how I felt watching those sunsets. And finally, I connect with the 3rd painting by Inka Essenhigh because I think it beautifully portrays a human’s need for belonging. At the end of the day, we are all trying to form connections with one another and this painting reminds me of that. The magic of art like this is that it can help you convey a feeling, emotion, or experience in a way that you are often unable to with words. Think about how powerful that is.
While we’re on the subject of truth, I would be remiss if I didn’t use this opportunity to remind you of your obligation to be true to yourself. As creative individuals, we sometimes fall into the trap of overcomplicating things, of letting ourselves be bogged down with the expectations of others. The best way to combat this is to check in with ourselves regularly and be sure that we’re doing what makes us happy, not what we think others want to see.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Focusing on loving ourselves, wholly and without reservation, is what allows us to fill that cup and to pour into our work as well as our relationships. For the next month, I am going to dive deep into self-love and I invite you to join me. I want you to stay in touch with your own happiness. Let yourself connect with your deepest feelings and allow them to guide you as you create, wherever they may lead. This investment in yourself cannot be overstated. Self-love is not selfish. I genuinely believe that true self-love is the best thing we can do to support our creativity. Keep an eye out for a special post coming this weekend detailing an exciting challenge I’m sharing for the coming week.