Life and art have much in common.  Life is vital, alive and in constant flux, requiring that we continuously make conscious choices. We can create our life by basing our choices on our current goals, priorities, values and personal philosophy. Of course, as we age we change, and our choices also will change with it.

We must maintain self-awareness so that we don’t make choices out of habit, but based on our current perspectives. 

It is much easier to keep repeating what is easy and familiar. Recently I completed a new memoir: Painting Life: My Spiritual Journey Through Trauma (coming out this November.)  I also feel fairly “done” with a series of drawings. So now I must decide on a new creative project, by considering what best reflects who I am right now.  

Likewise,  I have to continuously re-evaluate whether all of my life choices – how much I work as a therapist, what books I read, what form of exercise I do, or how much time and energy I spend each day in my studio – are reflecting the current Me.

Once we make our choices, we need to constantly check in with ourselves.  Does that choice reflect who I am now? Evaluating our lives, as well as our art, is hard for it requires discernment.

Once I complete a new piece of art, I decide what works as opposed to what I would like to change and why. I do this not in a judgmental, critical way, but with discernment. The same is true when we are creating our lives.

Discernment is very different from judgment, which feels critical. Discernment comes from a place of self-awareness, and helps when making conscious choices.

Judgment sounds like:

I hate this, or, I’m wasting my time. 

Discernment sounds like:

          This choice doesn’t represent who I am now. I need to try ----.  

          I love what I am doing, but it drains me, so next time I will alter -----.

Life and art intersect when one nurtures and feeds the other – when they are in sync.  

Pablo Picasso says, "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  I would add that the purpose of life is to feed and inform our art.  In both life and art it is best to wash off the dust and ditch the things we have created that are neither benefiting us, nor representative who we are now.

We must let go of some of the things crowding our life and decide which ones to keep.  I once had a acupuncturist tell me that my problem was that I could create something in my mind in a nanosecond, but I forget that it may take months to complete it. Then, when I can’t find the time or energy to do it, I get angry with myself. I feel as though I have failed. What I also forget is that:

I must eliminate one element, for another to enter into my life – as well as my art.

Recently I saw a beautiful documentary, “Music with Strangers”, a story of Yo-Yo Ma’s work with musicians around the world.  It is a powerful example of the creative intersection of life and art.

Watch this trailer to see why: