Art for Art Sake

Despite the deeply impacting issues of Covid, the pandemic offered beneficial opportunities. The silence, stillness, the avoidance of close contact and communication offered calm, allowing me to go to deeper levels of introspection. I discovered a burgeoning creativity that surfaced organically from my stillness.  I began to express myself through paint and in writing unconventional poetry.  Some of the eccentricity within my work arose from an internal permission to not follow traditions and existing patterns in art and literature and to become radical, provocative and to shock.  Through the introspection a deep part of me had been liberated, seizing the opportunity from within the time, space, and stillness.  Juxtaposed with the beauty of non-judgement and interference of people around me.  I was able to observe my emotions, physical sensations, and behavioural responses to become aware of things that were not in my conscious.  I translated whatever came up into colour, landscapes, shapes, whimsical designs, and human form.

A not so eccentric piece!

All art is plagiarised Paul Gauguin tells us and so gives permission for us to be inspired to have a go at what we see and that which resonates inside of us.  Artists learn from artists.

Allain de Botton in his fabulous book Art as Therapy (2013) questions the whole purpose of art and argues that its purpose is weakened by the way it is taught, sold, and presented by the art establishments.  Art is out of reach for many, and with a diluted purpose it is not admired or desired and therefore becomes ever more unreachable and unwanted.  De Botton reinforces what counsellors believe: art could be seen as a therapeutic medium to help guide and console the viewer with psychological frailties such as memories, hopefulness, sorrow, and self-understanding.  Art is judged upon being good or bad depending on its ability to visually console, resonate, inspire, provoke, or pull us in.  Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. 

I am offering this as an explanation of my next point, the more important one for this essay – and that is one of creativity.  If we see art as something belonging to the elite, the clever; the weird, the bohemian; or quite frankly those criticised for being off their head such as Emin’s confessional art The Unmade Bed – we are never going to see art as belonging to us.  And so, art and creativity become irrelevant to our lives.  

Sidenote: if you consider Emin’s work as a merely visual piece you have every right to question it.  If you look deeper and towards the artist behind it, their state of mind, their process, the choice of material and the message, art really does become a thought-provoking resource.

It is a lovely compliment to have one’s art admired and praised, but this is not the purpose for doing it.  To say “you are so creative, I love your art” is a wonderful thing. As wonderful as saying you breathe so beautifully.  Believe it or not creativity is innate in all of us, just as breathing is. It is not outside of us just as breathing is not.  The courage to try however seems to be something that can be externalised and pushed away.  Creativity is innate and is expressed in the way you live.  Everyone is figuring out in creative ways how to make life more pleasurable and for some I know, they have a creative strategy for surviving and staying alive.   

Living is a creative process.  In these unprecedented and chaotic times, you may have started to notice that life is not static or linear and predictable.  Life is a process of constant change and growth, or retreat and decline.  When you recognise this, and accept it as a truth, you gain power of your canvas, your landscape, the medium and the resources you need.  You are able to create your own reality.  Through honest exploration and self-understanding, with or without a counsellor, you can connect with your own creative energy and allow permission for that to manifest in any way that is possible for you. 

Pay attention to your vitality through the lens of being creative and resourceful and your life does become a piece of art. Embrace uncertainty as a certainty. Life ebbs and flows, spirals and meanders about. It is the lack of trust in this that causes fear and stifles creative living. Review the patterns of your life and acknowledge that when you needed to, you pulled upon a creative strategy to overcome. Creativity requires you to engage in each of your experiences fully – to explore your process, your choice of colour and medium and your whole process that allows you to arrive at your finished piece. Your own piece of art is unique to you, and unlike any piece of art, it cannot be plagiarised.

What inspires you?

Where are you being creative in your life? Can you look at your life from a creative lens?

Who are you when you are being you?

The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and Creative Awakenings by Sheri Gaynor do not intend to teach you how to paint.  Both are useful roadmaps for manifesting your dreams and to live life creatively.

What is art and creativity?  What is the purpose of it for you?  

Kathy Ellis July 2021


  1. Nicky says:

    A wonderful article, Kathy. So vital to have the space to reflect, but usually too difficult with so much noise and distraction – in fact, while I’m writing this, I have the radio on, two dogs scrounging my lunch and three children in and out!
    Covid has made me appreciate simple pleasures even more, it has taught me patience (although still a work in progress) and I’ve discovered a way of expression through poetry which has also been a form of therapy.
    We’re so conditioned to seek validation from outside, we forget we can be creative just for ourselves or that we are even creative in the first place.
    By the way, I do love your Art 💕



    1. Lots of creativity going on there Nicky, even if it us keeping the dogs off your lunch. I think that’s a good point about external validation and being conditioned to it. It’s only valuable if someone else validates it.


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