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Art and Emotion - How they are linked, and how to control it

Updated: May 3, 2021

Art and emotion are intrinsically linked, going all the way back to our predecessors. How does art trigger emotion, and how can you use that to bring yourself into a healthier mindset?

Creating and having art around your home is so important to our mental wellbeing because it feeds our soul. Art probably influences you every single day, without you even realising it! Pictures of happy memories or the people you love, little pieces of art, shells or driftwood you picked up from that holiday that always makes you smile, macaroni art from your children… they all act as constant triggers of happy memories and good times - and the best part is you get to choose which happy memories you're reminded of!

Something I try to focus on every day is gratitude and fulfilment. In our busy everyday lives - and in especially trying times for everyone, like right now - we can lose sight of how much good we have in our lives, and how much we have to be grateful for. Having these constant triggers around you helps remind you of this, and like a drip effect, will have a positive impact on your state of mind.

I also get a deep sense of pride when I’m looking through the various creations my children have made, (I keep it all!) and if they see it, they’re proud too. Parents will keep everything their children have drawn or painted or created - I even had a scribbled circle hanging on the wall for ages, because it triggers those emotions for me! When I see photos of my children and the painting I did in my very first house with my husband, they trigger that feeling of such joy.

Something I hear a lot from my photography clients is the way their pictures of their special moments ~ pictures of their newborn, their wedding day or even their cheeky boudoir images ~ trigger some of their happiest memories, and how much it lifts their soul up to have a constant reminder of these happy moments on their walls, desks or mantelpieces.

Whatever emotion your art is triggering, it connects us back to that memory, that time and place, and how you felt at that moment, and I think that's so important for our mental health. It's important to live in the present and keep an eye to the future, but not without having deep gratitude for the times and places that got you there. There is always something to be grateful for in our lives, and it’s so much easier to focus on that when you can see physical proof of it.

When you're creating art, too, you're taking what you feel in your heart and soul - things that can't always be explained or communicated with words - and you're laying it all bare on a canvas or piece of paper, or whatever it is you create your art on. It can be very therapeutic, and I often find it helps me sort through the jumble of my emotions.

In fact, art and the link it has to our emotions runs much deeper than just "I like how that piece looks." It links back to our hunter-gatherer days, when our ancestors would use what they could see to decide how they should feel. Large, bright, open spaces would make them feel much calmer than dark, stuffy, shadowy areas, because they were less at risk the further they could see. Humans feel the same way when they look at pieces of art with lots of space and bright colours, and tend to feel more anxious when viewing darker, grittier artworks.

This is actually a great way to get a handle on how you're feeling: sit down to do some art - which colours do you instinctively reach for? Are they darker? Lighter? Do you want to paint big shapes, or smaller ones? Make a conscious effort to create something bright, and you'll be surprised at how much calmer you'll feel.

I really hope this has given you some insight into how art can trigger our emotions and how you can interpret how you’re feeling through art.

If you’re buzzing to create some art, you can check out all of my live studio and online classes.

Creative ME Workshops are finally back and running again… I’ve been so looking forward to this since the announcement that things are opening back up! The first ones were the kids classes - Let’s Create, and the Co-Create (a class for you to do with your kids, a great bonding session), both great fun and really beneficial to nurturing children’s creative streaks. Adults classes are coming from 17th May, and I’ll update you all with specific dates closer to the time - so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!

I look forward to seeing you - old and new friends alike - in my shop or studio in the coming weeks, whether you’re there to browse, buy or just have a chat.

Talk soon!

Emma x

P.S. While passing by the shop, be sure to come and find me to have a chat about all things art and creativity. I love seeing new faces, so don’t be shy!

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