Photo caption: Sometimes, your art inspiration can be the art you create. Pegasus by Elli Milan.
It’s no secret that as culture warriors, we believe that art is the most powerful thing on the planet. It has the power to move you, to shape you, to make your life better. And at no time is such power more important than when we face dark times.
Unfortunately, finding inspiration for another painting, for another drawing, for another book or film or dance number can be difficult when darkness strikes.
And while we generally look at life’s difficulties through a lens of positivity, it doesn’t mean that we don’t see and experience dark times. We do. Our students do. The people we care about do.
Here’s the truth, though. We have realized that creativity and fear cannot really coexist. Creativity and sadness cannot really coexist. In order to find the inspiration to keep making art, an artist must find a way out of his or her internal darkness.
Milan Art Institute founder Elli Milan sat down with Jake Dunn and Miranda Gamel for the Milan Art Institute’s Podcast, Light Movement. She talked with them about the dark times in their lives and the things they did to overcome them. (This is part one of a two-part blog series.)
Elli: Jake, you’ve experienced some really difficult things, and even now that you’re on the other side of things, do you find every once in a while that this darkness from your past tries to revisit you and that you have to kind of battle it even still?
Jake: I would say definitely. Obviously, you find ways to get around the darkness and even over time, the dark things aren’t the dark things you once thought it was.
For me, for example, one of the things that really plagued me in my teenage years was that my brother passed away. And so obviously, that is not something that is a happy event.
It really hurt for a long time, and you know, it still hurts today, obviously. It’s not something that you just get over. Every time I think of him, it revisits me, like even right now, thinking about him, it’s hard.
But creativity has helped so much, because it’s a way to get to know myself better. And by just focusing on the positive things, the darkness can’t exist in the presence of light. So by using all the creative gifts and by being creative, when the dark things that try to resurface over time, they don’t have nearly as big of a voice.
Elli: And how would you say that all that you’ve been through with your brother has inspired your art? Or has it inspired your art?
Jake: I would say it has for sure inspired me. Probably the biggest way it has inspired me is that it has inspired me to just live my best life and to really make the most out of every moment and to really appreciate the life we’ve been given.
And I think that the best way to do that is to create, and so it has inspired me in my creativity. It has not only inspired me to create, but it has had a huge impact on my voice as an artist and what I strive to put out there in the world.
As you know, what I try to communicate through my art is that darkness can’t stand in the presence of light. Light is so much more powerful than darkness.
And everybody has light within them, no matter how dark of a place you come from, so the trauma I’ve experienced because of my brother has helped me to discover that. It kind of plays into the superpower thing. It’s all kind of related.
Elli: So, do you think that art has the capacity to create new pathways in the mind to facilitate other ways of thinking?
Jake: I think creating art is the most powerful way to do that. It’s the most powerful way to really get to know yourself, because when you start creating art, you’ll understand yourself better in ways you didn’t even know. For example, all of the personal symbols you use in your art and what you choose to paint show you who you are.
This is the end of part one. Come back tomorrow to read how artist Miranda Gamel deals with the times of darkness in her life.
Listen to the whole podcast on SoundCloud.
Caravaggio: Lighting a Dark World
Inspiration for Artists: 5 Tips for Finding Your Creative Groove
The Positive Effects Art on the Brain