Self Expression through Art

Picasso Self Portrait

Picasso Self Portrait

As of late, I have been caught in state of unrest, unable to stay focused for too long. There is this great need to retreat into a place of Zen. Obligations put aside, I would pack a little suitcase and retreat into a Tibetan monastery to chant and to rediscover my true self and emerge energized and at peace. Mid-life crises, too much stress, artistic blue-period? God knows, but I thought why not explore this subject a bit more and see how self-expression in art has helped others to overcome whatever ails them.

Early Symbolism work by Enzie Shahmiri

Early Symbolism work by Enzie Shahmiri

The painter Adrian Hill mentioned the term of art therapy for the first time while working with people ill with tuberculosis in 1938. Since then, various art forms have been used for the treatment and rehabilitation of people who suffer from physical and emotional problems.

Is a painting no more than a piece of paper with lines and color or is it more than that? In the hands of the master painter, who is painting in the spirit; the lifeless piece of paper with its lines and colors, is transformed into a creation that has life, just as the master creator gave life to his creation. The painter transmits the essence of his spirit to his creation, the “painting.”
A painting is the expression of the heart and soul; it transmits cultural messages and the mysteries of the universe. It is born out of the desire of the artist to represent the forms of nature and man through the spirit of the artist as he perceives his world.
An artist not only captures the forms of nature, the artist’s spirit interacts with the spirit of the animals or men he is painting. His painting captures both the spirit and the message of its subject. One can see it in the expression, the eyes, and the gestalt of the painting. All good paintings communicate an emotion or message to the observer. It might be a message of love, harmony or tranquility; or it might be a message of danger, fury, or sadness. It could be a lesson, or something that all of us as humans can identify with, such as a desire to be loved.
The painting as art served ancient peoples as a medium to purify and refine the human spirit. The well studied and observant artist through his own meditation gives life to the animated states, feelings, and spiritual essence of the animals and humans he paints. The purification or refinement of the observer’s spirit occurs through the inspired artist’s ability to communicate the subject’s (man or animal): spirit, animation, feelings, thoughts, and the scene or stage of the subject, with all of its colors and form.
Copyright: © 2004 by Ernesto Apomayta

When looking at the art work of Frida Kahlo or Edvard Munch you get a sense that these artists gave a voice to their internal and external troubles by releasing their feelings through their art and confronting their troubles straight on. The purpose of these paintings is not for financial gain but purely for finding a voice for that which can not be said. The emotional connection comes from deep within and acts as a release as well as an aid to overcome obstacles and move on.

Frieda Kahlo Painting

Frieda Kahlo Painting

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best." -Frida Kahlo who suffered from childhood polio and suffered great injuries from a bus accident.

The Scream by Munch

The Scream by Munch

Munch wrote: "I inherited two of mankind's most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity—illness and madness and death were the black angels that stood at my cradle."

When analyzing paintings it is also interesting to note the color choices made by the artist.

Symbolism of Colors


symbolizes heat, energy and blood. It alludes to emotions of anger, passion and love


combines the energy of red together with the happiness of yellow. Yellow provokes emotions of joy, enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.


is the color of sunshine. It's associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.


is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, fertility and safety.


is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.


combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth, wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.