Speaking Your Creative Voice

“Je suis Paris.” With these words people all over the world tried to express their solidarity and grief about the horrible terrorist attacks that shattered Paris and the world last November. Social media was full of posts of people who tried to express their sadness.

It seemed hard to find the right words that express the inner uproar that we all felt. So many of us did not want to remain silent; we wanted to share with our friends how strongly we felt. And so thousands and thousands sent their ‘thoughts and prayers.” Thoughts and prayers became like a mantra, showing empathy but also helplessness. These words had to funnel the huge emotions we felt over and over again. Thoughts and prayers.

Richard’s Story

I want to share the story of someone who was able to find a different voice. Richard, a French engineer who has spent the last decade of his life in Austin, came to one of my workshops last fall. He hadn’t painted before but was very curious and open to try something new. In my workshops I encourage my clients to trust the process of painting, to trust themselves, and to paint without having a plan or a technique – just to paint what comes into their minds. He was able to quickly leave anxiousness behind and connect to his intuition. He left pleased with the first painting he’d done as an adult.

Shorty after that workshop came the terrorists attack in Paris. Richard told me that after he heard the terrible news in his home country, after he worried whether his loved ones are safe, he felt the urge to paint. And with basically no painting experience but a strong desire to express his feelings, this is how he voiced his feelings. :

French flag crying












Richard’s Voice in Painting

When I saw his painting I was blown away by how he was able to express desperation, pain, fear, pride, sadness, blood, and hope in one painting.*  He clearly overcame a feeling of powerlessness by finding his creative voice. I haven’t talked to him about how he felt before the painting and how he felt after creating it. But from my own experience I can say that being creative is a very cathartic act. The sadness will not go away, but the process of painting helps you work your way through it. It is like the fever that fights the disease. When you don’t have this tool to cope, to vent, and you are just sending your thoughts and prayers, you are likely to feel more paralyzed, more numb, more helpless.

Creativity allows us to show who we are, what we feel and think.

Allow your voice to be heard.

Allow it to be seen.

Richard’s Description

* This is how Richard describes his painting in his own words:

France’s core values are “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” and have been since the French Revolution in 1789. Those terrorist attacks, beyond taking away innocent and precious lives, impacting forever families and communities, are a direct assault to the principles that made France over the last 200 years. This painting represents also this aspect, and as one of my relative told me, rightfully so, looking at this painting. “Our identity is hurt and bleeding, our flag is crying”. I think that summarizes it very well too.


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