Life and Loss and how To Look to Art for Relief
Life and Loss. I like the first word, but the second word causes me to shudder.
I don’t like change, certainly I don’t enjoy loss. Sensitive artist types are thought to get their inspiration from the dark parts of a full life, but I’d rather not.
As someone who becomes so fully attached to the people I love or a pet I adore, it is excruciating to process a loss.
This year has been one full of so many. My best kitty buddy Jack, My dad, and my fiancee’s dear mom. Awful.
Stick with me here, this will get better. I Promise.
I once had a sweet little kitty named Max. When he left the planet suddenly, my therapist (yes, I have one of those. Highly recommend it!) suggested I paint a picture of him.
I hadn’t tried any realistic paintings before, so I was irritated (yep, perfectly normal to get irritated at one’s therapist) that she suggested it. However, I begrudgingly went home and did it.
I started with finding a favorite photo of my silly little black kitty, grabbed a masonite board (which I had never painted on before) and because I was just starting out with acrylics, my one little shoebox of acrylic paints.
Sidenote: Acrylic paints now # in the 100’s and have taken over 1/2 of my art supplies.
I decide to forgo a brush for most of the painting, and used my fingers! I do not know why I did that, but I only realized it after the fact.
A Healing Process
While I was painting, I was sad- but there was something more happening.
I was able to process so many feelings. I felt that I had missed the health cues that something was wrong, I felt guilty, I felt like I failed my little pet but I also I felt relieved that he wasn’t suffering…all of it.
Most of all, I felt a weight off my shoulders that I could honor my little Max in a painting.
Helping Others Heal
Fast forward several years later, I have posted that pic on my Instagram page– and then someone asks me to paint their cat.
I now paint as many pieces in honor of kitties who have passed, as I do painting pieces celebrating those sweet kitties who are still here to give us love.
Here are a few whimsical illustrations I have done of cats:
Miss Watson, photo courtesy of @melowonne
Realistic Style Pet Portraits
Kalli kitty of @colukafr
Rainbow Bridge: Art in Memoriam
Here is a hybrid seahorse + dog that I did in the spirit of sweet Willie, the affable golden retriever of my artist friend @pattymacknits.
I added all of Willy’s coloring to the seahorse- the golden bits, the white flecks, the rust colored nose and his eye color.
Patty so very kindly videoed herself opening my gift. Please consider watching it HERE. It is a beautiful video.
I was so incredibly touched that she started crying when she opened it. That to me, was the greatest gift.
I put my heart into everything I paint. It is always such an honor to have my enthusiastic aloha spirit recognized and appreciated.
How to Process Grief
What if you have experienced a loss, but you don’t paint?
I completely endorse the idea of writing a letter to your loved once you have experienced their life and loss. This is a letter just for you, that nobody else will see.
- 1 thing you want them to know about you?
- A final question you want to ask them?
- What do you miss the most about them?
- what is 1 thing you wished you had said or done before they passed?
Those prompts should get you started.
If you are too fragile to do that on your own- call on a friend to be with you while you write….or if you like, call on me- my contact form at the bottom of my webpage will get your message into my private in-box.
I will walk you through one of my beloved grief painting exercises or writing exercises that is very user-friendly and easy to share.
A Happy Ending
I know it is all part of the life and loss cycle, and sometimes through the loss we are rewarded with even greater things.
If I hadn’t lost my Max, I would never have gotten my sweet Simon, who holds the title of CEO of Art Production at Mika Harmony Studios.
Mahalo for reading.
Big hugs, Mika
Want me to paint a piece in honor of your beloved pet? Contact me here.