Creativity and love


Dear Artist,

This morning, Rita E. Acuna of Philadelphia, PA, wrote, “I think I would have preferred not to be gifted with creativity. I had found a true soulmate. He was a pilot, a man of high intellect, who wrote the most extraordinary poetry for and about me. He could communicate and share his deepest thoughts and feelings to me. And I lost him. I was careless, my fault. So sad. I would appreciate your thoughts as to the selfishness, demands and impracticality of being creative in a practical world as it relates to the great loves of our lives.”

The Birth of Venus, c. 1484–1486 Tempera on canvas 172.5 cm × 278.9 cm by Sandro Boticelli (1445-1510)

The Birth of Venus, c. 1484–1486
Tempera on canvas
172.5 cm × 278.9 cm
by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)

Thanks, Rita. Good question. I don’t know enough about your particular situation to know whether it was your creativity that caused your pilot to take off — but I do have a few thoughts on the dark side of creativity. Many of us are focused to such a degree that it’s easy to become inconsiderate of others. After all, the sun rises and sets on us, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s the “law of opposite effect” — sensitivity, believe it or not, can breed insensitivity — a rotten thing for the near and dear. Fact is, art-love competes with human love. And art-lovers can drive their significant others to drink. Serially.

The good news is that it’s not either/or. Many of the successful creators that I know tend rather to keep their creativity bottled up. This way it doesn’t get on others’ nerves, and it may also be good for the muse. While it’s all a wonderful riddle, quiet, creative action should be the main currency. This leaves plenty of time for being nice. Both personal art and human relationships can be mystical unions that exact the highest of standards.

Primavera, c. late 1470s or early 1480s Tempera on panel 202 cm × 314 cm by Sandro Botticelli

Primavera, c. late 1470s or early 1480s
Tempera on panel
202 cm × 314 cm
by Sandro Botticelli

Best regards,


PS: “The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union; the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity.” (Julia Cameron)

Esoterica: Rita’s cup bubbles over. “Every day I’m reborn,” she writes, “because of the creative process and the use of its gifts. Every breath I take, every sight I see is a miracle to appreciate and enjoy. It renews the creative spirit that plays within my soul and being.” Brilliant as this sentiment is, sometimes it’s difficult for others to live with. Personally, I think it has to do with “art envy,” — something I’ve been meaning to discuss with Sigmund Freud. It’s pretty hard to beat this all-encompassing joy. “Creativity,” says therapist Eric Maisel, “is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Probable self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi (1475)

Probable self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi (1475)

This letter was originally published as “Creativity and love” on December 16, 2005.

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“Love is energy of life.” (Robert Browning)





  1. An interesting letter that speaks well to the need for balance in our lives. So many believe that they must be the tortured, passionate loner creating around the clock to be a real artist. That is so much Hollywood hooey. Few of us create to hide what we do under the bed or in storage somewhere. We need to make place for family, friends, spirituality and physical well-being to really connect best with our creative selves and to be able to connect our creative outlay with those we intend to receive it. Time management is an important and necessary daily discipline in life and leads to focused effort, better creative outlay, and a balanced life and well-being.

    • Oh my! You’re spot on Sherrie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on that.
      I’ve always had to explain myself as I’m deemed not ‘professional’ enough because I don’t ‘art’ 24/7. Being a married woman and a mom, I have my duties and responsibilities on top of being a full time artist. I have to have a good time management for all that and so far it worked well for me. I feel balanced.
      But sadly, it’s not the case if I want to be considered a true artist over here in my country.. nevertheless, I do what I know and love best.

      Thank you again for sharing your positive thoughts.

    • Like so many other aspects of life, a pat answer does not exist. As a woman who has been a professional artist and then (because of difficult circumstances) had to leave that career to survive, and went on to became a professional skipper -I know the pain of choice, the suffering of the soul to strive to dedicate yourself to your work; producing good work takes time a mind allowed space and freedom and dedication, all very hard to balance with a relationship and even more with children! That has to be the pinnacle of the test of being a woman in this world that expects you as a woman regardless of career, to be wife and mother (if you have chosen that route) the expectations of family and society weigh heavily. Whether or not that career is in the creative arts, or something else that is creative and requires so much of you, your soul and sweat, there will be conflict. My heart goes out to Rita, feeling that she “lost” her love, but maybe that beautiful person did not want all of her, just the part that could live with – him. So many men want a woman that is dedicated to them and their career. Rita’s loss was great, but you can never know if succumbing to that person’s needs if she could have been true to herself. The pressure on professional woman will continue, how do we balance love, motherhood and our creative selves – unless we are wealthy enough to have someone take care of a lot of our “duties” and find a partner that values the creative person that we are.
      Why have male artists been prevalent throughout history ? It is an obvious answer, they had the privileged position of being male, and until recently, women were expected to bow to that position, let the men be the men and pursue their career. To be truthful, any artist, will find it hard to find someone who is willing to say “be yourself, be creative and I will play second fiddle when I need to”. I found one but a bit too late, but I may still go back to my work, at 65. Being a fine arts master etcher and printer is an all consuming way of life and -physically demanding. Still the creative spirit lives on in myself and I channeled it into designing and building an extraordinary sustainable home and extensive landscaping that we both put our backs into to create. Sometimes creativity has to find another outlet, and it can, even in the art of raising a family.

  2. OH MY GOODNESS! What a great piece! At the tender age of …”over 65″….it feels like i could write volumes on this!
    But i have probably driven many to drink…serially. So, perhaps i should “bottle this one up.”
    Lord knows if I spill all “my” beans…they would certainly put me in the looney bin and throw away ALL the keys…

  3. And then there’s the flip side… being with the wrong person can utterly quash your creative spirit. Some people, frankly, suck all the creative spirit out of others. Narcissistic individuals who must be the center of attention come to mind. The trick is finding a person who nurtures your creativity and also encourages you to live a more balanced life. Maybe one who encourages travel and exploration which helps feed your creative soul outside the studio in ways you can both share and also connect with other. And we also gave a responsibility to our relationships and partners to maintain that balance as well.

  4. Well put, Sherrie. Our lovers and families must come first with our attention and loyalty and that usually leave some time for the artist to dabble with their creativity. Some artists have full family lives but after dinner and the kids are in bed they paint, write or do whatever please themselves. We need to take responsibility and be sensitive to the wants and needs of others and hopefully they will respect their creative lover and give them some space and freedom. Kindness and thoughtfulness go a long way.

  5. Just look at the Birth of Venus. Look at the surface of what he laid out. The actual figures, in today’s terms are very real, except for the flying part. We believe flying in ways not too different from how his contemporaries bought into it, magic stuff. Her face is incredible. She is a new born who has seen the world. I guess my point is that one dreams these things.
    They are the product of full commitment to the work, or the sale of it. It is group effort, in the family sense.

  6. I don’t understand why your art is a separate entity. Art should be in everything we do from setting a table to the e arrangement of plants, the books on a table, the food on a plate. The eye will seek the balance and the composition of everything if it is encouraged. I had a housekeeper for about 2 years who upon leaving said, “I never realized how little I saw until I came here, thank you”.

  7. Our gift of creativity must be used to its highest potential and not coerced into submission to have “a balanced life”. I agree with Christy mostly and have not seen male artists in my country (Australia) asked , or expected , to curtail their creative drive, to have a soulmate.
    Keep painting Rita!

  8. I was married twice earlier between 19 and 37. Both husbands thought I was useless at writing or painting and should give up the idea. They wanted me to be there for them and fit into their life. At 34, a new boss got me to write a press release to save him time. “Of course you can do it!” he said. He was right and that encouragement and later the appreciation of others of my creative ability set me on course for a new career of writing and since retirement from that, the painting that had been a hobby has became my passion. Neither husband was a nasty man. They just didn’t understand and saw my creativity and joy in it as a threat. Since then I only choose to be with friends who – even if they don’t like my work – understand my love of painting and are happy for me. Many friends are fellow artists who share the creative love and need and we are a mutual support and inspiration system. I would never settle down with another man who didn’t cherish me and my creative energy and joy. So far I haven’t fallen for anyone like that, though I have a very good friend who doesn’t mind if I’m so focused on a painting we don’t eat until 9pm! He’s happy to do his own thing and often paints with me too. So many women say to me “I’d love to paint/write but don’t have time.” It isn’t easy to make time for creativity to flow when you’re working at a bread&butter job, cooking the evening meal, going out and about with your partner, etc etc. It’s much much easier to let your creativity flow when you live alone – unless – as above – you’re lucky enough to have a partner who understands your need, inspiration and joy in your art.

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Los Angeles-based artist Lisa Chakrabarti works in a variety of media: oils, acrylics, pastels, watercolors, graphite and colored pencils. Focusing on a style she calls “romantic naturalism” – impressionism based largely on subjects in the natural world – her works have found their way into galleries in Los Angeles, Florida, Colorado and New York. In 1995, after being introduced to sumi-e and Chinese ink painting by Asian friends, Lisa became captivated by the apparent freedom and subtlety of this ancient medium.  This shift in focus has informed her work ever since.


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