Sample Reflection Paper on Art: Art as an Emotional Outlet

Reflection PaperArt
Feb 8, 2022

Art creation is an activity that can often act as an emotional outlet for individuals. The freedom that artistic endeavors provide is one-of-a-kind and in comparison to none. A painter can create a photorealistic scene to express their fondness for a landscape; a singer can sing a hymn that manifests their nostalgia; a writer can build worlds and characters that demonstrate their ideologies and perception of the world; a sculptor can illustrate their appreciation of nature through clay and stone. Through art, many individuals have freely expressed their emotions and thoughts. The medium offers few restrictions to their work and allows them to remain true to their emotions.  Art , as an emotional outlet, grants individuals with freedom of expression that no laws or policies can restrict.

Human Emotions and Art

Human emotions, such as sadness, joy, and anger, are common feelings that every individual has experienced. The American Psychological Association defined emotions as reaction patterns that govern an individual’s response to events they deem significant. This definition implies that humans express emotions to events or topics that are personally significant. For example, each individual will have a different emotional response towards arranged marriages . A traditional Indian may be happy to know that they will have an arranged marriage while a progressive Indian may feel furious towards the situation.

While it is easy to state that an individual is happy or furious regarding a topic, it can be difficult or even impossible to measure their emotional response. An individual can say that they are jubilant but their physical expression may not reflect their statement.  In these cases, an individual can utilize art as a way to express the excess emotions that they cannot measure. Instead of using words to describe their feelings; they can utilize paints, colors, songs, or dancing to better illustrate their emotions.

If they are happy, they can paint a scene with lush colors that demonstrate their joy. If they are heartbroken, they can sing a sad love song that perfectly captures their current situation. If they are enraged about a topic, they can write vivid poetry to describe the turmoil boiling within their minds. Each form of art can become mediums to express different emotions and reactions to topics. Artists, like Van Gogh, turned his pain and misery into beautiful works of art that changed the world of art. Leonardo Da Vinci channeled his love for nature and beauty to create remarkable imitations of reality. Pablo Picasso transformed his inspiration for archaic and tribal art into captivating creative beauty.

This can also be true for common individuals. A person that does not paint or draw as a hobby can still turn to art and utilize the medium to express themselves. Art, as mentioned earlier, provides freedom of expression that has little to no limitations. Take for example the Chinese painter Ai Wei Wei who expressed his disagreement towards the Chinese government through art. Despite the hostility that he experienced from the government, no rules or laws could stop him from creating his anti-government artworks. He is free to create these types of art as long as he is willing to face the repercussions. Common individuals also have this ability since the government, or any other organization, cannot create rules that prevent someone to draw, write, sing, or dance.

Paid Artists and Their Freedom of Expression

For paid artists, art can be more than an emotional outlet. Their work may require them to create art pieces that do not interest them. A painter may need to paint a portrait of their client with specific requirements that may not align with their style or opinion. Since they are in a professional setting, they cannot reject the request. They will have to work on the art piece, utilizing a style that they may not like. In some cases, paid artists can become machine-like employees as their organization requires them to produce multiple artworks daily. A good example of this is in the video game industry. The industry is notorious for the “crunch culture” which describes how most companies overwork their employees. For digital artists in the industry, this could mean creating multiple highly detailed assets every week which can leave no room for artistic freedom and expression. Instead, they create uninspired digital works in the dozens to meet their deadlines.

Of course, there can be exceptions to these rules since some artists may only accept work that aligns with their preferred style. An individual can brand themselves as a specific type of artist, such as a “caricature artist” to imply to clients that they will only accept specific work. This form of specialization can allow an artist to develop a respected brand and increase the value of their work. They can freely express themselves through their style while still creating a piece for a client. Additionally, since the Internet has become a necessity , it can provide freelance artists with a medium to share and showcase their artworks. They can utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram, to reach potential clients and even sell some of their existing artworks. Through these mediums, an artist can continue to create works that express their opinions while also having the opportunity to sell them.

It is difficult to imagine that an artist will create artworks solely for income. As mentioned earlier, art is an emotional outlet. The greatest art pieces come from individuals that are passionate about their work and see the practice as a way of life instead of as a means to live. Artists tend to be passionate about their work and there may only be a few that are willing to become machine-like employees and create art for clients. Without this passion, an art piece can become a simple industrial product that carries no meaning or artistic value. 

Balancing A Paid Artist’s Career and Personal Life

For artists that have entered into a professional setting, they may need to find a balance between their career and personal life. This is necessary to maintain their passion for the arts and continuously improve their personal style. Working for a company can exhaust an individual’s artistic drive and can even lead the artist to develop disinterest in the arts. For paid artists that sell their works, the situation can be different depending on their value as an artist. A well-known paid artist can sell their work for thousands or even millions of dollars while unknown artists may only be able to charge $200 for their piece. Famous artists may not need to establish a balance between career and personal life since their expressive artworks allow them an emotional outlet as well as a source of income. For unknown paid artists, it is essential to find the balance due to the exhausting tasks and average income.

To find the balance between career and personal life, an artist should establish a line between their work and personal artistic views. A paid artist that does not have the opportunity to express themselves at work can utilize their free time to exercise their artistic expression. They need to perceive their work as “just work” and avoid implementing their style unless a client specifically requests it. Through this, an artist can avoid thinking that the art they make at work is an extension of their style but a product for a client. However, this approach may be only useful for artists that create multiple artworks regularly. 

For paid artists who work for art galleries and exhibits, the organizers tend to associate their names with the artwork. This association voids the previous suggestion since the artwork will reflect on the artist’s record. In this scenario, it can be much harder to balance career and personal artistic views. If an artist creates an uninspired artwork, it can lead clients to believe that the artist is unskilled. However, if an artist obsesses with their work and try to perfect every piece, they may waste too much time and become an inefficient member of an organization. The only way to address such a situation is to compromise either one’s career or personal life. Compromising an artist’s career can mean that they will become inefficient workers that trade quantity for quality. For the alternative, it will lead an artist to abandon some of their styles and focus on producing products for clients. Whichever they choose will greatly affect their artistic views and the artworks they produce.

Conclusion

Art is a significant part of life as it allows artists and nonartists to express themselves beyond simple words. It allows the voiceless to speak freely about their ideas and the blind to perceive vivid scenes. Through paintings, drawings, writings, songs, and performances; artists access a powerful emotional outlet that empowers them to exercise their freedom of expression. However, utilizing art as a way to earn income can be challenging and oppose its function as an emotional outlet. Artists will have to strive to find a balance between art as a career and a medium for their expression. It can lead to dilemmas that only the artist themselves can address. Despite this area of concern, it is integral for artists to remember that art, above all else, is the embodiment of limitless self-expression that none can regulate.

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