I find creative inspiration in melancholy. Despite the scientific claim that a stable mind is most productive, I see chaos as the true artist!

I love being melancholy and dark. I no longer wish to deny my affection for the bleak side of my personality. Even though most people feel that I am twisted to live this way, I find it comforting and normal. My darkness is fertile – thus creativity grows there.

Take a Look at another melancholy fellow

Do you know who Edvard Much is? I am sure many of you, with any knowledge of fine arts, knows about this expressionist, one of my favorites, to be honest.

Edvard Munch was stricken with mental illness, suffering from hallucinations and anxiety, not to mention a deep well of depression, and what did he do? He created beauty out of these dark and chaos-ridden corners of his mind. Now, isn’t that beautiful?

Edvard Munch wrote about a vision that inspired his painting,The Scream”,

“The sun began to set-suddenly the sky turned blood-red. I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature.”

Wow, that takes my breath away, and notice how it has such a melancholy feel. This statement is clearly an influence on Munch’s most popular artistic expression.

But one striking statement from Munch was concerning the vitality of his artwork which was kept alive by a direct link to his sadness.

According to Munch,

“My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art.”

Munch isn’t the only gloomy pioneer of the arts. There’s Joseph Campbell and the Left-Hand Path. According to Campbell, creativity is born in darkness, like the beginning, the stillness – the moment of creation. Campbell stresses the importance of disruption as creative inspiration.

David W. Orr, the author of Ecological Literacy, said,

“The planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind.”

Getting to know creative inspiration

Okay, so I’m opinionated about creative inspiration. I lean toward the dark side because maybe they have cookies…just kidding.

What I have learned, however, during my year at private art college, is that not only does the darkness and chaos inspire art, it also manifests itself in the subject matter of some of the great painters of our time. *Shrugs* and that’s only my opinion, as I said.

But there are so many ideas and beliefs about how creativity works, which include not only melancholy but also, yes, you guessed it, happiness. But before I dwell on that word, let me break a few things down for you.

As you know, there is a direct link between thought and behavior, which is more than fascinating. With that being said, to define creativity, you have to understand the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking.

This test defines creativity as originality (original expression), elaboration (create links and provide details), flexibility (thinking outside the box and solving problems), and fluency (the ability to generate ideas and variety).

Hmm, creative inspiration seems like a colorful array of thoughts transforming into action, and that’s pretty much what it is. And, another thing, these definitions include all creative areas from science and technology to painting.

Art has never been, is not now, nor ever will be only about drawing and painting! Sorry, just had to stress that so you would understand the width of the artistic spectrum.

The stable mind of creative inspiration

According to scientists, the creative mind is a stable one. Neither happiness nor sadness is the optimal condition in which to “make art”. As a matter of fact, extremes of either mood are said to stress the prefrontal cortex, which is the creative center of the brain.

If you’re happy, you cannot focus on completing tasks, and if you’re sad, you cannot find the motivation to complete tasks. With this explanation, it makes sense… but not completely.

That’s my opinion too… right there.

The one thing that puts that theory to bed is the magnificent paintings, poems, and projects that have pushed boundaries, broken rules, and caused distress.

Some of the most remarkable works of art were born from sheer hell and madness. So, where does mental stability play into that?

Art can be challenging. In order to reach the precarious edge of the mountain and see the beauty of the world below, you must trudge the tangled pathways to the top.

There is pain and there are questions, calculations, and riddles. Failures must happen, in order for the brightest colors to orchestrate a symphony of euphoria.

Wow, the talk of art makes me feel high… now, let’s talk about happiness.

Creativity bred from Happiness

Happiness is the corporate idea of creativity. This basically revolves around productivity. In the workplace, a happy mood is a creative one.  In the corporate world, generating ideas and problem-solving is seen as highly creative behavior, despite the advancement of technology steadily taking the place of human thinking.

Happy thoughts are believed, by a select few, to generate happy pictures. The comfort of this is obvious and easy. It provides no pain or suffering, only colorful returns of constant warmth and beauty.

It’s practical and takes no real struggle to create… but it’s oftentimes not, a mediocre form of art… nothing striking….nothing breathtaking to note.

Except of course, for the exceptions. Those are few and far between. Yeah, that was probably my opinion too!

Duplicating this process also fails at true creativity because it lacks spontaneous thought. While it is easy to practice creativity, can you practice the original creative thought process if you lack the natural ability?

What it boils down to is this: It doesn’t matter what makes you creative as long as you love what you do! Opinions again? Yes, I’m full of them.

As for the dark side, yeah, we have cookies. You are more than welcome to come by sometime, have a snack, and paint a beautiful work of art.

For me, I will live here, in the melancholy, where I feel loved.

Copyright © 2012-2024 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

power of misfits book banner desktop

Like what you are reading? Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss new thought-provoking articles!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Thea Dunlap

    Great article and I love it. It’s quite an eye opener since I already now in fact that many great pieces of art came from sheer hell or madness.

  2. Don

    I very much enjoyed reading this. Although I’m not creative in the arts, I feel what you are saying concerning melancholy. In beautiful and happy things I many times have melancholy feelings which have a much greater impact on the heart than a momentary stroke of happiness. It is also fascinating to watch interviews with comedians who speak of troubled past, of mental issues, and translate it into comedy.

  3. Ken Sears

    I wonder whether there is something of a chicken-and-egg conundrum here. So many creative people live with chronic melancholy, the perhaps superficial conclusion is that melancholy gives rise to creativity. My experience (both creative and achingly melancholic) suggests to me, however, that the reverse is plausible: creativity engenders melancholy. Consider giving birth to a child—it’s suffering. If you weren’t producing a child, you wouldn’t be suffering. Suffering doesn’t produce childbirth, but childbirth brings suffering. Yet you embrace the suffering for the glory of the birth. Every tear and cry is worth its weight in gold, because a CHILD is coming out of this. I at my most melancholic when deeply engaged in intensely creative, all-consuming work. It’s difficult, it demands every emotional resource I have, I cannot be content or “cheery” until I’ve “gotten there”, and I find it hard to be politely interested in other things. And even when I’m not directly working on the project at hand, it is “percolating” in me more or less consciously 24/7, so I’m continually, creatively “dissatisfied”…because I’m giving birth.

Leave a Reply