Tara Catalano: Drawn to Paint to Heal

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Painting by Tara Catalano

Some emotions are absolutely incompatible with one another. In other words, experiencing one emotion can make it harder to experience another emotion. You cannot stand in anger, while longing to be in love; just as you can’t linger in frustration while wanting to have flow in your life.

"It’s not easy to deal with painful emotions head-on. But it’s a key to good health and well-being physically, mentally and spiritually. If we don’t deal with pain when it occurs, it will resurface as compounded emotional toxicity later on — showing up as insomnia, hostility and anger or fear and anxiety."

For those who long for a safe way to explore the deepest questions and emotions of our lives, sometimes conversation isn’t the outlet of expression we’re looking for.

So what then can you do when you experience incompatible emotions that you’re ready to move beyond?

One approach is to create a form of symbolic expression that helps you work through the emotions you’re ready to release.

Like painting.

“Although language is considered to be the most sophisticated form of communication, artistic expression allows people to express the richness of an emotional experience, often more effectively than words alone.”

Stimulating our senses and our emotional responses in nuanced ways that words cannot always capture, art expression can provide a spiritually healing environment. While accessing wisdom that can only be found inside, creative expression allows one to have a safe and private space to come to terms with an emotional experience.

The act of simply being creative has the ability to make emotional wounds accessible in a non-threatening way. By getting in touch with our intuition and subconscious mind, we are able to move beyond over-thinking the emotional defenses that have built-up over the years.

Like meditation, creative expression allows us to switch off our brains and focus on the moment. This time alone draws you inward to give a voice to emotions that are ready to be processed.

This was the cathartic approach acclaimed artist, Tara Catalano, decided to take when she found herself at an emotional impasse.

I had the pleasure to speak with Tara Catalano about how painting has helped her to become more self-aware, and create a pathway to healing for herself and others.

Painting by Tara Catalano

BJB: Can you talk about how you began to paint?

TC: I’ve always been very creative in drawing and painting. I started drawing and painting at Arizona State University. I have my bachelor of science in fine arts, so I learned the technical aspects of art. But when I turned 30, I wasn’t in the best place.

I was married, I wasn’t happy and I was a new mom, so I was looking at my life with a whole different filter. That’s when I discovered painting had a healing aspect to it. I was drawn to paint to heal, and I found the creative process to be very soothing and healing.

At that time, I was also drawn to eastern philosophy and that’s what influenced the Buddha in my earlier work and the spirituality behind it all.

BJB: The rich colors in your artwork are soothing and spiritual.

TC: I’m drawn to bold colors as well. I’m influenced by colors of India, dual tones and colors of the desert. The colors relate to the chakras.

Honestly, my work is the result of a creative process. I don’t consider myself very soothing in nature, or very colorful. I’m very uptight and full of anxiety and never know which way I’m going; so this creative process brings me to that place of color, calm and serenity.

BJB: When did you decide to dedicate yourself to art and move from amateur level to professional?

TC: I guess as I became aware of the impact of my work on the viewer.

BJB: Are you referring to the feedback you received?

TC: Yeah. It was honestly for self-fulfillment.

The creative process was helping me to feel good and it was fueling a passion of mine. I was just creating these paintings and then putting them online to show people. I didn’t realize the result of the viewer was very similar to mine.

I was attracting other women who were going through changes similar to what I was going through. It was empowering them to follow their dreams, and it was creating serenity in them just like it did for me. I didn’t realize art did that.