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Tara Catalano: Drawn to Paint to Heal

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.

Tara Catalano, Artist

BJB: It is absolutely amazing what artwork can inspire.

TC: I was drawn to ‘art is my purpose in life.’ But then through healing, I worked with a close friend who I call my “soul mother”. She attuned me to Reiki.

As I was doing that work, I realized art is not my purpose. It’s a tool to connect to my purpose, which is to heal and empower other people through my art. So then there was a whole other element that I learned through getting my artwork out there, and going through different stages of healing.

So art was just a tool, and I realized that my purpose was to connect with other people through it. And that’s really what drives me now. When I don’t want to paint or when I’m in a creative block, I think about all the opportunities I’m missing to help someone on the other end.

A friend of mine who is familiar with Reiki energy healing looked at my artwork and said I am “attuning people to Reiki through my artwork.” Through their eyes they’re getting attuned and connected to this healing energy of Reiki by simply viewing the artwork.

That was the biggest compliment I’ve ever heard about my artwork.

BJB: What has been the most surprising aspect of being an artist?

TC: That it’s not all about me. Yes, it was me who drove me to the canvas, but ultimately is was to connect with other people. That was the twist I found a couple years ago that definitely surprised me.

BJB: Which painting is your favorite piece?

TC: I’m such a perfectionist. Maybe Intuition. Chakra Dance has been the most popular.

Chakra Dance Painting by Tara Catalano

The creative process is really the most beautiful place to be in. But sometimes I feel like the output, the actual three-dimensional canvas painting, as the manifestation of that process doesn’t always hold up to the beauty of the creative process. So there’s always a little bit of disappointment and I always feel like could do better.

BJB: What are you working on now?

TC: I’m studying graphic and web design. When people look at my artwork, they’re coming to me for graphic design services.

As far as fine art goes, I’m creating colorful abstracts that showcase an emotion and reflect my emotional state. Lately it’s been influenced by romance and dating and me not just connecting to myself, but to a life partner. That’s been a real challenge and I’m sure more artwork will come out of it.

Up until now, my artwork has been about empowerment and following your dreams. Now it’s about connecting to somebody.

BJB: So the artwork reveals to you where you are emotionally? It’s like the art is leading you while you simultaneously lead the art.

TC: Absolutely. In fact, once I’ve opened up to the next phase in my healing the painting that represents that usually gets sold. It’s happened quite a bit.

“We have all experienced loss, heartache, and sorrow. Nobody wants to go through emotional pain, but it is an inevitable human experience. As the Buddha taught, we are each given ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows. The challenge lies in not getting mired in either the joy or the pain, but keeping our hearts open and soft instead of closed and constricted.”

Dream. Believe. Arrive. Manifest.

These are the powerful words that guide Tara Catalano’s professionally creative and personal endeavors.

Now painting with a complete palette of colors, Catalano shows that art can serve as healthy pathway to give color and texture to our deepest emotions and experiences.

For more information or to purchase artwork on you can log onto

Heartstrings Painting by Tara Catalano

Current exhibitions:  Joyful Yoga, Tempe, AZ  Pita Jungle, Scottsdale, AZ  Salon D’Shayn, Scottsdale, AZ

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