The Ugly Assignment

the artist's journey

Yesterday I started the book, "The Artist's Journey" by Nancy Hillis M.D. The first assignment is called "The Ugly Painting." In yesterday's blog I explored my feelings of the word, "ugly," by creating a word map. Today I took one word from the word map and explored it further by asking myself a few questions that the author presented, and by making a painting exploring these feelings.

The word I chose was, "grief."

I am an artist, but I am also a writer, and sometimes I feel like it is easier for me to express the hard, ugly, feelings with words. When Elijah passed away I was overwhelmed with words running endlessly through my mind. It became overwhelming, even in the first few moments. The questions, the feelings, the thoughts, the words--I had to write. So I wrote every single day for almost three years in my personal blog. I would write whatever I was feeling. I would write what was going on in my life. I would write it all to get it out of my head. I would write so that somehow maybe I could make people understand how it felt to experience the grief that comes with the death of your child. 

This is how my painting began today:

the artist's journey

These are some powerful words. They are the absolute truth--but they were not enough. I had to keep going. I had to push myself to feel this and let the "ugliness" happen. So I kept going....

It is not pretty. It is a mess. And it is only 1/2 the words I am feeling. 

You see grief is messy. Grief is ugly. Grief is not easy. Grief is breathtaking. Grief is heartbreaking. Grief is always present. Grief is love. Grief is living without someone you love more than yourself. Grief is when the world always feels like something is missing. Grief is feeling like you keep reaching and reaching but nothing is ever good enough, because nothing will ever be like it was. Grief is hollow. Grief is deep. Grief can swallow you whole. Grief cannot be rushed. Grief should not be rushed. Grief is honesty. Grief is powerful. Grief is anger. Grief is beauty. Grief is a new perspective. Grief opens your eyes. Grief paints a picture. Grief tells a story.

But mostly, I feel like Grief is constantly asking, "Why?"


the artist's journey


I'd like to leave you with a quote that someone sent me shortly after my son Elijah passed away. It is from the movie, "Return to Me." I've never seen the movie, but I really feel like this quote changed my life and perspective on grief, and I hope it helps you too.


"What's strange is this pain I feel, I love it. I LOVE it. And I embrace it.

I'm afraid if I let it go, I'm going to lose the last little piece of him I have.

It's so funny, this thing no one tells you about- the relationship that begins 

with them after they die. If I can quiet my head down enough, I can feel him.

I hear him."



Sending you all lots of love. You matter. Go change the world.

~Kelly Airhart









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