24/09/2013 07:29 BST | Updated 23/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Creativity as a Salve for the Mind and Heart

Ana's Thought: "Good Art warms you on a cold, sad day and gives you company when you are lonely."

In this life, it is destined that even the most serene and inspired soul will be tested, as is the way of human existence - for without shadow, we cannot come to appreciate light. When dark clouds gather above, we steel ourselves against the storm and resolve to get through. In life's trying moments, art transforms from pastime or profession to devoted confidante. Creativity has been the life preserver for many great men of our time.


Georgia O'Keeffe beside her canvas and her inspiration; detail from Red Canna.

Georgia O'Keeffe, an artist of superb skill and a spirited, independent woman, was not immune to such struggles. Like the long shadows cast by clouds in the desert sky she loved, there were times when darkness passed over her. Periods of illness and a tumultuous relationship with her husband shaded her vibrant vision. But when depression threatened Georgia, she turned to her art for salvation. She created for herself a world of purest hue and fluid freedom. This world is offered to us in the exquisite paintings she left behind.

Art is not a healing practice reserved for those who make their career from it - bringing ideas to life through creation has the power to lift any soul! The indomitable Winston Churchill was, at times, plagued by what he called 'the black dog of depression.' He, too, found the relief he needed in art.


Winston Churchill finding respite in painting.

At the age of forty, Churchill first picked up a palette and found sanctuary within canvas. Over the course of his life, Churchill gave the world 500 magnificent still-life scenes and landscapes. His gift lay quietly within while he went about changing history, and surfaced to show him the path to respite and quiet meditation - an escape from the tension of his public life.


Ana Tzarev at work in the studio.

When life's burdens weigh too heavily on my shoulders, I have found that the creation of art frees me from my struggle. In the focused tranquility of painting and sculpting, my mind cannot wander to worries. May you also find light to fill your days in the passions that mark your life - what you love will be the fire that fuels you through all trials.