How I Transform Grief into Art ~ New Year Happy Heart in 2024


Unspeakable grief bound and gagged my heart and art. I tried and struggled to paint through it ~ but when I lost hope of ever being able to see or know my newest granddaughter ~ every painting turned blue. My feet grew numb, tingling with pain as I lost my ability to stand at my easel. And then ... it all broke loose.

New Morning Promised, Dorothy Fagan copyright 2024New Morning, Promised When I released my fear of never seeing/knowing/loving my granddaughter, a new fluidity burst forth from my palette knife. Oil paint mixed directly on my canvas, mirroring the colorful creativsoup of my heart told me indeed a new day has begun.

Last year was one of great ups and downs, literally. While my studio is filled with oil paintings, pastels, and textiles that recapture the innocent girl designer I was before the assault ~ it was the prospect of losing my youngest granddaughter that sent me digging through emotions deep enough to find her.

Just as my seventh grandchild was born on my birthday, my son decimated the roots of our family tree, refusing to speak with me, his father, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, all of us. I have remained silent. After a year my studio filled with blue paintings, and I could barely stand at my easel for the numbness in my feet. At Thanksgiving, his twin encouraged me to speak about it.

The unspeakable emotion~ that I will pass away, and my granddaughter will never know Grammy loved her ~ surely, she is walking by now, talking too. When I speak aloud about my prized coral climbing rose with its roots cut off by voles and the overabundance of blue paintings ~ friends reach out to share Light and hope.

Enlightened, I see that it’s time to paint my diptychs, not co-dependent ~ rather twins side by side aligned. And to paint my art rose ~ not blue ~ embracing all who feel the loss of loved ones ~ my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter ~ with love and hope ‘to everything a season’ ~ that we too will rise and bloom again.

Butterfly Release #19, Dorothy Fagan copyright 2024

Butterfly Release #19 A diptych oil painting called The River Runs Through Her, split in two and printed solo bigger than life on a six-foot piece of Belgian linen transformed into Butterfly Release #19, hand painted textile with flowing acrylic wash and oil paint stick drawing.

Love never dies. After 35 years Mom’s spirit is palpable. I feel her presence in passions we shared during her lifetime, perhaps my granddaughter too will feel my love.

As I pray with my paint, this Belgian linen for my coffee table/ottoman infuses love and healing in my heart. As I design velvet rose garden upholstery to recover my favorite chair and select the perfect hand-painted blue gray lavender silk yarn to create my flourish rug ~ she is here loving me. Stillness settles into my heart because I know her love.

She gifts me confidence to share my poetry, hidden away in my daily journals, the new year 2024 promises a happy heart.

New morning, promise

rose, love knows together

we raise each other.

Dorothy Fagan’s vibrant paintings and textiles heal hearts in hospitals, museums, corporations, and beautiful homes across the US and beyond. In her Creativsoup blog, inspirational stories, art, and poetry from her studio garden transform daily trauma into creativity and vitality.