Tag Archives: emotion

Narrow Range of Passion vs Wide Range of Passion

Passion drives artists to create. Whether you’re sketching, sculpting or writing there’s a drive behind your creation. Urgency and intensity spark the initial act of creation — like the first outline, first draft, or first few sketches. The artist finds within themselves a burning need to tell this story — for it steals their sleep and demands to be wrenched from the soul like a tumor that will eat them alive if it remains where it is.

Or, maybe the artist just had a neat idea they thought they’d scribble down. You know. Whatever.

It’s interesting to see how different people deal with their passions — especially because it doesn’t correlate to being introverted or extraverted.

Some folks have a narrow range of passion. Happy or sad, it never gets too intense. If a family member dies, or there’s a setback at work, they’ll shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh. How sad.” If they come up with something really great, or their kid gets a scholarship, they’ll nod and say, “Oh, well, that’s great!” It’s not that they don’t feel. They’re not boring people, they just have a narrow range of passion. These folks might have a more intellectual grasp on life that gets mistaken for stodginess.

Those with a broad range of passion are much more expressive. When the store’s out of the right brand of chocolate, it’s a tragedy. When their kid has a bit part in the school play, it’s a triumph of which they’ll sing for a thousand years. Bad news will lay them low for weeks. They express their feelings with the utmost extravagance — even if they’re introverted. No matter what they feel, they feel it deep into their bones. These folks (and oh boy am I one of them) fit the Tortured Artist stereotype, and can be needlessly dramatic at times.

These two types often find each other unrelatable and frequently clash. To pick a musical example, Demi Lovato popped up on my Pandora this morning. She’s got a loud, powerful voice. When someone sings a well-known song the way she does, there’s always a backlash. Folks with a narrow range of passion would prefer to hear “Over the Rainbow” or “The Star Spangled Banner” in a more traditional, less vocally acrobatic way. As someone with a wide range of passion, this response irks me. Let her do what she wants. Not everyone needs to rein it in to the degree of, say, Blossom Dearie.

There are times — rare, precious times — when the two ranges overlap. Ella Fitzgerald can slip a needle directly into your heart and fill it with longing. A song doesn’t have to be bombastic to achieve intensity. It’s subtle and understated which satisfies one group; yet overflowing with passion that could make a grown man cry… if he were the type to do so.

It’s interesting to think about where you fit on the spectrum of these two types. How much intensity do you infuse into your life? Do you prefer an even keel in your life and your entertainments; or do you want to ride the full height and depth of each wave? For myself, I find that I have such a broad range of passion that I must compartmentalize my life into ‘safe’ places and places where I have to keep it in. I constantly try to identify which type someone is when I meet them, in order to figure out if they’re “safe.” I want to know the best way to relate to others.

In art, as in life, it’s vital to consider why the Other behaves as they do, so we can hear and be heard with the greatest clarity.


I heart you.
I heart you? What is that? ‘I love you’ for pussies?
– Jenji Kohan, Orange is the New Black




Splattering and Smearing (I paint too, sometimes)


Too many choices block forward movement.

I drew a portrait of once, on canvas, in pencil. Every time I look at it, I lose faith and walk away. I don’t have the skills or familiarity with my tools to do it justice. I can’t bring it to life.

That’s how I’ve been feeling about my writing, lately.


When to stand up, when to let go

Smearing and splattering bright colors was a welcome break. I didn’t have to describe what I saw — it was right there already. That’s how Blood on the Water came to be. I knew how I felt, I knew which colors I wanted to use. I knew there would be droplets and splatters. The way the brush glided over the canvas calmed me down. With no concrete goal, there was no pressure to succeed or fail. I had room to learn. The Abstract shapes didn’t insist on one form or another while I figured out brushstrokes, composition, color — and silly stuff like viscosity.

I feel guilty that I’m not writing as fruitfully these days. The last few weeks were great but the well dried up. Blood in the Water stemmed from my guilt and self-threatening — just like staring at a disembodied shark fin. This could be you. Keep going or you’ll die discarded, drowning and alone. None of those emotions were helping me. I had to get them out.

I wondered if others were also feeling stuck, but didn’t want to go nosing into their problems unasked. I posted the following request on social media:

“Tell me one isolated thought that bothered you recently, AND  two colors you enjoy seeing together.”

Here are some of the responses, and preliminary sketches I did today.


Selfish or self-interested?

  • “Is this a hair stuck in my throat or am I going mad?” Gold  & dark blue
  • How to stand up for myself and when to let things go. Blue  & silver
  • “Am I selfish or self-interested?” Alizarin crimson & phthalo blue.
  • The idea that there are far too many creative paths and sometimes a glut of choice inhibits forward movement.  purple & aqua.
  • Why is my shooting not improving yet?! forest green & dark plum.
  • I got annoyed when I should have had more empathy, blue  & orange
  • Congestion.  Black & red.

Here’s hoping I can do these ideas justice.


Is that a hair in my throat, or am I insane?

Painting-mind and painting-hand get stiff and rusty like all unused machinery. Blowing these guys up and adding full color will be challenging. As much as we dedicate ourselves to work, to family, to music or anything — we must step away from time to time. Nothing loosens psychological knots like fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

I’ve often lost myself,
in order to find the burn that keeps everything awake.
― Frederico García Lorca

I am inclined to think that in one sense we must feel more than others ― yes, doubly more ― since the very attempt to restrain natural promptings entails suffering.”
― Inazo Nitobe