Liquid Alchemy: The Importance of the Artist’s Process.

{Photo credit: Noël Smith-Sparrow}


This past year, I discovered the transformative effects of art creation. I discovered the use of art creation as alchemy.

I used this new transforming knowledge to heal old rips in my psychic mesh, and to springboard me into further internal transformation. Cool, right?

Cool and deeply terrifying. Growth is almost never pleasant, and almost always painful. Why risk the pain? Honestly, the risk was definitely worth the reward. The healing rewards that took place were absolutely worth the risk of the pain.

This past year, I discovered the rewards of using my art practice as an alchemical-process. Like the alchemy of the phoenix rebirthing itself through fire, I too was able to rebirth myself through the fires of creating art.

How I chose to show up to creating artwork was much like Yoga’s credo of “How you choose to show up to your mat is how you choose to show up to life.”

Prior to this year, my reason for creating art was quite superficial. My art was delicate, beautiful, and yet completely separate from myself.

What I mean by separate from my self is that my intention for creating my art was goal and sales-oriented. At best, my art was used to retell traumatic stories from my past. Traumatic stories from women’s past.

Now let me be clear, this was not a cathartic art practice to repair my internal damage. This art practice was a literal retelling of a handful of stories over and over again. A psychic wound I felt the compulsion to pick open and make fester.

Like a prodded open wound, my art practice became infected. My paintings and illustrations became infected with victimhood and self-righteous martyrdom.

The internal alchemy that happens inside you while creating artwork has the potential power to transform your soul. The possibility of internal alchemy and the possibility of perpetuating your internal stories (you are who they say you are) are always at hand. If you are an artist and a painter, they can quite literally be at your hands.

The path of creation can also be the path back to your heart and soul.

As a young and stubborn artist, I routinely chose to perpetuate my internal stories. I routinely chose to use my art as a medium to glorify my hurt.

I had my glorifying-ly painful art practice for years until one day I heard a small voice say, “Use your art to heal your heart. It will save your life.”

With this voice as a guide, I began to meditate regularly. I began to practice Yoga again. I began to eat with the love and respect that years of studying Ayurveda had taught me how to do. I did all these things not out of a sense of duty, but out of a feeling of pure self-love.

Now you may be wondering what self-love has to do with an alchemical art practice.

Consider how you create art as akin to Yoga’s credo: “How you choose to show up to your mat is how you choose to show up to your life.”

How I chose to show up to my deeply personal art practice is how I chose to show up to all aspects of my life. My daily and artistic practices that were once stuck and stagnant were now fluid and humming with life.

As my mind, body and psychic self began to organically heal old rips and wounds, my paintings began to speak and take on a life of their own.

My paintings and my being became one and the same. As I worked on illustrations with dedicated love and care, my body began to spontaneously work on repairing itself with this same love and care. I could literally feel years of conditioning and pain burning away.

It did not matter if I was conscious of this process or not, the fires of alchemy burned me away all the same. All I consciously did was try not to get in the way of this transformative birthing through fire.

A birthing of a more authentic self.

Making art is like giving birth. Through this act of metaphorical birthing, you have the potential to birth your self — your authentic self.

The act of creation can also act as a catalyst. The path to creation can also be the path back to your heart and soul. The path of creation can become a path back home. The artist’s process of creation can have the power of alchemy — the power of magical transformation.

If that is not an incentive to go out and create, I don’t know what is.


Noël Smith-Sparrow is a visual artist and witch. She is both radically honest and awkward in her artwork and life. For more information on upcoming work, services and shows, visit her website. You could also follow her on Instagram and Facebook.


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