Episode 4: Creating From Your Pain

We all go through our unique struggles. But they can be inspirational learning experiences. In this episode, I share tips on creating from your pain. We look at the example of artist Ernie Barnes, Da Vinci, Nina Simone, and more.

  1. Feeling Stuck?

  2. Learn from Examples

  3. Ernie Barnes’s 3 super moves

  4. Bonus: 7 Keys to Maintain Your Creative Spirit

Feeling Stuck?

Ever feel stuck in a rut? A pattern that you can’t seem to break? Yes, I know I have. You may be coping with YOUR PERCEIVED WEAKNESSES.

You MAY have a feeling of not being in control of your own destiny. I know what that’s like. It doesn’t feel good. You have that 1 thing you want to get accomplished. Or multiple. Or maybe it’s a whole version of YOU that you know you’re not close to being.

For me, that’s been a struggle of how people perceive me. What I really feel I am destined to be. The ROLE I’m currently playing. We all have multiple things we want to accomplish in life. Whether we want to admit it or not. When you were a kid, there’s someone who inspired you. Something you wanted to be. We may think that they are unattainable sometimes.

Learn from Examples

The truth is so many of US are NOT WHAT THEY SAY WE SHOULD BE. That’s what makes you special. Don’t forget that. You can use examples of other people that had their struggles in life and still made a lasting impact.

A few examples that I always reference when I get in a stuck mindset, are people who overcame struggle. How did they overcome their struggles? We can speculate, but we don’t quite know. I believe, they were able to create from their pain.



Leonardo Da Vinci

  • Someone who did studies in anatomy, flight, Art

  • Rough upbringing, he was an illegitimate child.

  • Struggled with personal life, many of his works were unfinished.

Nina Simone

Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns

Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns

  • Poet, singer, activist

  • Her art told the story of what was happening, but

  • Struggled with acceptance into a renowned music school, personal life, and finances

Ernie Barnes

  • He pushed the boundaries. A person who was an athlete, artist, and author.

  • One of the things that he states is that through his career as an NFL player, he never stopped being an artist.

  • He also took his understanding of human movement and infused this into his paintings, building a unique signature look for his portraits.

  • Struggled with not having an example of black artists

  • I would imagine that he struggled with shifting to professional athletics

Ernie Barnes’s 3 Super Moves

Ernie Barnes is an artist who made an impact of epic proportions. From Durham, NC, he became a world-renowned artist, with a signature style.

What I see in Ernie was that he made 3 SUPER MOVES to maintain his creative spirit and leave a lasting mark.

  • Ask Questions. Maintained his CURIOSITY.

  • continued to PRACTICE, and STUDY.


Ernie was able to use these key actions to make his mark, defy stereotypes, and beat the odds. He’s now an artist with a long-lasting legacy. His art was featured on a Marvin Gaye album” Off the Wall”,the show Good Times, and it’s instantly recognizable to millions of people. Throughout life, he remembered to create.

Family definitely matters. Responsibilities matter. Don’t let your professional life get in the way of what’s in your SOUL. Don’t forget to use what you are passionate about to express yourself.

But don’t let a part of your life cut off your spirit. Your creative spirit.

BONUS: How to Maintain your Creative Spirit

  1. READ a book.

    • Find a book that speaks to you. Whether it’s a mystery, history, psychology, romance, science. Pick a subject that interests you, and lose yourself in reading about that topic.

  2. Don’t dwell on your FLAWS, WEAKNESS, SHAME

    • Accept your faults, but realize they don’t define you. Do your best to curb behaviors that are harmful to you and others. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

  3. REALIZE YOUR STRENGTH. What are you really good at, and enjoy more than anything else. Maybe you’re a writer, a great cook, you like to make things with your hands. If you know how to do some super technical skill. You collect some obscure stamp. You are a great ORATOR.

    • If you’re really good at something, chances are you can channel that skill toward a positive force. Do it in a way that nobody else is and help others.


    • Where do you create? Create a space in your home where you dedicate only to practicing your skills, and creating.


    • Use your strength, whichever way that you create, and spend time crafting your story. It can be food, literary, art, business, don’t limit yourself.

  6. Find a support GROUP. That can be your friends, family, fellow creators, whoever you feel comfortable with.

    • Depending on how you create, you may find that small groups are better. Do what works for you. Personally, I like to keep this group small based on my creative style. Your group may be a larger group that gets together to share feedback..

  7. BRING IT BACK to the community.

    • There’s someone out there in the world that needs to hear, see, taste, smell, touch what you are creating. You have at this point in time all of the resources available to reach your audience. I use this podcast for example.

    • Do the proper research. There are many helpful resources available online, many of which are inexpensive. See what’s worked for others. But, most importantly, experiment. See what works for you. If it doesn’t work, adjust, and try again.

If you got something from these episode, please let me know by commenting, reaching out, or SUBSCRIBING BELOW.