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  • Writer's picturePeter Ashworth


Updated: Dec 5, 2023

How art can move you emotionally, stir unexpected feelings and interpretations, create a profound mental impact, and even make you feel alive.

Art, in its various forms, has the extraordinary power to move us emotionally, transcending the boundaries of language and logic. Art has the ability to evoke profound and visceral feelings, and can connect us to our deepest emotions.

In this exploration, I try to explain a very complex concept: How art can move you emotionally, stir unexpected feelings and interpretations, create a profound mental impact, and even make you feel alive.

I am an artist, and at my very core, this is what I am trying very hard to deliver to those who view my art, through my creative thinking, the visual and tactile materials I use, and my learned skills. I want to create a visceral emotion – an evocative impact - a WOW!


Art has emotionally moved humans since early humans developed the ability to think. It's important to understand that these cognitive developments in our earliest ancestors were not isolated events, but rather interconnected aspects of a dynamic evolutionary process that unfolded over thousands of years. The human capacity for abstract thinking, logical reasoning and then the ability to feel emotions, continues to evolve and shape our understanding of the world around us, and our unique experiences, interactions and worldviews - every day.

1. How we translate visual sensory input into feelings.

The creation of emotions in the human brain is a dynamic and integrated process involving the interplay of sensory input, neural processing, hormonal and neurotransmitter release, physiological responses, and cognitive appraisal. Emotions serve as a complex and adaptive system that influences our thoughts, behaviors, and interactions with the world. While our understanding of emotions is continually expanding, the intricate dance of neural and physiological processes underscores the richness and diversity of the human emotional experience.

2. It’s complex.

The process of how the human brain takes a visual element, such as a painting seen with the eyes, and transforms it into a visceral emotion and deep feelings, involves a complex interplay between sensory perception, cognitive processing, previous life experiences and gained knowledge, personal worldview and emotional response.

When looking at art, the brain translates sensory input into physiological responses through a coordinated effort involving the amygdala, hypothalamus, autonomic nervous system, and hormonal systems. These responses prepare the body to navigate and respond to emotional experiences, facilitating adaptive behaviors in the face of perceived threats, emotions or rewards. The integration of sensory input, emotional evaluation, and physiological adjustments is a dynamic process that happens in fractions of seconds, that contributes to the intricate interplay between mind and body in the experience of art.

3. The Language and Emotions of Colors: Painting Emotions Through Color

Colors are the vibrancy, and the silent storytellers of art, each hue carrying a unique emotional resonance. Artists skillfully wield colors to convey mood, tone, and atmosphere in their creations. Consider the warmth of golden yellows in a sunset scene, the coolness of blues evoking a sense of tranquility, or the intensity of reds expressing passion and vitality. The deliberate choice and arrangement of colors in art have the power to elicit visceral emotional responses, creating an immersive experience for the viewer.

Color and energy frequencies have a fascinating and intricate relationship with the human brain and can significantly influence our thoughts, emotions, and overall well-being. This phenomenon, known as color psychology and its connection to energy frequencies, has been studied extensively and has practical applications in various fields, including design, marketing, and therapy.

Colors are a manifestation of energy frequencies. Each color corresponds to a specific wavelength and frequency within the electromagnetic spectrum. These energy frequencies can interact with the human brain and body, affecting various physiological and psychological processes. The concept of energy frequencies is closely linked to practices like color therapy and chromotherapy, which use specific colors to promote healing and well-being.

Setting the mood: Different colors evoke different emotions and moods. By carefully selecting art pieces with specific color palettes, you can create a desired atmosphere in your home. For instance, warm colors like reds and oranges can add energy and warmth, while cool colors like blues and greens can create a calming and tranquil environment. The chosen artwork's colors can influence the overall mood of the room.

Personal self-expression: Art is a reflection of personal taste and style, and color choice and color styling is a uniquely personal taste. By incorporating artwork that resonates with your personality and interests, you can infuse your home with a sense of identity and create a space that feels uniquely yours. Whether it's a piece that speaks to your love for nature, your favorite artist, or a meaningful subject, art can add a personal touch and make your home feel more inviting and authentic.

4. Expressive Brushstrokes: Conveying Energy and Intention

The way an artist applies paint to canvas can be as expressive as the colors chosen. Bold, sweeping brushstrokes can convey energy, urgency, or movement, while delicate and intricate strokes may evoke a sense of subtlety or introspection. The very act of observing these brushstrokes allows us to witness the artist's hand at work, forging a direct connection between the creator's emotional state and the viewer's response.

5. The Power of Composition: Guiding Emotional Narrative

The arrangement of elements within a piece, known as composition, plays a crucial role in guiding emotional narrative. A well-composed artwork can lead the viewer's gaze through a visual journey, subtly influencing the emotional experience. Consider how a centrally placed subject may evoke stability and balance, while asymmetry might introduce tension or dynamism. Understanding the principles of composition enables viewers to connect with the emotional nuances deliberately embedded in the artwork.

6. Symbolism and Metaphor: Layers of Emotional Depth

Art often communicates on a symbolic and metaphorical level, inviting viewers to delve into layers of meaning and emotion. Symbols, whether cultural or personal, can carry deep emotional significance. A simple object, like a wilting flower or a soaring bird, can transcend its literal representation, resonating with viewers on a profoundly emotional level. Interpreting these symbols adds richness and complexity to the emotional experience of art.

7. Capturing Moments in Time: Photography as Emotional Time Capsules

Photography, as a form of visual art, has the unique ability to freeze moments in time, preserving the emotions present in that fleeting instant. Candid portraits, breathtaking landscapes, and documentary images all serve as emotional time capsules, allowing viewers to empathize with the experiences and emotions captured by the photographer. A single photograph has the power to transport us to another time and place, invoking a visceral emotional response.

8. Sculpting Emotion: The Tangibility of Feelings

Sculpture adds a tangible dimension to emotional expression in art. The physicality of sculpture allows viewers to engage with art on a tactile level, enhancing the emotional connection. Whether through the smooth curves of a marble figure or the textured surfaces of mixed-media sculptures, the tangible nature of sculpture encourages a more intimate exploration of the emotional nuances embedded in the artwork.

9. Art as a Mirror: Reflecting and Resonating with the Viewer

Art is a mirror reflecting the emotions of both the creator and the viewer. The themes explored in artworks often mirror universal human experiences, inviting viewers to recognize and resonate with shared emotions. A well-crafted piece can evoke a sense of empathy, allowing viewers to see aspects of themselves reflected in the art. This process of recognition and resonance deepens the emotional impact, fostering a sense of connection between the viewer and the artwork.

10. Art Therapy: Healing through Creative Expression

Beyond the act of observation, engaging with art can be a form of therapeutic expression. Art therapy harnesses the emotional power of creative endeavors to facilitate self-discovery, healing, and emotional release. Creating art, whether through painting, drawing, or other mediums, provides individuals with a means to externalize and process complex emotions, offering a unique avenue for emotional exploration and understanding.

11. Context and Cultural Influence: Shaping Emotional Responses

The cultural and historical context in which art is created significantly influences the emotional impact it carries. Art can serve as a reflection of societal attitudes, political climates, and cultural shifts. Consider how art created during times of turmoil may convey a sense of unrest or defiance. Understanding the context in which art is produced enriches the emotional experience by providing insights into the artist's intent and the societal backdrop that shaped their creative expression.

12. Beyond the Visible: Exploring the Subconscious and Abstract Emotions

Art's ability to emotionally move us extends beyond the visible and tangible. Abstract art, in particular, invites viewers to explore the realms of the subconscious and tap into abstract emotions. The absence of recognizable forms allows for a more personal and subjective interpretation, enabling viewers to connect with the emotions evoked by the artwork on an intuitive level.

In Conclusion: Art Delivers a Symphony of Emotions Unveiled

Art has the profound ability to evoke, express, and connect on a deeply emotional level. The emotional power of art is a symphony of colors, shapes, and expressions that transcends the boundaries of language. There are many ways in which art can emotionally move you, taking you on a journey through the realms of human experience that only visual expression such as art can illuminate.

By understanding the language of colors, the power of composition, and the symbolism embedded in artworks, viewers can embark on a journey of emotional exploration every time they engage with art. Ultimately, art is a conduit for the expression and experience of the vast spectrum of human emotions, a timeless dialogue between creator and observer that transcends the confines of the visible world.

All art in this article is by Peter Ashworth.

Peter Ashworth is a Southern California impact artist whose purpose is to inspire people to feel alive, take them on a journey of transformation, and help them live their best creative life. He believes his art should engage, entertain and uplift his customers to express their creative nature, to spark their imagination, and their desire to live creatively.

He is a working artist available for personally commissioned art.

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