Art Enfolds Grief

Jim Moore
10 min readNov 13, 2021
Pear and Grapes on Cotton Towel Digital Art by J. Moore

Grief as a dead-end or as a guide forward

One of the things I learned early on as a photographer and as an artist, is the importance of applying the creative instinct when things in life go south and grief threatens to settle in. There is absolutely nothing wrong with grief — it is a fundamental ,part of human nature (and quite often observed in the animal world). It is a valuable response to loss, and as far as I know, there is no prescribed time limit to how long we should grieve. We just grieve in our own time, and in our own way.

I began writing this article for my blog,, as a way to share with my readers, many of whom are my age or older, how the death of a sibling can be the seed for creativity. The artwork and the article were helpful outlets for my grief.

A few weeks ago, my sister, 77, my only sibling, died suddenly after several years of physical decline. She lived in Florida, I learned of her death several days after she passed, and there was no opportunity to fly there from Northern Virginia. For a variety of reasons, I will not be able to be there for her memorial service, or to see her ashes scattered across the Gulf of Mexico.

My grief was not immediate or crushing; it came slowly and showed itself in small ways that accumulated over the days following her death. Eventually, it caught up with me, and I sought out the one thing I knew would help me face the inevitable sadness and loneliness:: making art.

A simple practice piece become the core of grief consolation

I had been sketching and working up a still life of a pear as a shadows-practice piece, and had just roughed in a clutch of grapes when I got the call from Florida. For several days after the call I set aside the unfinished still life in order to help my brother-in-law with matters related to my sister.

It all began with a simple pear

Do I proceed or stand in place?

When I returned to the iPad and opened Procreate, I saw the pear and a small bunch of grapes looking surreal in their freshness and…

Jim Moore

Journalist, former Capitol Hill staff (House and Senate), former Cabinet speechwriter, editor, photojournalist and bird photographer. Top Writer Quora 2016–2017