Book Review: Affect in Artistic Creativity – Painting to Feel by Jussi A. Saarinen

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Robin Tipple


Most Art Therapists and Art Psychotherapists have a belief in the healing qualities of the media. It is a shared article of faith that creative material processes, of themselves, can promote the development of health and stability. Nevertheless, we also know that the relation to the material element is not without hazard. This is a problem for us, I think, because we can never be certain about the relationship between a service user, or client, and the physical material she manipulates. In terms of the relation that the other has to substance and process, we are always on the outside. 

This book by Jussi A. Saarinen, who is a psychologist and a post-doctoral researcher in philosophy, explores the painter’s relationship to painting, the ‘experience itself’ (2021: 1. italics the author). Saarinen stresses that he is not concerned with expression but with what painters feel ‘because they paint’ (2021:1). His book is essentially a carefully constructed argument, which engages with philosophical literatures, psychoanalysis, recent cognitive theory and interviews with artists, in support of the proposition that: “Painters paint to feel.” (2021: 1.  Italics the author). 


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