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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Badrock

6 Steps to expressing your emotions like Frida Khalo

She said that she painted self-portraits because “…I am the person I know best.”

Mexican painter Frida Khalo was known best for her unique ability to express her inner self. Albeit, she argued she was not a surrealist, her artwork definitely told a different story. She was always the subject of her art, unleashing her pain on the canvas she often played with themes of death, identity and the human body.

There are many websites out there discussing the biography of Frida Khalo. Millions of people throughout history are in awe of her artistic abilities and style with her brilliantly colourful pieces depicting monkeys, tropical flowers, monkeys and of course - herself. But I would, however, the way in which she used art to express how she sat in the world around her. She was a master at expressing her emotions, desires and tragic life events. I think we can learn a lot from Frida in this regard. If you read on, you will not only gain an understanding of how she achieved this, but also how you can, just like Frida, use art as a way to express your emotions and work through whatever hardships life is bringing your way.

Frida was no stranger to unexpected tragic life events that would leave her with permanent damage to her health. When Frida was six, she contracted a disease called polio, leaving her with a damaged leg leaving her with a permanent limp. When Frida was 18, she was involved in a traffic accident resulting in broken bones in her spine, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, leg, foot and shoulder. She had many operations and spent three months in a full-body cast to help her to recover.

Frida's life perspective and unconditional desire to paint and draw aided her in not only passing the time, buck reckoning with her catastrophic emotional and physical injuries. No even being bed bound would stop this deeply influential and inspiring artist; She couldn’t see very much from her bed, so she had a mirror placed on the ceiling so that she could see herself.

“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint.”

Below you will find two brilliant examples of how Frida Khalo expressed her pain in 'The Two Fridas' and 'The Wounded Deer'.

The Two Fridas. The unusually large canvas (5.69 × 5.68 feet [1.74 × 1.73 metres]) shows twin figures holding hands, each figure representing an opposing side of Kahlo. The figure to the left, dressed in a European-style wedding dress, is the side that Rivera purportedly rejected, and the figure to the right, dressed in Tehuana attire, is the side Rivera loved best. The full heart of the indigenous Kahlo is on display, and from it an artery leads to a miniature portrait of Rivera that she holds in her left hand. Another artery connects to the heart of the other Kahlo, which is fully exposed and reveals the anatomy within. The end of the artery is cut, and the European Kahlo holds a surgical instrument seemingly to stem the flow of blood that drips onto her white dress.

Description was originally cited from: by Alicja Zelazko Last Updated: Jul 9, 2021

‘The Wounded Deer’ is a painting by Frida Kahlo. In the painting, she shows a deer in a forest. The deer has been struck by many arrows and is clearly in pain. Frida painted her own face on the deer’s body. The painting was created shortly after Frida had had an operation on her spine, which was meant to cure her severe back pain following a bus crash at the age of 18. Frida was disappointed to still be in great pain following the operation. She began to feel depressed. Frida created the painting to demonstrate the physical and emotional pain she was in.

Description originally cited from



A step by Step guide...

Lets see how you go :)

  1. Think of different emotions. Choose one that you think would make a good subject for a piece of art.

  2. Choose what you are going to use to create your art. It could be paint, pencil crayons, pastels or felt tips.

  3. Choose an animal for your piece of art. Frida Kahlo used a deer for her painting. Deer were her favourite animal, and she actually had a pet deer called Granizo. You could choose your favourite animal or your pet.

  4. Instead of the animal’s head, think about using a human head, just like Frida Kahlo did. You could add your own head to the painting if you wanted, but you don’t have to.

  5. Make the background of your art fit the emotion you are showing. In ‘The Wounded Deer’, Frida Kahlo chose a background of damaged trees, broken branches and dead leaves to suggest the pain and sadness she was feeling.

  6. In the corner of the painting, Frida Kahlo wrote the word ‘carma’ (usually written as karma), which refers to someone’s destiny. Maybe you could add a word to your art. You could look up the emotional word in another language and write that.

I hope you have heaps of luck trying this exercise out, let me know how you go!

If would like to expand on your art skill set, or learn how to draw animals and flowers, simply go to my events page and book yourself or your child in for an art class.

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