Mental Health Awareness May in my Art Life
Sketchbook-Ink Drawing- Greed
After last month's inspiring experience about uplifting and engaging female identifying artists, I felt hard pressed to follow that. I have so many different projects going on this year, but as the month of May has been talking about the issues of mental health, I thought to share some of my art that is connected with the ideas of bringing awareness.
Then I thought again, why not be open with you a bit about my mental health and how I deal with my own mental battles? Now that it isn't so taboo or thought of as weak or varying other harmful stereotypes driven by deeply ingrained societal beliefs of toxic masculinity, there are people talking publicly now about their personal stories of mental health. As a person who has suffered from panic disorder and depression most of my life I find it extremely brave and wonderful that we are talking about this.
So long I have lived with my demons on my own, afraid to talk about any of this. It is truly a beautiful feeling to have open arms, open minds and open discussion of something so important to life.
For me, painting from the beginning was an outlet, a way to escape difficult family problems and as I grew it became more and more integral to my daily routine. I would notice if I didn't paint, I became horribly depressed and angry. As soon as I put the color to the brush and the paint on the canvas, all the world became quiet and the problems so loud hit the canvas with force and my body, my mind, this energy flowed through me and all felt finally fucking right with being me.
Years later I developed severe panic disorder during and after two particularly hard relationships. My panic disorder used to cripple me mentally, so much I couldn't leave the house or get out of bed for days on end. Semi normal activities like walking outside and talking to people were earth movingly hard for me. Sometimes I still struggle with this, but as we all have good and bad days, I try not to beat myself up for staying in. It's ok if you need to feel safe in your home, in your self. The news loves to make us afraid of going outside too, so I understand. Just don't let them dictate how you feel. Create a protective circle around yourself with things you know will make you feel better and slowly come back outside at your own pace.
It has been a long journey but I am here and I'm ok.
I hope for everyone to be able to accept support like I did from friends, family or online support groups and that they will be able to be ok too. We all have our own ok, so don't feel like you have to be like everyone else, you do what is comfortable for you and as long as you are not hurting yourself or others, believe in yourself, be patient, be loving and good things will come.
As I've stated many times and will continue to say for the rest of my life, art is my therapy.
If you don't have or like the traditional means of therapy or have not found an outlet to express how you feel, I highly suggest the following: buy/borrow a bucket(buckets) of paint, a large canvas, tarp for the mess, wear clothes you don't care about and just fling that fucking paint at the canvas. For added fun post a photo of your favorite asshole politician of the month on the canvas and I guarantee it will take the stress off.
Maybe you can even sell it and then donate it to your favorite cause: ACLU, HRC, College Art Association, Women's Equality Party or Planned Parenthood. Who knows where art will lead you, but it has the wonderful possibility that it makes you feel a little better and can become an outlet for you.
For my artistic contribution to the mental health month of May, I've chosen art which speaks more about my internal battles. I work in a variety of mediums of art, you will be able to see how my brain works in different styles. I think it's fun to switch it up. Otherwise it gets a bit boring and repetitive for me. Even if my heart belongs to oil paint, I love the freedom and instant feeling of a completed art piece when I work in watercolor or ink.
I will do my best to describe what was going through my mind when painting or drawing them, but know that they were all painted with feeling. (Okay probably with feelings with ssssss)
After the unfortunate election season in America and the xenophobic act of Brexit, my brain was heavy with thoughts on how to move forward from such devastating decisions. Being a freelance artist in 2017, my career is largely online and a lot of my work and clients are from the internet. A necessary thing is self promotion and one of the ways to do that, is to be involved in social media, twitter, instagram, facebook, etc. Those places are a haven for people being angry at each other and at one point it just became too much. The world was so loud, I felt all these opinions of what should have been done, who's wrong, who's right.
I could not think clear.
So I did one thing: I deactivated my FB and painted this watercolor. It's called "Get your Tongues out of my Skin and let me Think for Myself".
Anger and depression are sisters in me, because depression is anger turned inward. This abstract watercolor sketch depicts something very raw, it was one of those days I was so angry and sad. I could not communicate it verbally, so I did this and it helped release some demons.
If you are a human person with feelings, empathy, and you watch the news at any given point in the last few years and especially the last half year I think we can all say: the news loves playing with our emotions. This oil painting is called "Playing with my Heart Strings" because everyday I feel the pull of global events tugging on my heart. I think my heart breaks twice on a daily basis and on the day of editing this blog my heart got punched in the throat with the tragedy that happened in Manchester. Love to all who were affected by such hate.
Haha, I couldn't resist putting this guy in here. Sometimes all we need is a good laugh and every time I look at this, I remember when I drew it on a particularly rotten day and it makes me feel so much better. Art doesn't always have to be complex to be important or meaningful. Sometimes it's the small things like this that give us a lift and push us forward through the day.
I hope my willingness to be open and share my mental health has inspired others to be more open with themselves and maybe, just maybe changed someone's negative feelings about mental health to a positive one.
Love to you.
Are you contributing to Mental Health May? If so, how? How do the daily global events affect your life and what are your outlets for dealing with stress? Any helpful ideas on how to create self-care, self-positive environments in your daily practices? I would love to hear them.