Some Ponderings About Depression

I know lately I’ve been focused on sharing my art work and the process behind what I do, but tonight my head is heavy with thought.  My ponderings are of a serious tone tonight.

There was a comment that one of my friends made today on Facebook about some guy who committed suicide… that the person was selfish for taking his own life and how he’s needlessly causing his family pain.  This struck a nerve with me.  I had mentioned in a previous post about having personal experience with depression.  I do understand how someone could see the situation in the way like my friend did.  All you see is someone who had shloads of potential and they cut their life short.  All you see are the people who are left behind grieving.  One, I would hope that people could give the deceased a little compassion without having to personally walk in their shoes… obviously they were in some sort of mental anguish to get to the point where dying seemed more preferable.  But two, I also know that some people have to experience something first hand before they can see from another perspective.  So another perspective I shall give…

First of all- was there ever a time where you were depressed?  I mean utter despair… a horrible break up, a huge betrayal from someone you know and trusted, someone close to you dying, or some other tragedy… not something that is really sad, but you can get over it in a few days… I mean something that upsets your very core and feels like it will never get better.  Now imagine having those feelings without any tragic event triggering it.  You’re just doing your normal thing and this deep sadness overwhelms you and your thoughts begin to circle around the hopelessness of any obstacles that life may bring.  Normally you’re pretty upbeat, but today you can’t stop thinking about all the suffering in the world and how it feels there is nothing that can be done to stop it.  Or you think of how you put your foot in your mouth sometime in the past and now are convinced that you pissed your friends off and how you really are an insensitive jerk of person anyway.  You may even try thinking positively and try to say to yourself that you don’t really “know” that people are unhappy with you and perhaps it’s just all in your head.  The unfortunate thing is that your brain isn’t operating logically at this time.

The brain is a storm of chemical reactions, synapses firing, and hormones giving messages.  What if that process was out of whack?  What if there was something happening inside of it preventing it from reasoning properly?  One, it would be a terrifying feeling… for your mind- the center of your consciousness- to not be working.   How horrifying to not be in control of your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions?   This is what it can be like to have clinical depression.  Logic doesn’t work.  Whatever troubling thoughts you have, even if highly unlikely, seem like the absolute truth.  So if normally you could see where you have good things going in your life worth living for and that a bad day isn’t permanent, that isn’t necessarily the case when you’re experiencing depression.  And the mental pain really sucks!  Remember how I said it feels like a tragic event has happened without the event needing to take place?  So not only are all these askewed thoughts going through your head, you’re aslo feeling the worst sadness imaginable.   Believe me that there are times when death seems preferable.   There are times I’m convinced that friends hate me, or that I can never accomplish anything in life, or that life is so cruel and why should I bother trying.  On the flip side- there is someone I deeply love and am looking forward to spending more time with, I have a potential art career budding, and I am a creative silly person who loves to do things to make positive change in the world.  But if I were in a certain state of mind, my thoughts would convince me that there is no hope, it’s pointless to try to improve the world , or my special someone would be better off with someone else and deserves better than someone who is crazy… if I were suicidal, I could reason that he and other close friends would get over it if I wasn’t around anymore.  Now don’t worry- I’m NOT suicidal.  As much as I may be dipping into depression the past couple of days, I am not in that frame of mind.  But this is an example of a possible scenario.  Luckily I have coping mechanisms, therapy under my belt, some medicine in my system, and knowledge of what to do if my thoughts did turn that severe.  Normally I wouldn’t be too comfortable sharing such intimate personal details like this on a blog.  But the suicide discussion today made me realize that talking about such things may help with others understanding.  Especially when some off-base notions were being mentioned; a notion like the one I’m about to describe.

Another comment that was brought up in that conversation was how crappy people who commit suicide are to think they are in pain when there are people dying of cancer and such.  This is the stigma people with mental illnesses have had to endure for a long time.  This is PAINFUL condition.  No bones are broken, no tumors causing blinding sharp physical pain… but mental pain IS painful.  People brush off emotional pain or pain of the mind as not real.  Is it because they can’t hear the person’s inner thoughts or feel what they are feeling?  I’m not sure.  I guess awesome for them for never having to go through that… to be able to go for their goals and pursue their desires without their brain interfering or their self preservation instinct not functioning properly.   I guess what it comes down to is compassion.  If someone is hurting, why not believe them?  Why does it come down to a “scar contest” and who’s wounds are the most severe?  The thing about our minds is that no one experiences life the same.  The way we perceive and our thought processes are hidden from view.  Even the way we see the color “blue” is different and we’ll never know what a friend’s blue looks like without seeing it through their eyes; without processing it with their mind.

So remember that we all have these hidden worlds and some people’s worlds are on fire.  Instead of judging them or discounting their struggle, you could offer them some water.

Just a thought.

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Tales of My Personal Art History 3: Subconscious Journeys

In the fall of 2013, I began to feel much better mentally & emotionally; going to counseling had helped repair my trauma, my self esteem had improved, and there was love in my heart again.  I started painting a Christmas gift; a gift that wouldn’t be ready until a couple months after and would stall any other creativity until it was completed.  But that project is a post for another day…

 

So 2014 has been an interesting year thus far for not just me, but my artwork as well.  I took my exploration of color and kinetic line (like in my Portal Paintings), and added form.  These pieces started off as abstracts with no plan; just allowing color and line flow freely.  I experimented with heavy washes of paint that would drip down the canvass, splashes of pigment that I flicked off my brush, and thick strokes of color.  But, it was in this unplanned chaos of paint that I saw figures, faces, landscapes, and creatures.  And then, I drew these shapes out.  I really didn’t know what direction the paintings would take; I just put more detail in the figures I saw peeking out of the blur of colors.  Was I tapping into my subconscious?  Or was I channeling information out of the ether?  I’m not sure.  I do know that I enjoyed being pleasantly surprised during the entire process.

 

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You are Loved ~ 2014 ~ acrylic on canvass ~ 24 x 24

(This painting is actual A LOT more turquoise colored than the photo suggests.  Actually, the photos I have currently are admittedly pretty crappy,  but I am using what resources I have at the moment.  In future, I’d hope to have professionally photographed images to display, but there is a reason the term “starving artist” exists, unfortunately)

This painting started out as a swirl of pthalo blue and turquoise hues… and then I saw a face and drew it out…

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I saw another face that became the ‘guardian angel’ type figure and then saw the faces of the little demon guys, and so forth…  I began to see this scene playing out of someone with depression or another sort of mental anguish being plagued with those inner negative thoughts.  If you’ve ever suffered from depression or similar mental illness, you know that the pain of the mind and/or soul can be so much worse than the pain of the body.  It is more than “being really sad”; more than something that merely thinking positively would cure.  The horrible thoughts running through your head and the negative perceptions they cause can feel like being under a curse or being tormented by malevolent creatures.  This painting became an outlet for my own experience with clinical depression and anxiety disorder.  The thoughts and perceptions one can have in that moment are not real or logical, but they feel like the ABSOLUTE TRUTH- that everyone DOES hate you or you really ARE this horrible person.  It is only after you come out of the depression that you can begin to see how false your perceptions were.

In this painting, there is this ‘being of love’ or ‘guardian angel’ bringing in a calming energy… dispelling the demons… letting the person know that what he’s thinking and feeling does not represent the truth, for he IS loved.  The words I painted are:  “The demons in your mind are NOT real. You are LOVED… and never alone”.  Funny how a painting with no plan turned into a powerful message that mirrored my own experiences.

 

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Sacred Water ~ 2014 ~ acrylic on canvass ~ 40 x 30

 

I actually started this piece in 2013.  It was start and stop during my healing time and mostly finished, but I didn’t like it.  But, more on THAT later…

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I wish I had taken a pic when this painting was an abstract- before I drew out the mountains, waterfall, moon, trees, and unicorn, but hindsight and all.  It was a series of drips and slashes of orange… which you can still see the slashes of “pre-phoenix” in this shot.  In the pattern of drips and slashes I saw this magical scene.  It was I place I have had reoccurring dreams about; the “waterfall place” as I call it.  This realm actually became my sacred space during meditation (hence the title).  And throughout the years, I have learned that others have visited this same place in dreams, astral projection, and meditation.  That’s an interesting phenomena that perhaps will be written more about in the future, but yes, another blog for another day indeed.  But in any case, I was happy to be finally creating a work describing this dreamscape that has been in my mind for years.

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Then I added the phoenix… and hated it.  Seriously.  It is common for an artist to be their own worst critic and for the inspiration and drive to flow some moments and in others, stop completely.  So this painting sat and sat in my room.  It may have been 2013 still when I fixed the tail and added talons- I can’t remember.  All I know is I liked the new tail, but hated the talons, ha ha ha. And my painting sat and sat some more.  Finally after finishing “You Are Loved”, I went back to this piece and fixed it to my satisfaction.  Even after that , it took me awhile to warm up to it.  Now I see it as a strong work, but yeah, definitely a lesson in not necessarily trusting my inner critic.

 

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I Am My Own Knight ~ 2014 ~

acrylic & high gloss varnish on canvass ~ 24 x 48

This painting has not been subject to my inner art critic of doom.  I absolutely love it!  I can actually see that this work is good and has potential- seriously that doesn’t always happen, ha ha ha!  Again this one started with drips, slashes, and chaos.  I had this weird, large, white shape in the middle of my canvass, and even though I had no idea where this painting was taking me, I was digging what I was seeing so far.  So at first this big white shape was going to be a scorpion and I was going to go with an astrological theme and call it “Scorpio Rising”.  But there was also something horse-like about it and friends who were around commented that it looked like a white horse.  So, immediately the song “Ride a White Horse” by Goldfrapp popped in my head.  It’s one of my favorite songs in general, but also to sing for karaoke.  But I resisted going that direction at first because of the drug reference… I saw this land as a dreamscape, not a drug trip.  But I added a tiny horse head and started blocking in a rider.  I was seeing that this was a dreamland (people have mentioned that the horse reminds them of Falcor from The Neverending Story, lol).  That this woman/ me was having an awesome dream of riding this mystical horse and being her own knight in shining armor.  And then the concept struck me… this was an artwork of empowerment; a subject that I have been working with in my own life.  That’s right!  She’s her OWN knight!  She’s not waiting around for someone to make her dreams come true, but making those dreams a reality herself!  I am woman- hear me roar!  Feminism not withstanding, I love the dream-like quality and color scheme.  This really is one of my favorite paintings I’ve created thus far.

 

So this the path I’m currently on.  I have started a new painting this week, that started out drippy, but I have a feeling it will have figures soon.  Maybe I’ll add a dinosaur… yeah, dinosaurs kick ass!

Tales of My Personal Art History 2: Goddess Paintings

I moved to Austin, TX in the spring of 2013, and it was definitely a time of adjustment and healing for me.  I mustered up the courage to leave an unhealthy marriage, and a week and a half later I hitched a ride with my best friend who was already moving to Austin.  She needed a travel buddy for a long trip- I needed a change of scenery and a fresh start.  I had packed some clothes, toiletries, artwork, and art supplies because that’s how I roll apparently.  You can read the post I wrote when I first arrived and the one about healing to get a glimpse of that time if you wish.  But soon after, I had stopped writing my blog.  So much had happened in between feeling like a phoenix and posting again the other day.  A lot more healing was needed than I ever imagined and I had struggled with repairing the damage for several months.  My challenge was to rediscover who I was and to “unlock my inner goddess”.  Even though finding inspiration to create was hit and miss, my art became a form of therapy for my soul.  With these next two paintings, I had a blueprint of what I wanted before I stood at my easel.  I had looked to old sketchbooks to rediscover images I had done when I felt whole.  It was fitting that I chose images of powerful and magical women during this time; I time when I was trying to regain my own power.  I may have had a planned composition in mind before I put brush to canvass, but I still let the painting “choose” how it formed.  These works are a combination of free style and formulation.

 

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The Star ~ 2013 ~ acrylic on canvass ~ 30 x 24 

 

This was originally a doodle on my Galaxy Note

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What a difference a change in materials can make!  And on canvass she became more of a powerful celestial figure…. controlling the chaos rather than being captured by it.  The imagery also reminded me of The Star card in a tarot deck, hence the title.  This piece was the first one in which I built up a series of washes and drips in the background; a technique I would continue with later on.

 

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One ~ 2013 ~ acrylic on canvass ~ 24 x 24

 

Here’s the original idea in my sketchbook:

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This shows the difference the change in scale can make.  She did lose the lunar goddess imagery of the original, but I believe she gained something in the painted version.  I’ll explain in just a bit, so bear with me.  I had this original sketch, but still wasn’t sure what direction the painting would ultimately take.  I liked the contrast of the rectangular forms against the curves of her hair and body.  I originally had painted the orbs in her hair to be planets in various bright colors.  But I wasn’t feeling it.  It was only after I painted the shapes white and silver, did it seem to make sense.  She was ONE with the universe; the universal goddess of all.  There was now a feeling of calm that the work radiated.  She evolved from a lunar deity to a cosmic force.  Quite an awesome transformation to inspire me during my personal reconstruction.

So this was my 2nd art period.  A short one perhaps, but part of my artistic and personal journey.

Tales of My Personal Art History: Portal Paintings

While going through my work to get ready for my first art exhibition in Austin, I realized that even in just the 8 paintings I was displaying, they represented 3 periods of my artwork.  I was astonished that I had art periods like a real famous artist person!  How bizarre!

With that said, here is the first group of paintings done 2009- 2011, The Portal Paintings…

I have always felt more comfortable with a pencil, pen, or pastel in my hand than a brush.  Drawing is my background and my major in college (before dropping out).  I feel more in control and love the energy of the lines that can be achieved with a drawing instrument.  2009 – 2011 were significant years for me in which I pushed myself out of my comfort zone in many facets of my life.  As an artist, I went in a different direction by pouring my creativity onto canvass; by experimenting with color and the organic rhythm of lying on pigment with no plan or objective.  I allowed myself to flow.  I call these ‘Portal Paintings’ because not only do I see portal or tunnel shapes in them, they also serve as an opening or doorway to another form of self expression.

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The Portal ~ 2009~ Acrylic & high gloss varnish on canvass ~

30 x 40

 

This was my first attempt of painting a large abstract.  I was just jamming to music (a CD of local punk bands) in “the wee apartment” in Clifton Heights near the University of Cincinnati.  I was just letting my brush travel the canvass; making swirls and undulating shapes.  It was only when I had finished and backed away from the work to get a better look, that I was surprised by the imagery and thought that it looked like a creepy portal to hell, ha ha ha.  At first, this painting wigged me out… I didn’t want evil creatures coming out of my painting while I slept.  Seriously that WAS a thought that crossed my mind even though it is quite ridiculous and illogical.  Later on I came to love this piece; I enjoyed the swirls and spirals, the bright gold against the red and black, and came to see it as energetic and powerful rather than ‘creepy’.  I actually view it now as a sort of a dream catcher object that sucks negativity to another dimension.  Ha ha ha, I’m not superstitious AT ALL.

 

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Land of Impossible Dreams ~ 2009 ~ acrylic on canvass ~

36 x 48

 

This was another painting I created in that wee apartment in Clifton while listening to cd’s of local music.  I wanted to capture a different energy than I had in the previous one.  I liked working on a large scale and this was a huge canvass that I bought at the art store up the street.  I could afford it because of a super 70% off sale.  I also liked the look of the metallic gold against the other colors in my last painting, so decided to use that element again in this painting.  Working large and metallics will be 2 qualities I keep in the future.  But this was in the beginning, before I knew what other worlds I would create.

 

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Down The Rabbit Hole With Rat Pack ~ 2011 ~

acrylic & high gloss varnish on canvass ~ 36 x 36

Mid-summer of 2009, I found myself in the hospital and found that I had health issues of which I was previously unaware.  For many months I adjusted to lifestyle changes and powerful medicine.  I also started dating someone in 2010, so I was a bit distracted from painting indeed.  In 2011, I started my experimentation with large abstracts; now that I was married to the guy I had started dating a year ago.  At this point, I was using my phone and Pandora to supply the soundtrack.  I swirled green about and posted the finished product on Facebook.  Through the many comments, friends were mentioning seeing a martini glass and olive.  One of these friend went farther and came up with the awesome title I ended up keeping.  Yes martinis and old blue eyes (though I’m partial to ‘Dean-O’). Funny thing is, I now see I graffiti-esque “tag” in this painting.  Totally see the word “smores”.  Seriously…

 

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Yonic Blue ~ 2011 ~ acrylic & high gloss varnish on canvass ~

40 x 30

 

Started out with a nice “TARDIS blue” and then added a portal that was very yonic in symbolism.  Many people ask what the word “yonic” means… it a symbolic representation of the yoni, or the vagina.  It’s odd (but not surprising- grumbles my inner feminist) that regular people have heard the term “phallic symbol” and “phallus” but not the female counterpart.  But that is a rant for another day.  In the meantime, here’s my first abstract with a bit of figurative; a celebration of female sexuality.

 

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Untitled ~ 2011 ~ acrylic & high gloss varnish on canvass ~

36 x 36 (I think) ~ Not For Sale

This one surprisingly didn’t take a long time to complete.   l like the colors created when copper patinas; the teals against the brilliant metallic.  I used this pallet and created a sort of southwestern, but yet alien landscape.  This picture is blurry, but the real article is over a 1000 miles away currently, so no nice pics yet.  This was my mom’s favorite and became her Christmas present in 2012.  She has it displayed prominently with a good view of it from the front door.  Do you think my mom is proud of me? 😉

 

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Untitled ~ 2011 ~ acrylic & high gloss varnish on canvass ~

36 x 36 ~ Not For Sale

 

I decided to take a different approach.  Instead of a bright colorful background with black circles and spirals, I went with a dark ground with white accents.  There is a nice energy to this one… so nice that I don’t wish to part with it.  In other words:  This one is MINE- you can’t has!  It was also pointed out to me that this piece is very ‘ Gallifreyian’.  If you are a Whovian, no explanation is needed, but contrary to my wishes for the world, there are probably some of you haven’t watched Dr. Who.  *shudder*  The Doctor is an alien from Gallifrey. Their language looks like a bunch of circle shapes kind of like my painting,  but not really.  I guess I was painting in cursive 😉  (Also, be grateful that I was extremely concise in my Dr. Who description, hee hee)

 

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Untitled ~ 2011 ~

acrylic, oil pastel, & high gloss varnish on canvass ~

(don’t remember dimensions) ~ Not For Sale

This is actually my first use of the high gloss varnish that I ended up loving SOOOOOOOO much, I added to some of my previous works.  I used many layers of the varnish in this one and put paint and oil pastel between them.  This was a fun experimentation and an intended birthday gift for a friend of mine.  It was much smaller than most of my paintings, but I can’t remember the exact measurements.  This is very spacey looking one… and apparently looks like the Death Star to some people, ha ha ha.

 

This post only represents my first period, so more to come!  Also, all works are for sale unless otherwise noted… hint, hint.  If some rich benefactors want to buy my artwork, I would not be offended 😉

 

A new direction…

So yeah… it’s been a little over a year since I last posted anything.  A lot has happened in the past year, but that would take more than one post to get into.  So to the main thought this evening…

Now that I’ve finished more paintings and even have one art exhibit under my belt, I remembered that I had this long neglected blog; and that I had originally wanted to post my creations on it.  So yes, more posts!  Yes, paintings and such!  But oh nos it’s late and I have a stupid day job- booooo! Anyway, interesting things to come and maybe even some ponderings and poems as well. Until then, good night…