Healthy, Balanced, Creating

Keep painting your demons.

~ Jack Beal

I’ve dealt with mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety,  all of my adult life. At times it is completely debilitating and at other times it merely lurks in the shadows. Either way, it always seems to be there.

I recall my psychology 101 instructor at Whatcom Community College referring to depression as “the common cold of mental disorders.” But it is still stigmatized.  I’m going to talk about it here from time to time in hopes of doing my own small part to contribute to the open conversation  regarding mental illnesses.

Without getting into too many details in this post, let’s just say that the past year has been trying—emotionally, psychologically, financially, spiritually, and academically. With depression and anxiety symptoms out of control, I finally reached out for help (once again) in the beginning of January. Unfortunately, getting help (medication adjustment and finding a counselor) in the behavioral health system isn’t exactly smooth or timely. I decided that I had to start doing something for myself while waiting for the help from others. This is how my creative exploration journey began.

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“Depression and Anxiety” Materials: tissue paper, Sharpies, cardtock,acrylic paint and googly eyes

I started by making a list of priorities, areas where I wanted to work on improving my life. The items fell into three general categories: being healthy (physically, spiritually and mentally), balancing my life, and pursuing more creative avenues. To remind myself of these priorities, I made a visual. It has also become a makeshift mantra I mumble to myself.

healthy-balanced-creating

Materials: patterned paper, chipboard letter, acrylic paint, and Sharpie

I’ve found my own informal art therapy (more details about how I do it to come) to be immensely fruitful and helpful. I can forget some of my worries while I concentrate solely on the stroke of a brush, the squish of paint, the slice of the paper cutter, or the crinkle of tissue paper. This might not work for everyone. The key is finding your own medicine (whether or not you are taking actual literal medicine). I’m going to keep painting, drawing, crafting, photographing, writing  my demons as well as my angels.

squares-and-circles

Materials: tissue paper, cardstock, acrylic paint

Tissue Paper Decoupage or How I Regained My Creative Confidence

TISSUE PAPER DECOUPAGE OR HOW I REGAINED MY CREATIVE CONFIDENCE

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All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he [or she] grows up.

Pablo Picasso

When did creating visual art lose its pleasure and gain its pressure for me? Why? How?

I come from a family of a multitude of artists and writers on both sides. Creativity was encouraged and celebrated. I always had markers or colored pencils between my little fingers as a kid. Now I ask myself why I am so afraid of stepping beyond photography, my creative outlet of choice for the past ten years.  Why do I hesitate to pick up colored pencils or watercolors or pastels? I tried following the strings of thought and experience and they led me to two conclusions: The last time I felt truly carefree creating art was in elementary school and middle school angst started to erode my creative confidence. I believe that there is truth in what Pablo Picasso is credited for saying about all children being artists. The problem is growing up. (Ick.)With these “truths” in mind, I decided that the best way to try to get in touch with that little red-haired girl who loved to draw was to start with projects I might have done in my early school years. But where to begin?

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1988 drawing (I drew this picture around the time my mom and stepdad married.

I began by shopping at the Dollar Tree (the cheapest place for colorful and printed tissue paper) for some basic supplies.(Oh tissue paper, I do love thee.) I ripped,  clipped, Mod Podged, layered, and felt uninhibited by the creative pressure I usually apply to myself. I had fun. New ideas poured out of my head and became real with the work of my hands. That is how this journey began.

Join me to find out more about how and why I began to use art as an informal  form of therapy for my depression and anxiety.

tissue-paper-decoupage

Materials: Mod Podge, tissue paper, Washi tape, cardstcok

watercolor-and-tissue-paper

Materials: Mod Podge, tissue paper, watercolors, cardstock

flowers-on-green

Materials: Mod Podge, tissue paper, die cut flowers, rhinestone stickers, tissue paper

tissue-paper-flowers

Materials: Mod Podge,tissue paper, 3D adhesives, cardstock

Thank you for reading and viewing!