(collage self-portrait created from recycled materials)
I discovered art at the age of two and haven’t really stopped painting ever since. If I can’t paint I become restless and depressed. I’m normally an all-over-the-place type of person. My thoughts are constantly racing. I’m interested in everything. I’m reading 10 books at once, researching 25 different topics, while simultaneously cleaning out my closet and trying to calculate how long it’ll take me to plant 25 daffodils if I were to do it on March 27th, 2042.
The only time I can really concentrate is when I’m in front of an easel with a paintbrush in my hand. It’s my zen zone. My focus is sharp. My mind is at peace, my soul is dancing. I don’t know why, but I always feel like I’m dancing while I paint. I’m very graceful too. But only in my head. In real life I’m a klutz.
But I digress… I remember as a child looking forward to sitting down to paint like one might look forward to spending time with her best friend after a long absence. Painting equaled joy. Art was happiness. It was my imaginary world where nothing bad could ever happen. Imagining that one day painting could become an outlet for me to express my sadness was beyond me.
In late February of 2004 I lost Val. We were together for years. It was turbulent. We eventually split up, but never lost a connection that only people who are truly in love with each other have. I remember when at a party we attended together after our break up a friend came up to us and said he couldn’t believe a perfect couple like us is no longer together. “We don’t have to be together to be still together,” Val replied.
…and that’s how we remained until one fateful morning when Val’s sister called to tell me he was in a car accident. I was at his side within an hour and I remained there for four days until he died. Watching somebody you care so deeply for slowly die is one of the most terrifying experiences a person can go through in their lifetime. I was broken after that.
Life became a monotonous existence filled with overwhelming sadness and guilt. A million ‘what-ifs’ circulated through my head from morning till night. Everything reminded me of him. There was no escape. I went to work, I came home, and I slept. Barely slept.
I had to change something. I remembered my grandma saying that back in the old times people with depression (and other mental ailments) were cured through work. They were kept In special sanatoriums busy with all kinds of manual labor that required concentration. They simply didn’t have enough time to think about how depressed they felt. I’ve always loved neuroscience, so it made sense to me. Out of mind -out of feelings to paraphrase a famous saying.
All I had to do was to make myself paint again. Easier said than done. I sat in front of my easel for hours, but nothing apart from my dark thoughts came to me. So I picked up a magazine and started reading. That didn’t go so well either. I ripped a few pages out of frustration and tore them into little pieces. Lethargically I played around with the torn pieces in front of me and all of a sudden I saw my ‘angle in the marble’. The grays from some car ad and the blues from a vacation getaway ad became a grayish-blue reflection of my feelings. That’s how “Feeling Blue” came into existence. It’s a sad painting, but for me it was the first step to getting better.