Seeing Red, Black and Brown
I thought I was getting over my depression, but it’s still here taking the taste out of life, making me want to hide in my house and wishing I could send Adrian away for a few days so I could be alone in my misery. That’s probably a very bad idea, since that would enable me to wallow in the negative feelings instead of interacting with another human being.
This morning I had the time and the opportunity to paint, so even though I didn’t feel like it, I just started opening tubes and applying the paint without thinking too much about it. I was feeling a lot though, and used the opportunity to mark the canvas with reds, browns, and blacks. Expressing myself through paint always makes me feel better, and even when it doesn’t, I usually end up with a canvas I like.
The red/brown/black canvas may not be working yet, but it presents a challenge I can continue to work on this week until I get it right. Once I get involved in the actual problem of the painting, I tend to forget about my own problems. I am too busy solving technical issues of line, color, form and texture. My hand and eyes work together without too much assistance from the linguistic part of my brain. We don’t need words to solve these visual problems.
One strange thing about the work I do when I’m depressed is that most viewers don’t see the finished paintings that way at all. They see energetic, playful, bold, and joyous images. Very rarely does someone comment that they can see the pain behind a particular image. Perhaps we all see our own inner lives played out in abstract paintings. I am always amazed at the stuff Adrian sees in them, for example. He can’t seem to enjoy a painting without finding forms he can name and identify.
However anyone wants to look at my paintings is fine with me. I’m just glad I have this outlet that allows me to express my negative feelings in such a positive way. Playing music, writing poetry, keeping a journal—any kind of creative expression allows you to do this. If you’re depressed now, try it. What have you got to lose?
Published On: August 22, 2006
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