Not to be like literally every other person on the internet - but yeah, life is hard sometimes. Everyone has got issues to deal with and stuff that they've been through that they totally didn't deserve. Everyone experiences pain. Throughout the last few years, there have been quite a few things in my life that I needed art to help me cope with. Using symbols and colors and metaphorical representations, art has helped me re-visualize things that maybe aren't even visual things to begin with, like emotions or sickness. Even things that were tangible, like people or places that haunt me, can be reformed on the canvas to reflect something deeper than just what they physically look like.
And because i usually end up posting things i do on Instagram, they kind of end up acting as visual subtweets. Just add a passive-aggressive song lyric as the caption and you're good to go.
But not everything has to be for show or social media. In fact, this post was partially inspired by a friend of mine, Lisa, who wrote this wonderful article on the power of writing for yourself. Art is definitely the same way. As I've written about before, probably about 80% of my work ends up crumpled up on the studio floor, buried under my bed or among journals of scribbled thoughts. Sometimes those paintings and sketches stay hidden because I don't find them good enough, but other times they remain there for me. There's a whole lot of sciencey stuff out there I can throw at you - but in the most simple of terms: art just makes you feel good. It brings out endorphins or whatever. Science and facts aside, I can tell you that for me, art brings about the most intense focus and sense of clarity, wiping my mind free of all other worries, even if just for a moment or so. Painting or drawing from site requires observation, critical thinking and extreme attention to detail. Despite a shaky past with lots of not-so-safe distractions, art has triumphed as my favorite coping mechanism. You have to use your mind to process what it is you see physically, producing the same kind of heightened awareness that other, more harmful, behaviors may do temporarily.
One of my favorite artists (both musical and visual), Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers, touched on this idea in his essay, My Search For the Truth with some advice he learned in art school: "When I was an art student, a professor told me, 'If you are thinking about where a painting is going to hang in a gallery and what others will say and think of it before you have put the first brush to the canvas, you are missing the point entirely.'"
Some of my own professors seem to forget this, but the ones who embrace the healing powers of art are the ones who have helped me the most in developing both my skills and visions. That's the kind of teacher I want to be. Whether it be in writing, drawing, painting, singing or whatever, I think having a creative outlet is one of the most important things a person can do for themselves. And whether or not those outlets lead to a visible or presentable product is irrelevant when you consider the personal benefits they can have on a person's wellbeing. Even maintaining this blog has helped me organize my thoughts and emotions, so whether or not people are even reading or responding to it doesn't matter to me. That's not to say I don't appreciate the love and support that I have been getting from friends and family, but just know that what I draw, paint, photograph, write and create, is ultimately for me and my own personal expression. Art is meant to reflect life, and life certainly isn't always butterflies and flowers, so its only natural for me to want to embrace darker imagery and deeper meaning in my work.