Finally, some answers

"What Can I Do" mixed media painting on birch by Meghan MacMillan, 3 x 18", 2016

“Is that all you do? Paint beautiful paintings?”

One of my professors asked me that question almost 10 years ago. It has resonated with me ever since.

I think I might finally have an answer for him.

I have struggled for years to put into words why I paint, and what inspires me. Every artist statement I’ve ever written seemed shallow, only scraping at the surface of what was really going on in my mind. I love painting. I love painting with bright colours and patterns. I love the freedom of abstract art, where people can see what they want to see within my paintings. But why?

I have also struggled for years with constant fatigue, low motivation, and little self-worth, without knowing exactly why. I’ve mostly kept these struggles to myself, believing I was making a big deal out of nothing.

I feel that both of these seemingly unrelated issues have recently been resolved. My doctor and I agree: I have Depression.

For a long time I fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to get over myself, that I had nothing to be sad about. In reality I consider myself extraordinarily blessed. But there was always this niggling feeling that something was truly not right with me. There was really no denying the physiological symptoms I have been struggling with, in spite of my positive outlook and faith in Christ.

Depression lies to you. It tells you that nothing is worth caring about. It tells you that no one cares for you. It tells you that you aren’t good enough. It tells you that you’re crazy for feeling this way when there’s really nothing wrong. It’s a grey fog that muffles the small joys in life that really make life worth living. Depression isn’t about feeling sad. It’s about feeling nothing at all.

Now I know why I’m always tired. Why I sometimes don’t want to paint. Why I sink into creative lows. Why some days it’s a struggle just to get off the couch. Knowing these things will help me fight these things, with a little help from my doctor and a lot of help from my faith, my family, and my friends.

I have always been inspired by small joys in life and sharing them with others. Some days they’re easier to find than others. When I do find them, I cling to them. I never want to let them go. They become brightly coloured paintings that remind me about the good days to help me through the bad ones. I do not paint the visual beauty of the moment, but rather the emotional or spiritual beauty. I paint how I feel when I feel good to brighten up the darker days when I feel nothing.

Finding the beauty of these moments keeps me motivated to go out and find more. By finding these moments and painting the joy in them, I can share them with those who are having dark days of their own.

I paint beautiful paintings to remind myself and others of the beauty of everyday life.

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5 Responses

  1. Wonderfully put and everyone has a “gray” period. Some of the best art is forged in the dark. I know some of my favourite pieces I’ve done were when I wasn’t at my best but I can look back at them and see the crucible that I came through and that made me stronger. I’m glad that your faith in Jesus can help you to savour the light and beauty in those moments. Afterall God is the Great physician and Master Artist so who better to be with during our times of suffering and moments of Joy than Him ❤

  2. I keep rewriting this comment, worried about how to say this: your post made me happy. Not to hear that you’ve been suffering, which is terrible. But to hear the hopeful tone in how you’ve shared the struggle and this milestone. Keep on painting beautiful paintings!

  3. I keep rewriting this comment, worried about how to say this: your post made me happy. Not to hear that you’ve been suffering, which is terrible. But to hear the hopeful tone in how you’ve shared the struggle and this milestone. Keep on painting beautiful paintings!

  4. Not only beautiful painting, but also beautiful words. I’m glad you are finding some answers, sometimes we just don’t know what the question is. Keep painting, you are not only brightening up your world, but ours as well. <3

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