Finding beauty

So I have depression. And I paint beautiful paintings to remind me about the beauty of life beyond that fog of depression. Unfortunately that very same fog makes it hard to get motivated to find those beautiful moments in life. Thanks to some help from my doctor, that fog is slowly clearing, and bringing back my determination to translate the beauty of life into canvas.

Now, where should I find that beauty?

No matter how I’m feeling, being out in nature never fails to help me feel better. For me, there isn’t a more powerful antidepressant than being in the midst of Creation. If God takes such good care of the flowers and trees and grass and birds, how much more does He love and care for me? The feeling of being cared for is unimaginably wonderful in the midst of the fog that tells you that you’re worthless and no one cares for you.

I love finding the Creator’s touch throughout nature. I love to slow down and let my senses guide me. The rush of water, the chirping of birds, the warm sun, or the smell of rain are all inspiring. I love to look at the small picture, finding abstract textures and patterns and glorious colours I don’t see anywhere else. How can I help but be creative when I am made in the image of the greatest Creator of all? Take a look at the work I created while on a Art & Faith retreat last summer:

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I have applied to be a part of the Canada C3 Expedition. I crave the chance to see a part of Creation I may never otherwise see. I plan on bringing a variety of mixed media supplies to capture the beauty of Creation, both visible and invisible. I hope to bring those quick sketches back to my studio and have them serve as a jumping off point for a brand new series of works on canvas. These works will incorporate the new visual language I will develop in nature with the colourful layering I currently use. I hope to use both organic and inorganic mark-making techniques in harmony, reflecting the need for us to live in harmony with our environment.

If I am not chosen to be a part of the Expedition? I have already booked the campsites I’ll need for a solo-car-camping-art-making trip around Jasper National Park later this summer.

I am determined to get into nature and create. I am excitedly for the opportunities my newfound motivation will bring me.


Finally, some answers

“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.