Certain models of the brain show that the human mind most likely has two or more sources from which thoughts are created. For example, some of us study the left and right sides of the brain, or the zones of the brain that perform specific tasks (frontal cortex vs Broca’s area, for example). These aren’t perfect models but they get us closer to understanding how our bodies help us to think.
I think it is very telling and natural that there are many cultural explanations as well for where thoughts come from. A very important one is the light/dark or yin/yang allegory. These speak of a “dark” and a “light” side to all people, to keep it simple, and finding equilibrium within that context is something we all share as people. We just call it by different names.
A lot of what I draw attempts to reconcile different areas of my mind, to accept all aspects of the self. Here the shadowy hand is reaching out to eat from the bowl of another world made up here of cleaner lines. It’s just one example of a work that expresses my desire to explore the mind – another thing shared by all people.
Many films I watched as a kid featured kites. I’ve never actually flown one myself; choosing to watch others instead. Unless you’ve seen the sea of wild floating shapes yourself, you can’t know what it’s like.
Apparently, human beings have always wanted to fly. I’m one of those who can see the appeal, surely. But I have to admit that being able to see the kites flap against the sun and sky makes me feel strongly grateful to be on the ground. It’s incredible.
While I can spot some errors in my pencil lines, I’m proud of this one.
One thing my doctor and I talked about when he was diagnosing me with ADHD was that when I was a kid, I saw faces in everything. I would always find two eyes and a nose, even inside the barely-visible strokes of paint on the wall. What a weird superpower.
Finding the face in things made me feel calm when I was in a stressful situation; something that happens to a kid pretty often. To my doctor, this was something of a sign that my brain was wired a little differently from others.
Today, I draw faces more than I see them. They still comfort me.
This fun drawing is a snapshot of what I imagine is a lighthearted ghost story. Although I do like to write as a hobby, I did not come up with any conscious narrative. I actually started this drawing by choosing to use pencil for the theme of “light and dark.”
When I felt like I had nothing more to offer the picture, I took a long look at the image and realised that this was more of an illustration. Maybe I’ll be drawing these two ghosts, or something like them, again at some point.
Some doodles to enjoy before my next post.
Suffice it to say this post is about some of my struggles with mental health. If you’re not in the mood for that, enjoy the pretty pencil drawing of a giant bird behind a tree and a sinister apple. Skip my ramblings below and laugh at the tree blocking most of the bird’s body, or enjoy the lines of the apple’s “shadow” instead – I won’t fault you. Not that I’ll know, anyway!
I have depression and anxiety. Anxiety is the part of me that is constantly deluded and fighting everything around me. Depression is the part that sticks me right into the ground and boxes me inside thick walls. However, sometimes my anxiety freezes me and my depression makes me commit desperate, irrational acts. After all of these years I am able to understand and identify the subtleties of it all; it’s actually quite complicated and based on past events as well as my own body chemistry.
My mental health does not drive all of my art. None of my art is drawn in the worst depressive or anxious phases. Those are times when making art feels so impossible, even though I may want to. So I draw a lot when I am feeling “well” and scan them to post here.
Being in a bad mental place, or in the downswing of the cycle, isn’t the only time depression and anxiety show themselves. Constantly dealing with those mind states simply forces my hand; being yet another place of inspiration. Many of my drawings include ideas related to paranoia and irrationality as a result, even the bird and apples above.
When we look at the history of art, we see almost a glorification of artists who are stifled with poor mental health. Such troubled people created such beautiful work, right? I think that this is a result of academics who do not understand psychiatric struggles writing about that which they do not know with unnecessary wistfulness.
I’m not thankful for the negativity my mental health brings to myself and others around me, but I recognise how much it influences me. But so what if my depression and anxiety give me stuff to work with? The toll is often extremely high. I’d rather not make them the center of my universe.
I have only a little formal training, in the form of visual arts classes taken while studying for undergrad. I pursued a degree in art history that included drawing and ceramics classes.
Studying art history was one of the most intellectually thrilling times of my life, not because of the rote memorization (which is required, in any case so I had to deal with it – and I did) but because of the deep understanding of humanity that comes from analysing the creative process and the final product.
I think I always wanted to create, but never really knew how to do so.The drawing and ceramics classes instilled in me a great understanding of what it means to think like an artist – and that’s really when I knew that I was not a historian, but a creator. I knew I’d find a way to find my footing and create, someday.
So welcome to someday, little lizard!