Art Therapy; combining my illness with art as a professional artist
I have never really thought of art as therapy before. I’ve always been an artist, it just who I am, but to then combine the two; my complex illness and my art? I am not sure about that?
Isn’t that a conflict as a professional artist?
As a professional you hide your vulnerabilities and weaknesses, those things that cause you not to produce a mass amount of work that galleries want in order to show constancy and reliability. Hide the negative, show your strengths and grand drive; with enthusiasm no matter what in order to be hung. It’s a persona really, that professional mask you were in any field to show that you are worthy of your craft or industry.
As a professional artist we must stay on top, must be the best, produce the most paintings the fastest; consistently. Must have the right professional credentials; be in the most prestigious galleries with famous collectors, then post it on your blog, be published and awarded for your art.
The more the better, yet don’t forget perfection counts; perfect canvas, perfect frame, perfect amount of symbolism among each piece and series you create, the right amount of intrigue and eclectic narcissistic allure that will capture and amaze people (which is complete bullshit, but the game). Prime example look at Warhol and Picasso; enough said.
So to then as a professional artist bring in your own personal weakness, your struggle with a illness that has been controlling your life for years, that same illness that you fight every single time you step in front of your easel, stopping to have a seizure half way through your sky only to have it and then pick up your brush and to keep painting; because I am a professional damn it!
This illness that has brought major struggle that has prevented you from being the most prolific artist you WANT to be, to combine the two?
Why is it ok to combine the two?
Yes, you want to paint or create each piece of art with a story behind it; which I think all good art must have, throwing paint on a canvas and calling it art is not art to me. There is no exceptional art without passion, emotion, a story and conviction of some kind. This can be created by many things as an artist; use of color, perspective or heavy symbolism, apparent or discrete among a piece of art.
As a professional artist you must be precise, paint everything in order to sell, after all we do need to eat; thus further preventing the stigma of the “starving artist” which no one wants to fall into that category. To make it perfect in order to get top dollar, make it count so to say.
So to have art as therapy, to just let go in order to be in the splendor of creating, allowing your creativity to flow freely with no end game or specific outcome? I am not sure how to do that as an artist. Paint just to paint, sounds so elusive, and a waste of time, standing still and not growing.
But are you? As an artist, yes, every piece of work counts, builds your skills and portfolio in some way if good enough to show. But mainly I guess more mentally and emotionally. Maybe it frees your mental and emotional up in order to fully open up for your creative spirit to come in and present its self on your canvas.
Art is a practice after all like most professions, a lifelong pursuit that is a journey on its self, I know that from the many years of being an artist and looking back on my old work.
Yet is it really ok to be venerable and allow my illness to come in to my art. Is it ok for it to be shown and come out? I have been so embarrassed by my illness; it has created such weakness in me as a person and artist how do I let it come out? How do you let it come into my professional work with an embrace and with no judgment?
This illness has taken so much from me, I am afraid if I bring it into my art it will take that from me as well.
My art is one of the only things I have left, my last drive, my light at the end of the tunnel, it is what has and is driving me with determination to get better in order to feel strong enough to stand at my easel and paint, paint, paint.
I have felt so fortunate to be able to say that; to have something be that to me in my life, which I am grateful for. My illness has taken my legs to walk at times, my dignity lying on the floor having a seizure with snot and tears flowing all over the place uncontrollably, my license, my mind, my freedom, yet it has NOT TAKEN MY CREATIVITY.
Thank God, no really THANK YOU GOD.