MIND OF AN ARTIST: STUDY A BLADE OF GRASS

My mind is a monkey mind.

I know it's my ADHD. There is a quality of my life that resembles a circus. I'm always trying to train those monkeys to perform the right way. Okay you guys get yourselves in order.

I actually become the lion tamer trying to force my creativity to perform. Not only to perform but to kick ass perform.

Here's where pressure to be a creative genius sets in. In other words here comes the artist block! I HAVE TO DO THE BEST PAINTING OR DO NOTHING! So I do nothing.

The monkeys are doing nothing so out of boredom they start to act out. Avoidance creates havoc and chaos. I end up hating myself for being unproductive. It's a great big circus ring ready to explode.

My thinking is creativity needs to be a high experience with lots of bells and whistles going off. There's no sanity. There's no peace. Every work of art has to be created from a psychedelic experience. Don't forget I come from the original hippie lifestyle. The Magical Mystery tour. But it's becoming clear that flying by the seat of exploding pants is not working.

So that is why I am choosing to study a blade of grass. Slow down get off the merry go round. Be a quiet painter. I cannot be a superhuman artist. Study a blade of grass.

Here are plein air paintings done with the mindset of "study a blade of grass ".

START WITH A DOODLE:  WATERCOLOR PAINTING 

So again I have been in a creative block.  I was reminded of the quote by artist Chuck Close regarding artistic inspiration.  

“AMATEURS LOOK FOR INSPIRATION, THE REST OF US JUST GET UP AND GO TO WORK “

Can’t argue with that!!!   So I called upon my formula for breaking paralysis… START WITH A DOODLE!

I have a wonderful portable watercolor kit created to take anywhere.  A pouch filled with portable brushes and an assortment of wonderful pots of special paints.  An inexpensive set of watercolors.  Tiny tubes of gouache. Paper towels. And a 9″ x 12″ pad of cold pressed watercolor paper. Easy travel and easy clean up.  


Here is the doodle and I really got into working and playing the colors and the liquid flow of the medium.   And from the doodle two exciting and free expressive paintings. 



 

The MIND OF AN ARTIST:  THE RETURN OF THE JEDI

In another galaxy away from my blog for many months, I have been reclaiming my true self mentally.  I had to withdraw from the world in order to get off a very powerful and destructive antidepressant I had been on for 16 years.  

DISCLAIMER:  This is my story and I am not endorsing that antidepressants are bad and everyone has to stop talking them. Please follow your doctor’s advice.  Never stop cold turkey.  It’s extremely dangerous. 

Okay so I have been on psychiatric medication since the 1960s off and on.  The reason was I had childhood trauma.  They have been helpful for many of those years. However, I’m 65 now and many things physically are different.  The last 16 years on the last medication was actually too long and I was becoming less productive in the last year.  I started to experience more fear and anxiety.  Less creativity.  Withdrawal from people.   More drugs were added and I got worse. I was under the drug spell.  Believing that the drug was better than no drug.  Until I went to pick up the latest drug and the pharmacist said the co-pay was $283!!!! For one month!!!!  Faced with maintaining the suppression of depression or paying rent and eating I pushed the drugs back to the pharmacist and said “I don’t need these thank you “.   Called my psychiatrist and said I’m over all these chemicals that are making me feel numb.  I m over being dependent on meds that have me spellbound.  So she didn’t try to change my mind and she agreed to wean me off.

It took 5 months of being dizzy, having brain zapping, leg pain, insomnia, anxiety, days when I couldn’t leave my house because I was not able to feel grounded.  But today it’s 46 days clean!!!

46 days and I am seeing that I am not a depressed person.  I stopped being depressed after I went back to doing my art.  I do experience down times which is life but I embrace them.  I am using exercise, diet, mindful practice, and walking in nature as my antidepressant.  Another thing I became aware of was the depression I experienced had a lot to do with the anxiety of my untreated ADHD.  So now I’m just treating my ADHD with less medication since I have stopped the antidepressant.  I’m a different person today. 

I did accomplish some wonderful things last month.  A successful art show and sale. Preparing a iPad art workshop for the National Association of Women Artists for June.  And this summer I am mentoring a 10 year old girl in art.   And I negotiated a workshop for young men leaving prison to learn to create art on their iPads. The organization is called Getting Out and Staying Out.  

I am the Jedi Artist who has returned!

                                      THE ART SHOW 

 

THE WITHDRAWAL PAINTINGS 




 

FROM THE DEPTHS OF WITHDRAWAL…MY LATEST PAINTING 

In the past few weeks my painting has morphed into an abstract landscape that is a new style from my impressionist one. 

The truth is that in the last 4 months I’ve been withdrawing from a very powerful antidepressant after being on it for 16 years.  Last year I realized how it was making me worse and I am not depressed anymore.  So powerful is this drug that my brain has zapping which feels like electrical shocks are piercing the cells. I’m dizzy, have brain fog and my legs cramped so badly I couldn’t walk for 3 weeks.  But now the real me is emerging.  I can finally feel myself coming out. 

So I actually did this painting in withdrawal. And I also did the previous painting in withdrawal.  And the experience was a struggle to focus my vision (blurred vision was a part of withdrawal).  But here it is.  I believe the real me is finally emerging. 

                           STAGE ONE 

        

                                                 STAGE TWO




THIS IS THE FINISHED PAINTING!!!

A FAMOUS ARTIST BLOCK  –  GEORGIA O’KEEFE 


Sometimes I think I’m alone in my artist block.  The ability to see that others have been in this position and they have gone through the pain of not creating for a long time helps me identify and not feel alone.   Even hearing that a person has survived being hospitalized for a mental breakdown is inspiring and hopeful for me .  I’m always in fear of having a mental breakdown.  I’m afraid people will leave me for being crazy. I’m afraid of never being creative again.  

I started to research artists who have had breakdowns and blocks.   Here’s one that surprised me.  Georgia O’Keefe. 

In 1932, after falling far behind on a Radio City Music Hall mural, O’Keefe suffered an intense nervous breakdown. It was only after a period of hospitalization and NOT PAINTING FOR TWO YEARS that she was able to rekindle her life’s love of creating art. 

I was blown away by this story.   I’m in great company with my mental breakdowns and blocks.   It happens.  So what.  

I’M NOT ALONE!!!!!   HERE’S TO YOU GEORGIA!!


BACK FROM AN ARTIST BLOCK –  THE COMEBACKS 

August 12th I had carpel tunnel surgery on my right hand.   It’s my dominant hand.   So I took the time to relax and heal.   However, it eventually took me down the mental rabbit hole.  I ended up depressed, lonely and blocked creatively.   It was like my mind was empty.  A dust bin. 

I couldn’t think and forget posting on my blog.   

Weeks were passing and now I have feelings of failure.   I want to write a blog post but I feel stupid.   It’s been forever. I’m a terrible blogger with an artist block!!!!

And then I realized that my blog is about coming back from an artist block.   Isn’t life always about the comebacks. 

The artist comeback can be a Phoenix rising.  A new path, a different story.   And actually I have a new theme I started in my paintings. I have added figures to my landscapes.  The figures are faceless children ( they are me or you) and they are escaping into landscapes.  This is the first of a group that I will be working on. 


THE ART OF … SANITY 


I HAVE BEEN STALKED AND CAPTURED BY THE DARK CREVICES OF MY MIND.   I CAN UNDERSTAND VAN GOGH’S FIGHT WITH SANITY.  BUT I AM A VERY LEARNED WOMAN WHO HAS SPENT A LIFETIME EDUCATING MYSELF ON HOW THE BRAIN WORKS. 

KNOWING IS THE FIRST STEP IN BEING ABLE TO STOP FIGHTING THE DARKNESS AND LET IT JUST FLOW THROUGH. 

DURING THESE TIMES I HIDE IN MY HOME AND RETREAT.   I’M TAKEN AWAY FROM INDULGING IN LUSCIOUS OILY PAINT COLORS AND BUILDING LAYER UPON LAYER OF RICH THICK PAINT.  I’M IMMOBILE TO ACTION. 

I accept those times even though I shut the world out and fear I will never escape my demons.  But I have to always avoid giving in to false evidence appearing real. 

A month ago I experienced a new mental twist…anxiety disorder!   I didn’t know that I had it.  But I have to say I chased my recovery from it and sought help.  I don’t have to go through pain alone anymore.   And all through this I let the luscious oil paints flow on canvas and shared my experience to a troubled student in my painting class.  

I don’t give in but I also don’t fight my mind…my darkness is another part of being an artist.  I even used darkness in a series of paintings.


I’M BACK TO BEING JEAN.  I’M BACK .   I trust God and give to others.   

MY MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ARE NOT A MORAL ISSUE.   THEY ARE THE PIECES OF THE MYSTERIOUS PUZZLE CALLED JEAN MESSNER. 

IN REMEMBRANCE OF VINCENT VAN GOGH.