Recently within my practice I have been enjoying painting a lot more. Rather from my usual drawing or installation pieces, I wanted to revert back to my main focus of the darkness. If I was to describe depression or other mental illnesses, I would just explain it as complete and utter darkness. I mean sure there are going to be some cracks of light in the cave every so often but it never truly leaves.
I wanted to create a large scale painting that included rough textures, a lot of hardship and repetitive marks. I have been wanting to do this for a while. I had done some trial runs but they were not big enough for what I wanted and I still am unsure if this one was also big enough. I know they say size doesn’t matter but in this case it does. I need the large scale for it to make the impact that I want. I need it to be the thing that you are drawn to when you walk into the room. The large scale is what tips it over the edge and makes it overwhelming – something that people cannot escape. People don’t escape mental illnesses – its there and theres not a lot you can do to be ‘cured’. It is always lingering and even if you look away you can still see it, you can still feel it.
What is also interesting is that people cannot tell the process that perhaps has went into the work itself. When creating the work I did not make things easy for myself. I didn’t just paint it black. Well I did. But I also didn’t. I used the tinies paintbrush that I could find. It was an effort to paint such a big piece with such a small brush. But I wanted to brushstrokes to be visible. For it to be visible the process – but not too visible. Visible enough that people are intrigued but not so visible that it takes away from the piece. As i mentioned, I had create smaller scale versions of this so I knew what to expect. The smaller the brush it is easier to control the texture that is going to made. I was using acyrlic paint so it was easier to manipulate so for it not to be completly flat.
I wanted to have this contrast between how it looks far away as to how it looks close up. If looking at it from far it looks like a black rectangle, perhaps it even looks like a blank canvas. However, as one gets closer the bumpy and rough texture can be seen. The rough is to symbolise the difficulty of a mental illness as no matter how much you try to smooth it out there is always something there lingering – wether it be noticable or not. There is always some level within the subconscious that the indiviudals illness will alwyas be there.
The process is an important part of most of my works. It is the long and precious journey that I go through as an artist, whilst creating the works. It gives me that time to relax (sometimes), it gives me the purpose to get my stress out in a way. However, on the other hand it can also bring more stress on me. It depends on my mood much like other things. If I am already feeling stressed and having a bad day going to paint for a long time is the best thing I can do. I love escaping this world, escaping reality for a litte while. Whilst painting, it allows me to enter my own fortitude. I can dream and think about whatever I want (wether that be good or bad). Being in my own little world can be both dangerous and marvellous. If I am feeling stressed, escaping to my other world helps me relax because it distances me from my everyday stresses. And because of my illnesses these everyday stresses can fluctuate on how well I can deal with them from day to day. It can be hard to understand everything that is going on in my head because all the voices are shouting over each other and I cannot gain a clear mind. But by entering that world I can distance myself from the struggles. However, I have to be careful as to not get in too far because thats when I can get myself ill. If I stay in this world too long, I will start to think bad thoughts. Thoughts of my childhood or my brokenness or just bad and sad things in general. With this type of work I do have to keep an eye on what I think about because I don’t want to end up in the darkness again. The symbolism of the small brush is to indicate that people might not understand. They might not know how long it really took me because they assumed I took the easy way. Having mental illnesses, there is never an easy way – it is always more complex than what is on the surface.
Depression isn’t what it always looks like. It isn’t all just sadness. It is the struggle to get up every morning. A struggle to think clearly. A struggle to do things that you used to enjoy. A struggle to live. People perhaps do not always realise what actually goes through the minds of people who are ill. The darkness is overwhelming. Depression is the darkness and there is no escape.
The name of this piece is Nebulous which I struggled with for a few days. I wanted to call the work something that would perhaps give the work a little more context. I think as my work is so abstract and minimal, I need the title to give the audience a little more context but not too much as to project my ideas onto them. Of course I want the audience to understand what I am trying to portray but this is why I think it is important that is so minimal. I could create a narrative in some of my works but tI think it is important that people can project their own ideas and emotions in regards to my work. There are loads of people who deal with mental health but each case is different. What one person might experience, another might not. By creating this darkness, people can have their own stories. It gives them a space to think about whatever they want. But my story is different from theirs and what makes mine the one that people have to think about? Everyones darkness is different.
Nebulous is defined as something in the form of a cloud or haze or something that is unclear and undefined. Both definitions are pretty much my work summed up. My work is always a dark cloud of sadness that is pushing down on and overwhelming people that come into contact with it. It is also undefined. It is hard to define. Depression and other illness are hard to define. It is really hard to put into words how one might feel. SO by doing this within drawing and painting, it creates a whole new level.
Some also may associate Nebulous with outer space. Again, my work is open for interpretation to how others may perceive it but I was intrigued when someone described my work as a black hole. Space has so much that has yet to be discovered and has this magical and mystical feel to it that perhaps it is hiding so many stories that we as humans have not yet heard. Outer space is utter darkness, in a physical sense. It is a place where no one can hear you scream (excuse the alien reference). You are utterly alone in space. There is no one else. When depressed one feels alone – there is no one that understands the individual. The individual pulls away because they feel so lonely and as if they are the only person in this world that is like this and how it is so unfair that it is them and that they cannot get better. The idea of getting lost in space is a lot better than the idea of being eternally lonely whilst surrounded by hundreds of people.
Depression is a lonely illness. Depression is an unpredictable illness. Depression is hard.