Visual art is one of the most powerful ways to express emotion. In my Drawing 2 class, the five of us were assigned to do a project based off of a very deep emotion or mood for our final project before spring break. I did a lot of thumbnail drawings trying to pin down which idea I would do for this project, and I finally settled on a project that was a bit out of my comfort zone: I was going to do a project visualizing depression.
I know, stereotypical artist emotion, right? Well, many people deal with deep sadness for different reasons, and it’s not just creative people who get really down (though it can inspire some awesome art). I have gone through some crazy up and downs the past few years. There were a few periods of time where I hated getting up every morning. All I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry, but I would end up hiding behind a smile and jokes while I felt like I was being held captive by my mind. When you feel depressed, you often feel as though you are weighed down by heavy chains that you can’t get out of. That feeling I felt a few months ago was what inspired this piece.
The first few days working on this were a little frustrating. I hate doing portraits. I do better drawing cartoon style people, and I usually dread drawing realistic people, especially myself. I don’t know why I hate drawing myself so much, but I do. The way I ended up doing the project was to cover my entire paper in charcoal and to draw myself with an eraser and darker charcoal. It’s a difficult method of drawing. Right of the bat, I set myself up for a very difficult project.
My biggest problem was drawing my face. Mostly because I looked like a man for a while. My short hair was making it especially manly looking because I haven’t drawn myself with my new style before this project. By the third day though, I finally got my face down how I wanted it. It took a lot of work, and I ended up getting really messy that day. I earned the nick name “Oliver” from my buddy Garza because I had charcoal everywhere.
Adding chains wrapped around myself was the hardest part of drawing this. I ended up listening to a musical called “Next to Normal” that is horribly depressing to help me kind of channel the right emotion. You can’t really see it in the photo that I have, but on some of the links, there are words written on them, like “Loser”, “Pathetic”, “Needy” and “Stupid”, which are a few things that I’ve felt in the past. It’s kind of funny, because the words were one of my teacher’s favorite parts of the entire piece. He said it added to the impact of the piece, making it more personal and real.
This morning, we had our critique where we all pinned out drawings up on the board to comment on and get feedback. Mine was the last one to be talked about, and to be completely honest, it was kind of hard to talk about. The concept is uncomfortable. It’s terrifying to put such a personal part of your life up on a board to let other people see and talk about. But I’m really glad that I did it. Everyone in my class loved the drawing, and I feel that I really made an impact on them.
Most importantly though, I made an impact on myself. Working on this drawing made me really evaluate my life and I realized that it’s not worth it to let heavy feelings beat me up. Granted, sometimes, it’s very hard to fight those feelings. Everyone has times where they feel like crap and just want to give up. Stuff happens. People get sick. People break our hearts. People die. But everyday you have to make the choice to break out of those chains that are holding you down. You can’t do it alone. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. While times can suck, God has always pulled me through; to deny that would be foolish.
I am very glad to be done with this project. I am going to take a picture of it and put it in my portfolio for “art auditions”, but once I’m doing getting the shots I need, I am going to put it in a box and there it will stay. I don’t want to look at it any more. This drawing is a representation of my past, but my past does not define me. While I know that it is possible that I might experience the deep sadness I have felt before again, I want to keep growing and learning through life. The time we have is an incredible gift, and I don’t want to waste another second of it.
“Prisoner In My Own Mind”
Until next time,
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