Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Art and Depression

Some people have tried to discourage me from being so transparent on my art blog, but I place a very high premium on authenticity. I feel we can make a deeper connection with others by being honest about our common struggles. My goal with the blog is not just to show off my art, but to process my life as an artist, as well.

I am experiencing a weird intense apathy coupled with feeling pretty depressed currently. Depression is like an old friend in my life and though her visits are less frequent as I get older, she still shows up and at times with a large suitcase.
I tend to over think things talking myself into a corner and wonder sometimes is I can afford to be a artist. Do I have the fortitude to do it for life and the drive to keep on? Is my work really valid? Sometimes, especially in dark moments, I think not. I hear artists say all the time that they love their craft and would do it all day every day if possible. I can't say the same. Painting can wear me out at times! Claude Monet said, "I am very depressed and deeply disgusted with painting. It is really a continual torture." I get that.

And trying to make a living at it can really be difficult unless you are bent that way, and though I feel I have come a long way on this, I still loathe it at times and wonder if anything will come of it. Honestly, on a rare occasion I wish I could go work a normal 9 to 5, have someone tell me what to do and get a weekly paycheck. See? I am in a weird place.


Leslie said...

Tracey, your work is certainly valid, although that's a pretty subjective perception. It is valid to me anyway and speaks to me in many ways and in great depth. That's not a pep talk, that's just the truth, so lay your concerns to rest there.

I dont' know if your depression is clinical but I hear your sadness and can relate to the weird place you're in. My sadness is not clinical, I just feel the weight of life so deeply sometimes and feel slightly crushed by it all. I've learned to pay attention to my sadness, like you are now, because it's where I learn so much, it's where I become more me. Does that make any sense?

Our world does its utmost to "cure" us of our sadness but I read a book by Thomas Merton called The Care of the Soul that talked about living in the tension of life, even when it hurts terribly and we long to be out of it.

But I mostly find God in the mystery of the tensions of life. I find Him somewhere between those things that seem irreconcilable to my mind, but to which He miraculously brings reconciliation: life through death, wisdom through foolishness, joy through suffering, wealth through simplicity, freedom through bondage to His love.

Stay with it, don't drive Miss Blue out just yet. I'm sure she has a message for your soul.


Dean Grey said...

Well, Tracey, I definitely have some comments on this subject!

I too, have suffered with (deep) depression for most of my life and it affects every part of my daily routine.

There are definitely days where I want to give up creating art completely. But not necessarily because I hate it but because the depression kills the desire to create.

The depression always makes me question the meaning of everything. Always needing things to have a real purpose otherwise they're considered meaningless.

I would love to be a full-time artist, solely making a living off of my art but the depression has crushed that idea so many times I almost don't think it will happen.

I wish I could give you better words of support, Tracey, but obviously I can't.

All I can say is you're older than me and I look up to you to lead the way, so you have no choice but work through least for my sake!! LOL

Oh, and your blog is perfectly fine. It represents you, your process, your way of thinking, and that's what makes it so great!

Keep going, Tracey!!


DEB said...

You know - I was a biochemical engineer for many yrs., hanging with factual, logical, nonemotional folk who wore masks that they put on with their corporate suits. Then I did the uber volunteer mom thing for a decade. Suddenly, I was in a world of very self centered, emotional women who had so many blessings, but never appreciated them (in my opinion.) Now, I've jumped into the art world, and I'm interacting with more folks on Prozac than I did when I worked at Eli Lilly and Co. (the company that makes Prozac.) Creativity and emotions go hand in hand, so I'm convinced that there is a link between how good you are as an artist, and how much you "feel." I feel like I've seen all sides of depression, but I've never experienced it. Tracey - I know it sounds crazy, but embrace your depression and your feelings. Paint them, and while you ABSOLUTELY need to have it treated, it can also be a creative gift....really. I wish you the best in your endeavors!

Peter Brown said...

Tracey, this weird place of yours has the potential to become pretty crowded! To say that I empathise with you would be an understatement - it's as if someone has penned my own thoughts. Thankfully, experience has taught me to hang in there until I emerge from these difficult periods, as I invariably do - I sincerely hope that's your experience too. In the meantime, I'll be thinking of you.

Catherine said...

Tracey you are so dead-on. I've never related to those artists who claim they could do their craft all day long in un-ending bliss. If we do it for a living it is a JOB and will therefore have seasons of feeling very "jobbish", burdensome, and pointless. And because our job is heavily tethered to our hearts we feel those low-seasons more keenly and personally than if we were just doing data-entry or the like.

I love your transparency - it feels vital to connecting to your artwork. You and other artists who share so openly about struggles, processes, and successes are profoundly inspiring for less mature artists like myself. Please don't stop.

MarZel said...

Hello... I am a follower on your blog and enjoy your blog a great deal. I have also given you an award over at my blog!! Ihope you accept awards! SMILES Marzel

SiLa said...

Dear Tracy, your words sound so familiar to me. I know those moments you are talking about. The only way I keep on is through faith in Jesus and that He knows what is all that about. My insufficient writing skills on foreign language prevents me to write all I think about this doubts and fears or not fears, but rather I say tiredness of art. And to make a living and earn enough from art it is a hard way.
You have special talent and your work is special, don't give up. No one can do what you do, like God said that every one of us are unique. If you stop with your painting no one can continue your work.

Janie Chu said...

See? Your very transparency proves that it connects with countless people. Glad you're following your instincts.

I often wonder if depression in artists occurs so often not from a clinical standpoint, but because what we do is not often rewarded with our own expectations of success or recognition, or even financial compensation (we're not talking getting rich here, just making the living). The ones who stick with it do because we're compelled to, because it is in the fiber of our being to create.

That doesn't mean we don't hit weariness at times with our work. That could be a signal to take a break sometime, have another outlet. Songwriting gives me a headache when I've reached the limit so what refills the well is often reading, cooking, artist dates, writing essays instead of songs.

I'll tell you honestly, what has rekindled the fire to create has been a theme I'm passionate about. Just my two cents (or 100!)

suzanneberry said...

I've been feeling the same way, as you picked up on from my post. i would say it was dev's passing, but i've felt the way you feel before. it comes in peaks and valleys. i believe there are deep, ontological reasons for human pain. pain we've buried beneath an onslaught of personal, private problems to be solved, issues to be addressed, concern over world strife, violence, hunger. it's an unsettling world. someone as sensitive and in tune cannot drift blissfully through life unaware of these things. that is what makes you an artist.we feel responsible and want to right all wrongs. we want our friends and family to see what we see and feel what we feel. and when they don't we withdraw to our separate corners and wonder why love has gone wrong. love can't go wrong. when my husband said that he'd lost the only unconditional love he'd ever known when devlin passed, i knew what he meant. when we realize it's the pain we choose to feel that keeps us from love we can make another choice. when i realize i've chosen pain instead of peace i try to remember that there is " nothing so blinding as the perception of form." and that "the memory of God comes to the quiet mind. It cannot come where there is conflict, for a mind a war against itself remembers not eternal gentleness." and, it's rather cliche, but this too shall pass. i doubt my path every single day. how else would i know if i needed to find another. peace. suz

R. Bailey said...

Have you read or heard Gertrude Stein's portrait of Matisse?

I will try to post it on my blog, and email it to you if I can...

There is a beauty to this kind of suffering, for it produces a deeper understanding that allows a more profound artistic statement to be made. I hate people who think art is supposed to be pretty. F*ck that sh*t. I do it to survive :)

P.S. I also object to not being transparent. How else are we artists supposed to shine our light??