I’ve been dealing with work stress and personal challenges lately, which has been making me feel all crummy. I hate feeling inadequate (wait–who doesn’t?) and it just gets me really frustrated at times when I can’t do something. It also doesn’t help that I’m one of those people who (used to) pride themselves in being fully engrossed by work that it has become part of my 24/7-365 identity. Time and again, I have been proven otherwise and learned that this is not the healthiest way to live out one’s life. So I’ve taken some steps to pare down my obsession with being “work” busy. But I can’t help it sometimes and it is something that I continue to work on, sort of like a practice.
When I am stressed, I get anxious. And when I am anxious, I am not particularly useful in how I spend my time, worry about the various “WHAT IF?”s in my life, and at some point get really bogged down and direct all blame inward. This is me IRL and I know I can do better. It takes me some time, but along with this constant self-reflection and wonder, I am also gifted with this nagging inner voice that peps me to pick myself back up, dust it all off, and sell back those damn lemonades for profit. YEP. And this is what my new painting is about.
Keep Swimming (2017). 24″x36″. Acrylic on canvas
This artwork was inspired by feelings and symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The colors, despite being dominantly vibrant blue, are marred and complicated with intrusions of pale and dark yellows, burnt umber, and a moody dark blue. Here, perspective is key—the artwork sheds light on the crippling pattern of anxiety that yearns to be washed away, while also boasting a source of infinite creative energy.
I approached this painting with the intention of putting a face to my greatest fear of worrying too damn much. Don’t get me wrong, this also caused me some headache, because I knew that whatever I create would then be in physical existence in this world. I cringed at the thought that it would be something that would be in my studio with me and have to stare at/live with. Dorian Gray, who?
But you know what? I am proud of my anxiety–It is protective. It keeps me safe. It helps me prepare for what is to come. But I also know it is a monster that should not be left to its own device. Here’s to more open conversations about mental health and wellness.