If I’m depressed, I paint. When I feel despondent, I paint. When I am extremely angry, I paint.
I use paint to disrupt my mental personal abuse. All these are attitudes of mind. I use the act of painting as a healing factor. When deep in the process of paint, I go deep into my internal spirit and into a definite form of prayer, deep prayer. So why do I call it deep prayer? Mainly because it is dealing with deep internal feelings. These are not surface feelings, they are where I cannot go entirely alone, or maybe better said, unassisted.
I may enter the emotion alone but somewhere in the painting process, I am joined by a comforting spirit then from my insides erupts onto the surface of my canvas and that which was so emotionally disruptive on the inside is brought to the surface outside. So then, is the emotion gone? No, but the power of that emotion is taken away and what was hidden is now out for everyone to see and feel but not everyone will. Only those who have a need will the real message of the painting be revealed.
Does that mean that the painting will always remain a mystery to all others? No, its revelation is based on need, its secrets are not intellectual or even rational. It’s purpose is not for the artist but the viewer. Its message was released by a creative process that is little understood even or especially by the artist who was only part creator and mostly collaborator. That is why the end message can be so different.
As I get older, I paint, not so much for me, but to release and help smooth over traumatic emotions. Many artists before me have also come to these conclusions. They gave up their wealth for their spiritual health. Many historians when they write about them think that somehow or somewhere the artists “lost it.” It being the world’s point of view of wealth, but if they looked deeper at the artists, they would have found that they had found a more purposeful objective. They revealed the real meaning of everything in accordance to how they really felt. Instead of losing it at the end, they found it in their personal, emotional truth.
I no longer paint for me. I paint for others. I find that releasing a lifetime of emotions is a form of freedom that I have never experienced before. Sometimes I do get frustrated because the details seem to be very slow at revealing themselves, other times, my hand can’t keep up with what is happening. It never seems to be the same. It’s always in a process of constant change. Sometimes I am bounced around from painting to painting. I have so many at so many different stages of completion, it actually boggles my mind. The process gives me energy and at the same time, it takes it away.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.