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Working Through My Sh*t By Doing Art

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Quite a few people have told me that art is a way to work through things. I haven't done actual physical art to work on my personal issues. For most of my life I have used journaling as a way to process the things going on. I never thought I could make or create art. I can't draw like the masters and by masters I mean Rembrandt, Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and the likes of them. I thought art was supposed to be representative of the world; I thought I had to draw the world as I saw it through my eyes. My hands could never capture what I saw. It was disappointing to see my projects look like the product of a child.

The last time I took an art class was Art 101 at Kapiolani Community College. I was surrounded by a variety people with a variety of skills. Some had "street skills"- the type of art that you would see on the overpass. Some were actual art majors. I remember a girl did her self-portrait in the same vein as Norman Rockwell. You know that picture where he's painting himself, painting himself. It was really good. And there was me with my childish art. I felt so discouraged and I had no desire to take up art again.

I dated a guy a couple of years ago who did art as a hobby. He had money to spend on his hobby. At that time, I didn't have money to spend on extra things that I was not sure about. I was barely covering my bills at the time so I was never able to try this out. It was nice that he shared his supplies with me. He used oils and while I like oils, I don't like cleaning it up. He was very good at that. I think he enjoyed the whole process of art from beginning to end. For me, I like the process of creating. He painted pictures from photographs and was good at painting what he saw. I think a good thing that came out of this was that I learned that I didn't want to paint like that. I just wanted to paint on what I felt on the inside and what I saw with my soul.

A few years before meeting him, I started to research Frida Kahlo's art. I admit I watched the Salma Hayek movie about her and became interested. I like her work because I saw that there were emotions expressed that I could relate to. I liked the use of colors and her style of painting. It wasn't true to the eye but it was true to her spirit and soul. If I made art, I wanted to make art like that. At the time, I was more interested in writing. I wanted to write in the way that she expressed herself. I wanted my voice to be like her art. The more I look at her art, the more I want to be expressive like that. I also researched abstract artists and I liked that the way they painted. I like that abstract art looks beyond the real world. I think now that I do have a bit more disposable income, I can try another medium of expression so now I am working on painting with acrylics.

I told myself that when I come home from this deployment, I am going to do things differently. I am going to take my time integrating back into society. After my last deployment, I came home to divorce proceedings and went straight back to work after a week. I went on a trip to Alaska hoping that would heal me but I don't think it did. I jumped into a relationship with someone who was emotionally unavailable while I was still going through the process of divorce. I got fired from my job and just went through a bunch of issues- back to back. My ex-husband didn't even show to the hearing and that just felt like a slap in the face. Like he couldn't be bothered which hurt and I thought that seeing his face would give me some sort of closure.

The year following my first deployments homecoming was a downward spiral. I was in a dark place. I got fired from my job. I started attending esthetician school but I wasn't actually going. I would stay in bed and just watch Bob's Burgers. I had a part time job and I showed up to work because I told myself "it's just four hours, you can do this." After I was done with work I would just go back to laying in bed and watching Bob's Burgers.

I decided that I would make art to work through the things that are going on with me. I did this deployment a little different but it opened some can of worms. I stopped contact with the guy who I lived with before deploying. (That's really another story altogether.) I feel like I became a misandrist because of what I went through on this deployment.

I did not expect this piece to turn out like this. (I guess this is what happens when you let things just flow.) I initially wanted to just write about the art I made in the photo. I'm happy with it. The trees aren't really the way I would like them to be because I didn't draw them out first. I just stitched them "freehand." But I'm okay with it because it's not perfect and I like the way it looks.

I read an article by a woman who discussed taking "space as an older woman." And by older woman, I mean a woman in her forties, a woman like me. (I think she was in her later forties.) She talked about a vision she saw about the forest and the flames surrounding the trees; an obvious symbol of the anger she felt about how people, especially men, treated her. I read the article after I painted and stitched it. It is quite coincidental that we had similar images.

I haven't done much art recently. I just haven't felt like doing much of anything. But maybe this is the time to do it.

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