Have you ever been afraid of your own job?
You see, many months ago I came up with an idea for a painting. It involved a self-portrait, where I would be crouching with a frightened look on my face as men administered pills into my opened skull. Inspired by the Caravaggio painting “Doubting Thomas”, I would use the characters from that painting to draw a parallel to the doubting doctors who feel they know more than what is crying for help right in front of them. Dark shadows, furrowed brows, a broken woman, a little creepy right? Well I was excited about it because I wanted to show what it really feels like when someone evaluates your mind and prescribes you mild altering medication. I should clarify – when someone who is insensitive, and quite a bad listener – evaluates your mind and prescribes you the incorrect medication. It’s not a good feeling, letting someone into the darkest parts of your heart and being quickly judged for thoughts you cannot control. I wanted to share that feeling with the world because I know others have felt this way and I want them to know that they aren’t alone. What I didn’t count on, was the fact that this painting would begin to scare me to the point that I couldn’t work on it anymore.
When I paint, I get very emotionally invested. I dive into memories and tough feelings so that my work can feel as authentic as possible. So at first when I started this painting, I made a point to only work on it during the day. Everything is more frightening in the dark after all, so I thought this would help me dissociate from the feelings that this painting gave me. If the sun was shining and music was playing and Luna Bear was nearby, obviously sharing my not-so-happy story would be easier.
But the thing is, months have gone by and I still haven’t worked on it. The other day I had to wipe away a thin layer of dust that had collected on the surface. And I still wasn’t ready to proceed.
I’ve stopped paintings in the past, a lot of paintings to be honest. But it was always out of boredom or a better idea or forgetfulness. I’ve never been genuinely afraid of creating before.
I’ve been trying to figure out what this means. Am I afraid that the painting won’t come across how I want it to? Am I afraid it will offend people? Am I afraid that people will see how crazy I really am? I don’t think so.
I think it’s because I’m afraid of being back in that moment. Feeling the judgement, listening to my own voice shake and tears streak down my face as I talk about my biggest fears and my broken mind while a proclaimed professional makes me feel small and ashamed. A man who cares nothing about the consequences that will follow after giving the wrong pills to turn a patient into someone they are not.
Everything in me is screaming that I need to finish this painting. I know that I have so much more that I need to share that I have been too afraid to divulge for fear of losing credibility or respect or whatever it is that you all have for me that keeps you coming back here each day to read my story and look at my work.
All I can say for now is that I'm grateful for those of you who have stuck around and shared my work with others. You give me courage to continue this journey even when it's not all calming cityscapes and beach abstracts. Each time I get a comment, message, or in person conversation with you all about how my work resonates with you, sharing how you've experienced the darkness too... you give me strength to keep sharing my story. The more we talk about the uncomfortable bits, the easier this gets.
Thank you <3
Images by Rebekah Brunson Studios
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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