Sunday, May 5, 2019

Through My Lens

"Through My Lens - Self Portrait"
© 2019 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on Sennelier La Carte Pastel Card

Despite the scary potential of facing the continued stigma that far too many still have toward those with mental illness, especially having a somewhat public persona as an artist, I’ve come to realize that openly acknowledging my own battle with it is a solid step toward healing. Painting is also an invaluable part of that healing process for me, along with having found highly qualified and trusted mental health professionals locally. This has given me a bit of courage to publicly recognize my complex mental health challenges and if you are struggling yourself, may my 'coming out' as mentally ill let you know that you are not alone. As I’ve progressed along this meandering artistic path as it crisscrosses with my mental health challenges, I’m finding that my own response to my artworks is changing. My paintings and sketches are generally feeling less like marketable commodities and more like a means of simply expressing the emotions evoked by the various scenes I’ve seen in person that made me want to paint them in the first place.

My artwork is part of my therapy and hopefully will facilitate the healing process, and I recognize that very fact makes many of my paintings perhaps more deeply personal to me than they should be. That does create a quandary for me though. Part of me strongly believes art is meant to be shared, and I admit there is a certain joy in those few times that something I have painted actually speaks to another. On those rare occasions, it almost makes me feel less alone and isolated when I can share a part of me to which another human being responds positively. So, I need to find a way to exist with a foot in both realities – to share the work of my heart while still protecting that same fragile heart…

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