When I was 3 years old, my parents found me drawing on the side of our minivan with a rock. I think I always knew I wanted to be an artist. As I grew up, I had an on and off relationship with art. Many times in fact. I was afraid of the criticism and pressure to perform for others. It wasn’t until I became aware of my struggles with mental health that I really started to lean on art again. From a very young age I struggled with social anxiety, self-esteem, and the inability to express or handle my emotions. I was always very shy. A listener rather than a leader. I felt like an outsider for most of my life. Not knowing why I was always left out or why other people didn’t feel the same things I felt. Why things were so much harder for me than for everyone else. I dealt with depressive episodes and panic attacks. And until recently I thought I would always be that way. Then, as cheesy as it sounds, art saved me.
I began exploring abstract expressionism and intuitive painting, where I could paint freely without the pressure of creating realistic artwork. Whenever I would be stressed or overwhelmed I would go to my studio and just paint. Paint for me. Not for anyone else but me. And I realized how I could say so much with a paintbrush that I could not say with words. The idea that I could express myself and my emotions through color and brush strokes really spoke to me and I began using art as a therapy to cope with my depression and anxiety. I now use art therapy as a substitute for unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as isolating myself or binge eating, that I used to relish in. And it is now my goal to help people who are struggling with their mental health better their minds through art therapy.
I truly believe art can heal our inner selves and I want to help people develop a connection with art through the therapeutic process that is intuitive painting. If we can learn to let go of expectations and keep an open mind, we can be free to express ourselves and create artwork that really speaks to who we are. Opening up our minds, playing around with color, and getting lost in the process of painting can change the way we deal with our emotions.
At 27 years old, I am still navigating my mental health and learning more about myself every day. How I deal with things, how I am a people pleaser, and how sensitive I can be at times. And while I know I will always be a work in progress, I will no longer be a victim. Art is my outlet, my therapy, and my power. And with it I can conquer anything. I have decided to be a leader in the art community and step into this new version of myself. Together we can develop healthy coping skills and flood the world with our amazing artwork.