Posted on 6 Comments

Depression

What brought me here today:

To be honest, the past two weeks have not been spectacularly great for me from a mental health standpoint. I’m struggling with some depression right now. My business is not doing as well as I want or need it to. Recent sales (free shipping, discounted prices) that I have promoted for my artwork have been dismal failures. And any attempts to get people to read my blog and/or purchase my artwork from my shop are making exactly zero impact.

Extremely negative thoughts about destroying everything I’ve worked so hard to build over the past three years have been obsessively running through my head every day. Shutting down my website and destroying my artwork being chief among those intrusive thoughts.

So, yeah. Clinical depression is more or less kicking my butt right now. And before I can even hope to move forward, I need to work through (gestures with arms at everything) that I’m presently mired in, mentally and emotionally speaking.

If wishes were horses:

This post is an extremely short one. Mostly because I’m just so not in the mood to talk about how I’m structuring and operating my small business. It’s glaringly apparent to me that whatever I’m doing, it’s all kinds of wrong. I have made a few sales. But they haven’t generated enough for my business to continue moving forward.

I have received many messages of encouragement from people online regarding my artwork. That has been of great help to me. It’s nice to know that there are people who like my artwork. But as all artists know, compliments and likes online don’t help pay the bills. And that’s just a hard fact of life.

So, now what?

Well, I’m going to go work on some artwork. While doing so, I need to have some hard conversations with myself about what I want to do, and where I want my business to go heading into the future.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again here next Tuesday,

6 thoughts on “Depression

  1. Katie Dear,

    I know a bit of how you feel. Been there.

    The negativity can spread to everything in your life, even what you love most.
    It feels like it will never go away – but it usually does. It just takes time.

    This last year has put even the most optimistic of us into a deep funk. Even when we say we are all right – we aren’t.
    We may have done fine for a while by burying ourselves into our art, but that isn’t working well anymore. We are still stressed out and out of reserves.

    This is not the way things were and not the way things will be.

    If the art isn’t bringing you the outward recognition you want or need to move with it – is there something else that will take away the money pressure?

    Don’t quit on your art!.
    The problems you set yourself to solve are valuable for you! (And to me. I love watching your explorations!)

    If it is tearing up your life – go to a doctor and get some antidepressant to try or find a good cognitive therapist to serve as a sounding board.
    It can be a big help to get the stupid thoughts out of the way.
    When you are feeling some better – get rid of the drugs – (Warning – the period of withdrawal will make you very intolerant of the stupidities of others.)
    You might want the therapist around for a while for a periodic check up.

    Otherwise – Keep reminding yourself that this is not as catastrophic as it feels right now.
    You may not listen to yourself right now, but it will get better!

    Sending kind thought your way

    Suzi

  2. Thank you for the advice and the kind words of encouragement. I’ve been dealing with clinical depression for most of my adult life. A large chunk of my 30’s were spent in many, many, many hours in my therapists office trying to paste myself back together again. I’m currently taking meds, and it’s not been long enough for them to become less effective. Which is something that has happened to me in the past. My meds don’t mean that I don’t have highs and lows, it just makes sure that those highs and lows are not completely life-altering when they occur. For me, the artwork I create is part of my on-going therapy. If I didn’t create it, I would be miserable. The point I find myself at right now is where the positive therapeutic aspects of art creation meet the market place. When the art doesn’t sell — even after being discounted, or had free shipping added — the artwork itself becomes a grim reminder of personal and profession failure. Thus my thoughts about just destroying it all. I do have a BFA in art education and have been a public school art teacher. While I love teaching art full time, it takes a lot of time and energy, leaving not a lot for my personal art creation. Teaching again isn’t out of the question. But I’m at an age that if I’m ever going to try and make a go at being a working artist, it’s now or never.

  3. Ah yes, being a teacher leaves little time or energy for anything else – I was a university professor and dropped most of my art projects while I taught. My creativity went into my teaching.

    I did mostly textile work for years. You are correct that this type of art “gets no respect”!
    It is seen as a hobby or pastime for women, not “Real art”.

    Maybe that is why I like your experimental and weird pieces so much.
    They go so far beyond traditional craft that they can’t be dismissed as easily – but I know they also mean a LOT more work for you.
    the smaller, more traditional dolls are delightful, but more predictable. Hard to sell as “ART”

    You are skilled and have an interesting vision!

    Keep exploring!

    Suzi

  4. Traditionally, anything creative that women did in the past — with cloth or fiber — was relegated to a status of ‘craft’ rather than Art with a capital A. That kind of artistic respect has been reserved for painters and sculptors. Dolls have long held fascination for me. My earliest memories are of dolls. They are a constant theme in my artwork. However, the definitions that most people hold in their minds for the category of ‘doll’ are restrictive. “Toy” is often what a doll is defined as and that’s it. An artist like Jim Dine can explore items like hammers, hearts and his bathrobe — or Pinocchio through painting and sculpture and it’s received as Art. I create doll after doll after doll, and the only things that are seen are the materials and the singularly and miss identified concept. Perhaps if I made large, slightly pervy Hans Bellmer doll-like sculptures then my work would possibly be taken seriously? Who knows.

  5. “Dolls” are the most traditional of human art.
    Imitations of who we are or would be. I
    mages of powers we wish we had.

    Why do so many painters focus on portraits?
    Sculptors on the human body?

    Dolls are teaching tools. Teaching girls to be mothers and boys to be soldiers.
    Reflecting who we are.

    A feminist approach often tries to diminish the importance of dolls as teaching everything from traditional roles to body constructs – thinking Barbie here.

    What about exercises in color? or form? Why do these have to be large paintings?

    Dolls are easy to engage and identify with. They can be manipulated. (I like your boxed dolls, but wouldn’t want them trapped as I would want to touch and see the backs.)

    Maybe that is why I was attracted to your more unusual dolls – like the large construction with all the tiny cloth residents. They are not toys or women’s work. They are art pieces that draw one in and are imaginative investigation of possibilities,

    Just thinking about this makes me want to get back into making dolls. I have not explored them for years since I began having problems with my hands. I cant hold a needle any more and with dolls, I always want to sew something!

    Watching your explorations is such fun for me as I see the problems you are addressing and solving.
    I hope you continue!

    Suzi

  6. Dolls have a long history within human societal structures. Two main theories are proposed for their initial introductions. One is that they were intended to be teaching tools for girls. They were something that they used to mimic what their assumed adult role within society would be. Mother and caregiver. This extends all the way up to the current day. This includes baby dolls, Barbie and fashion dolls, doll houses, etc. The second theory, or perhaps a theory that is really part of the initial theory is that some of the first dolls were small religious figures. These were given to children as a means of teaching them about the religious expectations of their society. Small figures like the Venus of Willendorf (and the other small, female, religious figures within the Venus archetype) can be an example of this. Ushabti figures placed within tombs in ancient Egypt have been an influence for me, as well as Santos and Bultos figures from New Mexico, along with Katsina (Katchina) from the Indigenous people of the South West. For me, the dolls that I create, especially the small ones in boxes are very much related to this religious or spiritual aspects of what I consider the ‘spark of the divine’ within myself as a creator (borrowing from the writer Alan Moore). The sad thing is, I can personally draw on history and practice starting from the dawn of human beings, but if the person viewing my work only sees a toy, then for them, that’s all it will ever be.

    I have a fear of someday not being able to hold a needle and to sew. At present, my eyesight it more of a concern! The hands are still working okay! If you want to make dolls, do it! Don’t think you have to sew to do it either. Paper dolls have long been a love of mine. For a time while I was still teaching full time, creating articulated paper dolls kept me creating, but in a format that was a little easier to fold into the work of teaching art in the classroom. I look at the work of Marisol Escobar, and I see dolls.

    I’m teaching a workshop tomorrow to a group of teenaged people (16 to 21-ish in age, male and female). The workshop is around the theme of Guatemalan Worry Dolls. The group of people I’m teaching to are young people who are looking for jobs, and/or job training for a career. I’ve had Worry Dolls since I was a really little kid, like 6 or 7 years old. I’ve taught this type of workshop here in Finland before, but to much younger children (10-12). I hope that I can get the ideas across that I want to, regarding what a doll is and what it can be and represent to an individual. That can be a challenge, especially since my conversational Finnish is at best, weak tea.

    Thank you for talking with me about art. Our chat has been of great help to me.

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