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This portrait series depicts

the effects that living with mental illness has on ten real people.  I spent careful time with each one to narrate their experience in an honest, respectful, and deeply poignant way.  As I painted each work I was able to spend quiet, intimate hours with the subject- both the actual person and the illness.  It’s amazing how much grief people carry around and how eager they are to crack open their hearts when someone shows they are willing to listen.  Mental illness is a formidable foe that manipulates reality in such a way that those inflicted feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks, a decrease in self confidence and an increase in self loathing, confusing physical sensations, and consuming compulsions.  I chose to represent this foe as a human hand because of how universally gestural hands are, and also to bring to mind such expressions as “losing grip”, “get a grip”, and in contrast, “lend a hand” and “helping hand”. This series illustrates unseen yet palpable experiences of those currently in the throes of mental illness. Whether you have mental illness or simply advocate for those who do, may it shift your conversational habits toward recognition, healthy coping, and revolutionizing medical care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  Are you selling the paintings?

A.  It is my goal first to give as many communities as possible the opportunity to engage with the paintings and have an experience with art that connects them to our mental health.  Once I feel like this goal has been met I will sell them.  For now I am keeping a list of interested parties.  If you would like to be added to that list please contact me here

Q.  How can I help promote and support this work?

A.  Funds are needed to pack and ship the paintings and also to pay venues to host.  One time donations can be made in my store and also through my Patreon account, where you can also support me on a regular basis.  Other ways to donate are to provide a venue and a crowd to view the paintings in your own community. Free publicity of any kind is always welcome!

Q.  Does Cara Jean give presentations?

A.  I have experience in art education and would love to participate in artist panels or workshops!