The concept of “The Advocate” has been important to me throughout this whole series as it is the reason I began the series in the first place. This is my second attempt at painting this piece. The first one was done early on and I have since improved my skills and my motivations. I wanted it to be optimistic and really focused on the Advocate. It was a hard decision to repaint an entire painting, especially at the very end, and I had to shove myself every step of the way. Isn’t that the way this whole thing goes though? But here I am, one year and 11 paintings later feeling hopeful and very proud to say IT IS DONE!
Grip Series Paintings
I had two models describe their frustration with the mental health care system as overwhelming social repercussion and financial strain. It feels as though you are being punished because you finally reached out. Mental health really gets you "Coming and Going".
Sleep disorder often accompanies not only PTSD but many other mental health issues. “Strange Bedfellows “ expresses this model’s difficulty having long-lasting intimate partners because, in a sense, he already has one.
The background alludes to the fact that this model is a drummer and performs nightly before an audience. The shadow of boxing ropes imply that he is in a constant boxing match with and in his own mind. How many of us fight a daily battle with mental illness with our responsibilities and other people as an audience?
This is the idea that started the whole series into motion. When my father and grandmother passed within months of each other and I graduated from college and moved my family across the country all at the same time, I began to experience heart palpitations. They were coupled with irrational fear, lack of self confidence, blurred vision, histamine response and a feeling of being trapped. This was the first time in all of my years of being married to someone with anxiety that I finally personally understood it. This painting represents the weight of grief and sympathy.
It takes a lot of courage to talk openly about addiction. This model wanted to represent how pleasant it is to be in a substance induced state when being sober is so painful due to poorly treated mental health issues. She also wanted to describe that while it was the only place she felt rest, she was always aware of the things in her life that, while she loved dearly, she was neglecting. Addiction must be treated not as a choice, but as an illness that with proper mental Healthcare can be prevented.
This one is meant to be a more optimistic piece in the Grip Series. It's about taking charge and succeeding in life even with the daily and burdensome partner of mental health challenges. It has been a joy working with this model. Her optimism is contagious!
I wanted to have this finished for the end of mental health awareness week but my own mental health plummeted and I wasn’t able to paint as fast as I wanted to. Image that. “Sabotage” represents the frequency in which we question ourselves, pick on ourselves, and consider our efforts to achieve mental health futile. Even when we find workable solutions it isn’t uncommon to still judge ourselves for needing that help, or denying the help altogether. Mental health issues truly can cause us to be our own worst enemies.
When someone in passing says "Hi, how are you?" it's not that they actually want to know, it's that we've grown accustomed to use the phrase as a greeting rather then an opener for meaningful conversation. However, on the occasion that someone earnestly asks you that question, how are you accustomed to answer?
This painting is about the shame or incapacity many feel when it comes to talking about their mental health issues. It's time to talk!
I completed the first painting in this series, pictured above, in about a week. This gives me great hope that I can complete the other 14 in a timely manner. This painting represents the struggle to BE happy when you don't FEEL happy. I will provide the full narrative for this painting as the series progresses.