Painting as Self Help

I’ve found over the years that if I’m having a hard time dealing with something, or getting over something, then doing a painting can actually help the getting over it process.

I only just remembered this the other day. I’ve been really rather (rightfully) extraordinarily cross over something lately and I’ve not been able to shake it, however, I started doing a painting of it and it’s already helping diminish that anger.

I thought I might do a post then on paintings I’ve done to get over specific things that have been upsetting or traumatic.


“The Cherry Picker”. You know how sometimes, someone only tries to take the good and is unwilling to deal with the bad? This painting is dedicated to my feelings about someone who was only ok when things were good and actively resented it when they were not.


“The Welcome Party”. I had an incident where someone turned their back on me at a social event for reasons I will not go into here…. The next social event I turned up to, this person came out of the house as I was arriving, made sure I noticed them, then turned their back on me. It took a while for me to notice them. This painting goes out to that person and their excellent use of Passive Aggressive social punishment technique.


Untitled – but this is about how freaking miserable I felt in Tibet due to the elevation. It’s hard to tell people exactly how all encompassing and awful it is being at half oxygen, your body goes into a meltdown. It takes about 8 weeks to get used to being in Lhasa, we were only there for a few days, so i never did. It was like constant flu symptoms, nose bleeds, spots, cold sores, headaches, and nausea…and I didn’t get it nearly as bad as many of the other tourists we met!  The little box next to this guy is the box of local medicine our guide got us.  I think it helped insofar as it was the placebo effect helps one. GIVE ME MORE PLACEBOS.  All this aside – Tibet is an excellent place to visit, just don’t expect to enjoy it physically.

the roster small

“The Roster”.  On a project I was once on, we joked that we needed to take turns to all go mentally insane. That project did my head in. It did everyone’s head in. I went a bit wrong. We all did. I needed to get that out.

Which leads to:


“The Project”. I wish I could go into the specifics, but  bunches of people standing around uneasily and  an ominous feeling in the air, pretty much summed it up.  This is a badly drawn painting and i hate the colour choices, but really, I hated the project too and so it’s all very fitting.


“Clearing out my closet”.  Ok, so what is going on here is the dude in front of the fire is scooping up tiny people from the box next to him, burning them, and then sweeping them into a steaming pile. He’s then putting the piles of people soot into the cases next to him on his right.

This painting was complicated. To cut a long story loose – it was to move on the residuals from a friendship that had gone sour, it had gone sour way before it ended, and after the end I concluded that actually I was way way better off without that person in my life. But i needed to clear out the crap in my head about it. Losing any sort of previously close relationship is painful even if it’s right. I took all the terrible things this friendship had and burnt them down and got rid of them. Worked a treat.

I guess the thing all these pictures have in common was that there was an element of unjust or unfair about all the scenarios I found myself in. Being judged or pushed by criteria that I did not set, and it causing some sort of misery or discomfort.

I am lucky sometimes I think that I have the ability to draw out those last bits of angst and turn them into something else. When i started my most recent painting, I just straight up felt better about the situation. I’ve reduced it to an image that I can control and that is a very personal thing and says something in a very personal way, and if i choose to also be incredibly mean or horrible or subversive, no one is going to know or care, but I will feel better that i got it out. I actually have a few things I’d like to get down this way now I am thinking about it!

Painting even very silly pictures can be an excellent way to get those bundled up emotions out there. I’m an INTJ on the meyers-briggs scale (‘The Scientist’ – same as Spock!) – and I find strong emotional can be very disconcerting and discomforting…. Painting is good for getting all that stuff you like to repress out and being expressed.  Stops one going wrong in the head. 🙂