How Painting Helped Me Cope With My Mother’s Death

Gold Side of the Moon Abstract Painting Bad Art and MeowWhen I passed by high school art class with a D, I knew my art professor was being too generous. A decade ago, art was a waste of time because I felt inadequate to my classmates. When I buckled down in college, set out to prove to myself that I could be an artist, I really did try and create something beautiful. Yet again, I garnished myself a D for actually trying.

Grief Meant New Hobbies

When my mother passed in February of 2017, I needed a way to voice my grief. I’d always written out my emotions. I’d journal, turn to a story, envelope myself into blank pages where I could escape. When she died, so did my words. The only thought I could concentrate on was that she died and how I was so angry at God for taking her away. What kind of daughter deserves to lose her mom before her wedding? What kind of daughter deserves to watch cancer invade a once-abled body, once vibrant, once loving, once existing? What kind of daughter deserves to watch her mother die at only 26?

I felt like Jack Torrence in the “Shining.” All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy – except, my mom is dead, my mom is dead, my mom is dead. Repetition is only useful when reciting mantras and writing out your punishments on chalkboards.

I’d grown up with a bizarre passion for ugly art. Aggressive scribbles. Paintings with oddly etched faces. Clean lines on a silver background. Art was always held within the eye of the beholder, and I beheld abstract. I was drawn to its’ meaning. Once I started pursuing my Bachelor’s degree, I took a class on abstract expressionism and came to discover that the messiest of paintings stem from the deepest meanings. For some odd reason, that really spoke to me.

Bad Art and Meow

Bad Art and Meow started out in my kitchen, with the name written in dusty chalk on a framed chalkboard I scored for a $1 at Goodwill Sunday morning. It sat next to our broken Keurig, facing busy walls busting with bad art we bought at yard sales or vintage thrift shops. Old, yellowed books were stacked against the wall next to our refrigerator and a box of half-open paints dripped onto the mason jars I was utilizing for storage.

Two months after losing my mom I felt compelled to paint. I bought the cheapest canvas from Michael’s, a 24×36 Level 1 canvas on sale along with .79 cent acrylic paints. I painted the entire canvas black. Before long, I added gray, then pink, then blue, then gold leaf began to flutter along the canvas’ edges, sprinkling my floor while my cat tried to eat it. I grabbed the paint bottles and stood overtop the canvas, letting them drip from my hands in a chaotic pattern.

When I was done, I realized how deep my grief had set in. This painting outlined how I’d been feeling. It was dark, gloomy, and gray. Yet, hidden beneath it, was this hope and it ended up illuminating the entire painting. I entitled it “The Gold Side of the Moon” and it hangs over my couch in my living room as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, beauty, rebirth, hope, and happiness can still exist. It all depends on how you look at it.

Social Media Expansion

Painting transcended from a preoccupation with my grief to a side business where I can share my story when my words fail. I’ve sold countless paintings that chronicle those deafening times, but also highlight the sweet moments and memories I’ve had in between. I’ve painted for my mom and my grief about losing her. I’ve painted for my fear of motherhood and my excitement for it. I’ve painted with rage and with hope.

I’ve been fortunate enough to share my artwork with other artists at events like Collingswood Second Saturday and the Trenton Punk Rock Fleamarket. Here, it’s not only amazing to be recognized for creating art that inspires others but it’s an inspiration to me as well. These connections continue to fuel me daily. Contact me on Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, and Twitter.

Isn’t Art Subjective?

My artwork is not as good as others, and I’ll admit, it’ll never go deeper than being a fun and colorful hobby for me. However, I think back to this one time my mother confronted my high school art teacher at a flea market. He said hi graciously, and my mother, the former firecracker she was, confronted him about my bad grades all those years ago. “She used to trace her pictures,” he told her.

“Well, isn’t art subjective?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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