Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hospitalization post #2: Restrictions

I was not very happy to be in the hospital. In fact, I was downright depressed over that fact alone. There were many restrictions. For one patients were not allowed to go outside, among other things. In this frustration I started to write my feelings. This was how I felt at the time:

Animal in a cage.
Impulses of rage.
Imbalance in the brain.
Depression, guilt and shame.
Branded like a cow.
Not nuts before till now.
Herding us around.
No straps or strings allowed.

It was rough those first few days. I must say though, that it has helped. Funny how no matter what I'm going through, I'm still creating in some way.

Interview during 3 Guys Art Exhibition

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Recent Hospitalization

Boy oh boy, alot happens in just a few week's time. My June 1st post spoke about my mixed state of mania and depression. Sometimes what is going on inside me is more apparent to others than it is to myself. In the June 1st post I mentioned that thoughts of death come upon me - first about other things and then on to myself. Well, that is a bad sign. Whenever those thoughts even have the inkling of starting, I'm already shifting in to a bad place. The bad place was apparent to my doctor and he quickly had me whisked away to a Behavioral Hospital, that's "mental institution" in plain language. This is where I've been the past two weeks. Its the second time in my life I have been hospitalized and I must say, I thought that I was long past the thought of ever needing to go there again. Its not a place where people are tied up in straight jackets and in padded rooms - at least that's not where I was. I don't have to go into all the details, but even though its not the greatest place to be, it has helped me and I feel much better now; much more like myself. How does this effect me as an artist? That's one of the main reasons I started this blog is to write about this darkness, this hell and how it relates to the joys of creating. In many, many artistic people, these two things are closely intertwined.

I had some freedom and although I could work with pencils no longer than 3", I was able to do some artwork.

This is a large bush that was right outside my window. I was inspired by it somehow. It reminded me of Moses and the Burning Bush. I think I may make a painting of that. Through the window when it rained, the bush looked as if its colors were running - melting almost. That image I will retain because I want to paint it as well.

There was free time and quite an array of "characters". Here there was a game of spades being played, but I thought I'd be cheeky and call it "Crazy Eights".

As a side note, It was so wonderful to see people come in so sad & dejected or angry and within a few days with medication, their spirits lifted. It was just a wonderful transformation.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

My Sketch Book Pages

My sketchbooks have always been pretty dear to me. They pretty much document all of my ideas at different times in my life. Its funny to look back through them and remember all of the crazy ideas I've come up with aver the years.

I have a ritual with my sketchbooks; that I will start by using the pages from the front, then I will turn the book upside down and over and start from the other end as well, meeting in the middle. I don't remember when I started this, but I've done it for years. I've also consisdered my sketch books to be kinda 'sacred territory'. I've had people offer me money to buy pages from them because they liked how much was going on in them, but to no avail. "Eeeekk! I would think. "That would be Sacriledge!" Its like cutting out a piece of history. They're my babies.
Anyway, I've changed my mind. I did a sketch of a fountain years ago which is where I met my "special someone" and I'm cutting it out and giving it as a gift. I must admit there's still a part of me that's cringing at the thought, but as a gift it's perfect.
Here's the sketch, plus another example of pages.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Young Thom Reaves: Master of Paper Dolls

Get ready for a trip down my Memory Lane. I have a collection of paper dolls that I made over a period of years when I was young. I guess I was about 9 or 10. I would sit in front of the TV and draw the characters I saw on what seems like reams and reams of paper. Then I'd go draw them on cardboard (usually the backing that my
grandmother got in her stockings packages), cut them out and play with them. For years they've been stored in a clear plastic bag until I got the bright idea of putting them into sleeves in a 3-ring binder. I've brought them as a display at my most recent art showing and people seemed really fascinated by them. I guess one of the things that they found so peculiar is that I drew the characters from the front as well as the back.
Those are really fond memories of me making them. They spanned years as I said, but also subject matter. I had many favorite TV shows and that's what I did alot of. The Flintstones, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Underdog, Dudley Do-right, Flash Gordon. About 1976 I bought my first comic book - then I was a superhero nut; The Justice League of America, The Legion of Superheroes (in those shown I was copying the style of a cartoonist called Hembeck. I loved it at the time. I also made dolls of Greek Mythology, Night time TV shows like Carter Country and Dallas. And get this, I even drew NEWSCASTERS. I've posting a few different kinds. If you'd like me to post more, give me a holla. T.

Simultaneous Mania & Depression and what to do about it.

What does an artist do in times of difficulty? One of the things is to trust that things will get better. I've been gradually going into a mixed state of Bipolar mania and depression; that's when both are going on in the body at the same time. Its signified by lack of concentration, agitation, risky behaviors and downright sadness. Its the first time I've experienced an episode in this way. Its been very difficult. Just when the skies are sunny, at a pin drop, the skies go cloudy and dark. To be honest, (which is why I'm keeping a blog in the first place) I must admit that my thoughts begin to gravitate towards the subject of death - the death of other things at first, but as the depression worsens those thoughts turn on me - by turning to me. THIS TIME, it I was drawn to writing Goodbye letters to my family. No, I didn't do it, but I went and got the help I need and am right now, happy to say, I'm getting through; lots of tears, but getting through.

At church today, the Pastor spoke about the Second Chapter of the book of The Acts of the Apostles. She talked about how the Spirit of God came as a mighty wind and the Apostles had no control over their agendas, because God brought them to where He wanted them to go. What they had to do was trust. The Pastor then said something that stuck out to me. She said (and I am paraphrasing) that when you are caught-up in the midst of your derailed plans, God is still in there and He will work things out. This struck a chord with me because during this current episode, I have been told by family members, therapists and good friends, that basically I need to do what I need to do to take care of myself. Not to just be upset that I have this illness, but really put the effort in to get ahold of it and TRUST that I've got One who is going to work it all out. So I guess that is the answer to the question of difficult times.