The Seven Gates


I've posted my third painting in The Seven Gates series on my website and it's all getting a little bit darker. I thought that now was the perfect time to tell you more about how and why I'm doing this series of paintings.

I've suffered with some form of depression on and off for pretty much all of my adult life. But because I'm not too bad at hiding it, I can function reasonably well. I only realised that I had depression when I heard an interview with Stephen Fry. He talked about how he didn't want to commit suicide but he wouldn't be that bothered if he died. (He would have put it much more eloquently.) At the time this really resonated with me.

Since then I've had numerous bouts, some severe in nature. It's a shockingly bad illness that has been stigmatised throughout history. (I would probably have been burnt as a witch for being possessed by demons in ye olden days.) If you break your leg everyone has a right laugh, signing and drawing pictures on your pot. Not so with depression. The most common (and unenlightened) ways to deal with it are either with a chirpy "Cheer up, it may never happen" or to simply give the sufferer a wide berth and some shifty sidelong glances to make sure that they don't suddenly become prone to a desire to partake in an axe attack frenzy. Very helpful.

I started this series of painting to come out of the depression closet (finally we get to the paintings). Each image is my way of defeating a certain set of thought processes. For example, 'Welcome' is all about self destructive thoughts. So if ever any of these crafty thoughts pop into my head, I can identify them and link them to that sultry seductress. Recognising the thoughts is the first step in getting rid of them. They try to stay hidden but the paintings have given me a glimpse into their secret world. It certainly helps to know thy enemy.

I have plans for the future to develop more paintings on a similar theme. The Seven Gates series is based on my own personal experience, but I want to include a wider view of depression in my future works. But that's a way off yet.

This may all give you an image of a depressed artist sitting alone, beating his head against a wall when a colour is slightly wrong and generally looking glum. But no, you're more likely to find me dancing around the room to a bit of Closure in Moscow. I'm actually pretty happy doing what I'm doing. Since I left teaching a few years ago, I haven't had any episodes of depression. That's a very telling statement, let's repeat it and I'll put it in bold just in case you are thinking of becoming a teacher. Since I left teaching a few years ago, I haven't had any episodes of depression. Maybe this is why I feel able to write about it all now. I still get some stray thoughts but I'm finding it easier to identify and get rid of them. This is all the more surprising when I consider that I've gone through a few massively bad life events in the last three years.

So my paintings may be on the dark side, but at the minute I'm a cheerful little fellow who likes nothing more than a great film (Laputa: Castle In The Sky would be quite nice), an engaging board game (Eldritch Horror anyone?) and plenty of cups of gorgeous tea.

See you soon.

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