Depression seems to be creating quite a stir recently, since the death of Robin Williams. It seems there are more and more people 'coming out of the closet,' so to speak - out of the darkness, sharing that they, too, suffer from depression and it goes a lot deeper than just having a down day or two.
I've always been afraid to admit that I suffer from depression and have for most of my life. There is such a stigma attached to it and well-meaning people are quick to say, "Oh, just cheer up. Think happy thoughts!"
It doesn't work that way, unfortunately. Depression is an invisible illness. It's paralyzing. Disabling. I read someone else describe is as standing behind a thick sheet of plexi-glass - you can see everything going on around you but you can't participate. You're isolated. When I paint I am always looking for the joy within each painting, whether it be the subject matter or the colors I choose (or both). I want others to see joy and feel happiness when they look at my art.
In this painting, "Shelter From the Storm" the storm is the depression I struggle with daily. The painting looks calm and serene and that's how depression might look on me to an outsider. I don't look depressed. I don't go around like Eeyore in Winnine the Pooh, always grumbling, "Oh woe is me . . ." I joke around a lot, smile often and easily, and love nothing more than a good belly laugh that makes me cry and snort. But on the inside is a constant storm - depression. It's dark. It's painful. It's embarrassing. The umbrellas in the painting aren't offering any shelter from the storm because of their position. With depression there's nowhere to hide . . . or shelter from it. The purple fish are a symbol of transformation.
A few years ago a friend gifted me a beautiful necklace that she made and it had two purple fish. The necklace was strung together with beautiful lime green beads with a couple of red ones strategically placed (can you tell from my paintings that I love lime green, purple, and red?) The necklace was like a magic cloak for me. When I wore the necklace, which I did often, it made me happy. The colors evoked joy within. One day my necklace broke, with all of the pretty beads falling at my feet. Because I'm mourning the loss of my 'happy necklace' I've been painting purple fish into my paintings. Really now, who doesn't smile at the sight of a purple fish just hanging out in a painting and purple fish as pets? I'm also really excited that the friend who gifted me that necklace all those years ago is now making me a new one with the purple fish I salvaged from the broken necklace. I wonder if purple fish will continue to show up in my paintings when I'm wearing my new 'happy necklace?" Most likely they will.