Depression and art: Art journaling saved me! (by Violette Clark)

Our last vacation guest post! This one, by Violette, is amazing, soulful, and gave me chills. How many of us can relate? How many of us have found our true selves through journaling the blackest of moments? I know this story can be many of ours - mine, yours, Violette's. It truly shows the transformative power of art. 


Like many of you I have suffered from depression – depression that at times has been debilitating.  No energy, no joy, no happiness - nothing – just black, soul sucking emptiness.  I remember one day about 12 years ago or so I was so incredibly depressed I couldn’t drag myself off the floor.  I was literally lying on the carpet immobilized.  Luckily my room was messy so I had pens and papers lying on the carpet.  I reached over, grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and began to draw what I was feeling. 

The feeling was that of being a slug.  So naturally I drew or rather scratched out a drawing of a slug. Art has always been my “go to” answer to whatever ails me. I just didn’t always know it on a conscious level.


About tweny years ago I found creating something 3-D helped me move through the feelings of grief and sadness – a papier mache dancing cow helped transform the grief. The sensation of slapping on wet pieces of glue drenched paper onto an armature and smoothing it out, hearing the sounds, feeling the feelings and basically channeling the sadness into the cow helped lift my spirits.

I still do suffer from depression and sadness from time to time and when I do I turn to art to help transmute the feelings. Art and particularly art journaling for me has been like an alchemist transmuting baser metals into gold.  A couple of years ago during a coaching call my coach asked me to describe what I was feeling.  Although I found her probing questions incredibly annoying at the time J they were very helpful in drawing out a detailed image of what I was experiencing.

Black Balloon is what emerged from that session.  Black balloon needed to be more than one panel and since I have a cartooning background I felt this format lent itself quite well to the experience of being depressed and floating on a black balloon.  I developed a narrative cartoon based on the questions my coach was asking. The most amazing thing is that after completing the piece my sadness and depression had softened and was slowly lifting. AMAZING! 

I often draw my gremlin and what he’s saying to me – drawing the gremlin or inner critic kind of takes the wind out of him.  As I am able to transform the negative messaging I hear inside my head my drawings of the gremlin shift and change in response to it!  Art journaling is amazing therapy and it’s free!  Oh my gosh – you can’t get better than that can you?

My art journaling pages are not always about depression, grief and sadness but often embody the message of being true to yourself.  Being kind of an eccentric person, living in a purple magic cottage with a giant dragonfly on the front and having driven around town in a painted Glittergirl van for years I have become known as somewhat eccentric.  My purple magic cottage even appeared on the show Weird Homes!

When I was a child and teen I desperately tried to fit in, blend in the background and not call any attention to myself.  Now I do just the opposite.  I’ve noticed the more I attempt to suppress who I truly am the more depression consumes me. The more “I trust my vibes” and go with my offbeat thoughts, ideas and the  out-of-leftfield notions the truly happier I become.  To be truthful it has not been an easy journey but the spill over affect has been great.  By giving myself permission to be who I am I’ve given others permission to do the same.  That part of the journey has been the most exciting of all. I am forever grateful to my Muse for the gift of Creativity and for saving my life.

How has art saved you?


Love, Violette 


Read more of Violette's adventures at her blog, Violette's Creative Juice. She's truly a kindred spirit! 

a bright glittery shining art beacon (by Russty Brazil)


Hello lovely blog readers! I hope you all are having a great week. I was asked by my dear friend, Samie to do a guest post while she is off on vacation. I was honored that she asked me to share some of my story and my journey through life and art. 

For those of you who don't know me my name is Cherish "Russty" Brazil. My friends call me Russty or Russ. I am a painter and mixed media artist. I try to encourage people to create art no matter their financial means, so I work with a lot of cheaper supplies and recycled materials. I want anyone who wants to make art to be able to, because I truly believe art can heal and be great therapy.
For many years I was a fiber artist. I LOVED to make art quilts. There was something so freeing about manipulating fabric into beautiful paintings that people could touch. It was hard on my hands and body though with arthritis and fibromyalgia, so eventually I had to stop. I was so depressed for a while feeling like I would never have an artistic purpose in life again. I spent about a year just quietly hiding in my house hoping people would stop asking me when I was going to be making quilts again. I felt like I lost a part of myself. The only little thing that made me happy was knowing that out in the world my quilts were still hanging in peoples homes bringing them joy. 
One day when I couldn't take being bored anymore I decided to try my hand at painting. I figured I had brushes, cheap craft paint, and cardboard, so it wouldn't cost me anything to just try it out. I always loved what painters did, but I thought I would never have the skills to do that.  I was amazed when I made my first painting and friends all responded really well to it, encouraging me to continue. So I kept painting and over time got better and better. Eventually I posted some online for people to see and someone wanted to buy one. It surprised me that someone I didn't know in person wanted to pay me hard earned money for something I'd painted. It opened up a whole new life for me.
I started painting with abandon. Digging in and really learning what I liked and didn't like. Painting just to paint and painting to remind myself that underneath my illness I still had a spirit that wanted to live and have a full life. I don't remember how I found the mixed media and art journaling community. But when I did it was one of those huge life moments when you know you've found your people! But I still felt like no one could know how I really felt, because they wouldn't want to deal with my illness. It was all about the art. 

Then one day I saw Samie mention having Fibromyalgia and it was a bright glittery shining art beacon in the wasteland of a busy world. I felt like jumping around and yelling, "You're like me! Someone like me! Someone who can understand!" It was that little moment that made me realize, Aha! If Samie sharing can make me feel this accepted and understood...what might happen if I do it and someone sees it and feels better?! And then they could share and on and on. It created this ripple affect of people saying, Hey, I live with an illness/disability or I have a loved one who does and I get it and we're not alone! It's become not a celebration of illness, but a celebration of art and life. Of people saying you're not alone and you matter! Isn't that what life is supposed to be? Knowing that you matter to someone. No matter who you are or what you do, knowing that in this crazy life you are important to someone. It gives us all hope.

So now I often share to encourage others that during the good times we're here to rejoice with you. And during the hard times we're here to offer hugs, a listening ear, suggestions on how to make art when you don't feel your best, or to just simply as I like to call it, stand in the gap for you. Standing in the gap is people saying emotionally and spiritually we are here and we will be here till you can stand on your own. We're here to say we know you can ride out this hard time and we'll be here when you're ready to shine again. We're here to be the quiet support you need when you are struggling. And we'll be here to be the fun, goofy, glittery, messy, paint splattered joy you need when you're doing better. 
I am proud to be part of a community of people who live a life on their terms, because of an illness and or disability. And we will continue to rejoice in our small little daily wins over life's trials. This is Russty signing out from my couch where I am going for the gold in couch surfing this week. Hope whatever life throws at you guys this week you can take it one thing at a time and remember it's okay to take a break when you need it. Love yourself, so others can have time to love on you too. <3


Just Let Go (by Amanda Fall)

While on vacation, I asked a few of my friends to write blog posts for me. I asked for raw stories of the saving grace of art, or those little epiphanies that can change our outlook. I've recieved a few amazing stories, and would like to share one with you today. 


I’m tired of waiting for the moment to be right. To find the perfect supplies. To dress up in carefully beautiful I’m An Artist outfits with Artsy-Farty Music on and a perfect bohemian glow shining around me, white curtains blowing in a lusciously clean and bright studio.

I talk a good game about embracing wabi sabi, seeing grace in my goof-ups, finding beauty in the broken—loving REAL life, not the prettied-up version that’s so tempting to polish and post on Facebook and blogs and in my magazine and even preach into my mirror. But it’s still so easy to fall back into stories of not good enough, of be more like her, of comparison and perfection, thinking something in me needs to be different in order to make art beautiful and true.

Enough. I’m here, now. In the mess. In dirty house and grumbling belly and whatever-was-comfortable clothes. Today, now, I decide I NEED this: to unstick the warped door into my studio, to stumble through piles of Forgotten Stuff that Didn’t Fit Anywhere Else, to grab the first art journal I see, to gulp a breath as I glance over Bits of Me Left Behind, to reach a ready hand out and find oil pastel in candy-bright shades. I clutch the goods to me, back out of the too-cluttered-to-work room (with a whispered “I’ll be back. Promise”), and head to the kitchen. I dump the supplies on a folding table and look.


I breathe. Hesitate. Breathe again. I stare at blank page, pick at my nails. No more perfect, right? Just here. Now. The black marker feels right, somehow—so I scribble, without thinking: JUST LET GO. Next, lime green oil pastel finds its way into my hand. Scribble scribble. Glorious. Messy. Yes. Everything else fades. All I see is lime and teal and orange and me. All I feel is joyful squish under fingertips, white paper giving way to color, heart slowing, breath coming easier now. Yes. 

Who says beautiful and true can’t be real and honest? What about the wild and free side of me, who so often gets tamped down and combed out and spit-washed and tucked away? She needs to be heard.

It’s time to make mistakes, to play, to delight in the process. It’s time to screw up, royally. It’s time to make some ugly art that somehow still feels beautiful. It’s time to make sh*t because it just feels GOOD. It’s time to get messy, to scribble and “og” (as I called it before I knew the words), to tear and burn and cut and paint and glue and tape and swirl and swish. It’s time to pour out guts and glory on the page (or canvas or cardboard or word or fabric). It’s time to let loose, to give in to the wild side. It’s time to make art because it’s what I do, because art saves me and speaks me and gives me room to Be.


And oh man, it feels gooooood.


Amanda Fall is a joy-seeker and art-maker, blessed beyond belief to create and edit Sprout online magazine. She invites you on a mission to color the world, to seek beauty in the mundane, to practice gratitude, and to celebrate abundant joy in this divinely blessed life. Join the conversation on Facebook, in the pages of Sprout, and at her personal blog Persistent Green.