Artwork and a Word about my Self-Portraits

I wanted to write a bit about the artworks that I posted yesterday without any explanation. The first one was the only one I planned in any sense of the word, and even then I cannot say I really knew what I was going to do when I started it. My process in these drawings is to simply start with an image, say, in the first one, I started by drawing an eye, and then to see where my subconscious takes me. Once I have established enough  images  – just a few usually — that are coherently related to one another on the paper (or not) then I look to see what is in the “negative” spaces, which fill up with images too. You can see this most clearly in the middle  and third works.  I know how the pictures were made, since I drew them, but in looking at them objectively now, I can see that an observer might not see anything conspicuously “unintended.” And of course, what does “unintended” mean when it comes to the subconscious?


But in the picture I will post below, this “technique” if you will, predominates. (You either like it or you hate it) I hesitate to call it a technique because that sounds like something consciously adopted, where I feel it simply reflects an unconscious change, something that happened co-incidental with Joe’s final days and then took on a life of its own after the trauma of his death. But let me post the picture I am talking about, the one that I started on the very day they took him off the ventilator, and then I will continue.


Death comes in brilliant colors -- look more closely to see what is there.

All I can say about this is that a person here is cutting the cord that is connected to a heart and a pot and is not plugged in…and the person with the scissors is a little excited by this in a way that implies pleasure…I am saying no more, except to reiterate that I drew it, or started it the day Joe died or more accurately was killed.


After that, I started doing more and more “honest” pictures, pictures where I did not try to please anyone, but was simply drawing and painting what I felt like. The next one after this one was the Beauty SLeeping with Bugs one, which was in the post yesterday. And then the self-portrait series, which began with the earlier Dead Meat one, Goon Squad: First Responders. In that notebook, I endeavor to draw only “self-portraits” though not likenesses. I am not sure what to call them, conceptual self-portraits perhaps? The second one is a very loosely drawn portrait of me as an animal, done in a different sketchy style (I haven’t photographed it or I would post it.) The third is Pam as Ornament, which I will post below, and once again I had nothing in mind when I started it, except the concept. The Santas came out of nowhere, esp the one that is only a head on a tray!


I guess I have nothing more to add for now.


I have been working on my memoir, which I have tentatively titled “BlackLight: a Memoir of Madness and One Woman’s Struggle for Recovery” — so far after only about 5 days work I have 27 pages done (more, really, just not organized and polished). Would be happy to hear any comments or suggestions for a better title (which I believe is a request I have made previously).


Thanks all.

7 thoughts on “Artwork and a Word about my Self-Portraits”

  1. Ah, thanks for cluing me in about the Lyme disease. You may be aware of the pyramid of healing, that I learned about from reading Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, but I gather he just popularized something that other people say in different ways. He says that if schizophrenia is not healed at the physical level (level 1) using vitamins, medications, diet, etc. then the problems of schizophrenia are found at level 4 (the realm of intuitiion, out-of-body experiences, shamanism). It’s a tragedy that few doctors investigate the physical basis first.


  2. Hi Rossa,
    I agree entirely. The problem for me, and it is real, is this: what do I do about the fact that on Zyprexa I experienced an awakening the likes of which I had never known. I do not mean an awakening from years on Prolixin, which it surely was, but an awakening from the state I had been in since high school when I was not medicated, or college ditto. I felt newly alive. Now, there were also side effects, like sedation, that were problematic, but other sedating drugs like Seroquel and Risperdal did not also lead me to this same awakening experience. So how to explain it? Ditto the Abilify and Geodon combo I’m on now. I cannot read like mad and learn like crazy, excuse the figures of speech here, as I do on Zyprexa, but I do art and write like there is no tomorrow…and without them I cannot. Now, it would be interesting, in the case of the latter two, to see just what I could do without them, but I fear truly that I could not accomplish much, since in my two trials doing without them, I was a mess. OTOH, perhaps there is the problem of addiction, who knows? As to the diagnosis of schizophrenia, I have maintained for a while now that in my case any schizophrenia I have has a very physical basis, and therefore is not truly “schizophrenia,” whatever that is. My problems are Lyme-disease induced, from childhood or late adolescence on. And always have been. I know this having experienced an acute case in 1999, a documented case which had primarily psychiatric symptoms, though not only those. If psychiatrists STOPPED looking for a mental illness called schizophrenia, perhaps they would find more physiological reasons for those extreme mental states, or treat suffering with talk therapy…
    That’s it for now.


  3. Pamela,
    I really appreciate your joining my blog (lucky number 49!). I came to the conclusion a while ago that schizophrenia is needed by psychiatry. The profession, when pressed, will back down on other diagnoses, such as bipolar (schizophrenia’s near identical sibling), and say, oh well, the person was probably misdiagosed, but psychiatry absolutely loves schizophrenia — Exactly for the reasons you say – depressed and needing medication equals clientele. I figure that if psychiatry had clued me in earlier about what my son’s problems were, we might have been spared years of pain. But pain makes us empathetic and aware, and makes some of us excellent artists, as in your case.
    All good wishes,


  4. Thanks, Rossa. I appreciate the comment. I took a look at your website and was fascinated, would like to link to it. I think your take on psychiatry is essential and much needed in this world of truly excessive diagnosis and medicalization of normal conditions, ordinary suffering that really is necessary for life to have meaning. What was the old song about September with the words, “without a hurt the heart is hollow…”? How much we have forgotten! People just do not know how helpful talk therapy can be, so eager are they for a pill to cure all their ills. The news is not out there enough — thanks to the drug companies and colluding docs — that pills are ineffective in most cases, except insofar as they work no better than, or just like a placebo. What really disturbs me are the use of dopamine antagonists, that is to say, anti-psychotic drugs in so many depressives. Why would anyone want to lower dopamine — supposedly the rewards and pleasure neurotransmitter — in someone who already has so little pleasure in life is beyond me…UNLESS they want to keep that person depressed and needing medication? But that is my rant at the moment, and I meant only to thank you for commenting on my title!


  5. I like the title. It’s one word, and the explanation is in the subtitle. Literary, not dull. I struggled with the title for my mother/son memoir. I kept putting in the titles that I thought had literary “punch,” and the editor kept crossing them out and referring me back to the golden rule for titles. People have to be clear on what the book is about. No more than five words in the main title.


  6. I don’t have any suggestions on title of your memoir; quite frankly, I suck at titles.

    however, I DO love this type of art and hope you post more of it. The more the merrier as I’ve enjoyed it 🙂

    (I get them in my email so you might not see “views” but I do read your blog when you post!)


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