The reason(s) why each of us make art are varied and often very personal. I’ve shared with many Somerset Studio readers that my reason is that I come from a long line of creatives, but that’s only part of the story.
For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with anxiety issues. This was especially bad when I was a young child. You name it, and I worried about it. My parents joked that I inherited my dad’s stress level, but they knew it was more than that. My brain just wouldn’t turn off.
At the age of 5 the signs of my anxiety became physically visible and they knew I had to get help. When you’re 5, you don’t lay on a couch talking to a therapist. They hand you a crayon, some paper, and simply let you draw. What little kid is going to turn down the chance to draw freely? As I drew and colored, I talked with the therapist about what I was doing. At home, whenever I was feeling a bit uneasy I started coloring. It was the only way I could “shut off my brain.” Over time, coloring turned to drawing, which turned into pottery, and so on. In times of stress, I learned to distract myself and focus only on the task at hand.
Over 20 years later, art is still my way to cope with my anxiety struggles. I’ve tried medicines, but those only made me feel lethargic and tired. It’s been art that’s seen me through. The only difference is that now I don’t use art to distract myself, I use it to work through the ups and downs of life. I use it as a way to express and release what I’m feeling. You can usually tell how I’m feeling when you see my art journal right at my side, or another project close at hand. On the pages of my art journal, in the stitches I knit, I create because it is my medicine.
Why do you create? I’d love to hear your stories.
Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on CreateMixedMedia.com every other Tuesday.
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