Swish of a brush, synthetic sound of paper, blue first, then pink! How about rosy cheeks? How about cloudy background or orange hair or yellow skirt!!? Maybe all of them. The more colourful the better! Mistakes? No matter, embrace them.
I am a design student who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year ago. I have harnessed my mental condition to bring joy to my artworks and illustrations and hopefully to those who see my work.
I was going through a horrible battle with depression last year, and no matter the treatment, I could not beat it. It was an experience that I hope no one goes through. During that period of time I lost interest in most things that were dear to me such as art. l could not bring myself to create any form of art. I felt ashamed and useless.
As my condition stabilised, my mood slowly changed, and my interest in art came back. I challenged myself to create illustrations once a day for as many days as possible. Since then, I have been doing just that.
To describe my illustrations, I would say they are little wonders of joy — mini-illustrations that are vibrant to the eye. They mainly portray a simple figure of a girl with funny expressions and an attitude in her style. I think the girl in my images is me — a reflection of myself in various forms!
My illustrations are influenced by the way I see the world in the brightest ways. Especially when my mania* hits, colours become brighter and more saturated. I experience them in ways that I don’t think other people do, so my illustrations, the use of strong colour palette, use of vibrant mixes, express my moods most strongly.
*Mania is the period of time in a bipolar spectrum where the person feels more energised, restless and/or confident.
“ Mania makes me happy, and so do colours… ”
I use “happy” and bright colours to bring joy to others. Seeing a colourful image just might lift another person’s spirits and/or subconsciously improve their wellbeing. Whenever I am in a deep depression, a colourful image brings me joy. I look at comics or illustrations to occupy myself and to help me get out of my head.
Colours are strongly associated with mental health and well-being. Colours are used in all aspects of design to influence our perception and interactions. How does our mental well-being affects how we use colour? What if using a certain colour is a doorway to our emotional well-being? You might draw blue hues when you are sad, or yellow and reds when you are happy.
Art has a great impact on our moods — it is such a good opportunity to express ourselves. I use my condition to my advantage to try and bring happiness to others no matter if it is even just for a moment!
Culture also impacts my art style. Including my culture into my artworks gives them a unique feature. It speaks to my sense of self. I grew up in a culture where colours are admired and their presence in art, architecture and crafts is strong.
Imagine using pink, blue, red, green and yellow all in one glasswork. Then imagine the light going through that glass, casting mesmerising colourful shadows on the ground. Imagine seeing carpets in the hues of rich reds, and blues. Imagine clothes in the brightest pinks, yellows, and oranges.
“I truly believe the subconscious use of vibrant colours and how I draw is greatly influenced by my culture.”
A combination of seeing the world in the brightest ways and coming from a background such as mine has made my illustrations colourful, high-spirited, and happy! And such a joy I have to share that with the world.
Now maybe the next time you think about colours you will have a different perspective. Maybe your choice of hue in your design will be influenced by the combination of your mental state and your experience in life — knowing that might just fuel your fascination about colours and your work of art.
Please visit my Instagram account at “merryfulart” for more illustrations. And to see more of my work in person, come to CoDA Gallery at Taylor’s University between August 20th and September 2nd 10am-6pm.