Creativity v.s. Mental Health

There is a stereotype that a lot of artists have issues with mental health, such as depression and anxiety. The idea of the “tortured artist” pops up frequently in our society. Vincent Van Gogh is a prime example of how an artist’s emotional state effects their work.

Van Gogh suffered from depression, alcoholism, and epilepsy. This is apparent when he added yellow swirls to his famous painting Starry Night, which were inspired by his epileptic episodes as he would see yellow swirls before he blacked out.

Da Vinci art teacher Ms. DeClercq describes his work. “He used a dingy yellow ochre in his sunflowers that droop like they are not alive. The flowers looked gloomy and depressed rather than vibrant and bright yellow.”

Edvard Munch is another example of an artist who was affected by their struggle with mental health. Not only did he suffer from psychosis and bipolar disorder, his childhood was filled with the death of his close family members. He depicted some of the tragedy he went through in his work. For example, he created a piece with his sister dying due to her illness in her bed. He describes one of his most famous paintings “The Scream” by saying, “I was walking along the road with two of my friends. Then the sun set. The sky suddenly turned into blood, and I felt something akin to a touch of melancholy. I stood still, leaned against the railing, dead tired. Above the blue black fjord and city hung clouds of dripping, rippling blood. My  friends went on and again I stood, frightened with an open wound in my breast.”  

Art in general can also be a good way to express one’s feelings when they may be difficult to figure out in any other manner. Art therapy is an excellent way to let feelings which may be difficult to understand out in the open. There are therapists who are trained and can aid the journey into one’s thoughts through guided sessions.

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