My art has always been on the darker side, but 2020 has been the year that I really noticed a change in my work. This hasn't been an artistically productive year for me. This has probably been my worst year as an artist. There were a couple months where it felt like the art had left me entirely, and I would no longer be able to call myself artist. I was struggling in my personal life, and after a particularly jarring acid trip I had my very first psychotic break.
I have talked about my experimentation with psychedelics on here before. I still believe that they are beneficial, and I am not living a life of sobriety by any means. I did learn however that these substances should be respected and not thought of as inconsequential fun. I was careless with my administration of the drug. I approached it seeing myself as a veteran. I had taken mushrooms dozens of times and LSD seemed to me like another step. It was an entire flight.
I won't go in to what I saw and experienced too much. This story will focus on the aftermath. All I'll say for now is that I was deconstructed. It was disorienting and violent, and in hindsight exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be reborn. At the time I didn't realize that rebirth isn't inherently pleasant or positive. I found that it is neutral. It brings you back to a base state and in a sense the slate it wiped clean. But the good can be wiped away just as easily as the bad, and your past always remains.
I had built mazes and cages within my mind. Things were compartmentalized, and while these mechanisms weren't perfect by any means, they were functional. All of the cages and walls disappeared. My coping mechanisms were suddenly invalid and the demons were free. troubles from my past that had been locked away and forgotten were now raw rampaging psychic energy.
It felt like sleep paralysis, that dreaded feeling, but I couldn't sleep, and the less I slept, the stronger the feeling became. I didn't sleep for almost 3 days after the acid had worn off, and when I did finally sleep I woke up an hour later full of panic. It felt like I was being haunted. I never saw anything but I could feel a terrible presence and the strangest part was I could smell it.
I thought I was permafried and was probably on track to lose my job and go to an asylum. Luckily I kept it together. I bought sleeping pills and after I had a long deep talk with my mother about all the past trauma that was coming back to haunt me it all went away. I think that metaphorically I had a lot of past demons locked away. Those cages had been built little by little throughout the years and there was no way I could rebuild them in time to function in my day to day life. My breakdown brought them all out in front of me where I finally had to address them, and once I did, they floated away.
Things went back to normal for the most part but I was changed. I felt like a different person and the things that used to motivate me didn't anymore. I found that a lot of what I used to do was fueled by negative energy and pain. My life was a series of coping mechanisms. I was doing everything for the wrong reasons, but I soon learned that sometimes the wrong reasons are better motivators than the right ones. So I fell off. I didn't paint anything new for 4 months. I painted 3 of the pieces above, then didn't paint for another 4. It's only recently that I have felt the art return.
I look back at old paintings and don't recognize the brush strokes. It feels like they aren't even mine. I've found a new creative source to draw from. Now I just hope that I am making my art for the right reasons.