“This Could Be Madness.”

I have been painting for over twenty years and now when I am done doing so I have a plethora of unsettling symptoms. I get dizzy, my lips stick together, short term memory loss, headache, chest pains and a general feeling of being poisoned. I have tried a respirator (but I feel claustrophobic and sometimes will get a panic attack). I paint with all my windows open, even though it is ice cold outside. I have tried everything from switching to using acrylic paint to painting with watercolor. But this will not work. I live in a world that has gone mad. People communicate in a detached manner and barely know the person they sleep with. The sky is turning black and the air we breath is filled with so many carcinogens that we should all be wearing respirators. The frightening thing is that most pretend as if nothing unusual is happening. No, as an artist it is my responsibility to depict the nature of the times we are living through with whatever means necessary. If it means poisoning myself with my materials, so be it- extreme times call for extreme measures.

Van Gogh experienced similar symptoms which lead to his madness. It is obvious that the man was poisoned by paint. In his letters to Theo he talks about how he was feeling dizzy, lightheaded and a cacophony of other symptoms. He also talked at great lengths of developing loss of self. The same loss that I believe myself to be developing. But I do not know if this is because of the paint I am inhaling or the world in which I am living.

I went to consult a Homeopath, an Allergy Specialist, a Chiropractor and a Somatic healer. All had various things to say about my condition, and all were helpful in various ways but I still feel this deep sense that I am loosing myself. So I decided to consult a Buddhist Teacher and what he said made sense.

“Our culture poses the ultimate threat to not only planetary life, but to all human beings that live within this eco-system. We are deploying the five-horsemen of our immanent man made apocalypse; population explosion, epidemic disease, unlivable pollution, resource depletion and wars of mass destruction. The urgent need, therefore, is that we bearers of this imbalanced, dis-connection culture rediscover our interconnection with the rest of life, to conquer our own inner negative habits and to cultivate our inner capacity for love and joy. Sometimes we need to loose ourselves before we can do this.”

So I have felt better. Even though my loss of self may be attributed to paint fumes rather than spiritual encomium. I must continue, despite the numerous disabling symptoms, to paint- but I have warned others that if they see me walking around without an ear to immediately take away the paint and call the nearest psychiatric hospital.

1 Comment

  1. There are fairly non-toxic mineral spirits (as an alternative to turpentine), and if you limit your use of cadmium pigments (use ochres/alyzerin as an alternative with a lighter tempura underpainting) you should be o.k.

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