Painting my Chronic Pain

COLOUR OF OCTOBER BLOG- Painting my Chronic Pain, I talk about my painting I created to express my battle with chronic pain.

So if you follow me on any of my other social media, you may have seen this painting. A lot of you know how much this means to me personally, but I thought it would be good to write a blog post that goes into more depth about what this painting really means to me.chronic pain painting

I’m in my last year of high school and am currently doing Visual Art as one of my subjects (surprise, surprise!!!) through my online schooling which I talked about in this post. We were asked to create a body of work with the focus being on layers, without hesitation my mind went to my pain, maybe because I was having a flare, maybe because it is with me 100% of the time but I instantly wanted to convey the layers there are to chronic pain.

So, here’s the down-low (aka- my official artist statement) :

“This is my painting titled, Painful details, measuring 30” by 40”, created predominately with heavy body acrylic, with some fine work done with Copic Ciao Markers and 2B graphite pencils. This is the major painting in my body of work focussing on the complex layers of chronic pain.

 The painting has a lot of personal meaning for me as someone who has battled chronic pain over the last 3 years.

Pain is complex. There are so many different layers to it, it’s not simply just “pain.” There is the mental anguish it brings- the anger, the depression, and the mix of all these all-consuming emotions create something that is so much more overwhelming! This is what I wanted to represent in this painting. It really is hard to explain to someone who is completely healthy, what it is like to battle constant, debilitating pain. This painting is an outpouring of what it feels like.

There is me curled up in a ball on the floor- a position I do often find myself in when I’m having a pain flare. All the people around me can see is me curled up clutching my stomach just hoping for the pain to pass, but above the body you can see this big overwhelming, layered, mass- what others can’t see. It’s got tones of red to represent the pure anger and frustration I feel in the moments when the pain is unbearable, and then there are blues that represent the depression and the despair I feel. When these two colours are layered they create purple. Purple is the colour of my pain. In this big purple mass there are wild lightning strikes, of all different colours to represent the nerves in my body that are misfiring. They represent the storm that I feel inside of me, and that severe shock of agony as a bout of pain courses through my body. You will notice in this purple “mass” that there is a face. This is my face is looking down on my body. Dissociation is something I suffer with when my pain is extreme. It’s my body’s way of protecting me and as a result, I don’t feel real, I feel outside my body, and the face above the body represents exactly that.

me with chronic pain paintingYou will notice a mixture of different brush strokes- some rigid and harsh at times, others light and watery. This painting was not designed to be ‘perfect,’ to be ‘clean’ because this painting is about pain. Pain is messy. Mistakes are made, things are broken and repaired, wounds are covered up, before bleeding again, and the cycle of patching up the mess continues. My willingness to allow this painting to bleed, to not blend perfectly, to perhaps, not even seem fully resolved to some, is precisely the point; there are so many layers to pain and it is not pretty.

The physical and visual layering in the purple ‘mass’ is a metaphor for the complexities of pain. I have gone over with lots of different coloured washes. Added and subtracted paint strokes. In the background, I’ve layered lines upon lines to create tension, texture.

This painting is real and raw, and it truly does show all the painful details.”

Hope this gives you some insight into what this painting truly means.

Much love,

Liz xx