ADDC International Day of People with Disabilities
Free To Be Me!
It has only been in the last year or so that I have dared to call myself an artist or write artist on forms where I am asked my occupation - yet I always have been and always will be an artist at heart. My kindergarten report reads “Jennifer shows an outstanding talent for drawing and painting”.
Although my talent was recognised at an early age my own extreme lack of confidence, anxiety and perfectionism held me back. I felt I would never be good enough. I wasn’t afraid of failure, I was afraid of success.
When I was at school I was discouraged from pursuing art as a career as it was not seen as a worthwhile or useful occupation. Later, having a young family also gave me a practical excuse not to paint.
About eight years ago I was diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which has helped me understand why my thinking gets so distorted and irrational. Although it hasn’t stopped my skewed thinking at least I can now fight it and try to push through the emotional and psychological barriers. The support and understanding of family and friends has also been invaluable.
I was diagnosed with lymphoma about fifteen years ago. Since then I have intermittent doses of chemo when needed and it seems to be keeping it under control. This was actually the motivation I needed: it made me realise putting off painting until tomorrow was a bad idea. What if tomorrow never came? And, so I began art classes. Partly to learn but mostly because having to turn up and spend allocated time painting forced me to produce something.
I realised I loved painting pictures that portrayed emotion. I also like to use art to explain the unexplainable. For example, mental illness is not as obvious as seeing someone with a broken arm in a sling: if I can show it in picture form, I hope to bring greater understanding.
I still struggle with allowing time to paint but at least now, I can sign myself as: Jenny Nicholls - Artist
September 26, 2011