My biggest heroes are not necessarily artists, but people that have found motivation and inspiration in spite of enormous obstacles or loss. Christopher Reeve, Hellen Keller... Read "Psychology in Context, Voices and Perspectives" ISBN 0-395-95962-4. One of the best books of the many I read in the RN program at College of Marin.
I was always drawing from a young age, attended art schools, and worked as a computer artist... but I never really felt the "need" to paint full-time until my late 30's. I am a survivor of divorce, having lost my best friend and creative soul mate in life after 10 years. I still have not recovered from this loss, almost nine years later, and at this point in time, I truly believe there is a part of me that never will heal. My friends are still perplexed as to why I can't seem to rid my mind of this person after so long, after I have gained so much in my own life; a family, children, a successful art career. My goal is to overcome this loss with the grace and dignity of my heroes, but to truly overcome loss, we must express ourselves and share what we learn. Bottling pain and grief up inside is not a way to get over loss, but when no one wants to hear you anymore, you can turn to art or other ways of communication that are interpretive and not as direct. Recently, the BA Photographers Collective, Berkeley, had a show exploring differenct aspects of loss.As an emotional, visual artist, I believe it is hard for me to forget past moments of happiness because I recall them with perfect recollection of color, texture, scents and sound. I will never be able to let go of so many incredible memories, and it is painfully hard to give those up to someone else. Having said all this, I do believe "being emotional" and feeling so deeply is often why artists are so creative and can express so much in their work. I may have a gift, but it comes with a great deal of baggage I must carry around. Having lost so much I had built up and nourished in my past, I still fight the urge to give in to self-pity and express my anger... I fight the urge to mourn my past. Art helps me to move forward, and create rather than destroy and hurt myself and others; but art doesn't mask the pain I still feel almost daily from having lost my best friend.
My advice to others who ever have to face divorce is to wait longer. Go away somewhere for a year. Be still. Don't argue. Don't listen to therapists. Find another space to be still and wait. Listen to your heart. I know this is practically impossible when faced with problems in a relationship, anger and pain. We all tend to explode and hurt, rather than retreat and be quiet with our pain. Yet, after my divorce, I have never loved another in the same capacity. I keep the name Proppé because that was my friend's name, and although he is no longer with me, I have so much of his spirit in me, and so many memories of peace and kindness, beauty and truth that were given from this one soul. I became "Proppé" too, over so many years, and some friends even call me "Proppé" instead of Colleen. Of course there's also the fact that Proppé looks good on an oil painting! : )Cartoon by Goopymart
In the year 2000, after my husband left, I fell into severe depression, eventually learning that I was hypothyroid. Click the link to read about this devastating illness. To really understand it, I would have to say I hurt my friend by being out of control of my own behavior, and neither one of us understood why I was behaving the way I was (I so deeply loved him and never meant to hurt him). My diagonosis explained for me so many things that were really destructive in my relationship; my sleepless nights of keeping my friend awake with chatter, my almost manic behavior at times, my crying too much and for too long... I learned that this illness can truly sneak up on you and destroy your relationships and change your life forever before you even know you have anything wrong with you. With medical treatment, my whole life improved beyond my wildest dreams, and I no longer exhibit any of the symptoms I had for many years before treatment. Yet, it was too late to bring back my best friend, who to this day, I feel was scared of what he did not understand was happening to me, and I do not blame him for leaving. In hindsight, had this tragedy not happened to me, I wouldn't see all people the way I do now, and I probably wouldn't have directed my full energy into my own art.
I know divorce. I know depression. I know mental illness, and recovery. I know being single and pregnant, and fired for becoming pregnant. I know having to look for a job while pregnant. I know being invoved in a 3 year lawsuit, and winning a year's salary. I know housing discrimination in Marin while being single and pregnant. I know being rescued even when you don't want to have to be rescued. I know nursing school, and hospitals. I know twin boys and many other children with special needs. I know many, many divorced and single parents, struggling to do their best every single day. I know hundreds of artists and organic farmers, who all give me hope to keep creating and growing. I know Marin intimately, in a purely visual way that feels like true love. I know being far away from my family when I could use their help and love; I know that being away from them and growing on my own is best too. I know having to let go of two tremendous animal friends during my adult life, my running partners, my dear dogs, alone. I know raising children with a friend that is not your soul mate, but who you need and rely on, none-the-less. I know loving my sons' father in a way that is about family and care in raising children; not in the way young love blossoms, but in the way love can mean stability and protection, and just being able to get up and put your pants on each morning, and get the job done. I am very strong because I have had to go through so much "alone", after losing my friend. Had I not lost my friend, I don't feel I would have learned all that I have, and I certainly wouldn't understand all the situations I do now.
I wouldn't be the spirited woman I am today. I wouldn't have these gorgeous twins that challenge me every single day. I am not afraid of much. I do think I've seen it all, but hope there are some more surprises for me in store along the way. I don't mind being "alone" in my mind. I miss having a soul mate that I spent so much time building my adult life with, but I truly see and care about all people now, and I believe in this art-to love all life; all hardships, all triumphs... I hope it comes through in my art and photography through the years, that I may express it all, whether good or bad, and share openly with others, with out fear. I've heard, "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted"... Well, I suppose I have reached 40 years with a hell of a lot of experience. : )
I started this "web log"(aka "blog") in January of 2007. It's been over two years now, and over 200 posts to my blog. I have helped other friends and art groups create their own art blogs, and watched each blossom and fill with enthusiasm for their own projects. In creating my own blog and teaching others, I have not just an artist's journal, but a way of life as a creative thinker, writer, teacher and friend. When I started my blog, I'd hoped it would be positive and healing, and what I found was that it was an artist's tool; a life tool. I still encourage anyone who really is serious about their art to find a way to make just one hour a day for it and use a blog to keep you moving forward. Don't get discouraged if you have to take a week off to be with your family, or do something else that is important, but remember to come back to your web log and art, especially when you really feel like you "need" the outlet of creation. I aspire to "make every obstacle an opportunity", and I feel I am able to move forward with my painting each day because it is a way to stay positive in life, which is always filled with extreme challenges. My challenges have been many, but my art has always helped me get through it all, day by day.
With much love for all the artists and musicians in the world,
and those who have not yet discovered the beauty of the art inside them...
Colleen Proppé- 2009