I’m coming out...

by Lydia Makepeace

A Few of My Friends ( 2014) by Lydia Makepeace, ink on paper

A Few of My Friends (2014) by Lydia Makepeace, ink on paper

I’m coming out - as a person living with a mental illness. I have bipolar disorder, and it is my hope that this and future posts will serve to educate and provide encouragement. 

This year I have begun to create a body of work I’ve been contemplating for some time. And in order to share this series as it unfolds I feel the need to provide some background information. It will be important to understanding the work as well as evident in the work itself. The viewer will discover sooner rather than later some very personal information about who I am and what I experience, and I’d like to preface it all by stating the facts openly and honestly.

Last year I painted 106 paintings(!).They were mostly bright and colourful, easy to like and love. I had fun experimenting with different types of paint and techniques. They exuded a joyful, lively energy. Joy and playfulness are certainly a part of the human experience but they are not the whole, not even close. I have always desired to create work that is meaningful and moving. Sometimes that type of work isn’t pretty. It might not be something you want to hang over your couch and look at everyday. But work that addresses the whole of human experience, whether beautiful or ugly, must be made. As an artist I want to be honest. And if I’m being honest - I’m not always fun and playful, not even close.

A defining moment found me late last year. My incredibly supportive husband, Ryan, walked into the studio and looked around at the work that covered the walls. He said to me, “You have all of these bright colorful paintings and they’re great, but that’s not all of who you are. Sometimes you’re a very dark person and I don’t see that here. It’s like if Eminem sang only Taylor Swift songs.” Whoa, probably the most insightful critique I’ve ever received. And a call to action...