Depression and art: Art journaling saved me! (by Violette Clark)

Our last vacation guest post! This one, by Violette, is amazing, soulful, and gave me chills. How many of us can relate? How many of us have found our true selves through journaling the blackest of moments? I know this story can be many of ours - mine, yours, Violette's. It truly shows the transformative power of art. 


Like many of you I have suffered from depression – depression that at times has been debilitating.  No energy, no joy, no happiness - nothing – just black, soul sucking emptiness.  I remember one day about 12 years ago or so I was so incredibly depressed I couldn’t drag myself off the floor.  I was literally lying on the carpet immobilized.  Luckily my room was messy so I had pens and papers lying on the carpet.  I reached over, grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and began to draw what I was feeling. 

The feeling was that of being a slug.  So naturally I drew or rather scratched out a drawing of a slug. Art has always been my “go to” answer to whatever ails me. I just didn’t always know it on a conscious level.


About tweny years ago I found creating something 3-D helped me move through the feelings of grief and sadness – a papier mache dancing cow helped transform the grief. The sensation of slapping on wet pieces of glue drenched paper onto an armature and smoothing it out, hearing the sounds, feeling the feelings and basically channeling the sadness into the cow helped lift my spirits.

I still do suffer from depression and sadness from time to time and when I do I turn to art to help transmute the feelings. Art and particularly art journaling for me has been like an alchemist transmuting baser metals into gold.  A couple of years ago during a coaching call my coach asked me to describe what I was feeling.  Although I found her probing questions incredibly annoying at the time J they were very helpful in drawing out a detailed image of what I was experiencing.

Black Balloon is what emerged from that session.  Black balloon needed to be more than one panel and since I have a cartooning background I felt this format lent itself quite well to the experience of being depressed and floating on a black balloon.  I developed a narrative cartoon based on the questions my coach was asking. The most amazing thing is that after completing the piece my sadness and depression had softened and was slowly lifting. AMAZING! 

I often draw my gremlin and what he’s saying to me – drawing the gremlin or inner critic kind of takes the wind out of him.  As I am able to transform the negative messaging I hear inside my head my drawings of the gremlin shift and change in response to it!  Art journaling is amazing therapy and it’s free!  Oh my gosh – you can’t get better than that can you?

My art journaling pages are not always about depression, grief and sadness but often embody the message of being true to yourself.  Being kind of an eccentric person, living in a purple magic cottage with a giant dragonfly on the front and having driven around town in a painted Glittergirl van for years I have become known as somewhat eccentric.  My purple magic cottage even appeared on the show Weird Homes!

When I was a child and teen I desperately tried to fit in, blend in the background and not call any attention to myself.  Now I do just the opposite.  I’ve noticed the more I attempt to suppress who I truly am the more depression consumes me. The more “I trust my vibes” and go with my offbeat thoughts, ideas and the  out-of-leftfield notions the truly happier I become.  To be truthful it has not been an easy journey but the spill over affect has been great.  By giving myself permission to be who I am I’ve given others permission to do the same.  That part of the journey has been the most exciting of all. I am forever grateful to my Muse for the gift of Creativity and for saving my life.

How has art saved you?


Love, Violette 


Read more of Violette's adventures at her blog, Violette's Creative Juice. She's truly a kindred spirit!