Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Adam and Eve Drawing

It was tricky trying to get this drawing to reproduce. It sized 20 x 24 inches, the dimensions of the canvas that is is going to be painted on. I'll walk you through the picture.

Eve is on the left and she has just bitten into the forbidden fruit. Her hand is over her mouth and she is dropping the fruit. Her hair is what the whole painting is really about. It is elaborately braided and held up by two birds. In the tree of life is a bird's nest with a parent and two chicks. The stripes that make up the sky background all are adjusted so that Eve's hair is for the most part, clear to comprehend. The first stripe I laid down was on a piece of tracing paper so that I could see how it would affect the drawing of Eve's hair underneath.

The tree of life is central, with two angels in hiding in the trunk. Wrapped around the trunk are garlands of different shaped leaves and little ribbons with bow ties. The crown of the tree of life takes the word pattern to an extreme. Repeating are the round forbidden fruit with distinctive leaves, and then there are leaves that I tried, with my imagination, to make as diverse as possible, both from nature and each other. I would say that there are seven or eight different "types" - everything from a four leaf clover to what looks like the emanations of a snail, and it was a challenge to get them all fitted in together making a seamless repeating whole.

In the center of the tree of life sits the devil. She is female, wearing a hat and heels, and a dress that comes from the archives of the style giant Dior. Lets just say that in contrast to the naked Adam and Eve, the devil knows that it is civilized to be wearing clothes - she has no innocence. Her gloved hand points to one of the forbidden fruit growing in the tree. Two horns puncture her hat.

On the right hand side is Adam and like Eve, he has just bitten into the forbidden fruit but his reaction is somewhat different from his mate's. His body had dropped to the ground and is going into convulsions. Like Eve his hair is braided in a design crowning his head, and to emphasize his masculinity, he has a curling mustash above his lips and goatee on his chin.

Again, its hard to see the details, but on the grass with Adam and Eve are different types of flowering plants.

In my mind's eye the forbidden fruit is bright red, and the leaves are shades of green, the sky shades of blue, and the Dior an ensemble of white and Black. And of course, Adam and Even are peach nude.

I can't describe the exhilaration I felt when I finally finished the drawing yesterday. And a small part of me felt afraid of what I had done. It looked, well, mad. So much energy. So much design. So over the top. I don't think I could have made this design on a greater dose of medication. At least that's my fantasy. That less medication is more Karen. And Karen is unbound by the rules of most mental convictions. I suppose that this could be a definition of simple creativity and not mental illness and schizoprhenia - Having a loose, unconventional mind is a typical artistic type. Or is my Adam and Eve more conventional than I realize? I don't know, its always a problem to me to compare myself to other artists. I start seeing categories of better or worse - dangerous to my tattered ego. I have a strong ego with deep cracks, that's the problem.

I was discussing the most recent book by Mark Vonnegut with my therapist several months ago. Mark is the son of the famous author Kirk Vonnegut and has had some battles with mental illness. However, he is mostly a successful pediatrician. Most of his book was not about mental illness but instead about being a doctor. Mark is also a firm believer in being creative to maintain mental health, and he paints. Images of his paintings are printed through-out the book. I said with pride that I was a better painter than Mark. My therapist shot back that Mark was a better doctor than I. Score one for the therapist!

Last session with my therapist disturbed me for several days, and then I put it out of my mind. My therapist said that he saw signs of eccentricity in me on the lower dose of medication, but at our current meeting there was no doubt in his head - I was flat out eccentric. He was concerned my medication provider, who I see in March and who did not exactly approve a lower dose of meds - she wanted to do it more slowly and in the distant future - would reject me. He thinks she and I are not a good match and wants to avoid the pain of me being rejected for being me! The message I got is that HE will accept me as eccentric, but he has doubts that SHE will. And to discuss I don't know what else, he wants a meeting with my husband and I on this Saturday.

My therapist was keenly interested (as he hasn't met my husband yet) how my husband perceived the effect that less medication had on me. I only know of one comment. My husband said that I can't lie to my medication provider and tell her I'm on the same dose because she will immediately be able to tell that I'm at a lower dose. He said nothing critical or rejecting - just, you are different and it shows. Oh yes, he said I was more fragile. But that never got much explanation either. He said that everything I needed to get done, got done. Art, showering, training and walking the dog, being his companion, all the important ingredients to a good life are still present. And no psychosis, no suicidal thoughts.

I asked my husband what he thought my therapist meant when he said I was eccentric and my husband was baffled. Yeah! My husband doesn't think that I'm eccentric. I mean, he really does think I'm normal. Or if I'm different, he loves what is different about me.

On some days I will admit I feel crazy. But there is no psychotic thought, nothing but this anxiety that I'm going out of my mind. Is like a mood, the idea that I'm crazy comes and goes. I do nothing crazy, I say and think nothing much crazy, but I feel crazy. I told my husband that it is like an energy in my head, pushing my head apart.

He said when you feel like that it might be a good idea to walk the dog.

But I prefer lying in bed and shutting my eyes. Eventually I feel as bored as hell. And yes, eventually the craziness passes.


  1. That looks awesome!

  2. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for posting an image of your Adam & Eve drawing. Wonderful! Definitely high energy, but not crazy. I apologize for not being around the last week or so. Depression keeps me withdrawn. I printed up this blog entry and studied the drawing carefully, but then didn't have the energy to respond. Today is a better day.

    I think it is very interesting that you made the serpent/devil into a fashionable woman. This gives a fresh take on the Adam & Eve story and perhaps foreshadows Eve's eventual transformation into a shame based woman who needs to cover her body and into a superficially sophisticated individual. That's kind of interesting in itself--the mixture of shame and sophistication. The more you have to hide, the more elaborately you hide it. The color of the paint will make this contrast and comparison pop out. Karen, have you ever tried painting with egg tempera? I actually have some that I have used only a little bit because it requires a great deal of patience and skill; the colors are wonderful, luminescent. The main thing with egg tempera is that it requires painting in layers the way you do.

    As for being eccentric, I have been lately seeing myself as eccentric. That's a nicer and more interesting version of crazy perhaps, but I'll take it. Did your therapist give you any distinct description of exactly how you were now eccentric? To me, you seem both happier and sadder or more sensitive, but those certainly can be good changes. There's really nothing wrong with eccentric because it is essentially harmless. At least, that's what I think.

    What's particularly wonderful lately is that you have not had suicidal feelings. Maybe that's why you seem happier to me on one level. Your passion for your work is giving you a good purpose in life, even with the days when you can't work as much due to other obligations.

    I think it makes sense that your husband should consider you, you, that is "normal". He is really the closest person to you on earth. He seems like a fair judge, but do heed him when he points things out to you about yourself. He probably can see more clearly things that are hidden to you.

    Love, Kate : )


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