Do all paintings have to be aesthetically pleasing?

Could a painting have value even if it got 0 likes on Instagram?

Can a painting help you in your healing journey?

These would be reasonable questions to ask as I share this next piece with you. I have always had a very strong inner critic and in the last couple of years, the inner negativity and criticism led to a very dark phase in my life. 

To say 2020 was a shitty year would be an understatement for most people.

It was a year that involved a medical leave for depression, getting sober, my dad having a stroke, a breakup with my fiancée, going on a pot-smoking bender, quitting my job without a plan, leaving the US and moving back to India, getting sober again, and a major motor accident. And just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, I lost my father very suddenly in December.

I was still recovering from the accident when it happened.

At the time, I hated my life. I was 32, unemployed, and had to move back in with my mom. It was the first time in 6 years, I didn’t have a place of my own, and no idea where my life was going. It was when my inner critic had gained tremendous strength. This resulted in a daily onslaught of negative chatter. 

“You are finished”
“You have wasted your life”
“You are a loser!”

This headspace also kept me from painting.  After several months, in April this year, I decided to paint a self-portrait with a twist. After reading an interesting article about personifying the inner critic through art, I showed up on the canvas to paint the mofo.

First, I spent 10 minutes invoking my critic. I consciously decided to invite him to the canvas. Ask him what he was thinking. This was when the thoughts started showing up. So, I wrote every negative thought as part of the intention for the painting. I was giving space for a part of me that I was either ignoring or afraid of.

It was a very heavy process. Despite going down this road consciously, the process was quite mentally draining. It took me a couple of days to overcome the mental fog, but I am glad that I went through this process.

The insights from this process were invaluable and I also took the first steps towards integrating my inner critic and forming a mutually beneficial relationship with him.

sorrow, tears and blood
Sorrow, Tears and Blood | Acrylic on Canvas Painting by Sushil Ganesh