Healing Melancholy 

Healing Melancholy 

November 24, 2022

Personally, I find the word melancholy to be such a beautiful word that I have a hard time associating it with the actual experience of feeling your heart in a low place. Someone suggested languishing, which I imagine as what a rich person in the 1800s laying on a chaise lounge fanning themselves might say. I personally want to express it in sounds, like blahhhhh or flarrrph, more than real words. No matter how you say it, most people I know have been feeling this way lately. 

I can come by my melancholy honestly. I’m a self-employed mother of a toddler living in a dark, cold Northern town. Even though she’s older, sleep is still broken and she pulls me away from work to play. I’m grateful for the play and the snuggles but it can get frustrating which just builds upon the other struggles in life. It’s been hard for me to go from a woman who had all her time to herself to one where her little one entirely consumes her world. I love my daughter with all my heart, but sometimes I need to love myself by being alone. 

I don't know about you, but when I need to be alone I feel so drained. My reaction to this depressed state can be to do nothing but that gets annoying for me. I can only watch so much TV and I am not a domestic woman. I will cook and clean, but only to keep the baby from crawling all over me. 

In these times, I’ll turn to painting. Now, you may expect that given my words, I would paint things that are gray, dark and rainy. But that’s not really me. Instead, I like to paint how I would like to feel. It’s my way of lifting me up. 

I turn to warm pinks and oranges next to cool blues creating this vibrant contrast that makes me feel better simply by looking at it. I paint trees, which are always soothing to me. I find their complex exterior and quiet spirits to be beautiful sources of calm. I render tall mountains which have empathetically looked down upon a land and it’s troubles for millennia. 

Something about the act of spending hours painting just makes me feel better. It doesn’t solve my problems, get me more sleep, clean the house or cook me food. Instead, it nourishes the place in my heart which has been in the doldrums and needs some wind to fill my sail.

I started with the trees that I see in my daily life. I often feel stuck in my house. I work from home, I parent. I'm home. A lot. I yearn to travel and see new things. But instead, I painted a few little scenes that I enjoy in my daily life. These trees and these skies bring me a bit of calm beauty in my chaotic days. 

Melancholy trio - available individually or as a set

I moved onto these 4x12s which feature a fire crackling underneath a tree. These scenes feel like an oasis in the dark. A place to sit, calm yourself and get warm. I find these scenes very comforting and healing. 

Warming Up trio - available individually or as a set

By the time I came around to this last painting, I was feeling much better. I started this painting of the mountains and the pinkness of the mountains is just so outrageous. The florals in the sky are a reminder that sunny, flower-filled days are coming again. Then, we have a cheery little fire attended by a little mouse and a fox, both roasting marshmallows. Even when the days are dark and cold, we can warm ourselves around the fire. These paintings are my fire. 

Healing Melancholy - 11 x 14, acrylic on canvas

My series is a bit whimsical and I think that is the part that is particularly healing. Whimsicality cannot take itself seriously. It could not possibly be so dull as to be serious! It can only be silly, funny, and joyful. I think whimsicality is the antidote to melancholy. I invite you to introduce a bit of whimsicality into your life and see if it helps cheer you up when you feel low. 

So, here’s my little collection. It’s taken me 7 paintings to work through these feelings and I’m sure that this feeling will come again. Luckily, I’ll always have painting to turn to. 

- Erin