Guest Blogger Erin McDonough on the Power of Art to Heal

Julie’s mother Rebecca holding Erin’s beautiful art.

by Erin McDonough

Stained glass is the best thing that has happened to me. It is full of several steps that have to be completed as perfect as possible so the piece fits together.  It starts with the pattern and going from there. It includes cutting, foiling and my favorite – soldering with lead. One of my other favorite parts is to pick which glass to use!  There are so many choices.  I could spend hours in a stained glass store.

They say art is in the eye of the beholder.  I think art is a very personal experience. There are so many forms and I have tried many and found my true calling to be stained glass. Art has a way of calming you and exciting you at the same time.  When you are an artist it truly calls to you. It’s something that is in your blood and you have to do it.

When I was younger I wasn’t afraid of trying anything and I wasn’t afraid of the outcome. Yet after my diagnoses things changed.  I began to second guess myself. I would put boundaries and limits on what I thought I could do.  I would lose sight of what was important in the art and obsess over the small details.  My projects would become work instead of pieces of art.

How Bipolar Affects My Art

Being bipolar and an artist has it ups and downs.  Sometimes I’m not very motivated and can hardly touch the work. This is mostly when I’m depressed. I also get paranoid about my work, thinking no body will like my work, I am also very critical of my work. On the other hand, Sometimes I’m so motivated I get projects done quickly!  I need to be on more of a schedule so I accomplish more, sometimes it’s just hard.  But with all the ups and downs stained glass is a part of me and I continue to learn and grow with every piece I make! 

When my moods would come my progress would be very much effected.  When my mood was high I could get so much done.  I could get a larger panel done in two days (my hands would surely show it though!). I would be more proud of my work and want to show it off.   Stained glass was the best thing in the world!  But when I was down it was almost impossible to get anything done.  Just cutting one or two pieces a day was like running a marathon.  I couldn’t get any motivation.  And when I did get a project done all I could see where the imperfections (which I now realize are what makes a piece special ). As an artist you are your worst critic but I took it to the extreme, as far as wanting to destroy my work.

The most important part that I have learned is that I need to work through what ever is going on in my head and use it in my art work.  Art is an extension of yourself.  It reflects who you are. That is so true in stained glass. I had a revolution a couple months ago. My psychiatrist said to me: all of your work, it’s bright colors and happy things.  There is no darkness in it.  This must be good!  And he’s right. The whole four years I have been doing stained glass I have never done a ‘sad’ piece.  It made me realize I’m not doing so bad after all!

Visit Erin’s Stained Glass Creations to learn more about her gorgeous work.


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