Everyone is familiar with “The Scream” by Munch. He painted many other canvases of mental illness.
In the 1990s I painted an abstract series of mentally ill people. Unfortunately, I have no photos of them and no longer own the few pieces I painted. I wanted to depict how those suffering from mental disorders are hidden from society and how they unintentionally hide within themselves. I started out painting a person in various positions including curled in a fetal position and sitting crunched over. Then I covered them with paint that matched their skin and clothes. It was difficult to see the person within, but it was possible after viewing for awhile.
I worked as a Psychiatric Nurse for 25 years. It was difficult to maintain professional boundaries with many of these gentle souls. I had tons of favorites including M who lived in a rowboat for two years . His parents moved him to a small trailer where I visited him and encouraged him to take medications. Though there have been improvements, someone with mental illness is not accepted as needing help the way a patient with physical illness is.
Several notable artists with psychiatric disorders have expressed their thoughts and moods in their artwork. The paintings below show how painful an affliction of the mind can be.
“Self Portrait” Francis Bacon
My plea is for there to be awareness of mental illness and support those afflicted as well as their families.