- Mental Health
Jonas Gerard, Abstract Expressionism, & DIY Art Therapy
Jonas Gerard is a modern artist who was born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1941. His art is abstract expressionistic and representational art. He is perhaps best known for his live painting sessions. He paints freely to music. On at least one occasion, he had live dancers perform while he painted.
While he paints, it is as if he borrows creative flow from the music. Here is a video of one of his live painting sessions.
As an artist, I have not only used this technique for the sake of having fun creating art, but as a method of do-it-yourself art therapy. Participating in creative activities is my primary coping skill for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder (or recurrent, severe depression depending on which of my medical charts you look at). There’s something about doing something creative with my hands that helps me shift the focus from negative thinking or haunting memories.
Like Jonas Gerard, I am a self-taught artist. I taught myself how to paint a few years ago. I’ve had two solo art shows so far and have sold several paintings. I consider this a beginning, as I am still finding my voice.
Abstract expressionism is ideal for art therapy since it involves less concern with the final product and more focus on putting trust in the creative process. I doubt that Jonas Gerard has any clue how he has helped others by showing his technique on YouTube. He probably has no idea that his method is an ideal outlet for those of us struggling with depression and other mood disorders as well as anxiety disorders.
When I have a paintbrush in my hand, and only then, am I free. I encourage other people struggling with mental illness to try this method of painting. It’s pure self-expression. Before I begin, I chose my music, eat a piece of chocolate, and clear my head of any expectations. That is just my process. Another may work best for you. Jonas Gerard uses mostly acrylic paints. Sometimes, I use acrylics, but I usually use oils.
I have several paintings that I have done with this method that I just ended up scrapping after it was done, but that’s okay. I consider myself a student, not a master. I can’t expect them all to be works of art. The painting at the top of this article is the painting that I have done with this method that I am most proud of. It is also my profile picture. I call it Recovery.
If you try this method for art therapy purposes, I would certainly appreciate it if you would leave a comment about your experience.
I wrote a related hub titled "Do-It-Yourself Art Therapy."