Last year I started adding stars or sparkles to my illustrations. I have been painting starry skies and constellations for a while now. They are one of the most beautiful scenes in the universe and I have so often found moments of absolute peace sitting staring at the sky on a quiet night.
So stars have been a part of my work for some time, but starry backgrounds are different to the stylised, diamond-shaped sparkles that have made their way into many of my drawings now. I suppose it has become somewhat of a trend in illustration. It adds a bit of interest to a drawing, a bit of whimsy.
But the reason I have allowed it to become part of my style is that is has become an important symbol for me…
A representation of magic
I have been struggling with my mental health for the past few years now - either as a result of stress or as a yearly visit from the winter blues. When I had my first bout of depression, the most expressive way I could describe it was that it was as if all the magic had left my world. I’ve always been excited by seemingly trivial moments - the sun shining through the leaves on the trees, finding a pretty stone while on a walk, seeing a certain animal for the first time, the colour of jacaranda trees at twilight.
In those moments that fill me with joy I feel a sense of magic! How does something so small make my heart dance the way it does? It must be magic or God or a kiss from the universe.
However you describe it, that’s what’s missing when I’m depressed. It’s like the world has lost it’s sparkle, like the stars have chosen to shine on me less.
The sun affects my mood very much. In summer I can feel the energy of the sun being absorbed through my skin. I feel alive, strong, ready for anything. In winter I feel it less.
I fear my depression. I’ve heard people describe depression as an old friend who comes to visit. They have made peace with it... but I’m still afraid. I haven’t gotten used to it yet. I fear the thoughts that plague my darkened mind. I fear losing connection with my loved ones as I isolate myself more and more. I fear feeling insignificant because I can’t be as productive as I usually am. But mostly I fear the loss of my sunshine; the star that gives a sparkle to the mundane fades and I can no longer feel its vital energy flowing through my body. It’s scary because I never know when it will be back. So I try to desperately cling to the last bit of sunlight through the winter. I try to remind myself that just because something isn’t shining the way it used to doesn’t mean it’s lost its magic.
Depression doesn’t mean that I will never feel alive again. I’m just in a shadow. In time, the sun will shine on me again. So the sparkles became a reminder that there is magic in everything and to hold on to that knowledge.
But I have found that remembering this isn’t enough. It’s not a cure. I still feel tired, lonely, small and insignificant...
I like to juxtapose that the small and the gigantic in my artwork - the insects and the stars. It reminds me that no matter how small something seems in comparison to something else, neither is less important.
I think everything is significant. It's all connected in this vast spinning universe, pushing and pulling against one another. Everything is a part of the great miracle of life! There's not an atom in this world that doesn't have some impact, some role to play. We are all significant and gigantic in our power to influence the things around us.
But at the same time I think that maybe we are small…
in the best possible way... in the most liberating way.
Maybe I am insignificant. Maybe my problems don't matter. Maybe I'm not an integral part of the universe. The world will go on without me.
And I think that’s where the real magic lies. I am wonderfully important, but not essential. So it’s okay to sometimes feel like I have the power to change the world because I do. And it’s okay to sometimes feel like I can’t make any impact because I don’t have to. I can flow between these states depending on what I need. There are seasons and cycles to these things. The sun can’t always shine on me in its full glory and that’s okay because I’ve made it through every winter regardless. And me not being at my best never stopped the stars from shining.