I have suffered from migraines for several decades and I have learned a few connections between migraines and art. For instance a few years ago a friend brought me an article from the newspaper that discussed the idea that many artist that suffered from migraines would depict one had or one eye bigger than the other in their portraits. It was something I never considered having to do with migraines but looking at my paintings many of which had one huge eye and one tiny eye I realized that those were the paintings I created when I had particularly bad migraines.
Also, there have been many times where I have had an unbearable migraine to where the sound of my own breathing and blood rushing through my veins is painful. Sometimes these last for days. I have more than a few times found relief by “painting it out”. Its dreadfully painful to leave a dark quiet room for the brightness even of my dimly lit studio when I have a migraine and even the sounds of distant birds or traffic feel like blades going through my head. Sometimes I spend a half an hour trying to paint, and make my migraine even worse and wind up back in bed. Sometimes though I go into a near trancelike state. And I immerse myself into the work, emerging many hours later with a completely finished painting and no migraine. I have very little memory of those hours. It is, infact about the only time I can complete a work in one sitting. I feel some of my best work was done this way.
When I was recently describing the process of my newer works to a family member I realized that I go through a very similar process creatively that I do with my migraine paintings. I tend to approach the canvas without any preconceived notion of what the finish painting will be. And I get completely absorbed to the point where I lose track of time, and often don’t have much memory after of the time I spent on a painting, or where the idea of it came from. It is a mediative state for me full of color and light. Sometimes I look at a painting I have finished and think who is this, what inspired this, what place is this. And then the true magic happens for me. Often that very day but sometimes a week later, someone will say “You painted me and my late husband on one of our late night ocean swims”, “This is me and my lover in our lake” “You painted exactly how I feel right now and in all my favorite colors”.
This has happened so many times now I am accepting it as a truth. I feel as if I am a vessel and the universe is using me as a tool of creation.
I told my aunt this and she said “but the migraines, what of the migraines”. I had noticed I was getting a lot less migraines. I mean a couple mild ones a month, instead of half a dozen severe ones and nearly daily mild ones. But what I hadn’t thought of is that this seemed to match up with me painting these new series nearly every day.
Working the art show this weekend I the three days of it not painting. Day 2 I got a mild migraine, by the time I got home from the show Tuesday morning the migraine was so bad it sent me to bed for the day. Its still here and mild but maybe thats just a sign I need to find some time today to work in the studio. Magic things happen there.