Summer is Here...

Crazy to think this might be my last summer spent entirely on the Cape as I am moving come September to the Boston area. All good things of course since I'll be starting grad school at Lesley University and continuing the path to all my future goals. Lots of adjusting and transition are ahead!

Life Updates:

  • I am now a member of the Sandwich Arts Alliance
  • Currently the lead teacher of the special ed. vocational program for the summer at Falmouth High School
  • Part of the First Fridays summer series at Mashpee Commons where local artisans display and sell their work (so come to the next one the first Friday of Aug. from 6 to 8PM)
  • I'M MOVING IN SEPT. AND STARTING GRAD SCHOOL (wowowow... all the feels)
  • Have not been successful in completing many paintings this summer.... but there is still time! 

See below a few of my favorite photographs I've taken so far this season.... They were taken on a beautiful evening in June at Grey's Beach in Yarmouth. 

Winter on Cape Cod

It's off season, it's freezing, but there are always days to remind you that spring isn't too far away...

Winter on the Cape is a very quiet season, especially after all the Christmas lights are put away.  It is truly locals only and as a post grad living and working full-time, winter feels like a pretty good representation of my life currently. Odd. In limbo. Waiting for what come's next (the hope of spring, the inevitable chaos of summer).

Keeping up with art making has been more of a difficult task than I ever could have imagined.  I have been doodling, writing, and reading a lot these past few months, but actually sitting in my studio with a blank canvas in front of me seemed like too much of a daunting task.  I put it off as not having enough time, being too busy, having more important things to do however, in reality I know it's the fear of not creating meaningful work or that I somehow lost my ability to paint "fine art" somewhere between last may (graduation) and now that is keeping me from putting brush to canvas or paper or anything. 

So I picked up my camera a couple of weeks ago after winter storm Niko hit the Northeast and went on a little photo adventure. What's a better source of inspiration than my environment?!

Here are some of the photographs I took:

ALSO, thanks to some B E A U TIFUL weather that february decided to grace us with the other day, I challenged myself to spend a day in the studio with the windows open and complete a painting in one day. And, (believe it or not) I actually did it! Not my greatest masterpiece, but it felt so good to get into that artistic flow, ya know!?

"Release" 20 x 24 Acrylic on canvas, by Lauren Gallagher. 2017. 

So that's where life is currently.  Working on getting better at this whole website thing! 

Much love, Lauren 

Adulting and Whatnot

Exciting news! I was officially offered my first big girl job as a one to one aide in the special education program at a local high school.  I will be working directly with a student on the Autism spectrum on a daily basis as well as with the other students in my assigned classroom who all have various learning disorders and other disablities.  I'm looking forward to getting into a routine again and hopefully being able to carve out time for making art.

ALSO: I was accepted to be a contributor for an AMAZING online magazine, The Lala.  The Lala is directed toward promoting feminism and empowering college aged women/20 somethings. As an editorial contributor I will be submitting articles every other week to be published on their website on an array of topics all coming back to getting some more girl power out into the world. 

Artist's Block

"I DO NOT HAVE WRITER'S BLOCK MY WRITER JUST HATES THE CLOCK"  - twenty one pilots

Thank you ToP for that lovely source of inspiration and TRUTH. So in my case I would call it artist’s block, but we are all talking about the same thing.  This thing called artists block. You’re stuck. You’re staring at a blank canvas, which is one of the most beautiful and intimidating things in my personal opinion. The possibilities and hopes for what this blank canvas could turn into are endless and the ideas go rushing through the forefront of your mind at too fast of a pace. The color schemes, the iconography, the compositions. But for some reason you cannot get that first layer down, the sketch finished, the basic plan out from your brain to your hand to the canvas. You are just stuck.  You know what you want, but you do not know how to render it correctly.

For me it has always been the pressure of time that messes with my mind and, more importantly, my confidence in completing a piece. I thought it was just the deadlines that were set while I was in pursuit of my BFA.  I believed that as soon as I graduated and had more time for my art and myself that this concept of artist’s block would affect me less and less. Well, it has actually been the complete opposite. Since graduating almost 3 months ago I have yet to complete a single large-scale oil painting.  The one thing that defines me right now as an artist are my oil paintings with their significant use of paint, light and dark, and palette knifing techniques and I have not been able to complete a single one. While in school I was capable of completely numerous in this time period. So I guess I was wrong. But, strangely enough, I still feel pressured by the clock.  By the comments that I NEED to be painting right now, that I NEED to complete more paintings so I can sell them in order to make money.  That I NEED to keep my website updated. Well, I believe I do not NEED to do any of these things as long as I am still actively being creative, as long as I don’t give up on my craft.  I am doing both of these things.  I am reading and writing more for myself than I have in a long time.  I am planning out ideas for future painting series.  I am going on long drives and taking in the moment and scenery.  I am taking pictures and recognizing what inspires me.  I am taking note of what I need to be creative and figuring out how to make sure these necessities are present in my life, and how they can remain present in the future.  My life is still full of creativity.  And for right now, that is good enough for me. 

 

Tips to keep that Creative Flow:

1. LISTEN TO MUSIC. All sorts and genres, not just your favorites (although playing your favorites on replay is never a bad idea) Broaden your horizons in the music area of your life, you never know what you'll find, hopefully a new favorite band or jam to dance around to.

2. WRITE AND SCRIBBLE. Delegate one journal or notebook in your life (lined or not... I prefer not) that is always within reach for you to jot down any ideas, quotes, thoughts, events in your life, venting sessions, or just scribbles and doodles. Later look back through, maybe there's something there to start your next great creation.

3. ADVENTURE. Go for long drives, by yourself and with friends.  Visit your favorite places and discover spots you've never been to before. Be aware of your surroundings, where in your environment do you feel most at ease? For me it's by the ocean, but maybe for you its amongst the trees, in the busy buzz of a city, or chilling in a bookstore or cafe. 

Some examples of what you would find in my journal are below.... 

Thesis... MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

After an entire year's worth (but more like a culmination of my 4 year's at Endicott...) of blood, sweat, tears, so many emotions, many margaritas, and endless researching, writing, reflecting and OF COURSE painting, my senior thesis is officially complete and passed in! Although it is something that I could probably edit and add to for the rest of my life I am quite proud of this accomplishment and every one of the 58 pages it is made up of.  

What is thesis you may ask???

Well, at Endicott College every student must complete a thesis paper by the end of their senior year.  This includes intense research on a desired topic of the student's choice with many, many, MANY sources, the writing of a literature review, and then a research study of sorts.  As an art therapy major, I focused on the topic of anxiety disorders in adolescents and emerging adults (college age students like myself) and how through art therapy and the cultivation of identity in the art making process, someone of this population could benefit greatly while on the path to recovery. I performed arts based research for my study and generated a total of 5 large scale oil paintings that I am very excited to share with the world very soon! 

Here is a little more in depth on my thesis:

Title: 

THE ANXIOUS MIND: A Creative and Introspective into Anxiety Disorders and Recovery Through Identity Cultivation and the Art Making Process

Introduction:

"This thesis will explore the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the populations of adolescents and emerging adults. This thesis will recognize its presence as the most common mental health disorder for those 18 and older in the United States (Queen & Ehrenreich-May, 2014). While including research on the significance of identity development in these populations, the concept of cultivating one’s identity through the vehicles of art therapy and mindfulness will be investigated as a healing process for those with anxiety disorders.

The purpose of this thesis is to delve into both the psychology and art therapy fields while educating the reader on the various treatment options for anxiety disorders in adolescents and emerging adults. It also highlights the important developmental factor of cultivating an identity through creative means in order to be the best version of the self. The goal of this research is for the audience to recognize that through creative processes and mindfulness the adolescent and emerging adult population with anxiety disorders can distinguish and form important pillars in their identity in order to lead a more grounded life. The following questions hope to be addressed; how many adolescents are affected by anxiety disorders? What role does art therapy play in helping those with anxiety disorders through the healing process? How does the process of exploring identity through art therapy work as a healing mechanism for adolescents with anxiety disorders? What research has been done on identity, identity cultivation, and its importance? What are the origins of mindfulness and how is it applied today? How is mindfulness related to healing for those with anxiety? Why is identity formation so important in adolescence and emerging adulthood?

This thesis will highlight the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the younger population, provide research and knowledge on treatment options, recognize that everyone has mental health, offer the perspective of the author who has been through the recovery process, and optimistically perform all of these tasks in an approachable manner. The relevance of The Anxious Mind: A Creative and Introspective Look into Anxiety Disorders and Recovery Through Identity Cultivation and the Art Making Process will hope to exist in and contribute to the fields of art therapy, the visual arts, and psychology. The literature in these fields will also hopefully be contributed to through this visual and research based thesis as well."

 

Senior thesis was probably the most time consuming and overwhelming project I have completed thus far in life but it was well worth all of the handwork.  Now that I have completed it I feel as though everything else in life should be a piece of cake, right? Well, probably not, but at least I can confidently say that I will be well prepared for grad school when the time comes to continue my education and take the next steps in my artistic and professional pursuits.

Now, time to get ready for my final presentation! 

February and I go way back.

Sorry mom but this one is important. 

February has been my least favorite month for the past few years, until now. You see, since freshmen year it has been the month when I have felt the least in control of my body and my mind, when on most mornings I dreaded getting out of bed because of what may happen in the hours of daylight ahead, when I feared going to sleep at night even more because darkness and silence made my thoughts race and the walls seem too close for comfort. February was the worst because my panic/anxiety disorder would rise from whatever depth it had settled in and drown me in its dark abyss to the point where the negative thoughts outweighed the positive ones and the idea of straying from whatever routine I had strategically created at the time, even for the things that were meant to be enjoyable and fun, was a cause for panic to encircle my throat in its grasp with no care as to whether I could breathe or not.  But this February panic has yet to rear it’s ugly head in hopes of enveloping me in its darkness, and I won’t let it.

I was diagnosed with panic disorder when I was thirteen, but had been dealing with significant anxiety for most of my life.  Good old genetics I suppose.  Throughout high school and the first half of my college career it came at me in waves of various strengths. Change was hard, transition was hard, the idea of doing anything remotely new was hard, and the fear of fear was the fucked up cycle that controlled my every move.  

Over the years I’ve seen various therapists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists and often managed to convince myself that anxiety was not in control of my life despite the fact that it was always sitting on my shoulder toying with my emotions, as well as messing with that lovely intrinsic flight or flight response, and telling me that I was not good enough or worthy to be released from its grasp. 

February and I started to become frenemies my freshmen year of college, but winter was never the best in my yearly up and downs of panic disorder. Sophomore year was when I hit rock bottom.  I was stressed with school, I felt disconnected from friends, someone I looked up to passed away and I didn’t know how to process it, I was dealing with a lot.  I went to counseling but it didn’t really help this time, self care and talking just wasn’t enough and I didn’t feel comfortable conversing about the dark clouds that were actually affecting me, so I stuck with the superficial stressors instead.  I could feel the panic rising inside of me, it took over more than just my thoughts but settled in my muscles and caused headaches and constant uneasiness as well.  After winter break, February 2014 came fast with panic disorder knocking on the front door and by knocking I mean it just came barreling in as a hot mess of destruction without even a hello.  Functioning was no longer a thing because the sky was falling and the walls were pushing against me every step I took.  

After 2 weeks of war I found myself in my car at 2 am because my room felt more like a prison cell and there was nothing left in my stomach to throw up, as that was panic’s favorite way to take over my being.  I called my parents and told them I was coming home for the third time that month.  Mind you it was 2 am, I was not in a logical state of mind and I had already taken a tranquilizer in an effort to put a bandaid on the wound anxiety was festering in.  My parents somehow persuaded me to not drive the 2 hours home and my dad came and got me instead. I’m pretty sure I didn’t stop crying until sleep took over but then the tears started again later that morning.  I was taken to the emergency clinic and was heavily medicated for the next few weeks and functioned in a fog out of necessity and determination to not let panic take me out of school.  I continued seeing my counselor and managed to gain back some control and get through the rest of the semester but it was a struggle. 

Summer came and I dealt with my panic disorder head on for the first time because I was so incredibly exhausted and frustrated with the way it ran my life.    Dealing with it was definitely easier said than done and consisted of looking at the fear of fear and those dark clouds straight in the eye over and over again.  I went to cognitive behavioral therapy and hated it because it kicked my ass, but was so thankful for its existence because I was starting to feel like me again.  That fall I studied abroad in Florence, Italy and felt that breathe of life again for the first time in a long time.  

Now I can finally get to my point: I got a tattoo (yes, another tattoo, SORRY MOM) and it’s related to all of this. I got a bold black semi colon behind my right ear.  Why? Well, what is the purpose of a semicolon? It is not to represent the ending of a sentence, but instead another part of a sentence, a new beginning in some ways.  This semi colon is in honor of mental health awareness, of those who are forced to deal with panic and anxiety disorders, who have to deal with any and all mental health issues.  It is a symbol to remind me that I chose to keep going, that I will keep going, and if you are struggling you can keep going too.  You are not alone.  I know my anxiety disorder will always be part of my life but I also know that I am in control of it now, it does not control me. I know the worst is behind me, that I  came out the other side of the tunnel, and I choose to live in the light.  This year February is not my frenemy and I got this tattoo to commemorate our new found friendship.