I marked the first nervous breakdown

with the purchase of my first set of oils.

In an effort to cope with it, to make it matter somehow, or maybe just to distract myself from the hell of it all.

The first year or so was a warm-up. I painted trees. Mountains. House plants. None well, and none with any real passion, but there was a brush in my hand and paint on the canvas and it felt good, and so I clung to this hope, this development. I was supported by my family, my friends, and once I put it out there, strangers from the world of the internet.

In 2008, I dropped antidepressants from my diet, and everything changed. The real work started, the abstract, the surreal became much more prevalent, and details became more refined. I was working it all out on canvas, and that's what I have done ever since.

Most of the time, I don't start out with an image in mind. Brush dips in paint, paint goes on canvas, and we see what happens. Rather than "being inspired" by life, I feel as if I am working through it, hour by hour, joy by joy and hardship by hardship. I am creating my own personal brand of mental health with every brushstroke.

Because the process is so personal, I don't often have a story to go with the painting when someone asks, "What is it? What does it mean?" The titles hold some clues, but for the most part viewers are encouraged to let my artwork mean whatever they like, to let the story be whatever their imagination tells them, and to take away their own interpretation as a personal truth.

Art © 2014 Zanna La. Design © 2014 Faith April.