I would like to address the myth of the tormented, tortured artist. I am sometimes told that what I do is a type of personal therapy. While art certainly reveals feelings and experiences, the creative process usually runs parallel to therapeutic release. At times they overlap or crisscross for a while, but rarely do so continuously.

I've noticed that when life throws me a nasty curve, I struggle in my creative pursuits. Between birth and death, experiences are generally 50% good and 50% bad. Obviously that percentage varies greatly from person to person but it's an average that applies at this end.

I am much better at making art when I feel good. If I am wallowing in a vat of life's lemons, my art tends to suck. Which doesn't mean that I stop making it but the resulting image will most likely remain incomplete or unsatisfactory according to my personal criteria. The artistic interpretation of painful or stressful periods, if it happens at all, usually occurs after my emotions have arrived at a shaky resolution or a level of acceptance. And strangely, in times of crisis, I usually find it much easier to write in my "garbage journal" than to make visual art.

In a vat of life's lemons

During my studies for a Masters in Art Education, studio courses included students from both the Art Therapy and Art Education programs. It seemed to me that our approach to art making and criticism differed a lot. Feedback from Art Therapy students often highlighted (naturally) a possible or probable connection to psychological experiences or trauma. Every line, colour, texture had subconscious origins, symbolism or meaning. I found their analyses fascinating because while I was aware that I often responded with some frustration to societal absurdities and that I had something to say to the world through my artwork, I also knew that I often just drew beautiful lines because I love drawing beautiful lines. Even as I created disturbing images, I found myself preoccupied with aesthetics and elements of visual language. 

A pretend internal dialogue:
"I want a particular emotion or sentiment to come through in this work. The character needs attitude and this line over here is way too wishy washy, it has to become more forceful. I should draw it quickly and loosely using a wide tool and surround it with a contrasting tone. It will make the figure stand out. This part needs a complementary colour because right now it's totally boring and doesn't contribute to the overall feeling that I'm trying to convey. I have to redo this bit. I'll simplify here to achieve overall equilibrium. This solution is too predictable, how can I make it more interesting?"

Doesn't sound like therapy to me. The initial impetus, the idea, the emotion can be powerful but can also completely transform during the creative process, often in response to what is happening on the substrate. For sure there is some subconscious stuff happening but periods of acute emotional torture and torment that are overwhelming often hamper creativity for a time (to perhaps feed it obliquely months or years later).

Art therapy is beneficial but it's not art making. 

Angry, frustrated lines.

Methinks she (I?) doth protest too much!