Painting the way to Positive Mental Health: The Hockney Approach
Emily Pirie explores how Hockney’s iPad paintings of spring represent the resilience and strength that can be found through art.
During these uncertain times it can seem hard to find hope and joy. However, the British painter David Hockney has made this quest for hope much easier. With the release of his latest iPad paintings, Hockney depicts his observations of fruit blossoms and daffodils in full blossom in Normandy. Hockney is currently in lockdown at his house in France with his furry and friendly companion, his dog, Ruby.
Hockney’s iPad paintings are bursting with bright colours. Flashes of blue, yellow and green make a welcome treat from the dismal news. Hockney titled one image of his daffodils ‘Do Remember They Can’t Cancel Spring’, showing the viewer that if they look to nature they will see that the trees are still blossoming, and lambs are still being born. In a world that seems on halt, Hockney emphasises the beauty to be found in renewal.
Hockney is not alone in using aesthetic beauty and art as a way of maintaining good mental health. The British artist Tracey Emin has never been one to shy away from showing her intimate life to the public through her artwork. Her latest show, A Fortnight of Tears, reflects upon her pain after losing her mother, her two aborted babies and her battles with insomnia. In her interview for Dazed magazine, Emin states “I then realised that I was the work, I was the essence of my work“, revealing how Emin uses her personal life as her artwork. Ultimately, art becomes an emotional platform for Emin to become mentally stronger. It it not only the act of painting and making art that helps Emin but the feedback that she receives from her exhibitions.
In a world that seems on halt, Hockney emphasises the beauty to be found in renewal
During lockdown, social media and the internet has become a wonderful way of showing the world each other’s creativity and ways of helping one another. The famous Tik Tok app has become a way of getting active and keeping us laughing. Similarly, museums such as the National Gallery and the British Museum are allowing the public to see the exhibitions online. We have never had so much culture at just the click of a button.
The reason we are so grateful for these online exhibitions is because creating art is a form of escapism and releases positivity. From my experience, picking up a paintbrush and letting my hand roam wherever it wants across the paper allows me to concentrate on something that is not to do with the news. Instead, I can let my imagination free and focus on a new and invigorating project.
picking up a paintbrush and letting my hand roam wherever it wants across the paper allows me to concentrate on something that is not to do with the news
The journalist Nicola Slawson said in 2017 that ‘Arts and Minds, a leading arts and mental health charity, has been running weekly art workshops for people experiencing depression, stress or anxiety’. This shows the power of art in helping people with their mental health. It is now more than ever that we should looking after our mental health and a paintbrush could be the way forward.